When two pop icons release huge albums just a month apart, you’ve got a sure-fire recipe for a feud. That was the case when Prince debuted 1999 in October and MJ quickly followed suit with Thriller. The two late stars stayed quiet at the time, so not much more is known about why they butted heads, but according to Rolling Stone editor and Jackson biographer Steve Knopper, that silence was intentional. “I think both of those guys had an interest in keeping it somewhat mysterious because they are both mysterious dudes,” he told Esquire.
An argument between the Love Story star and his 18-year-old son — who was just starting his own acting career — turned physical one day in May at the home of Farah Fawcett, Ryan’s then-girlfriend. Griffin tried a wrestling hold on Ryan, who retaliated by knocking out his son’s two front teeth. Shortly thereafter, Griffin was sent to a Hawaiian rehab for his issues with drugs. In 2015, a 50-year-old Griffin revealed he was finally 3 1/2 years sober, but he was not in touch with his father, who was arrested in 2007 for allegedly assaulting Griffin with a deadly weapon.
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In 1983, Williams was on top of the world as the first black Miss America. But her life came crumbling down the following year when softcore magazine Penthouse announced it’d be publishing scandalous photos from her past. Two years prior, she’d posed nude for a shoot at the photo studio she worked at under the promise that she would not be “identifiable” in the photos and that they’d never be released. The photographer betrayed her and Penthouse ran them without her consent, forcing her to hand over the crown. She initially filed a lawsuit against both the photographer and the magazine, but dropped the case to move on with her life. By 1995, she was singing the theme song for Pocahontas, so it’s pretty clear who came out on top here.
At the tail end of the year, bassist Roger Waters announced he was leaving the legendary rock group. Tensions had risen with Gilmour while working on their album The Final Cut, and, well, Waters was no longer feeling “comfortably numb.” The next year, Waters took the guitarist, Gilmour, as well as drummer, Nick Mason, to court to stop them from performing as Pink Floyd without him. They eventually made up and Waters has since admitted to regretting the legal battle.
Long before she was eviscerating fugly red carpet dresses, Rivers was a staple of The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. She filled in for the host frequently and eventually became the show’s permanent guest host. So it was quite a shock when she left to host her own show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Carson felt betrayed and banned her from appearing on his show, which his replacement Jay Leno continued through his tenure. It wasn’t until Jimmy Fallon took over the reins in 2014 that Rivers was finally allowed to grace the set again.
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Like MJ and Prince before them, these ‘80s pop tarts first battled it out on the charts — Gibson’s first album Out of the Blue bowed in August, while Tiffany’s self-titled debut arrived the next month. The two were pitted against one another in the press, but Gibson told Oprah in 2015 that the rivalry was overblown. “Debbie and I have really never been friends — up until now, which is funny,” she said, before revealing where the source of the drama may have originated. “I think, also, a lot of management and maybe record labels like that rivalry,” she said. “It keeps a little edge.”
Dynasty soap star Joan Collins and her salacious novelist sister Jackie Collins were known for their sibling rivalry. It reportedly came to a head when Joan stepped on Jackie’s toes by securing a multimillion-dollar book deal with Jackie’s publisher. The ladies always saved face in the press though, with Jackie telling the Los Angeles Times they’re “perfectly good friends.” Sure.
Now known for his bizarre, anti-LGBTQ tweets, James Woods was once embroiled in an even more bizarre battle with his The Woods co-star, Sean Young. The two allegedly had an affair while filming the movie but after Woods dumped her to go back to his fiancée, Young reportedly went Fatal Attraction on his ass. Reports of the affair came from on-set sources but the rest was all according to Woods, who sued Young for “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” She denied it and the matter was settled out of court, but not before the whole ordeal landed them both on the cover of People.
