The Tragic Story Of Tara Reid

Blond bombshell Tara Reid may have first caught our eye in her role as a stereotypical trophy wife in the 1998 film "The Big Lebowski," but the New Jersey native with the California girl looks has been acting since she was 6 years old. As a child, she appeared in commercials for several household-name brands (including McDonald's) before becoming a household name herself, and not just for her acting. The "American Pie" franchise star became as well known for her party girl reputation as she was for her roles. That reputation, coupled with some box office flops, quickly sent Reid's rising star crashing down to Earth. As she told Mirror, "At the time of 'American Pie,' my career was so high, it was blasting and then it dropped. All of a sudden you go from one extreme to the other." 

But Reid, a self-described "fighter" who once landed the coveted cover of "Rolling Stone," refuses to give up. After taking a break from Hollywood, the star of the unexpectedly successful "Sharknado" movies is rebuilding herself. Recently, she returned to reality television for the second season of "Special Forces: World's Toughest Test," joining JoJo Siwa, Brian Austin Green, and 11 other celebrities in New Zealand to tackle some of the harshest imaginable physical challenges. The actress told People that the show provided the mental and physical challenge she needed, saying, "You learn a lot about yourself in the show and other people and your own strength." 

Razzie Award winner Tara Reid

Tara Reid has starred alongside some of the biggest names in the business, partied with some of its most famous It girls, and played America's sweetheart in "American Pie," but her short-lived popularity never followed her to the awards circuit. In fact, other than being part of a best ensemble cast award for "American Pie," the only awards nods the "Van Wilder" star has earned have been Golden Raspberry, or "Razzie" nominations. The antithesis of the Oscars, the Razzies recognize the worst performances and movies of the year. Reid earned nominations in 2004 for her work in "Just Married" and "My Boss's Daughter" and again in 2006 for her role in "Alone in the Dark," an abysmal flop that got her the Stinkers Bad Movie Award for worst actress.

The insulting awards were low blows to an actress who still harbors dreams of one day holding an Academy Award. She told Daily Mail that she has dreamed about that moment ever since she began acting and has even practiced what she will say if it ever happens. "You have your speech all prepared and you practice it in the mirror with the toothpaste as your microphone," she said. And if the golden statue never comes to be? The tenacious actress says she'd settle for another major honor, admitting, "I would love a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame too — there's still time for that."

Tara Reid's party girl image began to affect her career

When you're young, rich, and famous, the world is one big party, and Tara Reid and her pals, including the Hilton sisters, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Richie, to name a few, were at the top of every VIP list in the early 2000s. But while Reid and crew were regulars behind the velvet ropes of some of Hollywood's hottest spots, it was the "Josie and the Pussycats" star who seemed to take the brunt of the negative press. Reid seemingly suffered the worst repercussions and career damage despite the fact that she may have been the tamest of the bunch with no arrests or viral nudes to speak of.

Reid, who has never denied her passion for partying in her youth, admitted to a BuzzFeed News reporter, "We'd pop bottles of champagne. But who doesn't?" What she does deny is that her actions were any worse than those of the other young celebrities in her girl gang. "They all were in jail, they all did f***ing sex tapes, crazy s***," Reid said. In her interview with Mirror, Reid called out the media for showing her peers mercy while raking her over the coals. "I think I get it harder than anyone else, you look at Jennifer Lawrence. She does every interview with a beer in her hand. She doesn't get in trouble. I was ahead of it all and then I got hit the most."

Her botched plastic surgery in 2004 was embarrassing

Plastic surgery is as much a way of life in Hollywood as premieres and parties, and Reid was not immune to the desire to "nip and tuck." In 2004, she reportedly underwent breast augmentation and body contouring procedures that could have easily landed her a cameo on the hit show "Botched." Instead, it landed her in the tabloids, where she was ruthlessly ridiculed. When an unfortunate "nip slip" at Diddy's 2004 party revealed how badly the surgery deformed her body, the tabloids pounced, and Reid's self-esteem and career took yet another hit. She spoke about the experience in an interview with CBS News. "I was smiling like a fool and people were snapping away. When I realized it, I cried and begged the photographers not to print it, but it was everywhere ... I was on the websites as having the ugliest boobs in the world," she says.

