By People Staff
Updated March 07, 1994 12:00 PM

The price of fame is, of course, fame itself. That goes in spades for fame’s wicked stepsister, notoriety. If you’re a celebrity and step a little out of line (Pee-wee Herman) or a nobody and step a lot out of line (Joey Buttafuoco), you’re almost certain to walk into notoriety’s withering glare—and remain there until the public is good and tired of you. The problem is that notoriety lies in the eyes, ears and spleen of the beholder; the notorious have nothing to say about it. That’s why, when they’re caught with their pants down (Rob Lowe) or their paws in the till (Ivan Boesky), they have to fight back to regain the ground they’ve lost. As ophthalmologist Renee Richards told PEOPLE after her 1975 sex-change operation, “Damn it, now that my private life has been put out for all the world to see, I’m going to push all the way.”

By and large, these noteworthies have picked up the pieces and worked them back together in a splendid mosaic of legal exoneration, tearful penitence and, sometimes, cold cash. Look at Jimmy Swaggart, 59, who was expelled from the Assemblies of God church in 1988 after dallying with a prostitute. Today, down at the 7,000-seat Family Worship Center outside Baton Rouge, Jimmy is still passing the collection plate. Heidi Fleiss, 28, whose flock is decidedly better-heeled, hasn’t quite paid her dues yet; five charges of pandering and one of cocaine possession could max out at 11 years in the pokey. Still, this Beverly Hills Madam got a jump on redemption by putting her name on a nifty line of sleepwear complete with “condom pockets.”

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, far from the discomforting shores of Newport, R.I., where he was tried (twice) and acquitted for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny, Claus von Bulow, 67, moves smartly in London’s beau monde, stepping out occasionally with Stalin’s daughter Svetlana. Then there’s Patty Hearst, who survived a 1974 kidnapping, a bank robbery and 18 months on the lam as Symbionese Liberation Army soldier “Tania.” In 1979 she married her bodyguard, Bernard Shaw, and became a confirmed socialite. She appeared in John Waters’s Cry-Baby in 1990, and she’s also in his upcoming film, Serial Mom.

Others briefly in the spotlight have reclaimed their private lives. Tawana Brawley, the New York teen who cried rape in one of the most controversial cases of 1988, attended Howard University and now works in a deli in Washington. Bernhard Goetz, who earned the tabloid title “subway vigilante” after shooting four black teens in 1984, lives quietly in Manhattan. Jean Harris, granted clemency in December 1992 after serving 12 years for shooting her lover, Dr. Herman Tarnower, settled in New Hampshire and writes and speaks about her prison experiences.

But not every former scandalmaker has been embraced by civilized society. Claudine Longet, 52, the ex-wife of singer Andy Williams, who was convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the shooting death of her lover, skier Spider Sabich, is now married to her ex-attorney, Ronald Austin. But she remains unloved by some townfolk. “I don’t know why she stayed in Aspen,” says one of Spider’s old pals, “but I wish she wouldn’t have.” No one has told him, apparently, that the American way is to forgive and not forget, but celebrate. So turn the page and behold the rejuvenated lives of PEOPLE’S prodigals.

Donna Rice: “My faith gave me strength”

In May 1987, Donna Rice was a pharmaceutical company sales rep and sometime actress in Miami. Then the Miami Herald revealed that Rice had accompanied Colorado senator Gary Hart aboard the yacht Monkey Business on a Bahamas pleasure cruise. The disclosure of Hart’s extramarital liaison with Rice, then 29, sank his bid for the White House.

Except for talking with Barbara Walters later that year. Rice never spoke publicly of the Hart affair, and she dropped out of sight. Recently, PEOPLE contributing writer Jim Jerome visited Rice in northern Virginia, where she now lives. In the following story, Rice reflects, in her own words, on her notoriety and her attempts to overcome the past.

The scandal changed my life forever. I made choices—misjudgments—that led me into a political and media crossfire that could have ruined my life. I survived with a renewed spiritual conviction and the loving support of family and friends. It has taken six often painful but rewarding years to rebuild my life.