O’Connor caused an uproar when she refused to allow the National Anthem to be played before a concert of hers at New Jersey’s Garden State Arts Center, which was the venue’s tradition. Sinatra performed at the Center a few days later and told the audience that O’Connor should leave the country, but also that he’d like to meet her, so he could “kick her in the ass.” She responded the next year, saying, “I can’t hit this man back, he’s, like, 78 years of age, and I’d probably kill him.” In 1992, O’Connor would go on to have an even bigger feud with the Pope when she tore a photo of him in half on Saturday Night Live.
Campbell was one of the biggest supermodels on the planet, having graced the covers of many magazines, including as the first black woman on French Vogue. But come Paris Fashion Week in 1991, Banks was the hot new thing smizing her way to It Girl status. She was heralded as the “new Naomi,” which didn’t sit well with the Naomi. By 1993, Campbell reportedly straight-up refused to walk a Chanel runway with Banks, giving Karl Lagerfeld an ultimatum: “It’s her or me.”
The biggest beef in late-night history reached the sizzling point when Leno officially began hosting The Tonight Show, replacing Johnny Carson. The problem? David Letterman, who hosted his own NBC show in the slot after Carson’s, was widely expected to land the gig. The 1991 shocker led to an appearance where Carson asked Letterman, “Just how pissed off are you?” Letterman replied, albeit jokingly, “You keep using language like that, you’re going to find yourself out of a job.” By ’92, Letterman had left NBC for CBS to helm Late Night With David Letterman — right opposite Leno’s time-slot.
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Now this is a story all about how … Aunt Viv’s life got flipped-turned upside down. Janet Hubert starred as the matriarch on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for three seasons but was suddenly fired in 1993 and replaced with Daphne Maxwell Reid. Smith addressed the exit in a radio interview: “I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show because I know she is going to dog me in the press.” That she did. In an interview with Jet, she claimed Smith got her fired because she had to reprimand “him constantly for being rude to people and locking himself up in his room.” Hubert unsuccessfully sued Smith for “slander, negligence, and emotional distress” later that year, and decades later, she still hates his guts.
These ice princesses were both at the top of their game when Kerrigan was brutally attacked after a practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. As Kerrigan lay on the ground famously crying, “Why? Why? Why?” the scandal became a national obsession. As it turned out, Harding’s ex-husband had hired help to break Kerrigan’s leg so rival Tonya could skate her way to victory at the Olympics six weeks later. With a limp and a bruise, Kerrigan was unable to compete at the Championships the next day, handing Harding the win. But Kerrigan had the last laugh, recovering in time for the Olympics and defeating her rival.
The People’s Princess and her husband, Prince Charles, had separated way back in 1992, and the dissolution of the royal couple’s marriage was a source of endless fascination. In 1994, Charles admitted to cheating on her with Camila Parker Bowles, and the following year, Princess Di finally sat down for her first solo interview. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she revealed, while also admitting she’d been unfaithful. It got so much attention that a month later, the Queen wrote the pair a letter telling them to hurry up and divorce already.
After Tupac was shot in Manhattan, Biggie released the track “Who Shot Ya?”, which the former interpreted as a diss track. He responded in turn with multiple disses of his own, heating up a coastal rap war. Of course, this epic feud came to an end in September of ’96, when Tupac was shot and killed in a drive-by. Six months after that, Biggie suffered the same fate. Both deaths remain officially unsolved.
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You gotta do what it takes to win, and if you’re Mike Tyson, that means sinking your teeth into some human flesh. In the third round of the now-notorious “Bite Fight” between the two boxers, Tyson bit off a chunk of cartilage from Holyfield’s ear. Tyson was disqualified, giving Holyfield the win — if you call coming out of a fight with less than two full ears winning. Tyson was fined $3 million and had his boxing license revoked.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: woman gets internship; woman has multiple sexual encounters with president of the United States; president declares he “did … not … have … sexual … relations … with that woman”; woman’s blue dress disagrees.
