Judging from the anecdotes in the tabloids, tell-all interviews, and behind-the-scenes stories, Hollywood is no stranger to drama. It only makes sense, though; I mean, with so many beautiful and talented people in one industry, jealousy and rivalry seem to be part of the package. While some rumors are just speculation to create drama, sometimes the stories are real.
When two celebrities fight, the public tends to pick a side and stand by their idol. Sometimes musicians diss each other in their music, talk smack in interviews, fight on set, and backstab each other, but it’s usually all petty. You know, Hollywood problems. Unfortunately, a rivalry in the hip-hop industry turned violent and deathly. We’ll get into all that. From family disputes to professional disagreements, check out the most legendary celebrity rivalries from every year, starting from the mid-‘80s.
At a certain point in time, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson were friends. Reportedly, the two musicians connected in the late ‘70s when McCartney offered Jackson an opportunity to record his song Girlfriend. Jackson passed, but McCartney teamed up with him later on Thriller’s The Girl Is Mine. Jackson was also featured on McCartney’s song Say, Say, Say.
According to Pop History, McCartney suggested that Jackson invest a substantial financial windfall he earned from blockbuster sales of Thriller into music publishing – purchasing the rights to popular songs and therefore earning their lucrative royalties.
According to Mental Floss, the ex-Beatle recently “lost his stake” in the company he started to control The Beatles’ catalog Northern Songs. At the time, Jackson began buying up ‘60s pop songs until 1984 when music publisher ATV hit the market.
The value of its collection: the rights to 251 Beatles songs. McCartney passed because it was way too expensive, but then another bit went for $47.5 million, way beyond McCartney’s expectations. The man who spent most of 1985 negotiating the deal with ATV’s former owners was the one and only Michael Jackson.
So, basically, McCartney told Jackson to buy songs, so Jackson purchased McCartney’s songs. As you can imagine, McCartney wasn’t very happy, and the situation set off a long feud that lasted up until Jackson’s death in 2009.
Reportedly, McCartney told The New York Post that the King of Pop thought his actions were “just business.” Well, it was ruthless, and notoriously friendship ending but it seems that it was all business. You know what they say, don’t mix business and friendship.
According to Joan River’s biography, back in 1965, the comedian performed on The Tonight Show, Starring Johnny Carson for the first time, and it went pretty well. Apparently, Carson told Rivers that she was “going to be a star.”
He helped make that happen and brought Rivers on The Tonight Show countless times. By the early ‘80s, she was one of Carson’s most prominent guest hosts and took over The Tonight Show when the main host was out sick or taking one of his many vacation days. The two of them seemed to get along great.
However, their public friendship ended abruptly in 1986, as soon as the brand-new Fox network released a Tonight Show competitor called The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Rivers revealed that the “first person” she called when she was offered this amazing opportunity was Carson.
However, for the next year, Carson disputed her claims. Since he was the “King of Late Night,” most people believed his side of the story. I mean, he was there for her early in her career, so it understandably offended him when she took the gig in a competing show.
Carson didn’t get over it easily; he completely iced Rivers out. “I would see him at a restaurant and go over and say hello. He wouldn’t talk to me,” Rivers said and added that Carson didn’t get mad when other guest hosts left to do their shows.
She continued, “I think it was a question of, ‘I found you, and you were my property.’ He didn’t like that, as a woman, I went up against him.” Sadly, Carson “never” spoke to Rivers again before his death in 2005. Either way, her show was quickly canceled because The Tonight Show crushed her in the ratings.
Kristen Nelson was featured in 30 episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, along with some other mid-century shows like Green Acres and Adam-12. However, she was more famous for the people she hung around with. In 1963, 18-year-old Kristin married rock star Rick Nelson (the child of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson.)
Kristen also has celebrity genes. Her dad is Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon. Her little brother, Mark Harmon, was a major celebrity by 1987, starring on St. Elsewhere on the small screen and Summer School on the big screen.
1987 was a huge year for Mark Harmon, who was praised with love and attention. He was even voted People’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” Kristen revealed that throughout the ‘70s, she and her husband had a tumultuous, drug-induced marriage. In 1980, she filed for divorce.
Shortly after, she took a job as an assistant casting director for $200 a month, telling the media that her family wouldn’t help her out. However, that wasn’t exactly the truth. Her parents bought her a home and took care of her son, Sam, for 18 months.
