The closest thing the United States gets to royalty is its celebrities, and in the ’70s and ’80s, nothing screamed “royalty” more than the Prince and Princess of pop culture: Cheryl Tiegs and Peter Beard. Both were dazzlingly beautiful and enormously talented, and many people assumed their marriage was the fairy-tale it appeared to be. Of course, reality is never as perfect as it seems.
Tiegs and Beard were married for just three years, but it was filled with enough drama to make anyone dizzy. In the decades since their whirlwind romance, the ex-couple lost almost all contact… until a sudden tragedy forced Tiegs to finally reveal what the cameras missed.
It helped that Tiegs, often referred to as “America’s first supermodel,” personified the 1970s American ideal for women: She was cheerful, willowy, and naturally beautiful, and with a megawatt smile that shone from many teenage boys’ bedroom walls.
You couldn’t so much as search for a recipe in a magazine without coming across Tiegs, whether you were rifling through Vogue, Sports Illustrated, or even Time. She was a star in her own right; meeting Peter Beard was just the icing on the cake.
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As Tiegs became a household name, so did Peter Beard, perhaps an even more improbable feat. The heir of a railroad fortune, Beard took an unconventional route to stardom by becoming a photographer instead of a businessman.
At the height of his fame, Beard was mainly known for two things: his African wildlife photography and his philandering, flirty ways. In 1978, these two passions combined when he met Tiegs. Their relationship was every magazine’s dream.
They traveled to Kenya to document the destruction of African wildlife, a journey that was filmed by ABC’s The American Sportsman, which won an Emmy award. The trip not only changed the way Tiegs looked at the world, but at her own soon-to-be husband.
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“Being with Peter in Africa…changed my life,” she said. “I really saw nature, and earth, and everything through his eyes…those were by far the most magical days of my life.” They got married in 1981, but the honeymoon phase didn’t last long.
Their opposites-attract relationship worked when they were both calm, but not when emotions were high. Her “Minnesota nice girl” ways, as she described, didn’t exactly gel with his free-spirited, passionate personality, which was also prone to mood swings.
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“[Peter] was very creative, in just the way he lived,” Tiegs told People. “And I always appreciated that.” His creativity took the couple all over the world, and though he channeled his wild ways into his photography, it often spilled into his personal life.
Peter Beard Photography
Tiegs remembered when Beard would disappear for months, and giving little information as to where (and whom) he was with. “That’s not really a marriage,” Tiegs admitted. Still, it was hard to confront the low points of their marriage when the high points were so wonderful.
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“He was not nice to me all the time, and I was not nice to him,” Tiegs told People of Peter Beard. To anyone who followed their love story, though, they certainly seemed like the most beautiful couple American pop culture had to offer.
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“The highs were just the most romantic I’ve ever [had],” Tiegs recalled. “But I couldn’t put up with the other side.” She realized that their relationship, as happy and transformative as it once was for her, had changed.
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“It just became not a healthy relationship,” Tiegs revealed to People magazine. Despite their divorce, though, Tiegs can’t help but look back on their relationship (and on Beard) with a smile. “I always loved him,” she admitted decades after their split.
The Today Show/NBC
“I’m forever grateful,” Tiegs said. “I’ve always had a piece in my heart for Peter.” So when Beard suddenly vanished in April of 2020 at 82 years old, Tiegs couldn’t help but reveal how she really felt…even decades after their divorce.
His disappearance came as a huge shock. Beard was an adventurous guy, the kind who would wander into a lion’s den in order to get the best possible shot. But no matter how far he traveled, he always came back…
In 1996, his wild ways led to him getting attacked by an elephant. He was gored in the leg, and arrived at the hospital covered in blood and without a pulse. He narrowly avoided death then, but it’s this dare-devil behavior that Tiegs remembers all too well.
“He would always flirt with [death]. Going too close to the elephants, going too close to the rhino,” Tiegs described. Beard was always doing “too much,” but by 2020, a devastating illness had relegated him to a much different kind of life.
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It had happened so quickly: One day he was a 70-something playboy, the next he was 82 and dying. Where once he was young and vigorous, never without a camera, now he was old, and dementia forced him to stay inside his Montauk home…
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Until March 31st, 2020, that is. On that day, the last thing his family expected to find was an empty house with Beard nowhere to be found. For the next 19 days, an exhaustive search was conducted, but it was like Beard had vanished into thin air.
When he was found dead three weeks later, his final resting place was chillingly appropriate: His body was found in the middle of a state park. “He died where he lived: in nature,” his family said in a statement. Cheryl Tiegs revealed her final thoughts on her late ex-husband.
