Whitney Houston, Mel Gibson, Princess Diana

Kevin Mazur / WireImage; Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept; Jerzy Dabrowski/ZUMA Press

As E! celebrates its 20th birthday, we're marking the event by doing what we do best: Digging up Hollywood's dirty secrets.

In true Awful Truth fashion, we're honoring our network's big day by reminiscing about the top 20 shocking celeb incidents over the past two decades. Untimely demises celebrities brought on themselves (Michael Jackson) or not (Princess Di), and just plain stupid behavior, à la Mel Gibson's tired drunken-ass.

Here goes, and in no particular order:

1. Princess Diana Dies: Aside from the utter shock of Di's too early passing thanks to her drunk driver, stars like Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson chose to use Di's death as a time to crucify the paparazzi for invasive behavior. When do the flashbulbs dangerously cross the line? The auestion's never really been answered satisfactorily.

2. Paris Hilton Goes to Jail: And for what? Probation violation? While Nicole drives the wrong way down a freeway and Lohan parties and pukes all over what barely passes for a legal system in this country? Sheesh. Never thought we'd feel sorry for the spoiled heiress, but we sure almost did then!

Whitney Houston

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

3. Angelina Moves In on Brad Pitt: Once Angie replaced Nicole Kidman in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, she also replaced Jennifer Aniston as the wife in Brad's hunky life. Then Jolie founded an adoption factory to quash the bad press. Almost worked.

4. Whitney Houston Melts Down: What can we say about her during the Bobby Brown years? Just what Whitney herself said: Crack is wack! Unfortunately, Whit's cancellations on her latest tour lead us to believe her disastrous ups and downs may not be whacked out of her life quite yet.

5. O.J. Simpson Beats Murder Charges: Too young to know where the phrase "pull an O.J." came from? Well, just commit a crime and get away with it. It's the verdict that shocked the world. Still believe he's innocent? Write him in prison for the last violent crime he committed and tell him so.

6. Heath Ledger and Brittany Murphy Die: Despite drug rumors that plagued the Dark Knight and Clueless stars for years, no one was ready for these so young (and so talented, particularly Ledger) actors to pass from ostensibly natural causes. Which is really a crock, but we'll leave it at that outta respect.

Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake

Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

7. Justin Timberlake Undresses Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl: Some nipple with your football and beer, anyone? And, of course, the woman takes the blame even though the man stripped her. Pathetically typical.

8. Mel Gibson Lets Loose Misogynistic, Anti-Semitic Rant: Hey Sugar Tits, don't drink and drive—and talk. Upside: Gibson had been treating people, particularly women, badly for years. Now, at least, it came to painfully sober light.

9. Tiger Woods Crashes His Car: Who knew all the porn actresses, cocktail waitresses and mistresses Woods had in his closet (or backseat of his Escalade)? Country-clubbers everywhere cried into their gin on the rocks as golf's golden child showed his true skank colors.

10. Phil Spector Convicted: The music mogul didn't exactly pull an O.J. He was found guilty of murder in the second degree for killing actress Lana Clarkson, whom he said shot herself...after he killed her. Spector shoulda been a publicist.

11. Woody Allen Marries Longtime Girlfriend Mia Farrow's Daughter, Soon-Yi: Everyone in Hollywood lies about their age. Except in Soon's case, she may have wanted to say she was older, so her 35-year age gap didn't seem so weird. Allen really gave creep a new definition on this one.

Sandra Bullock, Jesse James

Steve Granitz/Getty Images

12. Britney Spears Shaves Her Head: Screw Kevin Federline, her white-trash wedding had nothing on the notorious shots of Spears buzzing off her luscious locks...herself.

13. Jesse James Cheats on Sandra Bullock: Nazi poses and tattooed freak mistresses. Who did Sandy marry? Don't think even she knows.

14. Arnold Schwarzenegger Becomes Governor: Sure, an actor being appointed to office in California isn't so crazy (this town—and country—sure can be effed up that way), but don't forget Schwarzenegger still won despite myriad sexual harassment claims, charges and stories from gals not his wife.

15. Eddie Murphy Picks Up a Transvestite: Hey, a prostitute by the name of Atisone Kenneth Seiuli sounds pretty ambiguous to us. Who knew a married celeb cruising Santa Monica Boulevard at 2 a.m. for hookers was a bad idea?

Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey


16. Tom Cruise Jumps for Joy: Shacking up with a gal who was most famous for starring in Dawson's Creek was shocking enough for the A-list actor. Then jumping on Oprah's couch looking all douchey about his new love is what really started Cruise's descent from the top. He shouldn't have fired his longtime rep, Pat Kingsley, who helped make Cruise what he was and who never would have let him unleash like that. (See, I don't hate all publicists!)

17. Heidi Fleiss Opens Little Black Book: Geez, Charlie Sheen has really, um, grown up since all his infamous time spent with Hollywood's most famous madame.

18. Anna Nicole Smith Dies: After marrying a 90-something millionaire for money, being left with nothing, getting fat, getting skinny, getting a reality show...no one was ready for the biggest shock of them all—her very early passing. Which is doubly tragic because Anna was the sweetest, and she first had to endure the passing of her equally sweet son, Daniel. No parent should have to experience such unimaginable pain.

Michael Jackson

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

19. Isaiah Washington Drops an F-Bomb: "I did not call T.R. [Knight] a f----t" was the quote heard round, well, awards season and ultimately was the career kiss of death for the former Grey's Anatomy star. And, look, Washington said it to me at the 2007 Golden Globes—and I still can't believe it.

20. Michael Jackson Dies: Mysteries surrounding Jackson's pedophilia charges disappear as the issue of doctors overprescribing demanding, drug-addicted celebs takes the spotlight. That's a bad thing and ultimately a very good thing. But the worst part about Jackson's death is that he was the world's greatest living musical genius who gave in to his demons. We were always rooting for him, in the end, even though I'm sure we never said so often enough.

Sorry, Michael, you are missed.

So what shockers from the past couple of decades give you folks the most pause? Alec Baldwin and that hideous "rude thoughtless little pig" message to his poor daughter, Ireland? Weigh in below!


Check out our 20 Years of Scandals gallery—and the rest of our birthday goodies!

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