15 people who made history then disappeared
Some folks pop into the news cycle and stick around for a long time, or even forever, but others are just a flash in the pan. Octomom became famous over a decade ago when she gave birth to octuplets, but how are they growing up? Where is O. J. Simpson now that he’s been paroled? We scoured their social media accounts to learn more about what these people who made history are up to today.
Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were skating on the same ice on Jan. 6, 1994, as they prepared for the Figure Skating National Championship and a chance to compete in the Olympics. When Kerrigan stepped off the ice, Tonya Harding’s bodyguard attacked Kerrigan, hitting her right knee with a metal stick (remember, “Why me?!”).
With her main competition sidelined from the injury, the next day Harding won the National Championship. Harding has forever proclaimed that she had no involvement in the attack, but she was only allowed to skate for the US team in the Olympics because she threatened the Olympic Committee with a $25-million lawsuit.
Where Tonya Harding is now
Kerrigan competed in the games and took silver, while Harding made an embarrassing performance and finished eighth. Five months later she was stripped of her National Championship and barred from skating competitively. Since then you’ve probably seen her on “Dancing with the Stars,” or even as a boxer who finished with a 2-4 record (not counting her TKO of Paula Jones on ‘Celebrity Boxing’).
As of 2019 Harding lives in Battle Ground, Washington, which is just a short car ride from her native Portland, Oregon. She changed her name to Tonya Price after marrying husband Joe, with whom she had a child. She’s 48 years old now, and still skates occasionally.
O. J. Simpson
O. J. Simpson has been in and out of the limelight for so long it’s hard to keep up with him. The 1968 Heisman Trophy winner-turned-NFL-star running back shocked the world in 1994 when he was accused of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her supposed lover, Ron Goldman.
The ensuing trial was dubbed “the trial of the century,” and became America’s first reality TV show. Using ingenious courtroom tactics, against all odds, Simpson’s all-star defense team got him acquitted. But the charismatic showman would only escape prison for a short time, and for the next decade he lived it up in Florida.
Where O. J. Simpson is now
Simpson had to auction off most of his valuables to pay restitution to the Goldman family, and on Sept. 13, 2007, he committed armed robbery to get some of his sports memorabilia back. The move got him busted, and this time prosecutors in Las Vegas successfully sent him prison.
The 33-year prison sentence he received didn’t last, and after just nine years he was paroled, on Oct. 1, 2017. Now, the 72-year-old man is living the good life, as he spends his days golfing, and lives in a Las Vegas mansion and drives a Bentley, all on loan from one of his best friends.
On July 23, 1996, American gymnast Kerri Strug stepped up to the vault and needed a decent score to prevent the Russian team from stealing the victory. Though her ankle was severely injured on her previous vault, she grits her teeth took her vault and made one of the most iconic landings in Olympic history.
Despite tearing two ligaments in her ankle, she stuck the landing, and the “Magnificent Seven” American gymnastics team took home gold. It was an inspiring moment that led to her becoming a national hero and landed her on the cover of a Wheaties box, and on Saturday Night Live.
Where Kerri Strug is now
Strug got on with her life after the Olympics and earned a master’s degree in social psychology. After a brief stint as an elementary school teacher, she decided her work with children could be better accomplished in Washington D.C., as she became a staffer for the Bush Administration.
She married a lawyer named Robert Fischer in 2009 and gave birth to their two children in 2012 and 2014. She now works at the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and says, “It was important for me to prove to myself and to others that I can be successful in other areas as well.”
It’s hard to say that Mike Tyson actually left the spotlight, but he’s been in and out so much it’s difficult to keep tabs on him. In June 1988 it took Tyson 91 seconds to become the Boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World, and he successfully defended his title eight times.
Then things went bad for Tyson, as he lost his title to a 42-1 underdog in Buster Douglas in 1990, then was convicted of rape two years later, which resulted in him spending three years in prison. In 1995, he successfully regained one of his championship belts but lost it shortly after to Evander Holyfield. The rematch saw Tyson bite both of Holyfield’s ears off, and Tyson later retired from boxing in 2006.