Several months after my involvement with Mr. Hart was exposed, I reluctantly resigned from Wyeth Laboratories. Many of the national TV commercials that supplemented my income were abruptly canceled. I was stunned by friends who betrayed me for profit. Months later I was still being defamed as a prostitute or worse. My family and I felt humiliated and helpless. I watched my accomplishments, hopes and dreams disintegrate, and came to a spiritual crossroads: I chose to place my confidence in the Lord rather than a bank account.

I was no martyr. It was hard to take the high road and refuse the six-and seven-figure offers to tell all or set the record straight. Though amazed by the inaccuracies reported, I don’t regret that decision: I did not feel that I could share, with dignity and truthful perspective, what had, in fact, happened with Mr. Hart.

By early 1988, with Mr. Hart reentering the primary, I was close to a nervous breakdown. I found refuge, through friends, at a Christian retreat in Virginia. I went for a weekend and stayed three months. Then for three years I lived with a woman from the retreat and her family in northern Virginia. Despite bouts of depression, it was mostly a time of quiet solitude and healing.

I entered a 12-step program based on spiritual principles. I learned about codependency, about my own weakness for men with addictive tendencies. I saw how I had gotten on the ’80s fast track and lost sight of some of the strong Christian values with which I’d been raised. A turning point in my own recovery was being able to reach out and help others—for instance, working with nonprofit advocacy groups in the disability rights movement.

Unlike some, I didn’t pocket a lot of money from the scandal. Since 1987 my annual income has never matched what I earned before it. In the past few years I’ve built a nutritional-products-distribution business. Knowing so well the impact of mass media, I am developing family films and TV and publishing projects that deliver a constructive message.

I feel the press often crossed the line between its right to know and sensationalism—a careless abuse of power that can shatter lives. But my life is richer today. Neither bitter nor angry, I accept responsibility for my past mistakes. I’ve honored my family by being true to myself and deepening my faith in God. I’ve gained wisdom and self-esteem, found compassion and empathy for others. I’m stronger knowing that while Donna Rice could be sold, she could not be bought.

Happily, there has also been a very special man in my life for the past year. All I’ll say about him is that he’s kind, warm, mature, someone I can trust—and he’s not a politician.

Roman Polanski: “The planet belongs to me as much as to anybody else”

“Bonjour, Monsieur Polanski,” says the head-waiter with quiet deference. This is Paris, where film director Roman Polanski, 60, has lived in self-imposed exile for 16 years, and his past is not held against him.

Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown) fled the U.S. rather than return to a California jail after pleading guilty in 1977 to “unlawful sexual intercourse” with a 13-year-old girl. His life twice scarred (his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was one of the victims in the 1969 Charles Manson murders), the Polish-born Polanski began again in Europe. Tess (1979) won three Oscars and Frantic (1988), starring his pal Harrison Ford, grossed $53 million. Currently, he’s adapting Ariel Dorfman’s Broadway play Death and the Maiden, with Sigourney Weaver.

In 1989 Polanski married actress Emmanuelle Seigner, now 27. The pair scoff at their 33-year age difference and fuss delightedly over daughter Morgane, Polanski’s only child. “Until you have your own,” he says, “you can’t tell how thrilling it is.” On the question of returning to the U.S. and facing rearrest, Polanski is ambivalent. “If I went back, it would be to clear this up. But what’s most important is my family, my personal life,” Polanski muses. “The last 10 years have been very good for me, so why should I take the risk?”

Imelda Marcos

As the wife of Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos mysteriously amassed a fortune estimated at $1.6 billion. She spent it unwisely. Traversing the globe with a resplendent retinue, Imelda shopped till her country very nearly dropped. Finally, in 1986, Marcos was ousted, and the two fled to the U.S. She beat federal racketeering charges in New York City (her husband died in 1989 before the trial), then returned to the Philippines, to be convicted of corruption and sentenced to 18-to-24 years in prison. Free on bail pending appeal, Imelda, 64, spends her days huddling with lawyers and writing her memoirs in a borrowed Manila apartment. Her wants are simpler now, she says. Recently served a Big Mac at lunch, she exclaimed, “That burger can use a shot in the microwave!”