The two stars came to blows while filming their football movie Any Given Sunday. They played mere rivals in the movie but during shooting, things got so tense that both men punched each other in the face. Police were called but no charges were filed. It wasn’t just a friendly misunderstanding either — the following year, LL released the track “U Can’t Fuck With Me,” which included the line “Once and for all, what’s my opinion on Jamie Foxx? He’s a pussy.”
Eminem got real shady when he dropped this jaw-dropping line in “The Real Slim Shady”: “Christina Aguilera better switch me chairs, so I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst, and hear ‘em argue over who she gave head to first.” Aguilera did not take kindly to the accusation, telling MTV News, “It’s disgusting and offensive and above all it’s not true.” Two years later, Aguilera released the feminist anthem “Can’t Hold Us Down,” which presumably references Eminem when the pop star sings, “It’s sad you only get your fame through controversy.”
The two rap titans’ feud dated back to 1996 when they began taking coded shots at one another in their music. The beef reached a fever pitch, though, in September 2001 when Jay released “Takeover,” a track that questioned Nas’s street cred, as well as his rap abilities. Fans thought it was a career-killer, but then Nas released the even more vicious response, “Ether,” which included calling his nemesis “Gay-Z.” Both songs are now considered among the biggest diss tracks of all time.
In 2001, the rapper met with Carey to talk about laying down a track together and that somehow turned into dating for a bit — at least according to him. Asked about the rumor by Rolling Stone, he said, “There’s truth to that. But on the whole personal level, I’m not really feeling it. I just don’t like her as a person.” He took two more shots at her on his album The Eminem Show that year, including implying that she flew her private jet to meet him twice, “trying to be [his] new wife.” Mariah denied dating him — “I think I was probably with him a total of four times” — and the two have traded barbs ever since.
One of the biggest sports feuds of all time wasn’t between rival teams — it was a power struggle between two giants on the Lakers. The teammates regularly crapped all over each other in the press, with O’Neal calling the Lakers “my team,” and Bryant responding by calling him “child-like,” “jealous,” and “fat.” It got so bad that Coach Phil Jackson called a team meeting to attempt to work things out. “We haven’t had a really good example here of maturity,” he told the Associated Press. At the end of the season, O’Neal was traded and the feud became a slightly healthier inter-team rivalry.
Aaron Carter: lover of candy, but also of Disney starlets. Allow Carter himself to explain this sordid love triangle: “I started dating Hilary on my 13th birthday. I was dating her for like a year and a half, and then I just got a little bored, so I went and I started getting to know Lindsay, dating Lindsay.” Carter then broke up with Lohan and got back together with Duff. Drama! Lohan wasn’t happy about it, as evidenced by her shadySaturday Night Live opening monologue featuring Rachel Dratch as Duff. “I don’t think it’s an honor to be made fun of on Saturday Night Live,” Duff responded on Access Hollywood, “I’m not here to talk bad about her like she talks bad about me all the time.” Said Lohan in the same segment, barely containing her laughter, “I’m sorry if she felt offended.”
When their iconic reality show The Simple Lifedebuted in 2003, Hilton and Richie were total BFFs. But after three seasons, reports surfaced that their friendship had imploded. Hilton confirmed the news in a statement, telling People, “Nicole knows what she did, and that’s all I’m ever going to say about it.” So what’d she do? For one thing, a source told People that Richie was so jealous of Hilton’s Saturday Night Live hosting gig, she held a viewing party and then screened Hilton’s sex tape instead. Whatever the reasons, things got so bad that all of their scenes in the show’s fourth season were filmed separately. But the duo eventually made up, reuniting for a fifth and final season at summer camp.
