In the immortal words of Claude Rains’ Captain Renault, “Round up the usual suspects.”
Renault was referring to the muggers, murderers, and misanthropes generally found hanging around his corner of the title city in 1942’s Casablanca, but in a modern context, he could be referring to the filmmakers who over the years have frequently found themselves winning Golden Raspberry Awards. Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Bay, Madonna — the list is long… and rather predictable.
On the other hand, there are those who are rarities in the world of the Razzies, celebrities who have only briefly tasted the bitterness of bad-movie embalmment. Whether it’s an accomplished actor or director whose track record is more in line with the Oscars than the Razzies, or a star from another field (music, sports, politics) unwisely wading into polluted Tinsel Town waters, these are the folks you may be surprised to learn have been enshrined in Hollywood’s hallowed halls of shame.
Here are 15 Stars You Didn’t Know Won Razzie Awards.
15. Donald Trump
If Donald Trump doesn’t win the White House, he can always take consolation in the fact that he once won a gold Razzie. For playing a fictionalized(?) version of himself, a smarmy, Gordon Gekko-styled mogul engaged in boardroom shenanigans, Trump earned a Worst Supporting Actor award for 1990’s Ghosts Can’t Do It, an atrocious endeavor in which a widow (Bo Derek) attempts to find a suitable body for her deceased husband (Anthony Quinn) so they can again “do it.”
No, Trump doesn’t play the object of Bo’s lustful search (thank God); instead, he appears as himself, assuring her that “in this room there are knives sharp enough to cut you to the bone and hearts cold enough to eat yours as hors d’oeuvres.” “You’re too pretty to be bad,” she flirts, to which he replies, “You noticed” — all while puckering his lips in a manner that charitably foreshadows Ben Stiller’s “Blue Steel” gaze in Zoolander and not so charitably brings to mind a wayward goldfish gasping on the floor.
14. Leonardo DiCaprio
Say it ain’t so, Leo! Yes, the former teen heartthrob and reigning Oscar champ is no stranger to Razzie rewards, as exemplified by his Worst Actor nomination for 2000’s The Beach. Yet his victory came in the more unusual category of Worst Screen Couple, presented over the years to the likes of Will Smith and Kevin Kline in Wild Wild West, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Gigli, and Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper in All About Steve.
DiCaprio earned his prize for his first post-Titanic feature, 1998’s The Man in the Iron Mask, yet his co-honoree wasn’t one of his celebrated co-stars like John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu or Jeremy Irons; instead, it was… Leonardo DiCaprio. In a gimmicky move, voters elected to hand one actor the prize for playing two parts, as Leo did in this Alexandre Dumas adaptation by donning the roles of King Louis XIV and his twin brother Philippe.
Razzie voters were so smitten with their own cleverness that they would repeat this two-for-one feat three more times, honoring Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan for 2007’s I Know Who Killed Me, Adam Sandler and Adam Sandler for 2011’s Jack and Jill, and, in a slight deviation, Kirk Cameron and his ego for 2014’s Saving Christmas.
13. Neil Diamond
Flat-footed 1980 musicals were the big winners (losers?) at the first annual Razzie Awards, with the Village People debacle Can’t Stop the Music snagging the prizes for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay and the Olivia Newton-John disaster Xanadu nabbing the statue for Worst Director. But the recognition of tone-deaf efforts didn’t end there, with Neil Diamond earning the organization’s first-ever Worst Actor award (besting, among others, Can’t Stop the Music’s CaitlynJenner) for drowsily emoting in The Jazz Singer.
In this risible remake of the 1927 original (famous for being Hollywood’s first talkie), Diamond plays a Jewish cantor seduced by the dark side of the pop charts – and, yes, as in the ’27 take, he actually sings one of his numbers in blackface (oy…). It’s unclear whether thanks should go to Diamond’s tireless touring and recording schedules or the Razzie voters’ ballots, but regardless, the singer would never again headline a major motion picture.