Anita Bryant: “It’s nice to be vindicated”

In 1977, in Dade County, Fla., Anita Bryant raised her holy banner. It was “ungodly,” she declared, to maintain an antidiscriminatory ordinance protecting homosexuals. Bryant, 53, won the battle but was ruined by the war. First, gays struck back, strutting the streets of Miami in T-shirts that read Squeeze a Fruit for Anita. Later that year in Des Moines, she caught a pie in the face. Soon the popular singer began to lose bookings and record deals, then finally lost her contract as spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission. Her 20-year marriage to manager-husband Bob Green ended in divorce in 1980, forcing the Mother of Family Values to take her four kids and skulk back home to Tulsa. But after 10 years of bouncing around the South, Bryant married her childhood sweetheart, Charlie Dry, a former astronaut test crewman at NASA, and moved onto a 59-acre spread in Berryville, Ark. “He’s the man God planned me to love forever,” Bryant says. “Coming back to him was like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes.” In 1991 she relaunched her career in nearby Eureka Springs, then opened the Anita Bryant Theater and billed herself as America’s Sweetheart on the marquee. But she wasn’t necessarily Eureka Springs’s sweetheart, since the town is widely known as the gay capital of the Ozarks. At first there was talk in the gay community of showing up at her concerts in drag and “oranging” her; instead they just didn’t show up. Not many others did either, and Bryant has now moved her star-spangled extravaganza up to Branson, Mo., the C&W capital of the Ozarks, where she’s plainly more popular. “People who come to my performances are hungry for the truth,” she says. “They thank me for reminding them of the importance of God and country.” She adds, “I was patriotic back when patriotism wasn’t in. I guess I was just a woman ahead of my time.”

James Brown

At 60, James Brown still feels good, and thanks God for making him the “artist of the century,” he says. Looks good, too, with his hair still coiffed every morning by his 43-year-old third wife, Adrienne, and his dazzling implanted teeth. “Hair and teeth,” says the Godfather of Soul. “If a man got those two things, he got it all.” It helps that he has sold 500 million records over the years—and has put his criminal past behind him. Brown spent two years in a South Carolina prison after brandishing a shotgun in 1988 at a startled business symposium in his Augusta, Ga., offices (he claimed they had used his private rest room). Then he led police on a 10-mile chase that ended when he crashed into a ditch. But his prison time wasn’t wasted. “It gave me time to get into the Bible,” Brown says. “Success doesn’t mean everything.”

Jessica Hahn: “Someday I’ll learn to act”

With her Barbie doll body and baby doll voice, Jessica Hahn appears to have been born for her best-selling video, “Playboy Celebrity Centerfold: Jessica Hahn Bares It All.” “I’m constantly looking for ways to express myself,” she says, “and my sexuality is intense.”

Hahn, 34, has come far since she was cast as victim, rather than vixen, in the 1987 PTL Club scandal that shattered televangelist Jim Bakker’s billion-dollar empire. Then a Long Island church secretary, she claimed she was raped in 1980 by Bakker (now serving an eight-year prison sentence for fraud) and another preacher in a Florida motel room during a PTL telethon.

“I could have laid down and died,” Hahn recalls, “but I vowed never to let people rule or ruin my life again.” She took comfort at the Playboy Mansion in L.A.—and in the magazine’s nearly $1 million offer to pose and tell. Then she had her nose, teeth and breasts remodeled and, with new confidants like Hugh Hefner and Howard Stern, went on to act as host on a Phoenix radio show and on her own “Love Phone” infomercial. Though Hahn surmounted the headlines, her mother did not: In 1989, Jessica Moylan died at age 54 from anorexia. “She got depressed by the scandal,” says Hahn. “I felt guilty that she was hurting because of me.”

