Sex, lies, celebrity and secrets threw them into the spotlight. Then, after making headlines, personal hardship and scandal rocked their lives — and almost destroyed them.
But these once-notorious newsmakers — Sarah Ferguson, Macaulay Culkin, Kato Kaelin, Greg Louganis, Donna Rice Hughes and Mariah Carey — struggled through adversity and turned their lives around for the better.
I was the first to interview them when they were caught in a glare of publicity that, for them, felt like a very public form of imprisonment. I sat down with them once again to talk about how they got through it all.
Kato Kaelin's career was made by a murder trial. He became an unlikely star in "the trial of the century" because he happened to be living at O.J. Simpson's home the night Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered.
The prosecution saw him as a hostile witness, but he says he now sees things differently.
"In my heart, I believe he's guilty, yes," he says of Simpson. "I couldn't understand why he was acquitted."
His life will be forever defined by where he was on the night of June 12, 1994. And though he's bothered that his notoriety came about "in such a horrendous way," Kaelin, 43, says, "I accept the glare."
Since the trial, the infamous houseguest has appeared on talk shows, game shows and commercials. He recently shot a pilot for a reality-TV series called Houseguest, in which he travels across the country, knocks on doors and spends the weekend with unsuspecting families.
He's capitalizing on his notoriety now, but being thrust in the limelight eight years ago came with its difficulties.
"I think sometimes, some people have the wrong image: This guy who was the freeloader. A person doing drugs and a guy who they thought maybe lied on trial," he says. "It really is the complete opposite. I'm a guy who came from Wisconsin 20 years ago, pursuing my dream of getting into show business."
Today Kaelin is living the life he always wanted to live, spending time at the Playboy mansion and going to Hollywood parties. What he most wants people to know about him, he says, is that "Kato is just a regular guy pursuing his dream that he's had his entire life. Let him pursue that dream.… I really think you'd like the guy."
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Before there was Monica Lewinsky, there was Donna Rice. She wasn't a Washington intern, but her tryst with Gary Hart trapped her in the spotlight, captivated the country, and may have changed the outcome of a presidential election.
Her reputation was shattered — as was Gary Hart's political career — in May 1987, when reporters staked out Hart's Washington, D.C., townhouse, where it appeared he and Rice had spent a night together.
"It has been the most difficult, painful and humiliating experience," she told me in her first interview after the story broke.
The scandal not only marked the end of Hart's career, but also the beginning of a new phenomenon: The sex lives of politicians had become fair game for reporters.
Back then, she wouldn't tell me whether or not she slept with Hart; 15 years later, she still won't say.
"I knew I'd made plenty of mistakes, but that didn't mean that I had to continue to make poor choices," she said, pointing out that she also never sold her story for money — despite many offers.