12. MC Hammer
We know what you’re thinking. How could MC Hammer’s 15 minutes of fame have been extended long enough for him to be in the running for a Razzie? It was certainly an example of striking while the iron was hot. Thanks to his massive success with the 1990 album Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em and its attendant smash singles “U Can’t Touch This” and “Pray”, Stanley Burrell (Hammer’s birth name) was tapped to contribute the theme song for the following year’s holiday hit, The Addams Family.
“Addams Groove” turned out to be another Billboard Top 10 hit for the artist, but not everyone deemed it groovy. Razzie members named it Worst Original Song, choosing it over efforts by Vanilla Ice (Cool as Ice) and Iggy Pop (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare). For some reason, voters found little to like in such lyrics as, “Now I don’t mind being a friend, And showin’ a little bit of flava/ But Wednesday, Pugsley, Gomez, Fester, Man, them some strange neighbors!”
11. Ronald McDonald
A movie that lives on in infamy, 1988’s Mac and Me is generally considered the worst of the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial rip-offs that flooded the film scene in the 1980s.
After an alien tyke gets stranded on Earth, a wheelchair-bound boy (Jade Calegory) adopts him, christens him Mac (“Mysterious Alien Creature” ), and proceeds to carry out his constitutional duty by whisking the inquisitive alien to the nearest McDonald’s. There, an impromptu dance party breaks out, with rows of choreographed kids dancing and Mac (decked out in a bear costume) grotesquely shimmying on the countertop. And in the middle of all this madness, like an Obi-Wan Kenobi for the Quarter Pounder set, fumbles Ronald McDonald, performing stupid tricks for the kids and generally making a nuisance of himself.
Half of the picture plays like a McDonald’s commercial while the other half unspools like a Coca-Cola ad (the only thing that can resurrect dying aliens is a swig of Coke; no, really), but since the soft-drink giant had no mascot/spokesperson, Mickey D’s corporate capitalist clown didn’t have to share his Worst New Star Razzie award with anyone else.
Jingoistic nonsense from first frame to last, 2012’s unexpected megabomb Battleship uses the popular Hasbro board game for its starting template and then adds invading alien critters to the mix. Perhaps the worst Michael Bay movie not actually made by Michael Bay (instead, Peter Berg was the offender), the picture trots out the standard hunks (in this case, Alexander Skarsgård and Taylor Kitsch), the standard hottie (Brooklyn Decker) and the standard veteran actor meant to add dignity and clout to the proceedings (Liam Neeson).
The wild card in the casting turns out to be multi-Grammy Award-winning R&B artist Rihanna, making her film debut as Petty Officer Raikes. Honestly, Rihanna’s performance is average rather than awful, an opinion adopted by many reviewers (“She just kind of sits there, looking surly when things go wrong and spunky when they go right,” noted one scribe; “the least bad thing about this flick,” offered another). Yet out of the seven Razzie nominations the film picked up, Rihanna was made the sacrificial winner, earning the picture’s solitary statue for Worst Supporting Actress (and besting co-star and fellow nominee Decker in the process).
9. Bill Cosby
For five consecutive seasons, The Cosby Show was the highest rated prime-time series in the nation, and its star was beloved by everyone (my, how times change…). During this stretch, Cosby opted to test his clout at the box office by producing, co-writing and starring in 1987’s Leonard Part 6, an ostensible comedy about a secret agent who battles a vegetarian and the murderous animals under her control.
Reviews were brutal, box office haul was nonexistent, and Cosby himself disowned the picture and urged folks not to see it. Apparently, though, Razzie voters did see it, since it nabbed Cosby a generous three awards in the categories of Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay, and (since he produced it) Worst Picture. Cosby remained upbeat about the whole experience, even going so far as to collect his statues and proudly display them on talk shows.
8. Dolly Parton
Like Cosby, Parton was one of those people seemingly adored by everyone, but unlike the accused sexual assailant, she has continued to inspire and entertain (as recently as 2011, she was honored by the Grammys with a Lifetime Achievement Award). Yet even her resume has been stained with Raspberry red, thanks to her contributions to 1984’s Rhinestone.
