Celebrity can be a beacon that draws in madness. When someone’s name flashes across every part of the world, it starts working itself into the lives of people they’ve never met—including the ones they’d never want to.
Every famous star has fans who take it too far. There are thousands of people who spend their time alone, nursing a mad fantasy over a face they’ve seen on TV. And when the crazy ones leave their homes and decide to meet their favorite stars face-to-face, it can turn into a real-life horror story that’s stranger and more terrifying than anything they’ve acted out on the silver screen.
10 The Mime That Stalked Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage seems to attract the strangest people. While filming the movie Bringing Out the Dead, the actor said that he was stalked by somebody dressed up as a French mime. Everywhere Cage went, the mime would be following him, watching him, and doing what Cage only described as “strange things.”
Security got rid of the mime before he could hurt anybody, but Cage hasn’t always been so lucky. A few years later, he woke up at 2:00 AM to see a man dressed only in a leather jacket standing above his bed, slowly licking a Fudgsicle while he watched Cage sleep.
Terrified about what might happen, Cage talked to the man who’d broken into his home and quickly realized that he was looking at someone who was severely mentally ill. Cage tried to keep the man calm and talked his way out of danger, using what the actor called “verbal judo” to convince the man to leave quietly.
“I know it sounds funny,” Cage said about the strange men who stalked him. “But it was horrifying.”
9 The Woman Who Thought Eddie Vedder Was Jesus
A woman once drove her car through the wall of Eddie Vedder’s home. It was no accident. She was driving at 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph), she was out to kill him, and Vedder knew exactly who she was.
He’d been receiving letters from her for months before her car burst through his wall. The letters went through a rambling, incomprehensible chain of accusations. She believed that Vedder was the father of her children. She insisted that he had violently raped her and gotten her pregnant twice. And she thought Vedder was Jesus. She told Vedder in a letter, “Jesus rapes.”
Vedder tried to ignore her until she made that impossible by slamming her car into the side of his home. The collision nearly killed the stalker, and she ended up in prison. But Vedder was left traumatized. For the next few years, he made his record label pay for 24-hour security and became a recluse, living in fear of the people who loved him.
8 The Priest Who Stalked Conan O’Brien
In 2006, Conan O’Brien received his first letter from Father David Ajemian. It would be the first of many, each one saying more or less the same thing. Ajemian said that he had a message for O’Brien that only O’Brien would understand. And every one was signed: “Your priest stalker.”
At first, it was nothing more than a few creepy notes. But when O’Brien didn’t write back, Ajemian started getting more aggressive. “You owe me big-time, pal,” he wrote in one, without ever explaining why he felt O’Brien owed him anything. “I want a public confession before I even consider giving you absolution.”
Then the messages got violent. In one letter, the priest stalker compared himself to Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter. In another, he warned O’Brien that “Frank Costello once dodged a bullet in your building, and so can you.”
Soon, it was more than just letters. O’Brien’s parents got a knock on the door and opened it to find Ajemian standing on their porch. For a while, he railed them with questions about their son. He didn’t hurt them, but he made it clear that he was ready to hurt Conan.
Ajemian was caught in New York. He was trying to sneak into a taping of O’Brien’s show when he was arrested, mere feet away from his target.
7 The Woman Who Tried To Shave Hugh Jackman
Katherine Thurston was obsessed with Hugh Jackman. “I want to marry him,” she told people, though she’d never met him and Jackman already a wife. But this did not bother Thurston, who insisted, “It is not against the law to have two wives.”
There was only one problem as far as Thurston was concerned: She didn’t like his beard. Jackman looked better with a clean-shaven face, she felt, and his insistence on going around with stubble on his face drove her mad.
She waited for him outside his gym and followed him as he went in. When he noticed her, she was holding an electric razor in her hand. It was filthy—her own pubic hairs were still caught in the blades – and she had a deranged look on her face.
“We’re going to get married, right?” Thurston said. Then, without waiting for an answer, she attacked him with the razor, trying to cut the hairs off his face.
A personal trainer managed to pull her off and keep her from hurting anyone until the police arrived. When they showed up, Thurston was far from repentant. In her mind, her attack was perfectly reasonable. She’d done it, she told them, because “I hated him having those whiskers!”
6 Sean Penn And The Night Stalker
In 1987, Sean Penn found himself behind bars. He’d gotten himself a short rap sheet of dangerous and violent behavior by punching an extra in the head and getting caught driving recklessly. Soon, he was spending 60 days in jail with some unexpected neighbors.
One was Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker,” a serial killer convicted of 13 murders. Ramirez was captivated by the chance to have a real-life celebrity in his territory, and he convinced a deputy to pass Penn a letter.
The words in the letter were innocuous enough. Ramirez had written a short note that said, “Hey, Sean, stay tough and hit them again.” Beneath it, though, he’d written the numbers “666” and drawn a pentagram and a picture of the devil. It was eerie. But the creepiest part of it for Penn must have been the idea that the man who’d drawn the images felt they shared a kinship.
Penn wrote a furious note back, insisting that he felt “no kinship” with the serial killer. “I hope gas descends upon you before sanity does,” he wrote. “It would be a kinder way out.”
Still, Penn kept the note. He took Ramirez’s letter with him, brought it home, and never gave it away.