To add insult to injury, a photo of the blonde at the beach after her bungled body contouring began circulating and once again put a tabloid target on her back. As she told Us Weekly, "My stomach became the most ripply, bulgy thing. I had a hernia, this huge bump next to my belly button. As a result, I couldn't wear a bikini. I lost a lot of work." She has since had surgery to repair the physical damage, but the emotional scars run deep. 

Tara Reid was a favorite target of Perez Hilton

Tara Reid and Paris Hilton may have been party pals, but Reid and Perez Hilton? Not so much! Some of the cruelest attacks on Reid came from the self-proclaimed "Queen of All Media," who made a name for himself by reporting any and all scandalous celebrity gossip through his wildly popular blog. While no one was safe, it seemed that Perez took a special disliking to Reid and seemed determined to drag her falling star all the way down. Every misstep, blunder, and bad decision Reid made was dissected by Perez so cruelly that she publicly lashed out at him, calling him a "bully" and a "mean bad human" in a series of tweets. She also told BuzzFeed, "I think he's the one that ruined my career, to be honest with you." 

Perez issued an apology that still managed to feel like an insult in the same BuzzFeed article. "I'm sorry for my past coverage of Tara Reid," he said. "I could have covered her then-sloppiness and problematic behavior with more empathy." However, in a video on his website, the snarky celeb added, "I'm not responsible for what happened to Tara Reid's career. She is." In an even more confusing turn of events, Reid made an appearance at Perez's star-studded 31st birthday bash in West Hollywood in 2009, but given the subsequent name-calling, blaming, and BuzzFeed snark, this didn't seem to result in a reconciliation.

Taradise lost: Tara Reid's reality show flops

With so much negative press for Tara Reid's career in the early 2000s, the reality was that it was on life support. Rather than accept that fact, Reid tried to resuscitate it with a new reality: reality television. Reid took her show on the road in 2005 with the short-lived "Taradise," an E! docuseries that featured Reid jet-setting off to exotic locales like Italy, France, and Greece, where she dined and danced the night away, cavorting and club-hopping her way to cancellation after just one season. The show featured some spectacularly alcohol-fueled, cringe-worthy moments and ultimately did Reid's reputation more harm than good. As she told BuzzFeed, "That's where, really, I think the party girl image came," she said. 

Reid didn't see "Taradise" as a trainwreck waiting to happen, telling BuzzFeed, "I didn't realize that would actually hurt me. I thought it would be fun." Hindsight, however, is 20/20, and looking back in an interview with Time, she said it seemed like she had nothing left to lose. "If I was staying home and I'm not gonna get the meetings anyway, then what's gonna happen?" Reid says of her past. "You feel like you're in jail. You're not going to get the parts. You're trying to be on your best behavior and no one respects it. So you might as well just travel the world, meet new people, have fun." 

Tara Reid checked into rehab in 2008

In 2008, things seemed to be taking a turn for the better when Tara Reid checked into Promises Treatment Center, a facility for the rich and famous that has helped countless celebrities deal with addiction. When Reid entered the program, a source close to the star told People that "Tara has a problem with alcohol. It's been at the root of much discomfort between herself and her family and friends." The source went on to say that Reid, a self-described "social drinker," was ready to get her life together. "She finally made the decision to do something positive for herself and her loved ones," the source added. But was that really the case? 

In a conflicting story, Reid told BuzzFeed that alcohol abuse had nothing to do with her stay at the center. Instead, she said it was to get away from an abusive relationship with an unnamed partner. She claims that it was her team who decided that the best way to get her out of the situation was to send her to rehab. "Everyone thought I had a real problem, and that was the problem," she says. However, she told In Touch a totally different tale. "I went there by myself. I put myself there. It was the greatest decision I ever made." She said in that same interview that she was there to get sober and that the decision saved her life. Which version is true? Only Tara knows for sure. 