In 1985, Rick died in a plane crash, and it sent Kristin right back into her dangerous, old drug habits. Her brother, Mark, convinced her to go into rehab. She was released in 1987, only to find out that Mark was suing for custody of her son, Sam.
Mark and his wife at-the-time Pam Dawber raised Sam while Kristin was away. They were granted temporary custody over the 12-year-old, and Kristin was ordered to say 200 feet away from them at all times. Kristen eventually won custody, and Mark got visitations rights. Needless to say, the brother/sister relationship was never the same.
Two Collins kids grew up to be stars, each for different things. Yet, both tapped in the 1980s style of glamorous rich people behaving badly. Joan Collins appeared in various movies, TV shows, and made-for-TV movies since the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1981 when she found her signature role as Alexis Carrington Colby on ABC’s Dynasty.
Her sister Jackie was four years younger and had dabbled in acting herself in the ‘50s and ‘60s. But Jackie was a more talented writer and found success as the author of soapy novels, rising to success in the 1980s with books like Hollywood Wives and Lucky. She reportedly sold over 500 million copies of her various books, making her one the most commercially successful novelists ever.
Joan published Prime Time in 1988, a scandalous story about life on the set of Dynasty. According to The Daily Mail, her success caused tension between the sisters, and Jackie didn’t appreciate Joan “crowding” what she felt was “her territory.” The book ended up selling about 350,000 copies, much less than what a Jackie Collins book would make.
The British sisters tried to deny their beef in public. But Joan once admitted to the sibling jealousy when she said, “I love my sister, but I’m not as close to her as I used to be. I don’t think she was thrilled when I started writing.”
Movie legend Clint Eastwood and rising starlet Sandra Locke met in 1975 on the set of The Outlaw Josey Wales. Shortly after, they moved in together. Locke later claimed that the movie star was so possessive of his companion (she wasn’t even his wife) that he wouldn’t let her act in movies that he wasn’t also starring in or at least directing.
More details surfaced about the strained relationship, and allegations of Eastwood’s need for extreme control came out in 1989 when the couple broke up. Locke discovered that Eastwood and his mistress had a secret love child. What was even more devastating to Locke was that the actor had forced her to terminate two pregnancies and undergo tubal ligation.
Early in 1989, Easton moved out, and Locke filed a lawsuit to receive palimony (kind of like a divorce financial settlement, but for unmarried couples). For that, she got a three-year $1.5 million deal to develop and direct movies with Warner Bros – Eastwood’s longtime filmmaking studio.
But in 1995, Locke would claim in a fraud suit that Eastwood had so much influence on the studio and in Hollywood that he essentially had her blacklisted. Warner Bros. never produced any of the numerous films she pitched and never let her direct anything. According to her lawyer, the deal “created a dead end for her career.”
In 1990, Sinead O’Connor was one of the freshest new faces in Hollywood. After a decade of enthusiastic, big-haired divas who strived to do anything for their labels, here came O’Connor – an extremely political, controversial, outspoken, stubborn, and bald man.
But despite all that, boy, could she sing. Her emotional and powerful cover of the Prince song Nothing Compares 2 U went No. 1 in the United States and landed her three Grammy nominations. So, what happened between her and classic crooner Frank Sinatra?
In the summer of 1990, The Daily Kent Stater revealed that if The Star-Spangled Banner was played before she took the stage, O’Conner wouldn’t perform her scheduled show in New Jersey (as was customary). At Frank Sinatra’s own concert, the Garden State-born singer announced that the Irish O’Connor should “leave the country,”
He continued, “her behavior is unforgivable. For her sake, we’d better never meet.” It never came to a blow, but O’Connor said that Sinatra’s actions “scared the s**t out of [her].” And that “obviously the man has a problem with women – obviously he has,” she added. “But I don’t have any problem with him.”
Jay Leno and David Letterman are from the same world. They were both among the biggest Los Angeles performers taking over the stand-up comedy scene in the 1970s. In the 1980s, both of them became late-night talk show hosts.
Letterman took his iconic, progressive, and absurd style to NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman, and Leno took his observational, mainstream, populist charm as a regular guest host on The Tonight Show, the program that came on right before Letterman’s. I can feel the tension already, but the real beef started in 1991 when the Tonight Show host Johnny Carson announced his upcoming retirement.
