12 of the biggest former child-star scandals

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Miley Cyrus performs onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2009
Miley Cyrus performs onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2009.John Shearer/TCA 2009/WireImage/Getty Images
  • Child stars have been the subject of scandals that derailed their squeaky-clean reputations.

  • "Parent Trap" star Lindsay Lohan was involved in a number of legal incidents between 2007 and 2012.

  • Miley Cyrus faced backlash after her 2009 Teen Choice Awards performance of "Party in the USA."

Former child star Lindsay Lohan became the subject of tabloid headlines for her "party girl" reputation throughout the early 2000s.

Lindsay Lohan in 2004
Lindsay Lohan in 2004.Albert L. Ortega/WireImage/Getty Images

Between 2007 and 2012, Lohan was involved in a slew of legal incidents and entered rehab multiple times for drugs and alcohol-related issues.

In early 2007, Lohan entered a 30-day drug rehab program for the first time while continuing to work on acting projects. However, a few months later in May 2007, Lohan was arrested on a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge after she lost control of her Mercedes-Benz convertible and hit a curb in Beverly Hills, California, according to CNN.

She was arrested two more times and charged with drunk driving and misdemeanor cocaine use that year, in addition to other legal issues relating to her probation and failing to attend alcohol-counseling sessions and a scheduled court hearing. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail for violating her probation, but only served two weeks due to prison overcrowding.

In 2011, Lohan was also charged with theft after police said she walked out of a California jewelry store wearing a "one of a kind" necklace valued at $2,500. The charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor and Lohan was ordered to perform 480 hours of community service and comply with her probation while on house arrest after pleading not guilty to the incident. After failing to perform her community service obligations, she was briefly detained before posting a $100,000 bail.

Despite a troubled past, Lohan is now on the up and up with no recent scandals and a new focus on her acting career. In 2021, she starred in the Netflix holiday movie "Falling for Christmas."

Britney Spears, who once starred in "The Mickey Mouse Club," had a public mental breakdown in 2007 that led to her highly publicized conservatorship.

britney spears
This April 12, 2018 file photo shows Britney Spears at the 29th annual GLAAD Media Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif.Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File

Before Britney Spears was a teen idol with hits like "...Baby One More Time," the singer starred on "The Mickey Mouse Club" alongside other future hitmakers like Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.

However, Spears' flourishing career hit a speed bump when she had a series of highly publicized incidents that made people question her mental health. Prior to the implementation of her conservatorship in 2008, Spears was photographed by paparazzi driving her SUV with her infant son Sean on her lap and not strapped in a car seat, as is required by law in California.

"I made a mistake and so it is what it is, I guess," she said of the incident.

Spears was also criticized after shaving her head and was seen hitting a photographer's car with an umbrella. Spears was later committed to a psychiatric hospital on two occasions, after which her father, Jamie Spears, petitioned for an emergency "temporary conservatorship" to be placed on the singer. The conservatorship ended up lasting 13 years and restricted Spears' access to her finances and limited her agency over personal decisions regarding her health.

Britney Spears has been critical of her family's role in the recently ended conservatorship, saying during her explosive June 2021 hearing that she wanted to take legal action against her family.

"I just want my life back. It's been 13 years, and it's enough. It's been a long time since I've owned my money," Spears said as she addressed the judge handling her case in June 2021. "I would honestly like to sue my family, to be totally honest with you. I also would like to be able to share my story with the world, and what they did to me, instead of it being a hush-hush secret to benefit all of them."

Some fans thought that Jamie Lynn Spears' Nickelodeon show "Zoey 101" was canceled after she got pregnant at 16, but the child star later clarified that wasn't true.

jamie lynn spears and maddie spears
Jamie Lynn Spears with her daughter Maddie.Getty Images

Jamie Lynn Spears was 13 years old when she began filming "Zoey 101." The highly popular show followed Zoey Brooks, a student at the California boarding school Pacific Coast Academy.

The show aired its final episode in 2008, just months after it was reported that the show's lead was pregnant at 16 years old. Fans assumed that the show had ended because Spears was pregnant, or because of the criticism that came along with a young Nickelodeon star becoming pregnant at a young age.

However, Spears told Nylon in 2020 that the scandal had nothing to do with the show ending.

"In today's world, immediately I'd have my social media to post something and it'd be cleared up. But even today, people still have their thoughts about it. I didn't become pregnant until probably six months after we wrapped or something like that, but some of the episodes had not aired yet," she said.

"I think that there was a conversation with Nickelodeon, rightfully so, of, 'Do we air these episodes?' But the show had already wrapped and there was never a negotiation to go into any more seasons," she continued. "We were too old. It was done."

Taylor Momsen, who starred in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" before landing a lead role on "Gossip Girl," left the main cast after she allegedly began acting out on set.

jenny gossip girl taylor momsen
Taylor Momsen in "Gossip Girl" and in a press photo.The CW and Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Taylor Momsen got her big break after she was cast as Cindy Lou Who in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," the 2000 remake of the classic cartoon starring Jim Carrey. However, it wasn't until "Gossip Girl" that the young actress really became a household name.

