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The bigger they are the harder they fall. MEET the stars who plummeted from the pinnacles to the gutter. Some have risen Phoenix-like, from the ashes – others less so.
HAPPY DAYS have come and gone for the actress who played Richie’s kid sister Joanie. The former child star has gone from a sitcom cutie to a bitter, middle-age boozer who has bounced around from motel to motel after being thrown out of the trailer she was sharing with her mother-in-law. Last year she and her husband Steven Fleischmann, 46, lost their California home to foreclosure, so they moved into a trailer with his mom in Salisbury, Ind. But after only four months, Fleischmann’s mother reportedly threw them out because she couldn’t handle Erin’s hard partying. Since then, the bickering couple has been moving from rented room to rented room, living mostly on the $65,000 Erin reportedly received as a settlement from a lawsuit over merchandising rights for Happy Days. But insiders fear she’ll be living on the street after she burns through the windfall. Recently, Erin, 53, on October 18, was spotted taunting her husband of 20 years to his face at a bowling alley, slamming his abilities as a breadwinner. Then, after downing numerous tequila shots, she reportedly began making out with another woman!
WHEN “The Partridge Family” TV series ended in 1974, the 15-year-old redhead was one of the richest kids in America. Soon afterward, he became a homeless alcoholic and drug addict, camping out behind Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. “I lived right behind this Dumpster but I lived in my car,” says Danny, 54. “I’d be taking pictures with people and signing autographs. I was still famous, and people had no idea I lived behind the Dumpster. When I knew they wouldn’t see me, I would sneak back to my car. It was totally embarrassing to be famous and homeless.” He recalls turning to booze to get off drugs. “I was probably legally drunk for about 25 years,” he says. After several brushes with the law and stints in rehab, the former child star launched a career as a radio DJ in the ’80s. Now, he hosts a radio show in Seattle, Wash. And in 2010, the twice divorced entertainer married actress Amy Railsback, 31. Danny admits: “Amy’s keeping me on the straight and narrow, and I love it.”
FROM 1979 to 1990, while starring in TV’s “Eight Is Enough” and “Charles In Charge”, the heartthrob actor raked in about $1 million a year. After his Hollywood career fzzled, he began producing Christian and family films. But by December 2008, the ex-teen idol was broke, twice-divorced and homeless. “I stayed with friends when I could, slept in parking garages or in the park,” recalls Willie, 53. “It was shameful. I remember laying underneath the bushes thinking: ‘Is this how it turns out? Is this how my life really turns out?’ ” By 2010, he pulled his life together to become, of all things, a certified financial adviser. He says: “I’ve gone from just trying to help myself to helping others.” Plus, he’s kept his hand in showbiz by working on cruise ships, both as a cruise director and an entertainer.
IN the mid-’90s, the actress — who shot to fame as Lois Lane in four “Superman” movies — snapped! She vanished into Los Angeles’ homeless community, sleeping in cardboard boxes and backyards. She was eventually found hiding outside a Glendale home, with her hair hacked off and minus her front teeth caps. When the owner confronted her, the actress told the woman: “I may not look like it, but I’m Margot Kidder.” Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the 65-year-old now lives in Montana with her daughter. “I’m no longer delusional,” Margot says. “I guess I came to terms with my demons.”
IN 1960, the former Miss Sweden became an international sex symbol when she leaped fully clothed into a Roman fountain for director Federico Fellini’s classic Italian fIlm “La Dolce Vita”. Now 82, the actress has suffered a string of misfortunes. First, she ended up in a nursing home after she fell and broke her leg. Next, thieves raided her empty house, located outside Rome, and pillaged her jewelry and furniture. Then a fire rendered her house unlivable. Now she’s in danger of being kicked out of the nursing home if she can’t meet its bills. And her accountant says she’s virtually penniless.
ACTRESS, comic and addict, the now 55-year-old self-destructed while riding high on the success of starring in the Top 10 sitcom “Grace Under Fire”. The show, which ran from 1993 to 1998, shut down when she crashed and burned on booze and drugs. “I almost died like Michael Jackson, I was dying of addiction,” admits the former standup queen. “I did everything but crack and needles. I did it till the wheels came off. I lost my husband, my job, the respect of people I admire greatly, everything.” While yo-yoing in and out of rehab, Brett packed on 100 pounds, dumped her L.A. home and bought a farm in Georgia. But she literally lost the farm when she ran out of money and soon ended up in a homeless shelter. Eventually, she conquered her demons of drink and drugs and lost the 100 pounds. Recently, she landed a recurring bit part as a bartender on Charlie Sheen’s FX sitcom “Anger Management”. “I’m grateful just for the shot,” she says. “I’m just trying to show up and be a good worker.”