A misguided update of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, the film stars Parton as a country singer who accepts a bet that she can turn a lunkheaded New York cab driver (Sylvester Stallone) into a singing sensation. A critical and commercial disaster (watching Stallone attempt to play light comedy is only slightly less painful than getting hit in the teeth with a bowling ball), the film earned eight Razzie noms, but Worst Actress for Parton wasn’t one of them. She wasn’t exactly off the hook, though, nabbing a nod for Worst Musical Score and another for Worst Original Song (“Sweet Lovin’ Friends”). She won Worst Original Song for another composition, “Drinkenstein” (that dopey title pretty much guaranteed a victory), making her one of the only two people to be, uh, honored for this turkey.
7. James Cameron
Cameron may have been the king of the world, the king of the Oscars, and the king of the box office, but when it comes to the Razzies, he’s no more than an aide-de-camp. After all, he’s only been nominated for a Razzie once, although he did go on to win the award.
While The Terminator was still being prepped for release, Cameron accepted an assignment to write the screenplay for Rambo: First Blood Part II, the sequel to Sylvester Stallone’s 1982 hit First Blood. But Stallone wasn’t pleased with the relatively straightforward action yarn penned by Cameron (nor with the treatment offered by scripter Kevin Jarre), so he clumsily injected his own politics into the piece.
Released with both Cameron and Stallone receiving screenplay credit and Jarre receiving story credit, the picture proved to be a box office smash when it was released as the opening salvo of the 1985 summer movie season, but its critical reception was less than hearty. It went on to dominate the Razzies, with one of its wins coming in the category of Worst Screenplay. Whether Cameron or Jarre (who passed away in 2011) deserved to share this ignoble award with Stallone is open to debate, but all three were nevertheless cited.
6. Dennis Rodman
A counter-terrorist teams up with a weapons dealer to take out a particularly nasty killer; somehow, it all climaxes in a Roman coliseum housing a Bengal tiger, a dozen landmines, and (product placement alert!) a Coca-Cola machine that saves our heroes. If this sounds like the sort of daft ‘90s thriller starring a low-rent action star like Jean-Claude Van Damme, you’d be absolutely correct.
Yet the “Muscles from Brussels” wasn’t the main story when Double Team debuted in 1997; neither was Mickey Rourke, despite preparing for his role as the terrorist by feverishly working out (his head looks like it’s been grafted onto Charles Atlas’ body). No, full attention was paid to Rodman, the NBA superstar who at the time was part of the championship Chicago Bulls team led by Michael Jordan. Cast as the swaggering arms dealer Yaz, he can’t act to save his soul, but his appearance (which, between his hair and his wardrobe, incorporates every color known to man) at least holds the eye.
“The last guy who made fun of my hair is still trying to pull his head out of his ass,” comments Yaz, leading Van Damme’s Jack Quinn to fire back this burn: “Sorry, I don’t want to hear about your sex life.” Exchanges such as this earned both actors a shared Razzie for Worst Screen Couple, but Rodman also earned individual awards for Worst Supporting Actor and Worst New Star.
5. Ed McMahon
The image of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as a group comprised of suckers and suck-ups was firmly cemented in 1982, when Butterfly leading lady Pia Zadora won the Golden Globe for New Star of the Year after her husband, the millionaire Meshulam Riklis, spent a small fortune wooing the outfit’s members. Apparently, nobody bribed the lowly Razzie voters, as they handed Butterfly a whopping 10 nominations (a record immediately broken the following year by another Zadora snoozer, The Lonely Lady).
The plot centers on an incestuous relationship between a miner (Stacy Keach) and his teenage daughter (28-year-old Zadora), but much of the ink surrounding the picture has long centered on the presence of the great Orson Welles in one of his final screen appearances. Not much has been made of the appearance by McMahon, Johnny Carson’s longtime sidekick on The Tonight Show, but he’s here as well, playing the owner of the mine as well as the dad of one of Pia’s suitors (Edward Albert). McMahon apparently fancied himself a master thespian, as evidenced by his scattered film and TV roles (a Baywatch here, a Fun with Dick and Jane there), but Razzie voters emphatically declared that not to be the case by voting him Worst Supporting Actor.
