They often live in estates and have chauffeurs and personal chefs. When they travel, they don't fly coach -- if they even fly commercial. They have entourages and security guards to keep groupies and autograph seekers at bay. They're celebrities, and their lives are often designed to have little connection with the general public. But when things go wrong -- a shooting, an overdose or unexpected sickness -- there's no velvet-lined medical treatment center awaiting famous people. Instead, they visit the same emergency rooms as everyone else and find that their fans are just as interested in their troubles as their successes -- maybe more so.
From comedians to musicians to actors, here are some of the more notable celebrities who've ended up in the ER and the series of events that led them there. Some are minor mishaps, others are tragic, but all involved fame and lots of media coverage. First up, a grunge rock sensation seeks medical attention just a month before his ultimate demise.
5: Rock Legend Kurt Cobain
When Nirvana front man and grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound on April 8, 1994, the music world was stunned. But based on what happened just a month prior, the news was not altogether surprising.
On March 6, while touring with his band in Rome, the 27-year-old overdosed on tranquilizers and Champagne. With his wife Courtney Love by his side, Cobain was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he spent the next four days. The overdose was reportedly accidental -- the musician's agents covered up the fact that he'd written a suicide note. An intervention was held for Cobain on March 25 at the couple's Seattle home. Members of Nirvana insisted they'd break up the band if their leader didn't stop using drugs. Love said she'd leave if she had to. Less than two weeks later, Cobain's next suicide attempt was successful [sources: Burlingame; Gold].
4: Domestic Diva Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart has built a business empire based on her style and organizational skills. On the night of Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011 she had to display grace under pressure.
Stewart, an admitted dog lover, had stooped down to tell her French bulldog goodbye before leaving her home for New York City. The dog, Francesca, who had been sleeping, was startled and jumped up, hitting Stewart in the face. The blow left a deep gash on the domestic diva's upper lip. Despite the pain and blood, she arranged to have a plastic surgeon meet her at her neighborhood hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y.
Nine stitches later, Stewart was back to her busy schedule, including television appearances. Dog Frannie, says Stewart, felt terrible and cowered in her bed after head-butting her famous owner [source: Stewart].
3: Drummer Rick Allen
The rock band Def Leppard was rising to stardom in 1984 when its drummer, Rick Allen, sustained a horrific injury in a car crash. On New Year's Eve, Allen was driving his Corvette Stingray on a country road when he lost control of the vehicle, which overturned into a field. The 21 year-old was thrown from the sports car, but not before its seat belt tore off his left arm. A police officer (who would later say it was a miracle that Allen survived) found the rock star's severed limb under the car's dashboard.
Allen was taken by ambulance to Royal Hallamshire Hospital where surgeons were able to reattach the arm. Unfortunately, an infection set in and the appendage had to be amputated.
Despite the enormous setback, Allen helped design a drum set that allowed him to play using both his feet and his right arm. The band went on to realize even greater commercial success [source: VH1].
2: Actress Elizabeth Taylor
The hospital emergency room was virtually a home away from home for screen legend Elizabeth Taylor. Known for her sultry performances, multiple marriages and tumultuous off-screen life, Taylor experienced a multitude of health problems too lengthy to completely detail. During the filming of "National Velvet" at age 12, Taylor injured her back when she was thrown from a horse. In the 1960s she underwent an emergency tracheotomy while suffering from pneumonia. A benign brain tumor landed her in the hospital in 1997 and congestive heart failure, which eventually took her life, resulted in hospitalization in her later years.
The glamorous actress admitted her body was "a mess," but she didn't let it stop her, saying, "I've been through it all, baby. I'm Mother Courage [source: Lloyd, Hellmich]."
1: Pop Sensation Michael Jackson
Like his close friend, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson was not a stranger to the ER. The "King of Pop" was burned on his face and head while filming a Pepsi commercial, suffered from back and lung problems, and was rushed by ambulance the UCLA Medical Center emergency room a final time on June 25, 2009 after being found unresponsive in his bed.
While resuscitation efforts continued for nearly 90 minutes, the emergency room doctor would later testify in court that Jackson was dead on arrival. A coroner ruled his death a homicide due to "acute propofol intoxication," although several other drugs were found in Jackson's system, including the sedatives midazolam and diazepam, the painkiller lidocaine and the stimulant ephedrine. Propofol was the drug Jackson reportedly liked to have administered to him by his private physician Dr. Conrad Murray before going to bed. Murray was later charged with involuntary manslaughter [source: Blake].
Lots More Information
- 5 Bizarre ER Procedures
- 5 Questions That Linger After Michael Jackson's Death
- 10 Celebrity Meltdowns
- 5 Celebrity Custody Battles
- 10 Post-trauma Reconstructive Surgeries
- Blake, Heidi. "Michael Jackson's History of Health Problems." The Telegraph. June 26, 2009 (July 1, 2011). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/michael-jackson/5650170/Michael-Jacksons-history-of-health-problems.html
- Burlingame, Jeff. "Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind." Enslow Publishers, Incorporated. November 2006.
- Gold, Jonathan. "Into the Black." SPIN. June 1994.
- Lloyd, Janice and Nancy Hellmich. "Elizabeth Taylor's Health Problems Began Early." USA Today. March 24, 2011 (July 1, 2011). http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/2011-03-24-lizhealth24_st_N.htm
- Stewart, Martha. "My Emergency Room Experience!" The Martha Blog. Jan. 13, 2011 (July 1, 2011). http://www.themarthablog.com/2011/01/my-emergency-room-experience.html
- VH1. "Behind the Music Remastered: Def Leppard." (July 1, 2011). http://www.vh1.com/video/misc/489432/def-leppard-part-2.jhtml