The Biggest Bombshells From Celebrity Books, Ranked
Anybody who’s anybody has a celebrity memoir to their name. But if today’s stars want their autobiographical books to rise to the very top of bestsellers’ lists, they really have to deliver the goods. The very best ones give us something new: maybe they dish up previously unknown details about celebrities’ personal lives, or perhaps they finally explain the truth behind longstanding rumors. So, we’ve collected the most shocking, revealing, and scandalous celebrity books ever so that you don’t have to.
40. Spare by Prince Harry
There are so many stories from Prince Harry's much-anticipated autobiography, Spare, that they could fill an entire article. But the one we're choosing for this list is about his royal, ahem, package. In the book, Harry recounts how he suffered from a frostbitten member while he attended the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. "What was the universe trying to say to me by depriving me of both my penis and my brother?" he wrote, rather memorably.
39. The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama
Former first lady Michelle Obama intended her second book, The Light We Carry, to be a "toolkit to live boldly." But after the book came out in 2022, the headlines focused on her admission that she “hates” her appearance “all the time and no matter what.” Obama wrote that she often wants to turn off the bathroom light after she takes a look at herself in the mornings.
38. Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of An Ordinary Man by Paul Newman
Screen legend Paul Newman died in 2008, but he released an autobiography in 2022. For the book — which is based on recently discovered recordings the actor made before his death — Newman wanted "to leave some kind of record that sets things straight." But the thing everyone took away from the resulting memoir was that he liked to have sex with his wife, Joanne Woodward. "Joanne gave birth to a sexual creature," Newman wrote. "We left a trail of lust all over the place. Hotels and public parks and Hertz Rent-A-Cars."
37. Open Book by Jessica Simpson
Jessica Simpson revealed many stunning details about her much-talked-about life in Open Book. But among the most shocking of them — including her struggles with body dysmorphia and her high-profile relationships — is that she took diet pills for 20 years. This happened, Simpson wrote, because music producer Tommy Mottola told the then-17-year-old star to "lose 15 pounds." The comment made her "immediately" turn to diet pills — and resulted in a lifetime of body image issues.
36. Will by Will Smith
The Smiths have never been shy about speaking about their private lives — but Will Smith got truly candid when he released his self-titled autobiography. But leaving aside the confessions about sex, drugs, and depression, Smith also opened up about his violent childhood. "When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood," he wrote. "That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am."
35. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Han and Leia did what?! Carrie Fisher revealed that she had affair with Harrison Ford in her 2016 memoir, The Princess Diarist. “If Harrison was unable to see that I had feelings for him (at least five, but sometimes as many as seven) then he wasn’t as smart as I thought he was – as I knew he was,” she wrote. “So I loved him and he allowed it.”
34. Open by Andre Agassi
After Andre Agassi released his autobiography, Open, in 2009, Reuters claimed that his confessions "left the tennis world in a state of shock." The major revelation was Agassi's claim that he took crystal meth and then lied about it to the sport's governing body. "There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness," Agassi wrote of his drug use. "Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I’ve never felt so alive, so hopeful -- and I’ve never felt such energy."
33. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
With a title like that, you know that Jennette McCurdy is not leaving anything on the table in her incredibly candid memoir. I’m Glad My Mom Died reveals, among other things, that the former Nickelodeon star's mom put her on a restrictive diet when she was 11 years old. McCurdy's mother also gave her intimate examinations while she was still a teenager. But while the details are shocking and painful to read, McCurdy ultimately ends the book in a much better place.
32. Life by Keith Richards
Keith Richards stunned a lot of people just by being able to remember anything about his wild rock 'n' roll life. But the biggest takeaway for many of his fans was that he can't seem to stand his fellow musicians. In Life, Richards called John Lennon a "silly sod," Prince "overrated," and bandmate Mick Jagger "unbearable." He also said of Bruce Springsteen: "If there was anything better around, he'd still be working the bars of New Jersey."
31. Finding Me by Viola Davis
The Viola Davis we see on the screen is a powerful and uncompromising presence. So it's shocking to learn in her memoir, Finding Me, that she suffered nonstop bullying at the hands of her white classmates while at school. At one point, Viola writes that her tormentors would run after her "like dogs hunting prey." And there was no relief when she returned home, either. "This was one more piece of trauma I was experiencing—my clothes, my hair, my hunger, too—and my home life being the big daddy of them all," she revealed.
