Ed McMahon's Home for Sale ... Again

"I decided to just let it go, but in most cases and most families, they have nowhere else to go," he said.

Conseco wasn't the only star to refer to the country's wider housing crisis when discussing his own troubles.

After news of his housing straits became public, McMahon said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that "economy problems" had kept him from successfully selling his Beverly Hills mansion.

"It's like a perfect storm. ... Selling the house right now is a tremendous operation," he said.

Howard Bragman, a spokesman for McMahon, suggested that by speaking publicly about his problems, McMahon may be doing a service to others facing foreclosure.

"It's important for the respect of the millions of Americans who are also going through foreclosure that somebody stands up and says, 'I'm not going to hide, I'm not going to lie,'" he said recently.

Sharga said that McMahon, in particular, may be an especially sympathetic public figure because of his recent struggles. McMahon has said that he stopped working after breaking his neck a year and a half ago.

"I don't know a lot of people who felt terribly sad about Michael Jackson possibly losing Neverland Ranch or Jose Conseco having lost a home to foreclosure," Sharga said. "I guess most people can't relate to a themed-amusement park home but can certainly relate to somebody buying a house and suddenly not being able to afford it because of physical problems."

Society in Denial

At least one nonprofit group is hoping that McMahon's notoriety will help bolster its own causes.

Almost immediately after news of McMahon's possible foreclosure broke, Wider Opportunities for Women, an economic advocacy group for women and families, released a statement comparing McMahon's housing woes to the financial hardships faced by older Americans.

"Whether we like it or not, it seems like the American public primarily responds to crises that can affect all of us when they affect highly visible people like Ed McMahon," Joan Kuriansky, the group's executive director, told ABCNews.com.

The group's decision to highlight McMahon's situation, Kuriansky said, was "not a reflection of our sympathy for him but rather a reflection of the almost double standard that we have in this country where we can pay attention to someone like Ed McMahon and his plight, which is obviously much different from that of the majority of Americans who are struggling to get by."

But whether or not the experiences of McMahon and others will serve as effective cautionary tales remains to be seen.

Los Angeles psychologist Lilli Friedland said that many people don't want to believe news of celebrities facing foreclosure.

"The primary reason people look up to celebrities is because they look at them as heroes or as aspirational ideals -- these incredible people who have perfect bodies, who are perfect athletes, who really knew how to make it," she said.

In some people's eyes, recognizing that someone as rich and accomplished as a celebrity could face financial troubles "would really say something traumatic about our society and our economic status," Friedland said.

A person might wonder, "If they can make bad deals, then there's no hope for me as the normal person," she said.

Happily Ever After?

Some celebrities have managed to avoid foreclosure in unconventional ways.

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