Britney Spears at the Teen Choice Awards 2 on August 9, 2009. Credit: John Shearer, WireImage
Dec. 2, 1981
Few artists achieve the level of mega-fame that Britney Spears
has. Sadly, few artists also achieve the same level of infamy as Ms. Spears. Her long and rocky road to stardom began in 1992 with a non-winning appearance on Ed McMahon's old talent show, Star Search. But things turned around the following year, when 11-year-old Britney was cast as a Mouseketeer on Disney Channel's New Mickey Mouse Club
. That incarnation of the Mickey Mouse Club boosted several of its cast members into teenage stardom, including Christina Aguilera
and Justin Timberlake
Her debut CD, "...Baby One More Time
," started off strong (at No.1 on the Billboard
charts from the moment of its release), and her follow-up,"Oops!...I Did It Again
," established her as a bona fide pop icon. Her subsequent albums, "Britney
" (2001), "In the Zone
" (2003), "Blackout
" (2007), and "Circus
" (2008) have all been hits, making it even more difficult to understand exactly when and why Britney Spears became a punchline. During the '00s, while she was racking up gold records, playing sold-out concerts and performing at every awards show in the universe, Britney was also becoming a tabloid queen and scandal magnet. It may have started in 1999 with the controversy over her sexed-up, underage photo shoot for Rolling Stone. And it certainly didn't help that she won a Razzie Award for Worst Actress for her 2001 movie, "Crossroads". In 2003, there was the much-talked-about liplock with Madonna
at the MTV Video Music Awards. But all of that was show business; it was in 2004 that her personal life became gossip fodder.
After her lengthy, public relationship with Justin Timberlake ended, Spears married her childhood friend, Jason Alexander in Las Vegas -- and then had the marriage annulled two days later. Later the same year, she got engaged to dancer Kevin "K-Fed" Federline
, with whom she also starred in a reality show ("Britney & Kevin: Chaotic"), and eventually had two children, Sean Preston and Jayden James.
She divorced Federline in 2006, but ended up in a lengthy, brutal custody fight over their two children. Then there was the incident in which she was caught driving with her baby on her lap. And the incident in which she was photographed getting out of a car, without her panties. And the inexplicable head-shaving. She eventually ended up in a rehabilitation facility. Remarkably, all of those potentially career-killing incidents were before "Circus", which was tremendously successful and spawned two number one singles, "Womanizer
" and "Circus." So, if Britney Spears has shown us anything, it is that she knows how to bounce back.