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Classic Actors Who Almost Spent Life in Prison

Celebrities aren’t immune to reaping the consequences of their actions. It’s not like as soon as they get X amount of followers and fans that they suddenly are impervious to the legal system. In fact, there are quite a few stars that learned this lesson the hard way.

In this video, we’re going to be discussing 8 celebrities who nearly spent their lives in prison. Granted, these folks seem to have gotten lucky and evaded that potentially life-ruining situation, but that doesn’t mean they got a magical ‘get out of jail free card’. Keep watching to see why these stars almost got ‘three hots and a cot’ for the remainder of their days and what ultimately prevented them from ending up with that fate.

Up first we have an actor who most people probably remember best from his hit 90s sitcom ‘Home Improvement’ where he played Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.


Tim Allen



The 1970s were wild times. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll were the name of the game and it seemed like pretty much everyone was playing. On October 2, 1978, Tim Allen was apprehended by law enforcement in the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport for possessing over 650 grams of cocaine.

He ended up pleading guilty to felony drug trafficking charges and gave the cops a list of names of other drug dealers in exchange for a lighter sentence. Rather than spending the rest of his life rotting away behind bars with a potential life sentence, he ended up only getting hit with three to seven years in the slammer.

Allen was paroled on June 12, 1981, after serving just two years and four months of his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone, Minnesota.

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David Carradine



David Carradine is an actor who is best known for his role as Kwai Chang Caine in the hit 1970s martial arts themed television series Kung Fu. Although, younger viewers might remember him as the title character of Bill in both of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Films.

Mr. Carradine has had more than his fair share of run-ins with law enforcement over the years. Back in the 50s while he was living in the San Francisco bay area, Carradine was arrested for assaulting a police officer. After pleading guilty to the lesser charge of disturbing the peace, he was essentially let go with just a slap on the list. When he was in the Army, he faced court-martial on multiple occasions for shoplifting, and in 1967, he was arrested for possession of marijuana. But all of those crimes pale in comparison to what David did in 1974 that nearly got him locked away in a cold, lonely prison cell for life.

In 1974, Carradine was riding the high of the fame that he had attained from starring in Kung Fu when he was arrested on charges of burglary and malicious mischief. While he was high on peyote, Carradine began strolling around his Laurel Canon neighborhood completely nude. He then forcibly entered a neighbor’s house, smashing a window and cutting his arm in the process. After breaking into the home, he assaulted two women while reportedly asking one of them if she was a witch.

Carradine ended up pleading no contest to the crimes and was given probation. While he was never slapped with assault charges, one of the young women he accosted sued him for $1.1 million was awarded $20,000 for her pain and suffering.

A few years later in 1980, Carradine was once again arrested for possession of marijuana while in South Africa shooting the film Safari 3000. While Carradine attempted to stake the claim that he was framed by the apartheid government, he was still convicted and given a suspended sentence.

Throughout the 80s, Carradine was arrested twice for DUI, once in 84 and again in 89. In 1994, while he was in Toronto for the filming of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Carradine was arrested once more for kicking in a door at SkyDome while in attendance at a Rolling Stones show.


Robert Mitchum



As an American actor, director, composer, singer, and poet, Robert Charles Durman Mitchum rose to fame by starring in several iconic noir films. Some of his most notable films include 1947s Out of the Past, 1954s River of No Return, 1962s Cape Fear, 1966s El Dorado, and 1973s The Friends of Eddie Coyle. He also had a major role in the epic television miniseries The Winds of War in 1983 as the character US Navy Captain Victor ‘Pug’ Henry. He reprised that role in the sequel miniseries War and Remembrance in 1988.

When he was still a child, Mitchum was known to be a prankster who often got himself into fistfights and trouble. When he was 12, his mom sent him off to go live with his grandparents in Felton. Delaware. Pretty much immediately after showing up in town, Mitchum was expelled from middle school for fighting with the principal. About a year later in 1930, Mitchum moved in with his older sister Annette who had an apartment in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.

After he was expelled from Haaren High School in Manhattan, he abandoned his sister and traveled across the country living as a vagabond, hopping freight trains and picking up odd jobs along the way such as ditch-digging for the Civilian Conservation Corps and participating in professional boxing matches.

When he was 14, he was arrested in Savannah, Georgia for vagrancy and put in a local chain gang. By his own account, Mitchum managed to escape and proceeded to make his way back to his family in Delaware. While he was recovering from injuries that he sustained while in the chain gang, Mitchum met his future-wife Dorothy Spence, but he quickly hit the road once again and rode the rails all the way to California where he began his career in the entertainment industry.


Robert Wagner



Best known for his roles in the television series It Takes a Thief, Switch, and Hart To Hart and in the films A Kiss Before Dying, The Pink Panther, Harper, The Towering Inferno, and The Concorde Airport ’79, Wagner has enjoyed a career in show business that has spanned more than 7 decades.