5 The Uber Driver Who Tried To Kidnap Kevin Smith’s Daughter
Harley Quinn Smith, the then-16-year-old daughter of Kevin Smith, was waiting for an Uber outside a coffee shop when a Jeep rolled up in front of her with an Uber sticker in the window. Two men were inside, and they gruffly told her, “Get in.”
Something about the men felt off to the young girl, and she hesitated. She asked them who they were here to pick up, but the men wouldn’t answer. Then she asked to see the Uber app on their phone, but they didn’t have it.
“Just get in the car,” one of the men barked. As Smith hesitated, another car pulled up, again with an Uber sign in the window, and the driver announced that he was here to pick up Harley Quinn Smith.
The Jeep took off and disappeared, and Smith quickly realized that they weren’t Uber drivers at all. They were predators, looking to kidnap Kevin Smith’s daughter.
4 The Woman Obsessed With Dilbert’s Scott Adams
“I see that my Canadian stalker is back in full force,” Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams wrote on his website one day in 2010, fed up with the comments a woman had been leaving on his website.
The woman was Christina Lane. For seven years already, she’d been living under the delusion that Dilbert was a comic strip filled with coded messages intended to torment her. She insisted that Adams had been sexually harassing her. To keep her quiet, he’d bugged her phone and sent goons to bother her. And just to bug her, he was filling every strip in his comic about office life with secret, threatening messages.
She didn’t stop at leaving comments on his website, though. She kept a blog of her own on which she insisted that Bill Gates and Scott Adams were secretly the same people and that they controlled all spam emails.
Sometimes, though, her delusions were more dangerous than silly. She believed that Scott Adams had assaulted her, and she would call his syndicate and his publishers and try to convince them it was true.
Adams never totally got rid of her. As of 2016, she was still stalking him through Twitter, although her account has been suspended.
3 The Man Who Thought Sandra Bullock Was His Wife
Sandra Bullock found a strange man in her home one summer day in 2014. He’d sneaked past her security systems and made it inside. Now he was pounding on her bedroom door and yelling at her. She didn’t need to worry, he told her. He was her husband.
His name was Joshua Corbett, a schizophrenic man who had convinced himself that he was the secret father of Sandra Bullock’s son. He had been writing her letter after letter, telling her things like, “You are my wife by law, the law of God, and belong to me.”
Others were more threatening. “I’ve waited and waited and you never come,” Corbett wrote in one letter, shortly before breaking into her home. “Perhaps this is all supposed to happen some other way.”
When the police came and dragged Corbett away, he thought it was all a misunderstanding. “Sandy, I’m sorry!” he called out to the actress, believing that it was a lovers’ spat gone too far. “Please don’t press charges.”
If Bullock hadn’t called the police, though, things would have gone a lot worse. When the police looked into Corbett’s things, they found a collection of 24 guns, including machine guns, assault rifles, and homemade explosives.
Corbett had planned on using them. In his home, they found a notebook detailing his original plan: to break into Sandra Bullock’s home and violently rape her.
2 The Fan Who Killed Rebecca Schaeffer
Sometimes, these stories don’t end so well. In 1989, Rebecca Schaeffer, the star of the hit show My Sister Sam, came face-to-face with a stalker of her own. Unlike Bullock, though, she didn’t make it out alive.
Schaeffer’s murderer was Robert Bardo, a schizophrenic loner who had turned his bedroom into a shrine dedicated to her. He spent his life sitting in a room filled with pictures of his favorite star, watching and rewatching the VHS cassettes he’d collected of her every appearance on TV.
His love turned dark, though, when he saw Schaeffer act out a love scene in the movie Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. In Bardo’s twisted mind, this was a betrayal. Schaeffer had become nothing more than “another Hollywood whore.”
Bardo tracked down her address through the DMV and then showed up at her house unannounced. He showed her an autographed letter and tried to talk his way into her home, but he gave Schaeffer the creeps. Unnerved, she closed the door on him and told him never to come back.
He showed up again just a couple of days later. This time, he had a gun hidden in a brown paper bag. Schaeffer tried to close the door on him again, but she wasn’t fast enough. Bardo shot her in the chest and killed her.
“I have an obsession with the unobtainable,” Bardo told the police when they asked why he killed her. “I have to eliminate that I cannot attain.”
1 The Fan Club President Who Killed Selena
Yolanda Saldivar was president of the Selena Fan Club. She was obsessed with the ’90s pop star, and Saldivar had turned her home into a shrine filled with photographs of Selena.
Unlike most crazed fans, though, Saldivar actually got to know the object of her obsession. Selena let Saldivar lead her official fan club and even made her the manager of her clothing boutique, Selena Etc. Saldivar was living a demented fan’s dream. Selena knew her by name, trusted her, and even considered her a friend.
However, Saldivar had been embezzling money from Selena’s boutique. When Selena found out, it meant that everything was going to fall to pieces. Selena confronted her at a Days Inn hotel in Corpus Christi and told Saldivar that she was fired.
Saldivar tried everything to keep Selena from leaving her. First, Saldivar pretended that she’d just been raped in a desperate bid for sympathy. When the lie fell apart, Saldivar panicked, pulled a gun out of her bag, and shot Selena.
Selena tried to run away, but Saldivar chased her. Selena made it to the lobby before she collapsed onto the floor. She didn’t survive.
When the police arrived, they had to talk a distraught Saldivar into pointing the gun away from her own head. She was ready to give up rather than live on in a world without Selena.