Hahn used her bunny money for a 90210 condo, and is dating a TV writer-producer. She is resigned to being a “media creation,” she says, but would rather be a serious actress. “Sometimes,” she says, “I close my eyes and go, ‘God, I wish I were Julia Roberts.’ ”

Sydney Biddle Barrows: “I think I did a pretty damn good job”

She was a direct descendant of America’s earliest uninvited, waterborne immigrants. So when a 1984 police bust on New York City’s Upper West Side turned up one Sydney Biddle Barrows as the proprietor of a fashionable call-girl ring, the press gleefully labeled her the Mayflower Madam. Barrows clutched the sobriquet to her well-traveled bosom and, of course, made it the title of her 1986 autobiography. “I’m very popular,” confides Barrows, 42. “The hardcover got up to No. 2 on the best-seller lists. It never made No. 1 because Kitty Kelley came out with that Frank Sinatra book—the witch!” Barrows pauses, frowns, then smiles again. “But the paperback did make No. 11 Then in 1987, the TV movie, starring Candice Bergen, won its time slot in the November sweeps,” she goes on breathlessly. “I was the associate producer, and I also played a small role.”

Long before the movie appeared, Barrows was fined $5,000 for promoting prostitution. Beyond earnings from the book and movie deals (much of which went to pay her $650,000 legal tab), Barrows gets up to $4,000 a lecture and is currently at work on an infomercial and a novel. Her social life is a whirl, she says, noting, “I go out nearly every night.” Anything missing? “Someone to love,” she says.

G. Gordon Liddy

After spending nearly five years in nine federal prisons for planning the 1972 Watergate break-in—and igniting the worst political scandal in U.S. history—G. Gordon Liddy, 63, still maintains his code of silence. Well, almost; he has paid off his $346,000 in legal debts with lectures, debates and a best-selling 1991 autobiography, Will. Now he’s the host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show, which he has dubbed Radio Free D.C. But never does he dwell on his past or the conspirators he refused to name. “We don’t all get together and have a Watergate party,” he says. “We all have lives.”

Sukhreet Gabel

She was the sad centerpiece of 1987’s Bess Mess, the young woman whom former Miss America Bess Myerson, then New York City’s commissioner of cultural affairs, had hired allegedly to win favor with her mother, Judge Hortense Gabel. Gabel mere—who died in 1990—heard the divorce dispute between Myer-son’s lover and his wife. Sukhreet seized on her celebrity, singing in nightclubs and vamping on TV. Nowadays, while Bess tends cancer patients, Gabel designs fashions under the label “Sukhreet—Tradition of Joy.”

Dana Plato

In 1981, at the age of 17, she was starring in TV’s Diff’rent Strokes. Three years later she was pregnant and off the show. Since then, Dana Plato has split with husband Lanny Lambert, a Tulsa club owner, and lost custody of son Tyler, now 9; was arrested in 1991 for robbing a Las Vegas video store of $164 at gunpoint and sentenced to five years probation; spent 30 days in jail for forging Valium prescriptions until a sympathetic Wayne Newton posted her bail—and, finally, spent one month last year in drug and alcohol rehab at Western Recovery in Las Vegas. Having worked several months as a phone receptionist at Western Recovery, Plato, 29, is ready to reclaim Tyler and her acting career. “I understand that no one is going to hand me anything,” she says. “I just want to prove myself again.”

Marc Christian

The 1984 headlines announcing that actor Rock Hudson had AIDS stunned no one more than his live-in lover of the previous three years, Marc Christian. Claiming that Hudson intimates had deceived him about Rock’s illness so that the two could continue high-risk sex, Christian filed a landmark lawsuit on Nov. 12, 1985—a month after Hudson’s death. “Sometimes it seems like only a bad dream,” says Christian, who was awarded $22 million by an L.A. jury, but says he settled for under $6 million. Now 40, Christian lives well, yet quietly, in the Hollywood Hills with a new companion and is researching a TV project on the history of the record industry. He says he has tested HIV negative for nine years. As he reflects, “My purpose was not to sleaze Rock. It was to say that if you have AIDS you ought to tell your partner, whether you’re a movie star or a postman.”

Margaret Trudeau Kemper: “I had a lot of problems”

In the kitchen of her cozy brick house in Ottawa, Margaret Kemper is baking cookies. “Mommy! Mommy! I want to do it! Let me!” cries Alicia, 4. (Kyle, 9, is in bed with the flu.) “It’s my turn for our bridge club tonight,” Mrs. Kemper explains, “and we always have a cookie exchange.”