In 1956, when Robert was 26 years old, he met and became romantically entangled with an 18-year-old actress named Natalie Wood. The couple was married less than a year later on December 28, 1967. Just four years later on June 20, 1961, the couple announced their separation and they finalized their divorce on April 27, 1962.

On November 29, 1981, however, some 20 years later, Natalie Wood drowned near the yacht Splendour while it was moored near Catalina Island. Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken were also on board at the time of her death and a man by the name of Dennis Davern was the boat’s captain.

Wood’s autopsy report revealed that she had bruises on her body and arms in addition to abrasions on her left cheek. While Wagner later acknowledged that he had an argument with Wood before her disappearance, he has consistently denied responsibility for her demise.

Two witnesses on a nearby vessel stated that they had heard the distinct scream of a woman crying for help during the evening of Wood’s death. LA County Coroner Thomas Noguchi initially ruled her death an accident caused by drowning and hypothermia, but in November of 2011, the case was reopened after Davern publicly stated that he had lied to the police during the initial investigation.

According to him, Wagner and Wood had indeed had an argument on that fateful evening. He also alleged that Wood had been flirtatious with Walken leaving Wagner enraged and jealous. After Wood went missing, Davern claims that Wagner prevented him from turning on the ship’s searchlights and notifying the local authorities. As such, Davern believes that Wagner was solely responsible for Wood’s death.

In 2012 Wood’s death was reclassified as a drowning with other undetermined factors. In 2013, new details came to light that implied that Wood may have sustained some of the bruises to her body before she drowned in the water. On February 1, 2018, The LA County Sheriff’s Department named Wagner a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of Natalie Wood’s death, but he has since maintained his innocence. denying any involvement in her passing.


Yasmine Bleeth



Here we have an actress best known for her roles as Caroline Holden on Baywatch, Ryan Fenelli on Ryan’s Hope, and LeeAnn Demerest on One Life to Live.

In December 2000, Yasmine checked herself into the Malibu-Based Promises Rehab Clinic to get clean from her cocaine addiction. In September 2001, she was arrested in Romulus, Michigan after she drove her vehicle off the highway onto a median on I-94 as she was on her way to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

While no one was injured in the accident, law enforcement found narcotics and paraphernalia in her vehicle. The following day, the police searched her hotel room where they found even more drugs and paraphernalia.

In November of 2001, she accepted a plea bargain that reduced her charges to possession of fewer than 25 grams of cocaine and driving while impaired. She was sentenced a few months later in January 2002 to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service. In 2004, her record was cleared after she completed the terms of her probation.


Todd Bridges



Best known for his role as Willis Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes, Bridges has spent a large chunk of his adult life battling his addictions to crack cocaine and methamphetamine.

In 1989, Bridges was arrested and tried for the attempted murder of Kenneth ‘Tex’ Clay, a local drug dealer in LA who according to prosecutors Bridges shot. Bridges plead not guilty to the charges while his attorney Johnnie Cochran argued that his client was an abused minor who had been driven by his drug use and by the ‘exploitative’ entertainment industry. He also asserted that Bridges had been unfairly framed for the crime.

After a witness finally came forward and testified that Bridges was not present at the time of the shooting, all charges were dropped and he was acquitted by a jury.

Fort6unately, Bridges finally gave up drugs on February 24, 1993, after years of abuse.


Bill Cosby



A comedian and actor that needs little introduction, Bill Cosby is best known for his role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show which ran from September 1984 to April 1992.

In 2014, Cosby was accused by several women of sexual assault. In 2018, Cosby was convicted of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand. He was sent to prison and was expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars but in 2021, his conviction was vacated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania who determined that Mr. Cosby’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated during his trial.


Danny Trejo



Best known for his roles in films like 1995s Heat, 1997s Con Air, and 2001s Bubble Boy and in the television series Breaking Bad, The X-Files, Sons Of Anarchy, and What We Do In The Shadows, Trejo’s career would have never gotten off the ground if he had continued down the path that was laid out for him as a child.

When he was 12, he witnessed his uncle shooting heroin. After threatening to snitch on him if he didn’t ‘share’, Trejo got his first fix. From that point onward, Trejo joined forces with his uncle as they committed a series of armed robberies to feed their addictions. After spending multiple stints in prison for crimes like burglary and assault, Trejo found himself in serious legal trouble after he sold four ounces of fake heroin to an undercover fed.

He was then shipped off to San Quentin State Prison. While he was there serving his time, he hit a guard with a rock during a prison riot and was placed in solitary confinement.

He would have likely received a death sentence for his combined crimes especially since the prison guard he hit nearly died of his injuries, but miraculously his charges got dropped on a technicality since there were no witnesses to the assault.

Trejo was released on parole in 1969 at the age of 25. He went on to turn his life around and began working with teenage drug addicts. Today, he has over 350 film and TV credits to his name and is one of Tinseltown’s most recognizable action stars.



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