The Most Shocking Break-Ups of the Last Five Years | Reader's Digest

The Most Shocking Break-Ups of the Last Five Years

This month marks the 43rd anniversary of the 1970 break-up of the Beatles. Here, eight recent celebrity splits that shocked the world as much as when the Fab Four parted ways.

By Beth Dreher
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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Ann Curry and Today

    After more than 20 years at NBC and interviews with some of the most influential people in the world, Curry was unceremoniously booted from the coveted Today show couch in June 2012. Rumors circulated that NBC blamed Curry for its drop in ratings and that co-host Matt Lauer couldn't stand her.

    David Paul Morris/Getty Images

    Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver

    When Shriver found out in 2011 that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with the family housekeeper, she said hasta la vista to her husband of 25 years. He desperately wanted to save the marriage, but Shriver insisted on the split—and walked away with a reported $250-$375 million divorce settlement. 

    Jo Hale/Getty Images

    R.E.M.

    The Grammy-winning alt rock band from Athens, Georgia called it quits in 2011. After 31 years together, their departure was announced with a short and sweet message on their website: "...as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment..."

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts

    A shoo-in for the NFL Hall of Fame, Peyton Manning enjoyed fame and fortune as the Indianapolis Colts' star quarterback for 14 seasons. But in March 2012, Colts owner Jim Irsay dropped him, opting to pursue a young gun rather than stick with Manning, who missed all of the 2011 season after having neck surgery. As a result of the cut, Manning missed out on a $28 million bonus from the Colts—but he recovered nicely, signing a $96 million contract with the Denver Broncos later that month.

    Frank Polich/Getty Images

    Rod Blagojevich and the state of Illinois

    Political corruption is nothing new for Illinois—since 1937, four governors of the Prairie state have been convicted of criminal charges and sent to prison. But Blagojevich's 2008 arrest came with a few especially sordid details. As recorded by an FBI phone tap, the second-term governor was trying to sell the senate seat vacated when Barack Obama became president to the highest bidder. In June 2011, the former governor was convicted of extortion and is serving a 14-year sentence in Colorado.       

    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    John and Elizabeth Edwards

    On March 22, 2007, in the midst of a campaign for the presidency, John Edwards stood with his wife Elizabeth under a tree in their backyard to announce the return of her breast cancer. They presented a united front against her disease and for his campaign. Seven months later, the National Enquirer began publishing a series of stories that made shocking allegations: Edwards had cheated on his wife, fathered a child with campaign worker Rielle Hunter, possibly forced campaign aide Andrew Young to claim paternity for the child, and been part of the production of a sex tape. Salacious, and—as it turned out—true. In January 2010, Elizabeth filed for separation, but she died later that year, before the divorce was final.  

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Paula Abdul and American Idol

    "With sadness in my heart, I've decided not to return to IDOL," Abdul tweeted in August 2009. Since the show began in 2002, the former Laker Girl and pop star offered singers nurturing constructive criticism, and served as an effective foil to co-hosts Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. But failed contract negotiations between Abdul and Fox, the company that broadcasts Idol, forced the split. Abdul had requested a pay raise from $3.5 million to $10 million per year. Since leaving IdolAbdul has continued to act as a judge on shows such as The X Factor and Live to Dance

    Nike via Getty Images

    Lance Armstrong and Nike

    Doping allegations dogged cyclist Lance Armstrong for most of his once-storied career, but the fallout from a damning U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report published in October 2012 was fast and furious. In a matter of months, Armstrong lost friends, awards, and money. He even stepped down as chairman of LiveStrong, the cancer advocacy foundation he established in 1997

    But perhaps the most shocking split was the termination of his endorsement deal with Nike, a company that had supported Armstrong since 1996 and paid him nearly $40 million. "Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him," the company said in a statement. Trek, RadioShack, Anheiser Busch and other companies quickly followed suit.

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