Instagram | @charlizeafrica

10+ Tragic Celebrity Stories Fans May Not Know About

Sarah Kester 29 Jan 2021

Given their current glitz and glamour, many assume that celebrities haven't had a hard life.

But it's actually to the contrary, as many have overcome difficult hardships. This includes everything from poverty to bullying. Some even encountered grizzly murders!

If you're ready for it, here are 10+ tragic celeb stories you may not know about.

1. Jennifer Hudson

Instagram | @iamjhud

With her bright smile and angelic voice, you would have never have guessed the hardships Jennifer Hudson has faced.

The singer’s mother, brother, and seven-year-old nephew were horrifically murdered by her former brother-in-law, William Balfour, in 2012.

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Growing up in a well-known family in Columbia meant that Vergara faced the hardships of being a target for kidnappings and extortion.

Years after she “escaped” to America, she was sadly informed that her brother had been shot and killed in the streets of her hometown.

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Three years after a hard divorce, the actress and singer experienced the worst nightmare a mother could face.

In March of 2010, her 18-year-old adopted son Michael tragically took his own life. He had been battling substance abuse and depression stemming from his parent's divorce.

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Yeezy had a rough go at it when he suffered a broken jaw from a car crash in 2002.

But nothing could compare to the pain of losing his mother, Donda, in 2007, a day after she had plastic surgery.

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5. Mark Ruffalo

Instagram | @markruffalo

His younger brother, Scott, was a murder victim.

In December 2008, Scott was shot dead in his Beverly Hills apartment. The murder is still unsolved to this day, sadly. As if that wasn't bad enough, Mark was also once diagnosed with a brain tumor.

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Since the Never Been Kissed star was a self-proclaimed "party girl," her mom sent her to a rehab institution by age 12.

When she broke sobriety, she hit rock bottom by contemplating suicide and even going to a mental institution for 18 months.

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7. Jamie Lee Curtis


For 10 years, the actress had been nursing a secret Vicodin addiction and no one knew.

"I was the wildly controlled drug addict and alcoholic. I never did it when I worked. I never took drugs before 5 p.m. I never, ever took painkillers at 10 in the morning," she told Variety.

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A lot of the star's tragic childhood was written in her memoir, Inside Out.

One of these stories was how Demi had to endure her mother's many suicide attempts at a young age. This included digging pills from her mom's mouth.

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That wasn't the only trauma she endured from her mother.

Instagram | @demimoore

In a bone-chilling interview with Good Morning America, she revealed that her mother once “sold her” to a man one night for $500.

He ended up sexually assaulting her.

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9. Jim Carrey

[Warner Bros via YouTube] (

Before he was making the world laugh with his movies, life for Jim Carrey wasn't so funny.

After his dad lost his job, the family was forced to live in a van and all work to make money.

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The James Bond actor was thrust into single fatherhood after his wife Cassandra tragically died of ovarian cancer.

This left him with three kids to raise alone. Thankfully, he took on the role with grace, making him one of Hollywood's best single dads!

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Oprah's life as a young adult was a far cry from the glamorous life she's living now.

She dealt with traumatic things such as sexual abuse, abandonment, and living in poverty before she worked her way up the media mogul ladder.

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12. Woody Harrelson

Instagram | @woodyharrelson

Woody was just 12 when he heard his father's name mentioned on the radio in regard to a murder trial.

His father, Charles V Harrelson, was jailed for five years in 1973 for the murder of a man.

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13. Dylan McDermott

Instagram | @dylan.mcdermott

This horror movie actor had his own horror story when his mother was murdered by her boyfriend when he was only five.

A young Dylan contacted the police, informing them about information. This gave them enough evidence to charge John Sponza with murder.

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14. Tina Fey

Paramount Pictures

When she was five and living in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a stranger came up and attacked the comedian out of nowhere.

"It's impossible to talk about it without somehow seemingly exploiting it and glorifying it," the comedian told Vanity Fair in 2018.

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15. Terrence Howard

Instagram | @theterrencehoward](

What should have been a merry day turned horrific when Terrence's father got mad at an older man for cutting in line to see Santa Claus.

His father ended up stabbing the man to death with a nail file, making the murder known as “the Santa Line Slaying." He was sentenced to 11 years in prison when Terrence was just two years old.

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16. Joaquin Phoenix

[DreamWorks via YouTube] (

Before Joaquin rose to fame, it was his older brother River Phoenix who paved the way with iconic roles in Stand By Me and My Own Private Idaho.

Sadly, he ended up dying from a drug overdose.

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He had taken a combination of cocaine, heroin, and valium together, also known as “speedball."


The Joker actor honored the memory of his late brother when he welcomed his first child with fiancée Rooney Mara.

They named him River after him.

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17. Charlize Theron

Instagram | @charlizeafrica

The actress has overcome a lot. When she was a kid, her mother killed her father in self-defense.

This happened when her abusive alcoholic father came home intoxicated and threatened her mother with a gun.

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