After nearly three decades on-air, Carson left, triggering a succession war that the NBC executives botched pretty badly. Reportedly, Letterman assumed that as the host of Late Night, The Tonight show would be his. As it turned out, the network wanted the less-edgy Leno. But they didn’t want to lose either of them to a competing network planning on setting up its own Tonight show rival.
So, at different points, NBC let both men believe the job was going to them. Ultimately, Leno became the new hold of The Tonight Show in 1992, and Letterman parted ways with NBC to headline The Late Show on CBS.
Obviously, the way the network executives handled the situation was pretty cruel, and they should be at fault for the feud. Still, the beef must have been either exaggerated or squashed since then because the two don’t seem to have a problem with one another.
In 2013, after another battle for The Tonight Show, Leno un-retired and took back the program for his successor Conan O’Brien. Letterman told Oprah that Leno was “the funniest guy I’ve ever known” and “also maybe the most insecure person I have ever known.” But aren’t all comedians insecure? That sounds like a compliment to me.
By 1979, Mia Farrow was best known for her brilliant work in the movies Rosemary’s Baby and The Great Gatsby, along with her highly publicized relationship with Frank Sinatra and composer André Previn. That year, she met and began and long relationship with famous filmmaker Woody Allen.
Her new man cast Farrow in more than a dozen of his projects, including Hannah and Her Sisters and The Purple Rose of Cairo. The pair never tied the knot, but Farrow started a family when she adopted her son Moses in 1980 and her daughter Dylan in 1985.
Allen formally co-adopted both children in 1991, but not Soon-Yi Pervin, Farrow’s oldest, who was almost 21 and whom Farrow had adopted before she even got together with Allen. So, what did the filmmaker do? He started seeing Soon-Yi – yes, his domestic partner’s adopted daughter.
Farrow had no idea about the affair but found out in 1992 when she discovered nude pictures of her daughter in Allen’s possessions. Gross. This is a juicy, creepy, dramatic celebrity story on its own. However, it only got darker and more alarming.
Later that year, things took a turn for the worst. In a profile with Vanity Fair, Farrow claimed that Allen had acted inappropriately toward Dylan that summer in the family’s Connecticut home. However, law enforcement declined to press charges because social services didn’t find enough credible evidence of the abuse.
As you can imagine, things didn’t get much better after that. Allen accused Farrow of making up these rumors because she was jealous and bitter about his affair with Soon-Yi, and he then proceeded to sue her for custody of their three children, who were minors at the time. He lost the lawsuit.
1993 wasn’t the best year for Burt Reynolds or Loni Anderson. The years of him being a box office legend and macho sex symbol were long gone because of Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run, and her acclaimed show WKRP in Cincinnati had been off the air for ten years, with a reboot in the early ‘90s that failed to take off.
That year, their personal lives began to crumble. After 11 years together and five years of marriage, Reynolds filed for divorce. The once golden Hollywood couple took their issues embarrassingly public. Anyone else would have been humiliated to handle the situation in that way.
“I caught her cheating on me,” Reynolds revealed in 1993 on Good Morning America. “I made a decision to call it off,” he added. He also went on to confirm that he thought Anderson was having an affair, and that’s why he started an affair of his own outside of his marriage.
Oh, but he continued. Not only did he claim that his ex was a terrible mother to their only child, but he even told audiences that he and Anderson hadn’t been intimate in three years. For her part, the actress released a statement that she refuses to respond to Reynolds. By December 1994, after a public mess, their divorce was finalized.
The 1994 movie I Love Trouble was created to be a smash hit. It was supposed to be a good, old-fashioned newspaper picture, starring America’s sweetheart, Julia Roberts, as an enthusiastic, up-and-coming reporter, and bad-boy actor Nick Nolte as the aging, womanizing columnist writing for a rival paper.
Like a classic, predictable but perfect rom-com, the leads don’t get along at first but fall in love by the end. However, their off-screen relationship only depicted the first part of the story. They didn’t like each other at the beginning, and that didn’t change during filming.
The co-stars reportedly clashed from the very beginning of production. Sources claimed that many of the scenes were shot with just one actor playing to a stand-in. So, why couldn’t they get along? Nolte was supposedly too macho for Robert’s liking, and she made fun of him on set. But the actor wasn’t innocent.