“When I think about him now, I think of his smile and his laughter and the way he walked and the way he talked,” she said. “I’m eternally grateful that Peter Beard held out his hand and lifted me to a higher level in life.”
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Peter Beard had enough family support that he didn’t need his ex, but not every celebrity is so lucky. When Val Kilmer found himself facing the most terrifying health scare of his life, it was his ex-girlfriend who unexpectedly came to the rescue.
Top Gun/Paramount Pictures
Even more so than his voice, Kilmer is known for the extensive preparation he does for a role. For The Doors, he dressed like Jim Morrison for over a year before he even started filming. These quirky habits don’t end when the camera stops rolling.
The Doors/Tri-Star Pictures
Kilmer has done many things throughout his life that may seem odd to the average person. He’s published books of poetry, backpacked through Europe, and written his own one-man show called Cinema Twain. His love life has been equally unconventional.
At the height of his fame, Kilmer had a reputation for being something of a ladies man. His dalliances with older women especially garnered him attention, and it was his relationship with one star in particular had far-reaching effects.
Kill Me Again/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
When Kilmer started dating Cher, the world was shocked. As puzzled as people were about his relationship with an older woman, it was nothing compared to their disdain for Cher’s relationship with a younger man. The age difference may be what split them up…
Photo by Barry King/WireImage
Now, decades later, Kilmer and Cher’s relationship is a blip on the timeline of both of their lives.The chances of them once again crossing paths seemed slim…until Kilmer found himself in a terrifying situation.
Top Gun/Paramount Pictures/Rtracker/Wikimedia Commons
One day, Kilmer started coughing and couldn’t stop. Figuring it was just a cold, he shrugged it off. But then the coughing became more persistent and ravaged his voice until it was down to a squeak. Then came the scan that changed his life.
It didn’t take fans long to realize that something was up. Though Kilmer tried to stifle growing rumors about his health — ”I have not had a tumor,” he wrote on social media — soon enough, the news broke: Val Kilmer had throat cancer.
The diagnosis rocked the normally unflappable Kilmer to his core. As a longtime member of the Christian Science church, his first instinct was to pray…but figuring out what to do next was a little harder. The sicker he got, the more help he required.
Tombstone/Buena Vista Pictures
He had a lot to lose: There were acting projects in motion, his one-man show, and his children to think about, not to mention how his own life was on the line. He couldn’t be alone — luckily, an old friend knew just what to do.
Real Genius/TriStar Pictures
Cher, his old flame, called and invited Kilmer to stay in her guest house while he rode out the disease. The years of potential baggage didn’t matter anymore, and Kilmer accepted her offer. Still, healing wasn’t the only thing that happened in that guest house.
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One horrifying night, Kilmer woke up vomiting blood. According to Kilmer, the blood “covered the bed like a scene out of The Godfather.” His next decision was critical. “I prayed immediately, then called 911. Then alerted my hostess.”
Tombstone/Buena Vista Pictures
Cher was by his side in minutes. “[She] stepped in and stepped up,” Kilmer later wrote. The heart-pounding moments waiting for the paramedics to arrive can be the worst, especially when you’re surrounded by your own blood. Thankfully, Cher was good company.
Kilmer was especially grateful for how she made him laugh. “Even in my grave condition, I saw her scanning the paramedic, who was Gregory Peck drop-dead handsome,” Kilmer joked. “Only in Hollywood, right?” Cher really made the most of the scary situation…
“Despite the fact that I was covered in blood” — and despite how he was her ex boyfriend! — “I caught her eye and bounced my brows like Groucho Marx,” Kilmer recalled. She may have been caught ogling a cute paramedic, but Cher was far from embarrassed.
The Traveler/David Dolsen
“[She] couldn’t help laughing out loud at the audacity,” Kilmer said. And it really was a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction moment. After all, who’d have guessed 30 years ago that Val Kilmer and Cher would be laughing together in a blood-soaked room?
Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)
The craziness of it all wasn’t lost on Kilmer, either. “Here we were, joking about beauty and desire, while I looked like a stuntman from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and, yes, while my life seemed to be in mortal danger.” The gravity of the situation soon made itself known, though.
“We laughed out loud before they finished with my vitals and shut me up with an oxygen mask,” Kilmer described. Nothing sucks the humor out of a situation quite like an ambulance and a bed covered in blood, but it wasn’t all grim for Kilmer.