This scene wouldn’t play anywhere but a family greeting card were it not that Mrs. Kemper, 45, is the former Margaret Sinclair Trudeau, once the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the naughty media darling of the 70s. Chafing at the constraints of political life, young Maggie took up photography, ran with the Rolling Stones and, as she admitted in her 1979 autobiography, Beyond Reason, “racketed around New York, getting involved in scenes I couldn’t cope with.” She and Trudeau separated in 1977 and divorced in 1983. That year she married Fried Kemper, then a prosperous Ottawa real estate investor. Since then, apart from the three years she spent as a local talk show host, Margaret has devoted herself to her new family (she also remains close to her three sons by Trudeau, who live with Dad). Her husband went bankrupt last year, and now runs a smaller realty firm. “We don’t have a lot of money,” she says, “but that doesn’t seem to matter. I just love being part of the community and being one of the moms.”

Gennifer Flowers: “I am now a part of history”

Life hasn’t been all green pastures for cabaret singer Gennifer Flowers, 44, since she announced details of her alleged 14-year liaison (1977-91) with Bill Clinton during his campaign to become the 42nd President of the United States. After cutting a $100,000 deal with the Star—then appearing nude in Penthouse—Flowers was generously termed “opportunistic” by the press.

“Because I decided to tell the truth,” Flowers says, “they label me a bimbo and a very uncredible individual. Well,” she adds, “I am the only one with any proof.”

By “proof” Flowers means the 65 minutes of intimate phone chat between her and Clinton that she says she taped in 1989. Her intent, she says, was self-protection. “I saw a movie about a man who was going to become President whose mistress was killed by some operatives,” she explains. “So if something happened to me, I wanted people to be held responsible for it.”

Now living in Dallas, Flowers is trying to revive her singing career. She concedes a few pangs of remorse over her actions. “I still feel to some degree I betrayed our friendship,” she says. “That’s what breaks my heart.”

Milli Vanilli

Gone are the limos, the fans, the Grammy and most of the millions that Rob Pilatus, 29, and Fabrice Morvan, 27, reaped from their 1989 album, Girl You Know It’s True. Exposed by their record producer Frank Farian as lip-synching dancers, Pilatus and Morvan saw the real Millis—Brad Howell and John Davis—team up with three other singers while their own album, Rob & Fab, died last year. Now split, they’re just a pair of unemployed actors-dancers-whatevers looking for a second break. Fab, friends say, is pulling his life together with a girlfriend’s help. Rob attempted suicide in 1991 and has been in alcohol and drub rehab. Still, he says, “The hardest thing to take was kids in a school bus sticking out their tongues at me.”

Zsa Zsa Gabor: You don’t fight city hall!”

It was called “the slap heard round the world.” On June 14, 1989, Beverly Hills patrolman Paul Kramer stopped Zsa Zsa Gabor’s white Rolls-Royce Corniche—and was rewarded with a clout on the kisser. Three months later, after a two-week circus of a trial, Zsa Zsa was found guilty of slapping a police officer (she claimed self-defense) and sentenced to three days in jail, 120 hours of community service and $12,937 in fines.

Prison was harrowing—guards took away the bottle of Evian water brought by Prince Frederick von Anhalt, Duke of Saxony, Eighth Husband of Zsa Zsa. Still, her community service work with retarded children and the homeless brought out a softer strain in Zsa Zsa, 76, who directed 62 of the kids in a musical revue and brings them Christmas presents every year (she also delivers 100 turkeys to a homeless shelter each Thanksgiving).

Though last October she taped her own exercise video, “It’s Simple, Darling,” by the end of 1993, Zsa Zsa was back in court again—civil this time—with her husband, for allegedly defaming actress Elke Sommer in 1990 German magazine articles. Sommer won $2 million, but that didn’t silence Zsa Zsa, who declaimed in open court, “She calls me a fat ass, look at her! She’s a dried-up old prune.”