Momsen starred as Jenny Humphrey, the naive younger sister of Blake Lively's character's primary love interest Dan Humphrey. As the CW show's seasons progressed, her character began dressing edgier, often rocking dark eye makeup and punk-inspired looks that mimicked Momsen's real-life style.

However, rumors swirled that Humphrey's dramatic antics in the script were nothing compared to Momsen's attitude on set. Deadline reported that her character would be sidelined as a series regular due to her "volatile" behavior on set.

Sources said at the time that Momsen was frustrated that the show wasn't supportive of her music career — she is the front woman of the rock band The Pretty Reckless — but featured songs performed by fellow cast member Leighton Meester in the show.

"The show will support Taylor and her music when the time is right, but her music is not ready yet," the network said in a statement at the time.

Guest star Tim Gunn, who appeared in scenes opposite Momsen in a 2010 episode, also criticized the actress' professionalism.

"What a diva," he said. "She was pathetic, she couldn't remember her lines, and she didn't even have that many. I thought to myself 'Why are we all being held hostage by this brat?'"

He also said that Momsen was "always on her phone."

"At one point the director leaned in and whispered to me, 'This is day in, day out, my life,'" Gunn said. "She annoyed the entire crew."

Momsen later said that the show allowed her to be written out in order for her to pursue her music career, not that she was fired from the set for her behavior.

Macaulay Culkin was accused of going off the deep end after starring in the "Home Alone" franchise. However, he later said he never misused drugs or alcohol.

macaulay culkin
Macaulay Culkin.Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Culkin first made headlines when he was a teenager after he legally removed his parents' access to his trust fund and hired an executor to guard his finances. Years later, after photos emerged of the former child star looking disheveled, some questioned Culkin's well-being. However, the "Home Alone" actor later said that while he had used drugs in the past, he was never out of control.

"People assume that I'm crazy, or a kook, or damaged. Weird. Cracked. And up until the last year or two, I haven't really put myself out there at all. So I can understand that," Culkin told Esquire in March 2020. "The story was that I divorced my parents. I just thought I was doing it cleanly — taking my father's name off, taking my mom's name off, so my opinion is unbiased. And when I did that, the whole thing kinda ended a lot faster."

Culkin also said that while he had "played with fire" when it came to substances, he had never been to rehab or needed "outside help."

"I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't had drugs in my life at some point or another," he said. "I had some illuminating experiences ... So besides the occasional muscle relaxer, no, I don't do drugs recreationally. I still kinda drink like a fish. I drink and I smoke. But I don't touch the things. I do love them. They're like old friends. But sometimes you outgrow your friends."

Miley Cyrus was criticized for a Vanity Fair photoshoot she did when she was 15 years old.

Miley Cyrus attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Miley Cyrus attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.Dia Duapasupil/Getty Images

Miley Cyrus was once Disney Channel's golden girl. Between her hit show "Hannah Montana" and her resulting music career, Cyrus was the idol of tween girls around the world in the early 2000s.

However, the actress soon became involved in a series of scandals that threatened her reputation as a "role model" and Disney Channel star.

In 2008, 15-year-old Cyrus appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in what some criticized as a sexually suggestive photoshoot. The photos, taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, showed Cyrus wrapped in what appeared to be a silk sheet with her back exposed. The New York Post ran a cover story titled "MILEY'S SHAME" with a photo from the cover shoot.

"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic,' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed," Cyrus said in a statement at the time. "I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about."

Cyrus later rescinded her apology for the shoot, saying she wasn't sorry and writing an expletive directed at the Post.

Miley Cyrus shocked the world after a performance at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards that some compared to pole dancing.

Miley Cyrus performs onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2009
Miley Cyrus performs onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2009.John Shearer/TCA 2009/WireImage/Getty Images

While performing her hit song "Party in the USA" at the awards ceremony, 16-year-old Cyrus sang and moved around the stage on an ice cream cart. The cart had a pole attached to it for stability, though some took issue with Cyrus dancing on it and likened the seconds-long segment to pole dancing.

"Disney Channel won't be commenting on that performance," the network said in a statement, according to Billboard. "Although parents can rest assured that all content presented on the Disney Channel is age-appropriate for our audience, kids 6-14, and consistent with what our brand values are."

Amanda Bynes was arrested on DUI charges and charged with two different hit-and-run incidents in 2012.

amanda bynes
Amanda Bynes in 2010.Amy Sussman/Getty Images for BCBG Max Azria

The former Nickelodeon star was first arrested on April 6, 2012, after police said she ran into a parked police car in West Hollywood, and refused to submit to a drug or alcohol test. On April 10, she was again accused of hitting another car on the San Fernando Valley's 101 Freeway and fleeing the scene, according to Entertainment Weekly.

In July 2013, Bynes was committed to a 72-hour psychiatric hold after she reportedly set a fire in her own home, according to NBC. After the incident, Bynes' parents requested the court to place her under a conservatorship that controlled her medical, financial, and personal decisions after witnessing the actress' erratic behavior.