Once upon a time, Trump and O’Donnell were just a couple of TV hosts with loud opinions. It all started when Trump, then co-owner of the Miss USA pageant, decided not to fire Tara O’Connor, who reportedly failed a drug test. O’Donnell then slammed Trump on The View, calling him a “snake oil salesman,” alleging his bankruptcy and slamming his marriages. Trump responded by calling O’Donnell a “real loser” and saying that he looked “forward to taking lots of money from my nice fat little Rosie.” When Megyn Kelly, in a 2015 debate, questioned him about calling women names like “fat pigs,” he responded with, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”
All hell broke loose for the cast of The Hillswhen Perez Hilton reported that Conrad had made a sex tape with then boyfriend Jason Wahler. Conrad immediately denied the tape’s existence, and mentioned that a friend “didn’t even call or text” her any support. That friend was easily identified as Montag, and when the show’s next season premiered, Conrad famously yelled at her, “You know what you did!”
In a January interview with Vanity Fair, Heigl disavowed Knocked Up, the critical and commercial hit she starred in the previous year opposite Rogen. “It was a little sexist,” she said. “It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.” Director Judd Apatow originally had a measured response in that very profile, but the next year, he changed his tune. In a joint interview with Rogen on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM radio show, Apatow revealed he expected an apology and hadn’t received one, while Rogen took shots at Heigl’s latest flick, The Ugly Truth. “I hear there’s a scene where she’s wearing … underwear … with a vibrator in it,” he said, “so I’d have to see if that was uplifting for women.”
I’mma let you finish, but West and Swift have one of the greatest feuds of all time. When West stormed the stage to interrupt Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards, he set off a chain of events that still affect that artists’ careers today, fueling her homegrown underdog image and his of an unhinged wild card. Spoiler alert: Check out the 2016 slide.
The war between the Grey’s Anatomy star and its creator became fodder for the public in 2008, when Heigl announced she would not be entering herself in the Emmy race because she “did not feel [she] was given the material this season to warrant a nomination.” The next year, she complained about having to work long hours on the show. By 2010, Heigl announced she was officially leaving the show. She claimed her departure was amicable, but in 2012, Rhimes served up some restrained truth when discussing the exit with Oprah: “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
When Kings of Leon said “no thanks” to Gleeusing one of their songs, the show’s creator Ryan Murphy lashed out, calling them “self-centered assholes.” He added that the band “missed the big picture” in that the show could inspire a 7-year-old “to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument.” The band’s frontman, Caleb Followill, said they were “not sure where the anger is coming from,” while drummer Nathan Followill implored Murphy to “see a therapist, get a manicure, [and] buy a new bra.” Murphy called him “a homophobe badly in need of some education.” But they eventually made up, reportedly thanks to good ol’ Gwyneth Paltrow, who mediated a truce over text messages.
Gaga began dodging Madonna comparisons at virtually the very start of her career — the two even mocked the ingenue vs. aging star trope in a (terrible) sketch on Saturday Night Live in 2009. But when Gaga’s 2011 hit “Born This Way” was widely compared to Madge’s “Express Yourself,” Madonna decided to take a stand. In 2012, she fully embraced the feud, famously telling ABC News that the song was “reductive.” Later that year, Madonna grabbed notice for a mash-up of the two songs on her MDNA tour, and Gaga fired back without naming names at a New Zealand concert. “It sometimes makes people feel better about themselves to put other people down or make fun of them or maybe make a mockery of their work, and that doesn’t make me feel good at all,” she said. “That just makes me feel like I’m not being a good human being.”
Mariah Carey was announced as a new American Idol judge in July 2012, Nicki Minaj was added to the lineup in September, and almost immediately, reports surfaced that they weren’t getting along. In October, it was confirmed with video footage from an audition of Minaj shouting, “I told them, I’m not fucking putting up with her fucking highness over there.” In a TV special, Minaj claimed the tension rose from Carey not wanting another woman on the panel. Whatever the reason, when the dueling stars’ season finally premiered in January 2013, the beef was clear to viewers with jabs and eye rolls galore. By the end of the season, they were outright arguing on the live shows, and Minaj was tweeting that the “INSECURE” Carey would soon be replaced. Neither woman returned to the show.