He got sick and tired of Robert’s apparent “diva-like behavior” and tried to push her buttons on purpose. Unfortunately, “Their mutual distaste translated into a distinct lack of on-screen chemistry,” according to The Telegraph. After the film bombed, Roberts called Nolte “completely disgusting,” and he responded: “She’s not a nice person. Everyone knows that.”
Celebrity gossip and paparazzi couldn’t get enough of Prince Charles’ marriage. They wanted to know every little detail in the life of the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom and his beloved wife, the former Diana Spencer, otherwise known as “the People’s Princess.”
Everyone wonders about life as a Royal and wanted the scoop on everything. From their fairytale wedding, which was broadcast to millions in 1981, to when it all came to a heartbreaking end in the 1990s. In 1992, they announced their separation, but they still made public appearances as Royals for a few more years.
It seemed unlikely, if not impossible, for the two of them to reconcile. By November 1995, Princess Diana was interviewed by BBC in a tell-all discussion conducted by journalist Martin Bashir. Time reported that the interview was planned without the rest of the royal family knowing.
Although Charles had already come clean about his years-long romance outside of his marriage with his old lover and future second wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, Diana revealed everything that had gone wrong in their marriage. She was candid and didn’t hide how she felt.
Princess Diana infamously said, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” She went on to confess that she had a five-year affair with military officer James Hewitt. As you can imagine, the Royals were not very pleased with the Princess doing such a candid interview without notifying them.
Queen Elizabeth (Charles’ mother) was particularly upset about the entire situation. She wrote the couple a letter telling them to hurry up and get divorced already. They finally did in August 1996. But the relationship between Princess Diana and the royal family was forever tainted.
Back in the 1990s, 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie) were each proudly representing their geographic point of origin. But, in 1996, the beef got serious and became known as “the East Coast-West Coast rivalry.”
On one side (East Coast), there was Puff Daddy’s New York-based label, Bad Boy Entertainment, featuring Christopher Wallace… aka The Notorious B.I.G. Out West was Los Angeles’ Death Row Records, showcasing 2Pac (aka Tupac Shakur). Interestingly, 2Pac and Biggie started off as friends, but it didn’t take long for things to take a tragic and fatal turn.
To make a long story short, 2Pac was shot at a New York recording studio in 1994. He blamed the Bad Boy group for being responsible. Of course, they denied any involvement in a 1995 issue of Vibe. A few weeks later, Death Row CEO Suge Knight mocked Puff Daddy from the stage of a music award show.
This made Puffy skip an industry conference in October 1995 since he was being threatened by Knight. But after that, Randy Walker, one of the individuals Tupac previously implicated in the shooting, was found dead in New York.
Flashing forward to mid-1996, Shakur’s video for “2 of Americaz Most Wanted” included a violent scene with B.I.G. and Puffy lookalikes. Then, 2Pac released the song “Hit ‘Em Up,” in which he claimed to have slept with Biggie’s wife.
Unfortunately, nobody wins in these kinds of rivalries. Gang violence is much worse than the petty gossip about pop singers. Both rappers ended up murdered. Shakur died from his injuries after the infamous drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in September 1996. Biggie died the following March after being gunned down in Los Angeles.
Mike Tyson had a long and impressive career in boxing, which included a heavyweight title at 19 years old and a 36-bout winning streak. Not bad. His most powerful successor was Evander Holyfield, who climbed to the top of the boxing industry in the 1990s – during a time Tyson was unavailable to fight because he was in jail for sexual misconduct.
In 1995, Tyson was released and planned a comeback, but in a November 1996 fight at the MGM Grand, Tyson lost to Holyfield. The competitive Tyson wanted another shot at glory, so he agreed to a rematch in June 1997 at the very same venue.
Holyfield outboxed Tyson early in the fight. According to BBC News, he even head-butted his opponent and drew blood. In the third round, Tyson became unleashed, pummeling Holyfield, and then infamously finished off the attack by biting his opponent’s ear. Tyson actually tore off a nice “chunk” of his ear and split it onto the ground.
This was just as painful as you would think. Holyfield pushed Tyson away, and the referee ended the match. But Tyson wasn’t quite done yet; he proceeded to attack the bleeding Holyfield from behind.
