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Correction to This Article
This article on Tiger Woods's return to golf and the experiences of other athletes and celebrities who have returned to the public eye after scandal referred to Mike Tyson facing "a rape allegation." The boxer was convicted of rape in 1992 and served prison time; he was also the subject of subsequent rape allegations that did not lead to criminal charges.

Take heart, Tiger Woods: How other celebrities survived scandal

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By Cintra Wilson
Sunday, April 4, 2010

When Tiger Woods returns to the Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., this week, his most fearsome opponent might be F. Scott Fitzgerald, who declared, "There are no second acts in American lives."

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The "Gatsby" author had a point: A great number of scandalized public figures retreat from the klieg lights of scrutiny to live out their remaining days in the dark motel of shame. But a few manage to rise from humiliation and reenter public life to become even brighter and more beloved than they were before they blew it.

Few stars have fallen more precipitously in recent months than Woods, a one-man industrial complex whose public image had been hovering above mortals for years.

Tiger's halo clattered violently around his ankles after that overpublicized incident in November involving car windows, golf clubs and his very, very unhappy wife -- and it was not helped by subsequent revelations suggesting that Tiger's legendary swing was not limited to the golf course.

Woods has made some valiant, if desperate-looking, attempts at public atonement, and the odds are tilting in his favor: He is expected to make a full professional recovery from personal disgrace. An adoring public -- in America, especially -- likes to see character flaws in its stars. The gaffes and screw-ups provide a more intimate understanding through which we might relate more personally to our heroes. To wit: Good Tiger + Bad Tiger = Human Tiger.

And he's in good company. The following luminaries all thrived in one way or another after similar disasters befell them:

Woody Allen

Not a whole lot of men in public life would have the chutzpah to pull such a stunt, but the incorrigible Allen couldn't help himself. In 1992, at the age of 56, he became involved with 21-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, his girlfriend of 12 years.

"The heart wants what it wants," he reasoned. "There's no logic to those things."

His film "Husbands and Wives" opened during the scandal to widespread cringing as audiences watched Allen's character, an aged university professor, drool over the young Juliette Lewis.

Allen and Farrow came to an acrimonious end, but Allen remained involved with Previn and went on to make some of the most artistically and commercially successful films of his career, such as "Match Point" (for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay).

In 2005, Allen referred to Mia Farrow's discovery of naked pictures of her daughter in his possession as "one of the fortuitous events, one of the great pieces of luck in my life. . . . It was a turning point in my life for the better."

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr., who made his screen debut at age 5, was on a seemingly unstoppable trajectory through the '80s, an ascent that culminated in an Academy Award nomination for his role as Charlie Chaplin in 1992's "Chaplin."


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