Where Mike Tyson is now
Despite having earned some $300 million over his career, Tyson declared bankruptcy in 2003. He got in trouble with the law again in 2007, but turned his life around when he teamed up with director Spike Lee in 2012, to create his one man show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.”
In Dec. 2018, Tyson broke ground on his latest venture: a cannabis-themed resort in California City, California. Close by, the 51-year-old grows copious amounts of ganja on his 412-acre “Tyson Ranch,” and hosted a music festival there in February 2019. Oddly enough, the former hard-punching boxer titled the festival, “Kind.”
Jessica McClure a.k.a. ‘Baby Jessica’
Jessica McClure doesn’t remember any of her fame, but anyone who was alive in 1987 will remember “Baby Jessica” as perhaps the most famous person in the world. On Oct. 14, 1987, the 18-month-old baby fell 22 feet down a well in Midland, Texas, and spent the next 56 hours at the bottom.
The rescue turned into a giant media circus, and the round the clock media coverage helped give birth to the 24-hour news cycle. The photograph above taken by Scott Shaw captures the moment when rescuers pulled her out, and the photo won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize.
Where ‘Baby Jessica’ is now
McClure had to have 15 surgeries after the event, including having a toe removed, but she did, in fact, make a full recovery. Donations flooded in during the incident, which was built into a trust fund for when she became an adult. She was able to purchase her first home with these funds.
McClure had two children in 2007 and 2009, after marrying her husband in 2006. McClure, now 33 years old, still lives in Midland just two miles from the well and works as an assistant to a special education teacher at an elementary school in the same town.
In 1996 a young cyclist named Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to other vital parts of his body. He made an astonishing recovery, then went on to win seven Tour de France victories as part of the American Postal team from 1998 to 2005.
His achievement was one of the greatest in the history of sports and was also perhaps the best comeback story ever. That all unraveled, however, in 2012, when the US Anti-Doping Agency revealed that Armstrong not only used performance-enhancing drugs but also ran “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program [cycling] has ever seen.”
Where Armstrong is now
Lance Armstrong was stripped of all his cycling achievements and lost his endorsements, which cost him close to $20 million a year. In a subsequent interview, he admitted to most of the allegations and chose not to appeal the decision to ban him for life from cycling.
His wife, musician Sheryl Crow, left him shortly after, and in a Dec. 2018 interview, he said the years following the scandal were “terrible.” It wasn’t all bad though, as he later had two kids with his fiance, Anna Hansen. He now operates his own investment company, which made a fortune off an early investment into ride-sharing company Uber.
The five-year-old Cuban refugee that we couldn’t get enough of in 1999 was lucky to be alive let alone the center of an international incident. On Thanksgiving Day of that year, Elian was found off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, clinging to an inner tube after the boat he was on capsized and killed 11 others, including his mother.
Over the course of the next few months, everyone from the Vice President to the Attorney General was weighing in on whether Elian Gonzalez should remain with his surviving family in Florida (after his mother gave her life to get him to America), or be returned to his father back in Cuba.
Where Gonzalez is now
The state of Florida and the Federal Government duked it out in the courts until April 22, 2000, when federal agents raided Elian’s family’s home and took him away. He was reunited with his father and the pair returned to Cuba later that year. He then became good friends with Fidel Castro, who treated Gonzalez like a son.
Since then, Elian has embraced his Cuban roots as a member of the Young Communist League. He works in Cuba as an engineer, and if you followed the news in Dec. 2018, you’d know that he marked his 25th birthday by creating a twitter account, and his first tweet was to praise the President of Cuba.
Nadya Suleman a.k.a ‘Octomom’
Six children sounds like a lot of kids for most mothers, but for single mom Nadya Suleman it wasn’t nearly enough. Using In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) she managed to more than double her family in one pregnancy. When the media found out about her birthing eight babies on Jan. 26, 2009, the world came to know her as “Octomom.”
Octomom managed to baffle doctors as much as she attracted support and disdain from the public at large. Her life became exceedingly difficult when she was evicted by her landlord, then was forced to go on welfare because she couldn’t support her extremely large family by herself.