As a professional athlete, you would think Tyson would have learned when to stop and not be a sore loser. Unfortunately, his violent temper got the best of him, and everyone got to witness it. Holyfield managed to contain himself, but he later admitted that he “was ready to tackle him and throw him down.” I don’t blame him.
Holyfield ultimately won the fight after Tyson was disqualified. His boxing license was also suspended for 15 months. While he was trying to promote his comeback fight, Tyson proudly confessed, “I would do it again if provoked. I would do it again under the same circumstances.”
Shortly after the death of Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain in 1994, grunge rock started fading away. In 1998, the music style made its last stand in with two big releases: Smashing Pumpkins’ Ava Adore and Hole’s Celebrity Skin. Billy Corgan was involved in both.
He was the chief musical architect and frontman of the Smashing Pumpkins and helped the Hole star Courtney Love write songs for the latter. The pair began dating in the early ‘90s, and she joined Corgan on his European tour in 1991. However, when they wouldn’t pay for her trip back to America, she returned with Nirvana.
That’s when she fell in love and tied the knot with Kurt Cobain. But then she rekindled her romance with Corgan, and Cobain committed suicide a few months later. But then Corgan trashed Celebrity Skin in 1998, saying that the entire ordeal left a “bad taste in [his] mouth.” Meanwhile, Love downplayed the extent of her assistance from Corgan, who called himself Hole’s singer’s “Svengali.”
“Billy does not have a majority of publishing percentage on any one of those songs,” Love revealed. “I feel it’s silly and somewhat sexist to credit Billy Corgan with things Billy Corgan did not do based on the assumption that accomplished male musicians are somehow superior to accomplished female musicians, such as myself.”
In 1999, Oliver Stone, writer and director of intensely truth-telling movies about the horrors of war (Platoon) and politics (Nixon) set his sights on making an even more aggressive and visceral film about professional football entitled Any Given Sunday.
He gathered an all-star cast which included LL Cool J (James Todd Smith) as running back “J-Man” Washington and Jamie Foxx as an egotistical backup quarterback “Steamin’” Willie Beaman. On-screen, there was a lot of hostility between the characters, but it turns out, things weren’t much different behind the scenes.
According to MTV News, in February 1999, while filming a scene at Miami’s Pro Player Stadium, Smith “push[ed]” Foxx and “punched him” in his helmet-covered face. These actions were unscripted for their characters, and the two actors agreed that Smith would warn Foxx next time.
But that didn’t exactly happen. Reportedly, Smith hit Foxx again, this time in the “back of the head.” Foxx apparently got so angry that he retaliated with a smack to the face. I don’t blame Foxx at all. Eventually, cops were called to the set but, luckily, no charges were filed.
The man who attempted to break up their fight at one point was none other than Al Pacino and later pushed the whole fiasco up to The Ringer: “They’re young actors. I think they started mirroring their roles in the film, antagonistic with one another. I think it just carried over.”
It seemed like this was another case of life imitating art, but it didn’t end with the movie. In fact, Smith and Foxx continued their feud for years. But the two eventually made amends and made up at the 2005 Academy Music Awards.
TRL dominated popular music and youth culture in the Y2K era. The MTV after-school video countdown show pitted two distinct fan groups against each other: The bubble-gum pop camp who liked the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, and the edgier teens who liked rock and rap groups like Korn and Limp Bizkit.
But the fight that hit the soul of young America was encapsulated in a feud between pop princess Christina Aguilera and rapper Eminem. It all started in 1999 when the blonde singer told MTV that Eminem had secretly married his girlfriend, Kim.
Eminem called Christina out in The Real Slim Shady, the first single from his 2000 album, The Marshall Mathers LP: “Little b**ch put me on blast on MTV/ ‘yeah, he’s cute, but I think he’s married to Kim, hee-hee’/ I should download her audio on MP3. And show the whole world how you gave Eminem VD.”
Yikes! I mean, it’s a bit of a self-own but also incredibly aggressive toward Christina Aguilera. The singer denied ever being intimate with Eminem. Many people believed that she released a diss-song parody of The Real Slim Shady, telling the rapper to “please shut up.” Plot twist: Christina had nothing to do with the song. Still, it kept their feud in the headlines.