Understanding Bankruptcy 3/15

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Question: Did you ever want to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous? Celebrities file bankruptcy too!

In the mid ’80s to early ’90s, a television show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” was broadcast in America with its host, Robin Leach, showing the everyday American how the rich and famous lived their lives, often on exotic vacations. Celebrities are often admired, imitated and fawned over in our society.

But when you look closely, those celebrities are not any different from the average “Joe” on the street. However, unlike “Joe,” who can file for bankruptcy protection and have privacy, celebrities filing for bankruptcy make headlines and fingers get pointed about why or how or what caused financial distress.

While the celebrity lifestyle may be quite different from “Joe’s,” financial distress has the same effect on everyone, and everyone is entitled to a fresh start, no matter how many (or how few) paparazzi stalk them.

Listed below are a few (not all) bankruptcies of film and television stars who have filed for bankruptcy protection:

Real Housewives of New Jersey: Terese & Joe Giudice, Danielle Staub, Chris Manzo (his company);

Real Housewives of New York: Sonja Morgan;

Real Housewives of Orange County: Alexis & Jim Bellino, Simon Barney, Tammy Knickerbocker, Lynne & Frank Curtin;

Real Housewives of Atlanta: Lisa Wu Hartwell;

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: Taylor & Russell Armstrong;

Real Housewives of D.C.: Michaele & Tareq Salahi;

Stephen Baldwin, one of the Baldwin brothers/acting family;

Gary Busey, who continues to have financial difficulty with the IRS;

Kim Basinger, who bought a town house for $20 million right before she was sued for more than $8 million (breach-of-contract case);

Lorraine Bracco, who admitted when interviewed that bankruptcy is a humbling experience;

Tia Carrere, who was accused of filing bankruptcy to get out of her contract with ABC;

Gary Coleman, now deceased, but who was once the highest-paid child actor in his era;

Francis Ford Coppola, who had many box office successes, also had failures that put his studio at risk;

Walt Disney, who created Mickey Mouse AFTER his bankruptcy and went on to fantastic success;

Burt Reynolds, whose bad investments caused his financial distress;

Zsa Zsa Gabor, who filed bankruptcy after losing a libel suit filed by Elke Sommer;

Mickey Rooney, who also became a victim of elder financial abuse after his bankruptcy
Corey Haim, now deceased, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Haim was best known for his roles in Lost Boys and Lucas;

Don Johnson, another actor who rose to success in the ’80s and fell hard in 2004;

Margot Kidder, actress, whose mental illness amplified the financial turmoil in her life in the late ’80s and early ’90s;

Randy Quaid, another ’80s star, who filed for bankruptcy in 2010, then fled to Canada with his wife and sought refuge;

Debbie Reynolds, who had to sell her celebrity memorabilia during the bankruptcy process;

John Wayne, “The Duke,” was among the top box-office draws for three decades;

Nadya Shuleman, otherwise known as “Octomom,”

Heidi Fleiss, aka the Hollywood Madam, whose financial troubles continued post-bankruptcy;

John Wayne Bobbitt, whose angry wife dismembered him, and went on to become an adult-film star;

Casey Anthony, who was found not guilty for the murder of her child while most of America believes she was guilty;

Anna Nicole Smith, whose real name was “Vicki Lynn Marshall”, rose to fame as the 1993 Playboy Bunny of the Year.

Next Week’s Question: What can Lenny Dykstra teach you about the perils of bankruptcy fraud?

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