The actor underwent a tracheotomy, chemotherapy, and radiation in order to beat the cancer. Though he’s now thankfully cancer-free, the treatments were rough on Kilmer…especially on one of the most important things in his life.
Top Gun/Paramount Pictures
His speech has been greatly impacted by the cancer. His voice, which successfully impersonated Jim Morrison, Elvis, and Batman, became raspy and hoarse. In typical Val Kilmer fashion, though, he won’t let it slow him down.
Batman Forever/Warner Bros.
“The fact that my impeded speech could spell the end of my career only served to motivate me,” Kilmer said. He’s stayed true to this statement, as he’s been touring with his one-man show about Mark Twain with no signs of stopping anything soon…
No one knows what the future holds for the actor, but he’s sure of two things: how meaningful Cher’s help was and his thankfulness. “I am so grateful.” An unexpected illness can really harm a burgeoning film career, as one of Kilmer’s contemporaries can say from experience.
Kathleen Turner knows you may not recognize her. The truth is, the actress hasn’t looked like her old self in quite some time, not since the ‘80s, when she smashed onto the scene as one of Hollywood’s newest sex symbols…
The 1981 thriller Body Heat made her an international star practically overnight. “I was the new trophy in town,” Kathleen reflected. But being a trophy, she learned, isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
She made one hit after the other, most notably Romancing the Stone, Prizzi’s Honor, and Peggy Sue Got Married. All three movies earned her Golden Globe nominations — two of which she won — and she was even nominated for an Academy Award.
The 42nd Annual Golden Globe Awards, 1985
In a five-year span, Kathleen had become one of Hollywood’s biggest box-office draws. She wasn’t only a pretty face, but a reliable talent who constantly earned rave reviews…not just from award shows, but from her male co-stars, as well.
According to the actress, some of her male co-stars competed to see “who could get [her] first.” Tabloids covered her love life more than her actual career, and her trophy-status only rose in 1988 with her most iconic role yet.
Voicing Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the perfect role for the actress, whose trophy-status reached new heights with the role. But being a “trophy” is hard work, especially when, out of nowhere, your body decides to rebel against you.
In 1992, Kathleen was filming Serial Mom when she started experienced “inexplicable pains and fevers.” At first, she tried to brush them off as symptoms of over-work or exhaustion. But after a year, the pain only increased.
Traveling, walking on stage, and acting on a movie set — all tasks that had once been so easy were suddenly impossible. “My body could respond only with excruciating pain whenever I tried to move,” she explained. Even simple tasks turned into anxiety-inducing obstacles.
“I couldn’t hold a glass to get a drink of water,” she said. “I couldn’t pick up my child…my feet would blow up so badly that I couldn’t…walk on them.” But after a year of pain, Kathleen finally got her answer.
She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and told she would end up in a wheelchair. This would rattle anyone, but as a young actress made famous in part by her looks, it was a professional death sentence…not that she told anyone.
Instead of revealing her debilitating health struggles, Kathleen suffered in silence. The world had taken notice of her sudden disappearance from Hollywood, but without knowing the details of her illness, all they saw was one thing: An unrecognizable Kathleen Turner.
A combination of chemotherapy, steroids, and swelling greatly changed Kathleen’s appearance, something the tabloids picked up on right away. “The press were merciless,” she has said. When it comes to their speculations, “merciless” barely covers it.
“They snipped that I had become fat…because I was an angry, washed-up diva, an out of control has-been,” Kathleen explained, even though her bodily changes “were not within my control,” she said. She searched desperately for a way to alleviate the pain…
When asked how she coped, she was frank. “Oh, I abused alcohol,” she said. “Because it’s a great painkiller, let me tell you.” Rumors spread that Kathleen’s weight gain was caused by her alcoholism, and she did nothing to stop the rumor-mill.
“I couldn’t publicly refute them because I believed it was worse to have people know that I had this terrible illness,” she admitted. She “felt it was imperative” that no one knew the truth. Her greatest fear was having her secret slip…
“They’d hire me if they thought I was a drunk, because they could understand drinking, but they wouldn’t hire me if I had a mysterious, scary illness they didn’t understand,” she explained. But alcohol and arthritis aside — the roles just weren’t there.
Her career harshly declined as she struggled to find medication that eased the pain. She appeared in low-budget films and critical flops, all the while seeing unflattering paparazzi photos of herself plastered on magazines at the supermarket.
The ‘90s continued in a similarly painful fashion for Kathleen…until hope finally arrived in the early 2000s. Cutting-edge treatments made her rheumatoid arthritis go into remission, and for the first time in almost a decade, she could move.
