Arizona celebs’ most memorable moments from 2023

Arizona celebs' most memorable moments from 2023

Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers performs on NBC's Today show at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, May 12, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

By Claire Mainprize

December 27, 2023

For these 13 famous Arizonans, the year contained cyberbullying, comebacks, and controversy galore.

Here’s how 2023 went for the following Arizonans:

  • Tanya Tucker
  • Joe Jonas
  • Alice Cooper
  • Brock Purdy
  • Taryn Manning
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Hailey Bieber
  • Noah Beck
  • Meghan McCain
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Busy Philipps
  • Cody Bellinger

(Spoiler alert: It was quite dramatic…)

 

After riding a horse onstage and recovering from a procedure, Tanya Tucker joined the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Arizona celebs' most memorable moments from 2023

Photo courtesy of Sterling Munksgard via Shutterstock

Although Tanya Tucker’s year had some bumps (and literal bruises), it certainly ended with a bang.

The 65-year-old country star’s first notable event of the year was the release of her critically acclaimed 26th studio album, “Sweet Western Sound,” which Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings produced.

She kicked off the subsequent tour by riding a horse onto the Grand Ole Opry stage, a feat that has never been done. A handful of stops later, however, she was forced to cancel a show at New York’s SummerStage at the last minute.

On Sept. 14, the venue took to Instagram with an explainer: “We regret to inform you that tonight’s @thetanyatucker performance at SummerStage in Central Park has been canceled. Tanya is recovering from a medical procedure on her neck and while she was hoping to be further along in her recovery process, her biggest priority is taking care of her health so she can put on the best show possible for her fans. We wish Tanya a quick recovery and are sending her all of our well wishes.”

While some fans were upset about only getting six hours’ notice, many showed concern for Tucker’s wellbeing. By the time October rolled around, she seemed in good health and spirits, and she had good reason to be. On Oct. 22, the singer secured her legendary status by getting inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame alongside Patty Loveless and Bob McDill—a move many fans felt was long overdue.

In her moving, 14-minute speech, she thanked her producers, who “brought [her] back from the dead,” and her father, who she said was her “first fan.” She closed with another thank you, saying, “I want to thank all the great songwriters because, you know, it all begins with a song, and without the great songwriters, I wouldn’t be anywhere near this Hall of Fame today. I look back on these 52 years [and] it’s hard to make sense of it all. I’ll live out my days trying to thank you.”

 

Joe Jonas endured a short-lived custody battle after filing for divorce from Sophie Turner

Joe Jonas presumably had a difficult year, as the whole world became privy to the demise of his marriage.

The singer met “Game of Thrones” actress Sophie Turner in 2016 and the two eloped in May 2019. They went on to have two daughters together, welcoming Willa in 2020 and Delphine in 2022. Then, on Sept. 3, 2023, TMZ reported that Jonas was meeting with divorce lawyers, and more headlines would follow.

Although Turner took to Instagram to share a joint statement claiming the decision was “mutually decided” and “amicable,” things got stickier when she sued Jonas for “wrongful retention” of their kids, claiming he blocked her attempts to return their daughters to her native England. However, they resolved the custody issues during a four-day mediation.

 

Alice Cooper’s new book was eclipsed by his controversial comments on Johnny Depp and trans people

Arizona celebs' most memorable moments from 2023

Photo courtesy of Davide Sciaky via Shutterstock

If rocker Alice Cooper thought 2023 would be a year of positive press, he had another thing coming. Although he published and promoted his new book, “Starring Alice Cooper,” released a new album, and embarked on a 19-city tour, none of those things got his name in the headlines for long. Rather, it was a couple of insensitive comments that really got the media’s attention.

First, in an interview with Vulture, the 75-year-old was asked whether he had any hesitancy bringing Johnny Depp along on his tour following Depp’s complex (and very public) court case involving ex Amber Heard. His answer? “Not at all. If you talk to Johnny about it, it was something that happened. He was just like, ‘Yeah, yeah, what’s the next song?’” adding, “I don’t think it was ever mentioned on the tour because nobody cared. I never watched a moment of the trials.”

That same week, he got in more hot water over a different interview, this time with Stereogum. When asked his opinion on gender-affirming care, he said, “I’m understanding that there are cases of transgender, but I’m afraid that it’s also a fad, and I’m afraid there’s a lot of people claiming to be this just because they want to be that. I find it wrong when you’ve got a 6-year-old kid who has no idea. He just wants to play, and you’re confusing him telling him, ‘Yeah, you’re a boy, but you could be a girl if you want to be.’” He called transgenderism an “absurdity” and “laughable.”

Following the publication of the interview, Vampyre Cosmetics released a statement announcing they were ending their collaboration with Cooper. “We stand with all members of the LGBTQIA+ community and believe everyone should have access to healthcare,” the company wrote on Instagram.

 

Brock Purdy made huge strides in both his professional and personal life

After snagging the 49ers’ final pick in the 2022 NFL draft and taking over the starting quarterback role following injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, all eyes have been on Brock Purdy. The 23-year-old quickly earned the nickname “Mr. Relevant” after contributing to the team’s 10-game winning streak and becoming one of only five rookie quarterbacks to start in an NFL championship game.

But after a few losses, news outlets branded Purdy a “system quarterback,” claiming his team bails him out again and again. Before their Thanksgiving showdown against the Seahawks, teammate Christian McCaffrey defended Purdy, saying, “I kind of hope the critics keep coming because it pisses him off and he plays really well.”

He ultimately silenced the critics on Thanksgiving by playing a heck of a game and winning 31-13. In particular, his long touchdown strike to Brandon Aiyuk was praised as a bold and smart move.