30. The Dirt by Mötley Crüe
Where to start with this one? Members of Mötley Crüe were so forthright in their tell-all memoir that pinpointing just one bombshell out of it is an insanely hard task. But considering we're talking about a band that is practically the dictionary definition of the word "wild," we're going to plump for a less immediately gross confession. We discover early in the book that, in the band's early days, the metalheads used socks or magazines instead of toilet paper.
29. This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps
Busy Philipps filled column inches ahead of the release of her 2018 memoir because of the things she said about James Franco. Philipps wrote that Franco "threw [her] to the ground" on the set of Freaks and Geeks, in which they both starred. She said she fell "flat on [her] back" and that she had had the "wind knocked out of [her]." The actor also revealed that Franco was "weird and intense and his whole vibe both annoyed and intimidated [her]."
28. In Pieces by Sally Field
The details Sally Field divulged about her relationship with Burt Reynolds earned most of the headlines after the publication of In Pieces. But the most heartbreaking revelations from the actor's touching memoir involved the abuse she suffered from her stepfather, Jock Mahoney. She wrote how the late stuntman would invite a teenaged Field to join him in the bedroom. "I felt both a child, helpless and not a child," the actor wrote. "Powerful. This was power. And I owned it. But I wanted to be a child — and yet."
27. Just Between Us by Mario Lopez
Mario Lopez became a heartthrob as a teenager playing Slater in Saved by the Bell. And the actor and TV personality revealed in his memoir, Just Between Us, that he'd had sex for the first time long before he became a star. "I remember a lot of kissing and touching, but past that, I was clueless," he wrote. "I knew nothing about a woman's body. All I could do was try desperately to piece together the fragmented and unreliable information that I'd heard from my older cousins."
26. Little Girl Lost by Drew Barrymore
In 2015 Drew Barrymore released a memoir called Wildflower — but it didn't contain the kind of gossip you'd expect from the former child star. To get those details, you'd have to find a copy of Barrymore's 1990 memoir, Little Girl Lost, written with Todd Gold when she was a teenager. "I had my first drink at age nine, began smoking marijuana at 10, and at 12 took up cocaine," she wrote.
25. Making A Scene by Constance Wu
In her memoir, Making a Scene, Constance Wu relived the moment she negatively tweeted about the renewal of Fresh Off the Boat. The actor said the backlash she received for seeming ungrateful caused her to contemplate suicide. She wrote, "I realized I needed a wound to prove it, to prove that I hurt as bad as everyone said I deserved to hurt and it couldn’t be a little wound, it had to be the biggest wound in the world for it to be enough."
24. Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them by Frank Langella
In the introduction to Frank Langella's memoir, he told the reader, "There will be a fair amount of forks to the eye and knives to the throat." And he wasn't joking. Among the victims who got pierced by Langella's prose were Richard Burton — a "crashing bore" — and Laurence Olivier — a "silly old English gent who loved to play camp and gossip." The actor also called Charlton Heston a "piece of wood" and Cary Grant a dullard who "sucked the air out of any room he was in."
23. My Life So Far by Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda has never been backward in coming forward, so it's no surprise that her memoir is filled with honest revelations. Take, for example, the way she described her ex-husband bringing another woman into their bed. "It never occurred to me to object," she wrote. "I took my cues from him and threw myself into the threesome with the skill and enthusiasm of the actress that I am. If this was what he wanted, this was what I would give him — in spades."
22. My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir by Shirley MacLaine
It's not uncommon to hear about behind-the-scenes drama in Hollywood movies — yet it seems so unlikely that it would happen on the set of Terms of Endearment. But it turned out that Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger didn't get along. In My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir, MacLaine described an incident when Winger "turned around, walked away from [MacLaine], lifted her skirt slightly, looked over her shoulder, bent over, and farted in [MacLaine's] face."
21. A Paper Life by Tatum O'Neal
In 1974 Tatum O'Neal became the youngest person to ever win an Oscar — earning a Best Supporting Actress gong for Paper Moon. But O'Neal revealed in her 2004 memoir, A Paper Life, that her dad, Ryan O'Neal, was jealous. “In the press, he played the doting father,” she wrote. “But in his eyes, I read the truth: deep resentment that his own brilliant performance was being dismissed.” She said "an overwhelming sadness" was associated with her win.
20. Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis
Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis got everything off his chest when he penned his memoir, Scar Tissue. We now know, for instance, that his dad sold drugs in 1974 and asked his young son to smuggle the resulting $30,000 in cash through the airport. "My dad told me I'd be carrying the money because if they caught someone who looked like him with all that money, he'd be busted for sure," Keidis wrote.
19. My Love Story by Tina Turner
Tina Turner detailed the domestic abuse she suffered through when she was married to Ike Turner in her first memoir, I, Tina. But in My Love Story, her second autobiography, she revealed that she attempted to take her own life — and it "wasn't a cry for help." She wrote, "When I took those pills, I chose death, and I chose it honestly. I was unhappy when I woke up."
18. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
Scientologists must have been dreading the release of Leah Remini's memoir. But if they thought it was going to cause some bad publicity, they no doubt underestimated just how much Remini was going to reveal. Her allegations about the church — and Tom Cruise — are truly shocking to read. Particularly the time when Sea Org leader Mike Curley physically abused her by throwing her off the side of a boat. "The shock of the moment and the freezing water took my breath away, and for an instant, I thought I was going to drown," she wrote.
17. The Richard Burton Diaries by Richard Burton
It's possible that more gossip has been written about Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor than any other couple in Hollywood. Yet it turned out that Burton himself used to keep a diary during their wild time together. He even revealed how crazy their fights could get. "I went mad, which ended up with Elizabeth smashing me around the head with her ringed fingers," one 1969 entry read. "If any man had done that, I'd have killed him. I still boil with fury when I think about it."
16. Audition: A Memoir by Barbara Walters
The late, great Barbara Walters managed to keep her affair with former Senator Edward Brooke a secret for three decades. Their relationship had to stay behind closed doors at the time because he was married, and the scandal could have ruined them both. “I had a daughter to think about and a network that would be less than thrilled to see me involved in any kind of scandal," Walters revealed in her memoir. "None of that seemed to matter to me.”
15. Unsinkable by Debbie Reynolds
Everybody loves Singin' in the Rain — but it seems that Debbie Reynolds didn't love making it. In her memoir Unsinkable, Reynolds called her co-star Gene Kelly a "cruel taskmaster." She wrote, "He came to rehearsals and criticized everything I did and never gave me a word of encouragement." At one point, too, Reynolds escaped a rehearsal to cry under a piano — until Fred Astaire came to her rescue.
14. I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne
The most famous incident of Ozzy Osbourne's career came in January 1982 when he bit the head off of a bat live on stage at the Des Moines Veterans Memorial Auditorium. And you better believe that he covered this incident in his memoir, I Am Ozzy. He actually didn't know the bat was real before he bit into it. "Immediately, though, something felt wrong. Very wrong," he wrote. "For a start, my mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine."
13. No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel by Janice Dickinson
Janice Dickinson was the "world's first supermodel," so it's no surprise that the biggest male stars of the 1980s pop up throughout her honest memoir. And, for those who know and love Dickinson, it's perhaps also no surprise that she doesn't often have nice things to say about them. For instance, she calls Mick Jagger a philanderer, she says Bruce Willis is not good at his job, and she accuses Warren Beatty of being vain. Oh, and Dickinson revealed that Sylvester Stallone called sex "bam ham slam" — make of that what you will.
12. Watch Me by Angelica Huston
We've been watching Angelica Huston all of our lives, but her memoir Watch Me proved that we don't know her at all. Yet among the book's insider details of a wild time in Hollywood, a more disturbing anecdote from Huston stood out. She claimed that her ex-boyfriend Ryan O'Neal abused her. “He turned on me, grabbed me by the hair, and hit me in the forehead with the top of his skull,” Huston wrote. “I saw stars and reeled back. Half blind, I ran away from him.”
11. By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There by Tom Sizemore
Who knew Tom Sizemore had a three-year affair with Elizabeth Hurley in the 1990s? If you didn't, you'll be glad to hear that Sizemore dedicated plenty of space to it in his memoir. The way he tells it, he had no idea Hugh Grant was in the picture when the affair started. "Once I found out about [Grant], Elizabeth started being honest with me about it," he wrote. "I’d be at her place and she’d say: ‘Hugh is coming in nine days — when do you think you should start taking your things out?’ I’d get tearful and not let her see it. I just loved her."