Where ‘Octomom’ is now
Octomom attempted to capitalize on her newfound fame only to land herself in hot water. She tried everything from reality TV, the music business, and even stared in a porn film. All efforts failed, and it wasn’t until she turned the cameras off that she finished her degree and became an assistant family therapist.
Her kids, who will be 11 years old as of Jan. 2020, are doing well and prospering in school. She doesn’t like the “Octomom” name anymore, and later admitted that her actions were, “foolish, immature and selfish.” Against all odds though, she’s raising her kids in her home in California, and can be followed on Instagram at Soloman Family (@natliesuleman).
Monica Lewinksy has been chewed up, spit out, and somehow came out on top. Of course, her odyssey in the public spotlight began over 20 years ago when she was a young intern working in the White House for the Clinton Administration.
The two engaged in what Clinton called an “inappropriate relationship,” and it landed both of them in hot water. At the young age of 25, Lewinsky was summoned to a grand jury hearing in 1998 and had to give open testimony regarding the details of the affair. Even though he lied initially, Clinton escaped perjury charges, and Lewinsky was largely shamed for her actions.
Where Lewinsky is now
Since she left the White House, Lewinsky has been in and out of the public eye, as she seemed to be unable to shake the stigma. She left the country and got her master’s degree in psychology in 2014, then returned to the States where she lives today.
In October 2017, about a month after the first #MeToo began appearing on Twitter, Lewinsky followed suit and posted the hashtag. In light of how similar her case was to cases that emerged since #MeToo started, the public perception around Lewinsky has changed a lot. She is now 46 years old and tours the nation giving candid, motivational speeches about her experiences.
The one time NASDAQ chairman Bernie “The Ponz” Madoff is one of the worst human beings to roam to the planet. Madoff was the last person anyone expected to steal (or just make up) almost $65 billion in client’s money, but a rigorous investigation revealed he did just that.
Of course, Madoff’s crimes weren’t revealed until he came clean, and as the truth unfolded Madoff’s life unraveled. On June 29, 2009, Madoff started his 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to 11 federal felonies. Fifteen of his family members and closest associates were also given prison sentences.
Where Madoff is now
Madoff went to prison quietly while his family fell apart. He’s still in contact with his wife, but she wants nothing to do with him. That probably has to do with her newfound modest way of living in Old Greenwich, Connecticut (far from their former penthouse on E 64th St), and the fact that one of their sons committed suicide.
Madoff, a. k. a. Federal Correctional Institution Prisoner number 61727-054, recently wrote to the highest office in the land asking for a commuted sentence, but that request has so far fallen upon deaf ears. Payouts to victims of his crimes continue to this day and have totaled over $12 billion.
In Aug. 2008 the campaign for Florida Man was in full swing, as Democrat hopeful Barack Obama thundered his way toward being elected. His opponent, the Republican Senator John McCain, felt he had to do something to stop Obama’s momentum, so he gambled, and picked a little known Governor from Alaska named Sarah Palin to bolster his popularity.
Palin gave the McCain campaign the energy boost it needed, then she promptly tanked it with some uninformed and ill-advised comments during an interview with NBC’s Katie Couric. McCain probably would’ve lost anyway, but Palin conveniently became the scapegoat for Republicans, and the rest is history.
Where Palin is now
Palin wrote a memoir called Going Rogue in 2009, which highlighted her going her own way during the McCain campaign. She sold 300,000 copies on the first day and wrote another book the following year. She was an outspoken critic of President Obama and his policies and popped into the public eye every now and again with some eye-catching comments.
In Sept. 2019, it was announced that her husband of 31 years, Todd, was filing for divorce. It seems that the divorce is taking a nasty turn, as Palin later filed a counterclaim of grievances, and most issues have not been resolved. We can expect to hear more about it, as a trial date has been set for April 6, 2020.
On May 6, 1997, the music world was rocked (for better or worse?) when the child pop group Hanson released their debut album, Middle of Nowhere. Despite the fact that the three brothers, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, were aged 16, 14, and 11 respectively, they managed to sell 10-million records.
