Not All Sunshine: Beloved Celebrities With Dark Pasts

Pretending to be happy, charming and likeable is just part of the job for most celebrities; therefore it’s no surprise that the public sometimes forgets about their favorite star’s troubled pasts. Here are six famous people whose shady histories are unknown, or simply overlooked.

Matthew Broderick

Forever known and loved for his iconic role as teenaged slacker Ferris Bueller, Matthew Broderick has enjoyed a long, successful career, and is a well-respected figure of the stage and screen.

Perhaps that’s why so few people know about the 1989 holiday car crash he caused that left two people dead. After the success of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Broderick and his then girlfriend, Jennifer Grey of Dirty Dancing fame, were vacationing in Northern Ireland when a seaside drive along the cliffs went terribly wrong.

Broderick, forgetting that he should have been driving on the left side of the road, collided head on with another car that was rounding a corner. Both the driver and the passenger of the other car, a mother and daughter, were pronounced dead on the scene. Broderick was convicted of careless driving and paid a fine of just $175.

Everett Collection /

Everett Collection /

The Kardashians

Long before any sex tapes or reality shows, the Kardashian clan was well-known for another reason: their father’s role in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.


Robert Kardashian, a lawyer and long-time friend of Simpson, was a member of the defense in the infamous 1994 trial for the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman. It’s been speculated that Kardashian not only helped Simpson evade conviction in the court room, but that he also helped him get away with the murder itself.

The day after the killings took place, Kardashian was allegedly seen leaving Simpson’s house carrying a garment bag, which some speculate may have contained missing evidence that would have convicted Simpson, such as the murder weapon or his bloody clothing.

The truth will likely never be uncovered, as Robert Kardashian died of esophageal cancer in 2003, but the cloud of doubt surrounding his involvement with the Simpson case continues to be of interest to the public, and will be depicted in an upcoming FX mini-series, The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

Public Domain

Public Domain

Sean Penn

Sean Penn may have gotten his start as the dim-witted Jeff Spicoli in the ’80s teen classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but later proved he had some serious acting chops with his Oscar winning dramatic turns in Mystic River and Milk. He’s also shown his humanitarian side, through his work with the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Haitian earthquake, and numerous other social justice issues.

However, he probably won’t be winning any awards for “Husband of the Year” any time soon; for decades, Penn has been involved in numerous incidences of domestic violence reported by multiple media outlets.

According to police reports, Penn was abusive to pop-singer Madonna during their marriage in the 1980s and allegedly once hit her across the head with a baseball bat, bound, gagged and sexually assaulted her. Madonna was finally able to escape and filed a police report, but later asked the prosecution to drop the charges against Penn. Penn also has a long history of violent run-ins with men, including members of the paparazzi and film extras.

Tinseltown /

Tinseltown /

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