We think of celebrities as being larger than life, but they’re human just like us. The tabloids might be onto something with their unflattering photos of starlets lounging in sweats or eating burritos. Those pictures look downright beautiful compared to the mugshots featured on the infamous Avvo carpet in our Seattle office. This rug highlights a few of the most notorious celebrity crimes, as detailed below:
Andre the Giant
Arguably the world’s most famous giant, Andre went one-on-one with a Cedar Rapids photojournalist after a wrestling match. The not-so-gentle giant — known by most for his WWF tenure and his cameo in The Princess Bride — knocked the camera away from the shocked newsman. Andre assumed that the cameraman had caught his loss on film. After ironing out the misunderstanding backstage, Andre agreed to a peaceful arrest.
Long before she became America’s favorite blonde on Three’s Company, Suzanne Somers was just another actress trying to make it in Hollywood. Struggling to get by, she passed bad checks all over town. The result? An arrest mugshot that could double as a headshot for Hollywood casting agents. In the end, the charges against Somers were dropped after she paid back all of the bad checks.
A feminist icon for decades, Jane Fonda made her mark by jumping into the fray and protesting on behalf of a just cause. Arrested for bringing drugs into the country in 1970, Hanoi Jane became a fashion icon as her fans marveled at her fabulous mugshot. This major moment elevated the actress from counterculture firebrand to fashion icon.
The Round Mound of Rebound went one-on-three against a pack of drunken aggressors during a 1991 brawl in Milwaukee. He broke the nose of a man who was a little too excited to rub the Bucks victory over his Philadelphia 76ers in his face. This led to an arrest for battery. Even after being released on a $500 cash bond, Barkley has continued to experience run-ins with opposing fans.
In the 1970s, few actors lived as fast and hard as Dennis Hopper. His crazy lifestyle was best evidenced by his 1975 run-in with a grizzly bear in New Mexico. This incident occurred after Hopper won drugs in a poker game and went outside to celebrate. After unloading his .357 magnum into what he thought was an aggressive bear, Hopper realized he’d actually shot up a tree. His reckless use of a firearm landed him a night in jail — and an iconic mugshot.
If Hoffman ultimately winds up in the slammer, he can draw on his experience from the 1978 film Straight Time. Starring as Max Dembo, Hoffman took numerous mugshots in character as a career criminal.
Before he became the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley made his mark as a regional star. On his way to a gig at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in 1955, Presley exceeded the speed limit and experienced a run-in with the police as a result. Two years before Jailhouse Rock, the singer became the subject of an iconic mugshot — although it certainly wouldn’t be his last. Later, he received an honorary police badge and posed for a publicity mugshot.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Expired license tabs can ruin anyone’s day, as diva starlet Zsa Zsa Gabor discovered when she was pulled over in her Rolls-Royce. Most people would grumble under their breath while driving away, but Gabor clubbed the officer who had the nerve to disrupt her joyride. Charged with assault, she later claimed she hit the officer in self-defense.
No musician embodied the renegade spirit of rock ‘n’ roll quite like Jim Morrison. The singer earned a notoriously lengthy rap sheet, complete with numerous incidents from assault to public drunkenness. His most memorable run-in occurred during a concert in Florida. Fueled by alcohol and free love, Morrison disrobed on stage and simulated lewd acts. This led to a warrant for his arrest on charges of public exposures. Years later, Florida Governor Charlie Crist posthumously pardoned Morrison.
Robert Downey Jr.
One of Hollywood’s most high-profile stars, Robert Downey Jr. suffered a major career blow following multiple drug convictions in 2000 and 2001. The veteran actor later triumphed over his addiction. First, however, he endured a mugshot that now places his Hollywood image in (Tony) Stark contrast to his former bad boy persona.
In the 70s and 80s, America fell in love with talented athlete O.J. Simpson. At the time, he was best known as the star running back for the Buffalo Bills and sidekick to Detective Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun movies. All that changed in 1994, when Simpson fled the LAPD in the most high-profile car chase in American history.
No stranger to eluding defenders, Simpson eventually gave himself up and was booked on charges of double homicide for the death of his ex-wife and her male companion. Bloody gloves, racist cops, and charismatic defense attorneys all starred in a trial that resulted in O.J.’s not guilty verdict.
A math genius, Ted Kaczynski serves as the ultimate story of wasted potential. Prior to becoming famous as the Unabomber, he sought to highlight his cynical views of modern society by becoming self-sufficient and leading a life dominated by nature-oriented anarchism.
After becoming convinced that his new lifestyle was untenable due to the destructive tendencies of society, Kaczynski terrorized victims with mail bombs constructed in his quaint shack in the Montana wilderness. After sending a 35,000-word manifesto to major media outlets, Kaczynski was apprehended by the FBI. Ted’s brother, David, recognized the language in the screed as similar to that used by his backwoods, society-hating genius of a brother.
It takes a special, awful talent to run a successful drug cartel while simultaneously fending off DEA agents and rival drug lords.
