Whether founding new styles, finding new religion, falling off the wagon, or climbing the ranks of political influence, celebrities are always reinventing themselves. Some settle for minor changes of haircut or clothing––perhaps a piercing here and there, maybe a tattoo. Some wear revealing dresses to the Grammys. And some even adopt an Ethiopian infant or two. But others decide to take their transformations to another level entirely. Here’s a look at some of history’s most radical celebrity reinventions:
There has never been––and probably never will be––another celebrity transformation more radical than Michael Jackson’s. It is hard to imagine how the healthy, charismatic, sweetly crooning, handsome young black boy from The Jackson 5 and the aging, emaciated, heavily-drugged, surgically reconstructed, white man who lived on Neverland Ranch could possibly have been the same person.
That said, the indisputable king of pop’s era-defining talents remained utterly unaltered by the trials of his personal life, and his stellar career was cut short only by a truly tragic and untimely demise.
Another celeb who got famous as a child star before undergoing a complete identity overhaul, Britney deserves a spot on our list for having undergone not one, but two, radical reinventions.
Her first move was from Mickey Mouse Club preadolescent southern sweetheart to scandalous ‘90s s**pot pop sensation, whose lyrics begged fans to:
“hit me, baby, one more time” and “gimmie [sic] more.”
Few words come to mind more readily when thinking of Arnold’s early days of fame than a meathead. This hulked up Austrian entered the limelight as a bodybuilder who famously described pumping iron as being:
“as satisfying to me as having s** with a woman”.
He then went on to become the iconic Terminator, a pregnant man, and an all-round Hollywood go-to action-man in his decades-long acting career.
And then he became the twice-elected governor of California… Wait, did I miss something? In a world that elected Reagan (twice), I suppose I have no right to be surprised. Since moving on from his role as California’s head honcho, Arnie has expressed an intention to return to the world of acting for a new Terminator film at the ripe age of 64. I’ll reserve judgment.
Hulk Hogan basically took the opposite route to that of the Governator. He went from being a weight lifting, shirt-ripping, WWF dominating, bone cruncher who always remembered to take his vitamins to being just plain old dad (sort of).
Apparently impotent in his old age, he now gets yelled at by his wife and disobeyed by his children almost every day on reality TV. Hulkamaniacs everywhere have gone into mourning.
Charlie’s transformation and subsequent ‘reformation’ earns its spot on the list by being one of the most undeniably entertaining reinventions in recent memory. Whereas other celebrities change their style, get pregnant, become elected officials, or get a drug problem, Charlie just lost his mind and started a one-man stage show.
He kicked things off by going on a drug and s** binge that:
“made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards, all of them look like droopy-eyed, armless children.”
Then he got sober and started giving interviews, during which he explained that he is now a warlock with tiger blood, is on a drug called Charlie Sheen (unfortunately, “it’s not available because if you try it, you will die; your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body”), and is also a “total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.” Clearly, when it comes to radical celebrity reinventions, Charlie Sheen is winning.
For the professionally rich and famous, the cheques only keep dropping onto the doormat of your extravagant mansion so long as people are interested. When interest begins to wane, there’s nothing for it but to change the game. Whether it’s because they changed the world, the state budget deficit, or simply their hairstyles, it’s change that keeps the punters keen.