By Stacy Jenel Smith
Every year has its celebrity scandals, but 2009 was a real slog through tawdry territory, complete with sleazy extortion attempts, shocking violence - and lots and lots of adultery. Herewith, a look back on the disgraceful stories that kept everyone talking this year:
John Travolta Blackmail Attempt
John Travolta and Kelly Preston's devastation over the Jan. 2 death of their beloved son Jett was exacerbated by an alleged demand for $25 million from a paramedic and a Bahamian official - to keep secret a document that said Scientologist Travolta initially wanted to fly his son from the Bahamas to Florida for treatment after his seizure.
Chris Brown Arrested for Assault
Fans were horrified when news broke that R&B star Chris Brown had been arrested on charges of assaulting girlfriend Rihanna. A photo released of her battered face was a shock. They got together briefly three weeks after the incident, but then severed ties. Each discussed the sad story in TV interviews. He got five years probation.
Stern Charged in Anna Nicole Smith Death
The 2007 death of Anna Nicole Smith finally led to her longtime companion and lawyer, Howard K. Stern, being charged with conspiracy to furnish drugs to a person who was clearly an addict. Five more felony charges were filed against him and two doctors in September, with records showing some 44 different prescriptions involved.
Mel Gibson's Wife Files for Divorce
After 28 years of marriage and seven children, Robyn Gibson filed legal papers to put an end to her union with Mel. Soon the truth about Mel's Russian girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, came to light and he was referring to himself as "Octo-dad" on Jay Leno's show. Oksana gave birth to their daughter Lucia Anne Oct. 30.
Jon & Kate Gosselin Marriage Blows Up
"I Did Not Cheat on Kate" insisted Jon Gosselin of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" in People magazine in May. Soon Kate Gosselin was denying impropriety in her relationship with her bodyguard. The Gosselin's sordid split made tabloid fuel all summer. TLC and Jon sued each other. Their sextuplets and twins just lived with it.
Miss California USA Carrie Prejean Dethroned
Prejean's answer to a pageant question, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, stirred the ire of the gay community and made her into a new conservative banner carrier. The pageant bounced her two months later claiming she'd become uncooperative. She sued. The legal war was settled after the revelation of a sex tape.
LeAnn Rimes, Eddie Cibrian Leave Mates
They denied having an affair during production of their "Northern Lights" Lifetime movie, but in July, LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian separated from their respective spouses, and each was getting a divorce by September, when they went public as a couple. Eddie's OTHER other woman came out with her story in December.
Michael Jackson Death Ruled Homicide
The L.A. coroner's ruling on the King of Pop's June death brought out a detective's affidavit that included Dr. Conrad Murray's admission that he had plied the superstar with an array of powerful sedatives in the hours before his death. Also in August: Miley Cyrus drew criticism for pole dancing on The Teen Choice Awards.
Mackenzie Phillips, Kanye West, Roman Polanski
In her "High On Arrival" book, Phillips revealed that she and her father, the late John Phillips, had a 10-year consensual sexual relationship. Also in September: Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's VMA acceptance speech to announce that Beyonce should have won. And sex felony fugitive Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland.
David Letterman's Affairs Come to Light
When David Letterman testified before a grand jury about a $2 million blackmail attempt made on him, "I had to tell them all of the creepy things that I had done," he explained to his "Late Night" audience. Yep, he'd had sex with women staffers. Days later, he made an on-air apology to his wife, Regina Lasko - and drew high ratings.
Adam Lambert's R-rated AMA Performance
Some 1500 viewers called to complain that Adam Lambert's American Music Awards number was lewd after he kissed a man and had another guy's head suggestively positioned by his crotch. ABC banned him from live shows. Also in November: Levi Johnston's Playgirl pictures came out, to the chagrin of his son's grandma, Sarah Palin.
Tiger Woods' Affairs
The greatest golfer in the world's role model status crashed along with the SUV he ran into a tree after a fight with wife Elin Nordegren. Soon the world knew that Tiger had been quite a player off the links as well as on, with reports that there were three other women. No, wait, six. No, wait, nine…'SNL' and other shows mocked him to the max.
Syndicated Columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith are featured in over 100 print publications and other media outlets with cutting edge celebrity news and insider scoop. Enjoy their columns daily on CompuServe and Netscape.