Tara Reid got the boot from Marriage Boot Camp

Anyone else might have hidden away from the public eye after the failure of their reality television show, but not Reid. She jumped right back into the reality ring, appearing first on the U.K.'s "Celebrity Big Brother" in 2011 and then joining the cast of "Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars" in 2016, where scandal followed once again. Reid appeared on the show with Dean May, a man with whom she claimed to be in a serious relationship, but then the duo let it slip that they were not really a couple. In an attempt to explain this, Us Weekly reported that Reid confessed on camera that she only agreed to the scam to help May out of a jam. "He owes money in taxes, and he could use the money, and he wouldn't mind the fame. So I wound up doing the show for him, so he could get out of trouble." Regardless, she was booted off of it. 

This was also not the first time Reid has been accused of faking a relationship. She supposedly wed Bulgarian financier Zack Kehayov in Greece in 2011 just a few hours after announcing her engagement. However, when she returned to the States, Reid told a TMZ reporter that the marriage wasn't real. Prior to her big fake Greek wedding, her camp announced her marriage to Michael Lillelund, but the Danish businessman said he hadn't spoken with Reid anytime recently, let alone married her. 

The loss of her father left her heartbroken

She may look like the quintessential California girl, but Tara Reid grew up in New Jersey. One of four children born to teachers Donna and Thomas Reid, she enjoyed a tight bond with both of her parents, even after the bright lights of Hollywood lured her to California. Like many girls, Reid seemed especially close to her dad, as was evidenced by a sweet photo of the two that Reid shared on her Instagram feed on his 74th birthday, calling him "the most amazing father." However, about 18 months later, Reid shared the same photo, this time with a devastatingly different caption. Her beloved father had passed away on December 30, 2016.

In the post, Reid sang her late father's praises, calling him "a man full of life, love, wisdom, and strength." Her admiration for her dad was evident, as was her heartbreak, as she eulogized her father with words like "my hero" and "my entire world."  Her loss was relatable to hundreds of fans who posted their heartfelt condolences. Even "frenemy" Perez Hilton managed to show Reid some long overdue empathy when he shared her news on his gossip site, saying, "Wow, we can't even begin to imagine the pain Reid is feeling right now. We hope she's surrounded by numerous loved ones and friends during this harrowing time. Stay strong, Tara." 

Tara Reid experienced more turbulence with an airplane incident

The months and years following her father's death were a turbulent time for Tara Reid. Although she continued working, it seemed she was up to her old tricks, with reports surfacing that she was removed from a Delta Airlines flight leaving LAX because she was causing a "disturbance." A statement issued by the airline and published in USA Today read, "Delta flight 613 from Los Angeles to New York JFK-International returned to the gate, prior to takeoff, due to a customer disturbance on board." A rep for Reid then confirmed to the newspaper that she was the passenger in question. True to form, however, there are conflicting reports as to what really went down.

According to TMZ, Reid, who was flying to New York to film "5th Borough" with her support dog in tow, was exhibiting diva behavior over allegedly getting the wrong seat and was reportedly upset that she didn't have enough room or a pillow. However, Reid's version is that the story is a fabrication. According to USA Today, Reid gave her side via an Instagram post (which appears to have been deleted). In it, she explained that she was not kicked off but chose to deplane after being asked to put her dog in the overhead bin, a request she described as "ridiculous" and "absurd." The actress also slammed TMZ for running a video of the incident and contributing to what she deemed "false reporting." 

The loss of her mother devastated her

Less than a week after the Delta incident, Tara Reid suffered another devastating blow when her beloved mother, Donna Reid (no, not Donna Reed), died on October 20, 2018, at the age of 71. The loss came less than two years after Reid's father passed away, and the actress shared the news via Instagram with a photo of her parents on their wedding day. Although Reid's mother was known to be ill, the cause of death was not revealed. However, Reid had recently shared a photo to Instagram of her wheelchair-bound mother attending "The Last Sharknado" premiere just two months prior. According to People, a statement Reid released about her mom aired on the Australian TV program "Today Extra," saying, "She has been struggling with her health and to have her at my side, for possibly the last time, was so incredibly fulfilling."

Reid spoke with BuzzFeed about the close relationship she shared with her mother and recalls how Donna was often outraged by what she saw as the unfair way the media attacked her daughter. "She was more angry than I was," Reid says, adding that her mom once threatened to give the offenders a piece of her mind. Although Reid says that she is happy her parents are reunited, she doesn't know how she will cope without them. "My heart breaks," she captioned her post. "Who am I gonna call every day, what do I do?"