Kathleen had a new lease on life — not that Hollywood noticed. She took on roles that addressed her new image head-on: She played Chandler’s father on Friends, and revived her stage career with a lauded performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
She’s also written two memoirs, and the most recent one — Kathleen Turner on Acting: Conversations about Film, Television, and Theater — contains words of wisdom that apply not only to aspiring actors, but to anyone going through something seemingly insurmountable.
“What I hope for is to have people take risks…[and] make choices and not just accept,” she explained. Kathleen may look different nowadays — something she wants you to “get over” already — but she’s just as strong, talented, and compelling as ever.
This advice resonated with so many of Kathleen’s ’80s peers, especially one star whose path mirrored Kathleen’s closely, from the rise to the fall. She, too, recently opened up about how she fell from Hollywood’s graces — and what she’s doing about it.
Born Margaret Hyra, the young beauty initially eyed a career in journalism. She studied that field at UConn and NYU until her lucrative part-time job convinced her to seek out a different path.
Meg made a few bucks acting on the side, but her perspective totally shifted when she started booking regular roles. Following a recurring part in the soap opera As the World Turns, she chose to drop out of college with just a semester left.
As the next few years saw Meg bounce around small turns in TV shows, it wasn’t until 1986 that she introduced herself to mainstream audiences. A supporting role in the blockbuster Top Gun suddenly put her in the same echelon as Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
Top Gun/Paramount Pictures
In the late 1980s through the ’90s, Meg established herself as queen of the rom-com. She frequently collaborated with Tom Hanks, in classics like Joe vs. the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. She’s also behind one of the most iconic moments in film.
Movie buffs may ultimately remember Meg best for When Harry Met Sally. Audiences experienced just as much pleasure as Meg pretended to have in the iconic deli scene. She wasn’t just making headlines for her acting work either.
Meg married fellow actor Dennis Quaid in 1991 after they starred in the movies Innerspace and The D.O.A. together. In this new chapter of her life, she started taking more creative risks.
One of these risks, her foray into voice acting, paid off big time. She headlined Fox’s Anastasia, which won over enough moviegoers to break Disney’s stranglehold on animated flicks. However, not all of Meg’s gambled worked out for her.
Meg came under fire as she transitioned from romantic comedies to serious drama. Not even the additional star power of Diane Keaton and Lisa Kudrow could rescue the drudgery of Hanging Up, the tale of three sisters bonding after their father’s death.
With the new millennium arriving, the flops only continued. Meg floundered with Russell Crowe in Proof of Life, though the harsh reviews weren’t even the worst part. Rumors of an affair with Crowe followed her, tainting her personal and professional reputation.
That drama led to Meg’s split with Dennis in 2001. Meanwhile, her forays into strange new genres continued. Erotic thrillers, boxing flicks — it just didn’t pan out. And what was worse was that some projects that could’ve defined her career totally fizzled out.
Years prior, she memorably passed on the lead in Pretty Woman. While Julia Roberts was eternally grateful, that iconic part could’ve kept up Meg’s marketability through her string of flops. Then, there were big roles that never came to pass.
With the behemoth sitcom How I Met Your Mother about to end, CBS planned a spinoff called How I Met Your Dad. Meg provided the future voice of the main character — played by Greta Gerwig — but the network killed the show after a disappointing pilot.
Not long before, critics called Meg Ryan “America’s Sweetheart.” Then, a few years into the 2000s, she could barely get a guest spot. She didn’t have a husband, so she turned to the other man in her life.
Meg had always been close to her son Jack, who made a name for himself with an appearance in The Hunger Games. When she vented about her lack of opportunities, Jack encouraged her to keep taking risks, particularly one she always had on her mind.
After countless hours of being bossed around in front of the camera, Meg wanted to try her hand at directing. Understandably, she felt nervous before making this leap, so she called up an old friend.
She recruited Tom Hanks for 2016’s Ithaca, in which she also starred. Though not all critics adored it, Meg called it one of her most fulfilling experiences. However, behind-the-scenes developments prevented her from hopping back into the director’s chair.
Meg had too much going on in her personal life — especially with a new daughter! After adopting Daisy a few years earlier, the actress needed to set aside extra time as her daughter came of age. Plus, she had a bit of romance to enjoy as well.
You couldn’t call Meg the Cougar in this relationship because she was dating the legendary John Mellencamp! In 2018, they tied the knot and took some time to enjoy each other’s company before delving into their next big projects.
With so much going on, Meg will doubtlessly return to the silver screen once she’s ready. After all, performers often step away from the camera for a variety of reasons; others, though, don’t have a choice.
