11 Most Shocking Moments of 2008

Heath's death, Britney's visit to the psych ward, the Pregnant Man and more of the year's jaw-dropping stories. By Aaron Parsley

01 of 11

MAN GIVES BIRTH

MAN GIVES BIRTH
Regine Mahaux/Getty

After making headlines in April as the Pregnant Man, Thomas Beatie – a female-to-male trans-gendered man from Oregon who had preserved his female reproductive organs – and his wife Nancy welcome a daughter, Susan Juliette, on June 29. After 40 hours of labor, "When Susan finally came out, it was like in slow motion," Beatie told PEOPLE. "I was full of wonder." And, the couple are now expecting their second child.

02 of 11

BRITNEY HELD IN PSYCH WARD

BRITNEY HELD IN PSYCH WARD
Cousart-Ramirez-Rios/JFX

After a custody standoff with police at her L.A. home Jan. 3, Britney Spears is taken out on a gurney and delivered to a hospital for mental evaluation – only to be released within 24 hours. But the singer, who was stripped of visitation rights for her two sons, would later that month enter UCLA's psych ward for a week. Now well on her way to recovery, she remains under the watch of her father Jamie, who was granted a court-ordered conservatorship.

03 of 11

HEATH FOUND DEAD

HEATH FOUND DEAD
Gary He/AP

Buzz was already growing around Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Night when the 28-year-old Oscar nominee and dad is found dead at his residence in Manhattan on Jan. 22. New York City's chief medical examiner later finds that Ledger died from "acute intoxication," after accidentally overdosing on a combination of prescription drugs.

04 of 11

GOVERNOR'S CALL-GIRL SCANDAL

GOVERNOR'S CALL-GIRL SCANDAL
Mike Groll/AP

Saying, "I sincerely apologize," New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation on March 12, just 16 months after taking office, and two days after a New York Times report linked him to a prostitution ring and a call girl named Ashley Alexandra Dupré. The 23-year-old, once a cheerleader in a small town in New Jersey, would become infamous for entertaining "Client No. 9."

05 of 11

PATRICK'S CANCER DIAGNOSIS

PATRICK'S CANCER DIAGNOSIS
CRAIG SJODIN/ABC

Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze, 55, reveals his struggle with pancreatic cancer in March. Fortunately, he responds well to chemotherapy, and manages to keep up his busy schedule, which includes filming the upcoming AampE show The Beast in July. His take on his recovery: "I'm a miracle."

06 of 11

MARIAH SECRETLY WEDS

MARIAH SECRETLY WEDS
Khalid

Surprise, they're married! Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon tie the knot on April 30 at the singer's Bahamian estate, after a whirlwind romance that started when Cannon appeared in her "Bye, Bye" music video. "We really do feel we are soulmates," Carey, who first flashed a giant ring on her left hand in April, tells PEOPLE. "I never felt a love like this was in the cards for me."

07 of 11

JENNIFER'S FAMILY MURDERED

JENNIFER'S FAMILY MURDERED

Just weeks after Jennifer Hudson released her self-titled, debut album, her mother and brother are found fatally shot in a Chicago home on Oct 25. Hudson's 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, is also missing. An Amber Alert was issued and Hudson offered $100,000 for the safe return of the boy, but Julian's body would be discovered days later.

08 of 11

TRAVIS & DJ AM SURVIVE CRASH

TRAVIS & DJ AM SURVIVE CRASH
Kwaku Alston; Brett Flashnick/AP

Shortly after takeoff from an airport in Columbia, S.C., a Learjet crashes and bursts into flames, killing four of the six on board. Travis Barker and DJ AM (real name: Adam Goldstein) survive but suffer second- and third-degree burns. "I tried to cover my face as I jumped through a fireball," DJ AM recalls to PEOPLE. "As soon as I hit the ground, I remembered, 'Stop, drop and roll.' So I started rolling."

09 of 11

GOLDEN GLOBES CANCELED

GOLDEN GLOBES CANCELED
Kevin Winter/Getty

It is supposed to be a glamorous time of celebrities rubbing elbows and celebrating Hollywood's achievements. But the stars stay home Jan. 13 – Golden Globes night – after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association cancels the awards show. No one would have come anyway: The Screen Actors Guild pledged not to cross picket lines in support of the Writers Guild of America, which went on strike for 100 days. The impasse shuts down TV's favorite scripted shows and leaves viewers with a schedule of reality shows like My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad and American Gladiators.

10 of 11

EDDIE & TRACEY SUDDENLY SPLIT

EDDIE & TRACEY SUDDENLY SPLIT
George Burns/la Storia foto

She described her Polynesian wedding at sunset on New Year's Day as "simply perfect." He said, "I was crying, and I'm not a crier," of seeing his beautiful bride. But just two weeks later, Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmunds announce they are splitting, telling PEOPLE, "While the recent symbolic union in Bora Bora was representative of our deep love, friendship and respect that we have for one another on a spiritual level, we have decided to remain friends."

11 of 11

CLAY: 'I'M A GAY DAD'

CLAY: 'I'M A GAY DAD'

New dad Clay Aiken – his son Parker was born Aug. 8 – comes out as a gay man in September, telling PEOPLE, "I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things." The Idol runner-up also acknowledges the news will be a shock to some of his fans. "Whether it be having a child out of wedlock, or whether it be simply being a homosexual, it's going to be a lot."

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