4. Kelsey Grammer
Grammer has appeared in numerous television shows (from the long-running Frasier to the short-lived Hank), has won numerous Emmy and Golden Globe awards, has backed numerous GOP candidates, has been taken to court on numerous occasions, has grappled with drugs and alcohol numerous times, and has married numerous women and sired numerous children. Given the all-or-nothing rhythm of his life, it makes perfect sense that his Razzie award would be not for one performance but for numerous acting turns.
The TV star appeared in several theatrical releases in 2015, and the Razzie brain trust named him Worst Supporting Actor for four of his achievements that year: as the voice of the Tin Man in the animated feature Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, as a company CEO in Think Like a Man Too, as an aging mercenary named Bonaparte in The Expendables 3, and, doubtless most damning, as a duplicitous CIA agent in Transformers: Age of Extinction.
3. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
Dickinson is the longtime lead singer for the heavy metal band Iron Maiden, and, to be fair, he was the only one cited when his charming ditty “Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter” captured the Worst Original Song Razzie thanks to its employment in 1989’s Freddy Krueger outing A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. The song was a solo project for Dickinson, but fellow Maiden member Steve Harris reportedly loved it so much that he insisted it be re-recorded for the band’s upcoming 1990 album, No Prayer for the Dying.
The Iron Maiden version hit #1 in Britain (despite being banned by BBC radio); the Dickinson version had to settle for being #1 in the hearts of Razzie voters.
Incidentally, all three of that year’s Worst Original Song tunes emanated from horror flicks, with the other nominees being Kool Moe Dee’s “Let’s Go!” (also from Nightmare 5) and The Ramones’ “(I Don’t Wanna Be Buried in a) Pet Sematary” (from, well, take a guess).
2. George W. Bush
Former President of the United States George W. Bush was merely being himself in the various clips employed throughout Michael Moore’s 2004 documentary blockbuster Fahrenheit 9/11, but they were enough to convince voters to hand the Prez the year’s award for Worst Actor. It was more of a political statement, obviously, than a critique of thespian abilities, but given what was occurring in the country at the time, nobody seemed to take much offense. Bush also won the award for Worst Screen Couple (for any scene opposite Condoleeza Rice or “his pet goat”), while fellow warmonger Donald Rumsfeld shared in the festivities by nabbing the prize for Worst Supporting Actor for the same film.
For the record, this wasn’t the first time Razzie members stuck it to Republican icons. Back in 1982, the outfit saw fit to hand a Worst Career Achievement Award to former actor and then-President Ronald Reagan.
1. O.J. Simpson
From Jim Brown to Merlin Olsen, a number of gridiron greats from the NFL have managed to carve out fairly successful careers in front of the camera. For 25 years, Simpson proved to be among the more prolific and consistent ones, appearing in such escapist efforts as 1974’s The Towering Inferno and 1978’s Capricorn One.
Yet it wasn’t until the late 1980s that he landed his most popular role, that of the bumbling cop Nordberg opposite Leslie Nielsen as the bumbling Frank Drebin in the trio of films inspired by the short-lived TV series Police Squad! O.J. humorously fumbled his way through 1988’s The Naked Gun, 1991’s The Naked Gun 2-1/2: The Smell of Fear and 1994’s Naked Gun 33-1/2: The Final Insult, and it was for this final picture that he was named Worst Supporting Actor at the Razzies.
Of course, considering his efforts in the first two pictures probably didn’t even pop up on the voters’ collective radar, it’s clear the reason for the group’s sudden interest in O.J.’s emoting can be traced to the fact that 1994 just happened to be the year of the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman murders and the start of the so-called Trial of the Century. With the awards ceremony taking place months before the conclusion of the trial — a media circus that ended with “not guilty” verdicts and Simpson’s acquittal — Razzie members clearly wanted O.J. to be found guilty of something, even if it was just bad acting.
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