Pablo Escobar—the head of Colombia’s Medellín drug cartel and the world’s most notorious dealer—made billions trafficking cocaine while thumbing his nose at the Colombian and American governments.
Despite his status as the most wanted man on the planet, he was beloved in his homeland, with locals regarding him as a veritable Robin Hood. He also made his mark with ballsy shows of wealth, including not only a private island, but also a personal jail so lavish it is still referred to as La Catedral, or “The Cathedral.”
Phil Hartman was once one of America’s most beloved entertainers. He played memorable roles on “Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons,” “NewsRadio,” and countless other TV shows and movies. His life ended prematurely in 1998 when his wife, Brynn, shot him to death and then committed suicide.
While some friends testified that the Hartmans’ marriage suffered significant discord, others—such as actor Steve Guttenberg—described the couple as very happy. Regardless, Hartman’s legacy will always involve a sense of nostalgia, as enduring fans believe he could have accomplished even more if given the opportunity.
In the 90s, pop singer Selena was one of the music industry’s fastest rising stars. The Tejano icon accomplished the rare feat of selling out shows in both Mexico and the United States. Tragically, her stardom made her a target.
While registered nurse Yolanda Saldívar did not seem particularly dangerous at first glance, that all changed after she launched a Selena fan club. She used her position to embezzle thousands of dollars while also getting involved in Selena’s personal financial dealings.
After Selena confronted Saldívar, the fan club president brandished a handgun and shot the musician in the back. As the singer fled, she left a trail of blood longer than a football field before eventually succumbing to the gunshot wound. Despite public outrage surrounding the murder, Saldívar will be eligible for parole in 2025.
The Reverend Jim Jones led the People’s Temple, a progressive religious congregation, which at one point was based in San Francisco. The sect grew to include thousands, lured in by the diverse congregation and members’ involvement in racial and social justice movements. However, growing media criticism of the oppressive nature of the church caused a paranoid Jones to move more than 900 of the church’s members to an encampment in Guyana he called Jonestown.
Widespread concern about sect members brought Congressman Leo Ryan to the encampment in late 1978. Just as Ryan was about to leave, Temple members arrived and shot him, along with four others. After the shootings, Jones instructed all of his followers, starting with the children, to drink cyanide-laced punch.
Jones died that day from a gunshot wound to the head. Some believe he took his own life, while others say his nurse killed him before turning the gun on herself.
In February 1993, 80 federal agents raided a religious compound near Waco, Texas. The agents had received word that members of a sect called the Branch Davidians, led by David Koresh, were unlawfully in possession of weapons.
The gun battle that followed left four agents and six sect members dead. Almost 900 officials surrounded the compound, beginning a 51-day siege. Finally, in an effort to draw out Koresh and his followers, agents attacked with tanks and tear gas.
During the assault, the compound caught fire. A total of 76 sect members, including 28 children, died in the fire. Koresh,33 died of a gunshot wound to the head. No one knows who shot him, if he shot himself, or why the fire started in the first place.
In October 2020, Keith Allen Raniere was sentenced to 120 years for crimes including sex trafficking, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation of a child. It’s hard to fathom that all of this took place under the umbrella of what Raniere claimed to be a self-help group.
The group was called NXIVM, and it used dangerous mind control tactics to assert psychological dominance over participants. It developed numerous spin-off groups including the secret women’s society Dominos Obsequious Sororium (DOS), which roughly translates to “lord over the obedient female companions.”
Authorities now know that Raniere physically, sexually, and psychologically abused the members of DOS — branding them, starving them, and forcing sexual encounters. Several of the participants were underage.
A self-proclaimed harbinger of doom to the world, Charles Manson allegedly orchestrated an estimated 35 murders. The actual perpetrators of his crimes were members of the “Manson Family Cult,” a quasi-religious group made up of nearly 100 loyal Manson followers.
Manson and his Family targeted the rich and famous. His most famous victim was actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant when Family member Susan Atkins stabbed her in the belly.
Manson and his Family were arrested for vandalizing national park property. A confession from Atkins connected the Family to the murders, and the perpetrators and Manson went on trial. In 1971, Manson was sentenced to life in prison. He died of natural causes in 2017.
Marshall Applewhite & Bonnie Nettles
Marshall Applewhite and his partner Bonnie Lu Nettles believed that they were the two “witnesses of revelation,” mysterious Biblical figures prophesied to die and rise again. These famous people with criminal records claimed to come from a “Level Above Human,” a literal and physical version of Heaven that existed in outer space.
Driven by their belief, Applewhite and Nettles created a religious cult called Heaven’s Gate in the mid-1970s. The group outlived Nettles, who died of cancer in 1985.
In 1995, when the Hale-Bopp comet was discovered, Applewhite interpreted it as a sign that a spaceship was coming to take the group to the “Level Above.” The group began preparing their departure from Planet Earth, which happened in March 1997. The entire cult had imbibed vodka laced with barbiturates.