8 Great Celebrity Comebacks

PHOTO: Paula Deen
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After a tearful exit from the celebrity cooking circuit almost three months ago, Paula Deen is showing signs she's set for a spectacular comeback, receiving a standing ovation in her first public appearance at a cooking demonstration in Texas over the weekend.

A sniffly Deen told the cheering crowd she'd hit a "little rough patch," referring to her admitted use of a racial slur, following which the 66-year-old Southern chef's career deflated as swiftly as soggy soufflé.

First the Food Networking dropped her show, and then other companies subsequently cut off ties and endorsement deals with Deen that were reportedly worth millions.

But Deen's appearance in front of the approximately 1,400-strong crowd, who paid up to $400 each to attend the demonstration, signals that the disgraced chef's career is back on the front burner. She begged for forgiveness and her fans have responded in kind, proving that when it comes to celebrities, America is the land of second opportunities.

Here's a look at more incredible comebacks by celebrities who fought their way back into the limelight.

PHOTO: Charlie Sheen
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Charlie Sheen

Sheen's dishonorable discharge from the CBS's "Two and a Half Men" came around the time the 47-year-old actor suffered a very public substance-fueled meltdown in early 2011. Long known for his abuse of alcohol and drugs, Sheen appeared on interview after interview, spewing a string of bizarre rants about being a "warlock" with "tiger blood" and a "total bitchin' rock star from Mars."

After years of lawsuits, battles with exes, claims of domestic violence, overdoses and arrests for assault and property damage, Sheen admitted in 2012 that he may not have been "winning" after all, saying that (another) stint in rehab helped him gain some perspective. It set the scene for his return to TV, with the new FX show, "Anger Management," in which he plays a therapist opposite Selma Blair.

PHOTO: Robert Downey Jr
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Robert Downey Jr.

The actor who made his film debut at the age of 5, rose to fame in the '80s as one of the so-called "Brat Pack," starring in "Less Than Zero" and "Weird Science," among other movies, and as a cast member of "Saturday Night Live." But Downey's life-long battle with drugs became especially hard in the '90s, and his habit eventually landing him in a California rehabilitation facility.

After emerging in 2000, a likely comeback as Callista Flockhart's love interest on the popular TV series "Ally McBeal" was thwarted when he was arrested two more times and fired from the show. But the Academy-award nominated actor has managed to finally kick his drug habit and has been welcomed back warmly by Hollywood and movie fans alike. He's since proven his talent and his worth with appearances in the critically acclaimed "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," and in the high-grossing blockbuster movies of the "Sherlock Holmes," "Iron Man" and "Avengers" franchises.

PHOTO: Martha Stewart
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Martha Stewart

The queen of craft and multibillion-dollar business tycoon Martha Stewart's incredible reversal of fortune since her fall from grace is owed to more than just good luck. The lifestyle entrepreneur revealed in 2012 that she carefully planned the resuscitation of her career from the moment she was convicted and imprisoned for insider trading in 2004.

Since then, there seems to be no end to her successes and ever-growing empire, which includes the launch of her magazine, "Martha Stewart Living," her ascension onto New York Times' bestseller list for her book "The Martha Rules," and a starring role on a daytime television show.

PHOTO: Britney Spears
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Britney Spears

After the head shaving, paparazzi assaults, dates with paparazzi, public custody battles and hospitalizations, Spears seems to have once again magically transformed herself from "hot mess" to simply "hot."

But so enthralled is America by the "Princess of Pop," the erratic behavior was all but forgiven when her supposed comeback album "Circus" was released in 2008 -- deemed by critics to be a real return to form for the Grammy Award-winner.

The singer-cum-actress began her career as a cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club and quickly rose to fame with such hits as "Baby One More Time," "Lucky" and "Stronger."

Her newest single, "Work Bitch," was leaked to fans over the weekend ahead of the release of her latest album, which the 31-year-old has promised as her "most personal" album ever. She's even launched a comeback countdown on her website titled "all eyes on me," leading down to an announcement on Sept. 17.

PHOTO: Alec Baldwin
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Alec Baldwin

There's no pinpointing one specific comeback moment for Alec Baldwin, the former "30 Rock" actor, comedian, WNYC radio host and father. The public is well accustomed to the 55-year-old's raging temper tantrums, which have resulted in numerous physical and verbal assaults on journalists and incidents such as his fracas with a flight attendant, a nasty outburst left on a voicemail message to his daughter and a host of ranting tweets.

But each time, Baldwin, has seemingly charmed and joked his way out of his scandalous behavior, steadily moving from strength to strength in his career, which includes co-hosting the Oscars in 2010 and landing roles in films like "The Departed" and Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love."

The recent announcement that he is set to host his own Friday-night talk show on MSNBC, beginning in October, seals the idea that Baldwin is truly bulletproof when it comes to his reputation.

PHOTO: Vanessa Williams
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Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams was just 20 when she became the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America in 1983. The blue-eyed beauty queen was set for a promising career, until nude photos of her surfaced in Penthouse Magazine, forcing her early abdication.

After quietly slipping into anonymity for a number of years, Williams, now 50, reemerged in the late '80s as an R&B singer and released an album for which she earned three Grammy nominations. The multi-talented starlet continued her rebound with forays into film and broadway, appearing in movies such as "Eraser," in which she starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, and later made her way onto popular television shows like "Ugly Betty" and "Desperate Housewives."

Nicole Richie

Nicole Richie quickly achieved superstardom status as Paris Hilton's sidekick on the reality series, "The Simple Life," not forgetting the fact she is also the adopted daughter of singer Lionel Ritchie. It was almost inevitable then that Ritchie would follow in the footsteps of her best gal pal while they both faced major charges for DUI. Richie eventually struck a plea deal and served only 82 minutes of her four-day prison sentence.

The 31-year-old mother of two who garnered an inordinate amount of media attention for her partying antics and rumored eating disorder, has since written a semi-autobiographical novel titled "The Truth About Diamonds," has started her own fashion line, starred in a reality fashion television show on NBC alongside Jessica Simpson and has also made advances in the musical theater world.

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