She was formally charged with one count of driving under the influence before being accused of another hit-and-run in California in August 2012. Bynes was formally charged with two counts of hit-and-run in September 2012, which she both settled at a later date, and was pulled over for driving with a suspended license. Less than a week later, she was dropped by her agent, publicist, and lawyer.

However, the actress' run-ins with law enforcement were far from over. In May 2013, Bynes was accused of rolling a joint in the lobby of her Manhattan apartment building. When police officers entered her apartment on the 36th floor, she threw a glass smoking device out of the window. She was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, and criminal possession of marijuana. She was admitted to an inpatient facility in California, where she spent nearly six months.

In 2014, she was involuntarily committed to another inpatient facility, and in 2019, she checked into a mental health facility. The stars' conservatorship ended in March 2022 after nine years.

Pop star Justin Bieber, who got his big break when he was 16, landed in hot water after a series of erratic incidents.

justin bieber upset
Justin Bieber in Los Angeles in August 2017.gotpap/STAR MAX/IPx/AP

Bieber has had physical altercations with paparazzi and even fans over the years, but his most infamous scandal occurred when Bieber was seen in a July 2013 video relieving himself into a mop bucket and defacing a photo of former President Bill Clinton.

Though the star later apologized for the incident, he would also go on to have a number of run-ins with the law in connection to assault, careless driving, vandalism, and resisting arrest between 2014 and 2015.

In 2017, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner were criticized for selling shirts showing their faces and copyrighted images of Tupac and Biggie Smalls.

kylie and kendall jenner
Kylie Jenner and Kendall Jenner grew up on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."Christopher Polk/NBC /Getty Images

On June 29, 2017, Kylie and Kendall released a new line of "vintage" T-shirts for their brand Kendall + Kylie. The distressed, faded shirts featured superimposed images of the sisters' faces over famous musicians including Tupac, The Doors, Biggie Smalls, and Ozzy Ozbourne.

The shirts retailed for $125, but the high price tag was the least of everyone's concerns. Some social media users claimed that the reality stars were co-opting musicians' images and that the shirts were "disrespectful," especially to the artists who are now deceased.

The shirts were removed from the Kendall + Kylie website the same day they were released.

Photographer Michael Miller, who took the image of Tupac that appeared on one of the shirts, later sued Kendall and Kylie Jenner, accusing them of using the image without his permission.

According to Rolling Stone, Miller alleged that the Jenners "misappropriated and wrongfully exploited" the photos and "intended to exploit his photography."

The sisters disputed the allegations and said they had received permission to use the photos. The suit was dropped in 2018 but no details about a settlement were released.

The Jenners also received cease and desist orders from The Doors' estate, Notorious B.I.G.'s mother, and Sharon Osbourne, according to The Washington Post.

Kendall Jenner was criticized after appearing in a Pepsi Super Bowl ad that was perceived as "tone-deaf."

Screenshot from the Pepsi ad.
Screenshot from the Pepsi ad.Pepsi

In 2017, Jenner was involved in a scandal surrounding a commercial she acted in for Pepsi. In the commercial, Jenner was seen handing a police officer a can of Pepsi in a gesture seemingly meant to dispel a protest. The advertisement was accused of trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement and being "tone-deaf."

"Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize," the company said in a statement, according to the New York Times. "We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout."

Jenner addressed the controversy on an episode of "KUWTK."

In a tearful apology, Jenner said, "I trusted everyone. I trusted the teams. But after I saw the reaction and I read what people had to say about it, I most definitely saw what went wrong. I was so stuck, and I really didn't know what to do, that I completely shut down."

"I just feel really, really bad. Like, I feel really bad that anyone was ever offended. I feel really bad that this was taken such a wrong way," Jenner later told her older sister Kim Kardashian, according to the Washington Post.

Demi Lovato apologized after bashing a frozen yogurt shop for promoting "diet culture" with its products.

demi lovato
Demi Lovato performs at the premiere of "Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil" on March 22, 2021.Rich Fury/Getty Images for OBB Media

In April 2021, the former Disney Channel star accused Los Angeles frozen yogurt shop The Bigg Chill of "harmful messaging" about diet foods after claiming that they were marketing sugar-free cookies and other options as "guilt-free."

"We are really hurt by Demi's comments," a representative for The Bigg Chill told Insider. "For the past 36 years, our small woman-owned business has catered to anyone who's come through the door. Whether they are diabetic, vegan, gluten-free, or just wanting a decadent dessert, we've always tried to have something for everyone."

Lovato, who has been open about their struggles with body image and disordered eating, was criticized for coming after the small business, after which they apologized for "jumping to conclusions."

"I am very outspoken about the things that I believe in," Lovato said in a video. "I understand that sometimes my messaging can lose its meaning when I get emotional. I am human."

"I'm sorry that I got the messaging wrong. I'm sorry that I may have disappointed some people," Lovato continued. "But I'm not coming after a small business as someone with a lot of followers. That's not what I'm doing."


Read the original article on Insider