Never forget the year that we all learned Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes. In an infamous pre-1989 interview with Rolling Stone, Swift revealed that her upcoming song “Bad Blood” was about an unnamed female artist who “basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour.” It took the internet approximately five minutes to pin it on Perry, and by the next day, the California Gurl provided her own not-exactly-cryptic response. “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing,” she tweeted. Thanks to a star-bloated music video the next spring, “Bad Blood” went no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The VMAs couldn’t have paid for better press. It all started with a back-and-forth on Twitter between Minaj and Taylor Swift about institutional racism. When Cyrus, who was hosting the awards show, was asked about it by the New York Times, she replied, “What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj, is not too kind.” Minaj waited to respond until she stepped on stage during t he show to accept the award for Best Hip-Hop Video, clapping, “Back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?” Just like that, a meme was born.
Seven years after Kanye West first crashed Swift’s speech, he and his wife (The Notorious KKW) decided to reignite the feud, despite West having publicly reconciled with her at the VMAs in 2015. In February, West dropped “Famous,” which included the lines, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” West said Swift had given him approval for the song, but she denied it. In the July issue of GQ, Kardashian slammed Swift saying, “She totally approved that … She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn’t.” Then the real bombshell came. After an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians focused on the incident, Kardashian took to Snapchat to post video proof of Swift and West discussing the song. Notably, the “sex” line was heard, but not “that bitch.” Nevertheless, the internet sided with Kardashian, with the hashtag #KimExposedTaylorParty trending. Swift rested her case on Instagram, ending with the much-mocked line, “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009.”
With an album to promote and a public that didn’t care, Perry decided it was finally time to break open the vault and start talking about the bad blood. First, she dropped a new diss track, “Swish Swish,” which featured the lyric “don’t you come for me,” the same phrase Perry used to answer a question from Entertainment Weekly about whether the album would have a response to Swift. But when Perry came on “Carpool Karaoke,” she dropped the ambiguity and instead gave Corden the scoop, confirming the longtime rumor that the feud all came down to wanting to use the same backup dancers. “I tried to talk to her about it and she wouldn’t speak to me,” Perry said. “It was a full shutdown, and then she writes a song about me, and I’m like, ‘OK, cool, cool, cool, that’s how you want to deal with it? Karma!’” Perry continued to speak about the beef with various outlets while promoting Witness, but Swift stayed mum. Eventually, Perry put the feud to rest, saying, “I forgive her and I’m sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her.” Who’s ready for round three?
- Bill Clinton
- Celebrity feuds
- Christina Aguilera
- David Gilmour
- David Letterman
- Debbie Gibson
- Donald Trump
- Evander Holyfield
- Frank Sinatra
- Griffin O'Neal
- Heidi Montag
- Hilary Duff
- Jackie Collins
- James Woods
- Jamie Foxx
- Janet Hubert
- Jay Leno
- Jay Z
- Joan Collins
- Joan Rivers
- Johnny Carson
- Judd Apatow
- Kanye West
- Katherine Heigl
- Katy Perry
- Kim Kardashian
- Kim Kardashian West
- Kings of Leon
- Kobe Bryant
- Lady Gaga
- Lauren Conrad
- Lindsay Lohan
- LL Cool
- Mariah Carey
- Michael Jackson
- Mike Tyson
- Miley Cyrus
- Monica Lewinsky
- Nancy Kerrigan
- Naomi Campbell
- Nicki Minaj
- Nicole Richie
- Notorious B.I.G.
- Paris Hilton
- Pink Floyd
- Prince Charles
- Princess Diana
- Roger Waters
- Rosie O'Donnell
- Ryan Murphy
- Ryan O'Neal
- Sean Young
- Seth Rogen
- Shaquille O'Neal
- Shonda Rhimes
- Sinead O'Connor
- Spencer Pratt
- Taylor Swift
- Tonya Harding
- Tyra Banks
- Vanessa Williams
- Will Smith