Throughout the ’90s, if a movie was billed as a comedy, you better believe Jim Carrey’s name was attached in some way. But as he accrued more and more roles, he eventually took a stand that nearly landed him on the sidelines with Meg.
From a young age, Jim Carrey always knew he wanted to be a comedian. With a knack for impressions and physical comedy, it wasn’t long before Jim was doing stand-up at local comedy clubs in the hope of being discovered.
And discovered he was, as legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield quickly took a shine to the young joker and signed him as a supporting act. With his star on the rise, Jim decided to take his talents to Hollywood to see if he could make it big.
The Un-Natural Act
It wasn’t long before Jim’s popularity as a comedian took off, and by the early 80s, he was making regular appearances on An Evening at the Improv and The Tonight Show. But everything changed when in 1990, Jim became a regular cast member on the sketch comedy show In Living Color.
In Living Color
Jim and his expressive slapstick style of comedy became a huge hit, and his success on television launched him into starring roles in comedy classics like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb & Dumber, and The Mask. But this was only the beginning for young Jim Carrey.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective / Dumb and Dumber / The Mask
After reprising his role as Ace Ventura in 1995’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and starring as the Riddler in Batman Forever, Jim’s price tag reached an astonishing $20 million per film. In fact, Jim was so sought after that he even began to score leading-man roles in dramatic films like The Truman Show.
The Truman Show
Around the turn of the century, Jim began to shy away from comedies in favor of films he considered to be more “highbrow”. With his performance in 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind receiving critical acclaim, it appeared that the comedian’s acting style was beginning to shift — and people were taking notice.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
During an interview that same year, Jim’s acting pursuits were called into question. Although he attributed his transition from goofy comedian to serious actor to the nature of the roles he was given, there was still no denying that Jim’s slapstick days were now behind him…for better or worse.
The latter proved to become a reality when in 2007, Jim starred in the psychological horror film The Number 23, which was both a critical and commercial disaster. While he’d bounce back a year later with the comedy Yes Man, this marked the first moment of decline in the storied actor’s career.
The Number 23
Though in the years to come, we saw him star in films like A Christmas Carol, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and Dumb and Dumber To, Jim’s performances were receiving more and more mixed reviews. Then, in 2013, the floodgate holding Jim’s career in place finally burst.
A Christmas Carol / Mr. Popper’s Penguins / Dumb and Dumber To
Several months prior to the release of the film Kick-Ass 2, Jim took to Twitter to denounce his role in the project. Citing the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the actor withdrew his support for what he believed to be an excessively violent film.
“I did Kick-Ass a month before Sandy Hook,” Jim tweeted, “and now in all good conscience, I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it, but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”
Though some praised Jim for sticking to his morals, an overwhelming majority — including Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar and some of Jim’s co-stars — openly rebuked his comments. But this wouldn’t be the last time Jim’s mouth would get him into trouble.
In 2015, the comedian once again took to Twitter to share some of his more controversial beliefs. Not only was Jim not a fan of Kick-Ass, but apparently he was anti-vaccination as well.
“California Government says ‘yes’ to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in mandatory vaccines,” Jim declared, in reference to a recently passed California law. “This corporate fascist must be stopped.”
Public outrage was immediate, with many pointing out that mercury is no longer used in vaccines and that refusing to vaccinate children poses a serious risk to public health. Though he backtracked his comments in several follow-up tweets, the labeling of Jim as an anti-science nutcase had already begun.
In fact, Time magazine even published an article titled, “Jim Carrey, Please Shut Up About Vaccines”. As one would expect, this kind of bad publicity only made finding work more difficult for the already struggling actor.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Despite being brought on for an episode of Saturday Night Live, film and television studios seemed to have blacklisted Jim, leaving his 2015 filmography almost completely blank. Things were bad for the former megastar, but what came next was the final nail in his coffin.
Following the suicide of his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White, a lawsuit was brought against Jim by her family and estranged husband. They alleged that Cathriona took her own life using prescription drugs that Jim provided her with just days before her death.
Not only that, but Cathriona’s mother accused Jim of emotionally abusing her daughter, giving her STDs, and using “high-priced Hollywood lawyers” to intimidate her following their breakup. The case is still playing out in court, with Jim fighting desperately to repair his already shattered public image.
In late 2018, Jim made his return to acting in Showtime’s comedy-drama Kidding. While the former Hollywood heavyweight will likely never regain the kind of stardom he achieved early on in his career.