10. The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone
The title The Beauty of Living Twice relates to Sharon Stone's near-death experience in 2001. As the actor relates in her memoir, she actually had a vision as she lay in the ER. "The light was so luminous," she wrote. "It was so … mystical. I wanted to know it. I wanted to immerse myself." But then Stone "made a choice to survive" and woke up "like [she] had been kicked in the middle of [her] chest by a mule."
9. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
Although Matthew McConaughey claimed that his memoir, Greenlights, was more of "an approach book" than a tell-all autobiography, it still contained plenty of previously unheard-of revelations. The actor even packed one into the opening pages of the book to "help set the table." He wrote, "I was blackmailed into having sex for the first time when I was fifteen. I was certain I was going to hell for the premarital sex. Today, I am merely certain that I hope that's not the case."
8. Going There by Katie Couric
Katie Couric had plenty to say about plenty of things in her memoir, Going There. But the big headlines came out of Couric's recollections about Matt Lauer following his public scandal. “I know Matt thinks I betrayed him, and that makes me sad,” she wrote. “But he betrayed me too by how he behaved behind closed doors at the show we both cared about so much.”
7. I’m Your Huckleberry by Val Kilmer
If his autobiography is to be believed, Val Kilmer only managed to live a long, interesting life after being visited by an angel. The actor described the entity as an "amorphous black figure" that "looked very like Darth Vader, though without the helmet." Apparently, the angel gave Kilmer a bigger heart. "I am grateful for the new heart," the actor wrote. "It has served me well. And I’ve only just begun to use it."
6. The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey's first marriage was to music mogul Tommy Mottola in the mid-1990s — but it was far from a happy one. In her memoir, the "Fantasy" singer revealed that Mottola had her under "crippling control" and that she eventually had an affair with the New York Yankees' Derek Jeter. "Derek was only the second person I had slept with ever," Carey wrote. She said the liaison didn't last long, but it was "the catalyst [she] needed" to escape from Mottola.
5. Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries by Alan Rickman
The late actor Alan Rickman kept diaries from 1972 up until his death in 2016 — resulting in a total of 26 volumes. So the posthumous memoir Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries gave fans an unprecedented insight into the beloved Britsh actor. Many people, though, were more interested in what Rickman had to say about his Harry Potter co-stars. At one point, he wrote that Daniel Radcliffe isn't "really an actor but he will undoubtedly direct/produce." He also said Emma Watson's "diction is this side of Albania at times."
4. You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union offered her honest reaction to discovering that her now-husband, Dwayne Wade, was expecting a baby with another woman. He had impregnated the woman while he and Union were taking a break — and while Union was also struggling to get pregnant. "The experience of Dwyane having a baby so easily — while I was unable to — left my soul not just broken into pieces, but shattered into fine dust scattering in the wind," she wrote.
3. The Answer Is... Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek
Shortly before his death, Alex Trebek offered the world a glimpse into his life with a revealing memoir. One of the biggest confessions came when the longtime game show host found out he had a secret sibling. "I didn’t know I had a half-brother until shortly after I started hosting Jeopardy!" he wrote. "He and I have communicated over the years, but we are not close."
2. Call Me Crazy by Anne Heche
A year after her death, a new memoir from Anne Heche is hitting the shelves in 2023 — but it seems unlikely that it will make as big a splash as her first one. In Call Me Crazy, the actor divulged that she had a split personality. "No one in L.A. had any idea that I had completely split from myself and become another entity inside called Celestia," she revealed. "No one could tell from the way I walked or talked that I was from the fourth dimension. And certainly, no one had any idea that I was getting messages from my planet every day."
1. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
Most Friends fans know that Matthew Perry struggled with addiction while being in the show. But until the one-time Chandler Bing released his memoir, nobody truly realized the extent of his illness. In the book, Perry estimated that he'd spent over $7 million trying to get free of his addictions. "I’ve been in a mental institution, gone to therapy twice a week for thirty years, been to death’s door,” Perry revealed. He also had to pay a $650,000 fine after his erratic behavior shut down a movie set.