Their hit song still has us wondering how it topped the charts (okay, so there’s still plenty of Hanson fans out there) with the extremely articulate song “MMMBop.” With extreme success touring and releasing other albums in the ensuing years it looked like Hanson was here to stay.
Where Hanson is now
Hanson’s popularity mostly faded by the turn of the century, but not because their talent ran dry, as their record label folded. They toured on their own funds in the early 2000s, and then released another record, called Underneath, under their own label in 2004.
Today you might find it hard to imagine the young trio drinking beer, but that’s exactly what they do. Aside from still touring (after selling 16-million albums), in 2014 Hanson founded their own beer-themed music festival in Normal, Illinois. They also opened a brewery, and their most famous beer is hilariously named, “MMMHops.” Barf!
Marcia Clark was certainly a capable prosecutor for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office in Jan. 1995, but the Deputy District Attorney was decidedly overmatched when she took on the “Dream Team” in the O. J. Simpson murder trial, dubbed “the trial of the century.”
Despite having a mountain of evidence that should’ve convinced any jury that O. J. Simpson was guilty of the crimes, Clark and her team failed to convict the slippery former running back. Race certainly played a part in the outcome of the trial, but Clark was largely blamed for what happened, and she quit her job shortly after the trial.
Where Clark is now
Twelve years after the trial concluded, O. J. Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas, and in an odd twist of fate, Clark covered his arrest and the subsequent press conference as the legal correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight,” and “The Insider.”
Determined to not have the trial be her legacy, Clark took to writing, and for the past 20 years, she has produced seven-crime fiction novels, one of which was Amazon’s #1 bestseller for a period. Now at age 65, she stars in, Marcia Clark Investigates the First 48 and created her own television series, The Fix, which premiered on ABC in early 2019.
On April 15, 1974, something odd happened in San Francisco. A woman, who was kidnapped just two months prior to her home in Berkeley, California, was spotted on a bank surveillance camera during a robbery that featured her brandishing a powerful rifle.
Her name was Patty Hearst, and she was the granddaughter of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. She was kidnapped by a terrorist group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLO), and her case was very difficult to figure out, as it raised powerful questions about the human condition. Oddly enough, she ended up joining the group that kidnapped her in the first place.
Where Patty Hearst is now
The SLO largely died out after a shootout with police ended with several of them being killed. Hearst was on the run until Sept. 18, 1975, when she was arrested in San Francisco. Though she was convicted for her crimes, she made a very strong case that she was brainwashed after intense physical and mental abuse.
Her 35-year prison sentence was commuted by President Carter in 1979, and later she received a full pardon from President Clinton in 2001. She’ll be 66 years old on Feb. 20, 2020, and had two kids with her former bodyguard turned husband. Much like Monica Lewinsky, her case has come up in recent years, as it asks questions about power and manipulation.
Enron Scandal: Former CEO Jeffrey Skilling
In Oct. 2001, it was revealed that a company that served as the model for what corporations were going to be, declared bankruptcy, despite being valued at over $63 billion. That was thanks to an extremely complex web of lies and fraud conducted by Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling.
There were many other executives at Enron that received prison sentences for their crimes, but Skilling was the architect of the fraud, and thus received the lion’s share of the blame. Quite skillfully, he maneuvered Enron into streaming services and other future technologies, but the only problem was that prospective technology doesn’t bring in any money until it takes off.
Where Skilling is now
Founder of the company, Kenneth Lay, didn’t even survive his trial, and Skilling received a 24-year prison sentence, plus a $45-million fine. Lay escaped his prison sentence, but Skilling started his on Oct. 23, 2006, and spent the next few years fighting the verdict.
Skilling did eventually have some success in reducing his sentence and was released to a halfway house in Aug. 2018. In Feb.2019, he was released on probation, and a month later he began meeting former colleagues to get back into the energy business. Apparently, during the 12 years he served in prison, he dreamt of a new software venture that could revolutionize the energy sector. Ummm, thanks, but no thanks!