That wasn’t Mr. Relevant’s only big win of 2023, though. In July, he posted photos of the moment he proposed to girlfriend Jenna Brandt, writing, “My Jenna girl forever. I can’t wait to be your husband and grow together in Christ. Here’s to forever babe. I love you…”

 

Taryn Manning defended a convicted rapist and admitted to an extra-marital affair

Arizona celebs' most memorable moments from 2023

Photo courtesy of Kathy Hutchins via Shutterstock

People had a lot to say before, during, and after the September 2023 trial of “That ‘70s Show” actor Danny Masterson, and actress Taryn Manning was one of them. After he was convicted for two 2003 rapes, a judge handed down a sentence of 30 years to life.

After news broke that Masterson’s former co-stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher had penned letters in support of him, they issued a public apology. Manning called them out on their backpedaling and said it was “the biggest disgrace of the year.”

In a video posted to Instagram, the “Orange is the New Black” star called Masterson a “friend,” saying that Kunis and Kutcher “humiliated somebody that I actually really loved and cared for.” She added, “There’s no human on this planet that doesn’t deserve to have the best life and to be happy and free because you are made in the image of the good Lord, made perfectly just the way you are…He made a mistake, but everyone just keep going, keep crucifying him, as if he’s not already suffering.”

In the post’s lengthy caption, the 45-year-old also revealed that she “never has and never will” vote in elections and urged fans, “Stand for something. Stop capitulating to rules.”

The reaction came after another controversial video, one in which she revealed an affair she’d had with a married man. In the since-deleted clip, the actress slurred her speech and giggled while on the side of the road. After revealing the man she had “been messing with” is married, she said his wife threatened to file a restraining order against her. “Don’t you ever threaten me. I will show you how I do,” she said, adding, “You should be scared of me.”

She later deleted the video and issued an apology.

 

Stevie Nicks got her own Barbie and said Fleetwood Mac would never perform again

Stevie Nicks started out the year still mourning her bandmate Christine McVie, who passed away in November 2022. In a touching interview with Vulture, she said, “When Christine died, I felt like you can’t replace her. You just can’t. Without her, what is it?” Then, she broke Fleetwood Mac fans’ hearts by saying, “When she died, I figured we really can’t go any further with this. There’s no reason to.”

In the same interview, the 75-year-old icon gave some more uplifting news: She has her very own Barbie. The collector doll dons a bold black dress reminiscent of the “Rumours” album cover and holds Nicks’ tambourine. “I take a few photos of her in every city, which ends up being a two-hour photo session,” she said. “I have hundreds and thousands of pictures.”

 

Pitted against Selena Gomez, Hailey Bieber had her “saddest” year yet

By the time April hit, model Hailey Bieber had already had enough of 2023. She penned a heartbreaking Instagram post that read, “I like to make jokes about how I feel because sometimes it’s easier than admitting I’m having a hard time. But truthfully since 2023 started I have had some of the saddest, hardest moments I’ve ever had in my adult life and my mind and emotions have been fragile to say the least. And I know so many other people feel the same way I feel, so just know you’re not alone.” In a second post, she wrote, “That being said, let’s keep being there for one another. Let’s be there for loved ones and friends and family and strangers.”

It doesn’t take an internet sleuth to discover the source (or at least one of the sources) of the 27-year-old’s pain. In the months leading up to the post, she had been yet again pitted against her husband’s ex, Selena Gomez. This round of the supposed “feud” involved Gomez fans claiming Bieber and friend Kylie Jenner were making fun of Gomez in a TikTok. The resurgence began another media frenzy, sending scores of cyberbullies Bieber’s way, which negatively affected her mental health.

Gomez defended the Rhode skincare line founder in an Instagram story, saying, “Hailey Bieber reached out to me and let me know that she has been receiving death threats and such hateful negativity. This isn’t what I stand for. No one should have to experience hate or bullying. I’ve always advocated for kindness and really want this all to stop.” In turn, Bieber thanked the actress for her support.

 

TikToker Noah Beck called Dixie D’Amelio his “first true love”

For Gen Z TikToker Noah Beck, 2023 was relatively quiet. After skyrocketing to fame during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the 22-year-old had a couple of wild years in the spotlight. His highly publicized relationship with fellow TikToker Dixie D’Amelio, for example, provided ample content and drama for fans to digest. However, the pair broke up at the end of 2022, and the social media star began 2023 as a single man.

However, he did make headlines in July, when he got surprisingly candid in a podcast episode of “The School of Greatness.” When host Lewis Howes asked Beck what made him saddest about his relationship with D’Amelio, he said “the ending of it,” adding, “Everyone has their first true love. And she was mine.” Listeners’ hearts broke just a little more when he said, “I love deeply. I dedicated a lot of my time to being the best boyfriend that I could to her.”

 

Meghan McCain leaned into motherhood and her scathing opinion column

Arizona celebs' most memorable moments from 2023

Photo courtesy of s_bukley via Shutterstock

Meghan McCain may have caused controversy during her time on “The View,” but her Daily Mail column takes the drama to another level.

McCain joined the British tabloid in September 2021, shortly after her fight with Joy Behar led to her sudden exit from “The View.” In 2023, the TV personality-turned-columnist really kicked the opinions up a notch, writing about her vitriol for any number of things, including (but not limited to) “Grandpa Joe” Biden, “Barbie” the movie, US air travel, the “Sex and the City” reboot, Dr. Fauci, Gwyneth Paltrow, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, feminists, and just about everyone on the left. Of course, she consistently slammed her former talk show, writing, “There is nothing on God’s green earth that could convince me to ever walk on to that set again.”

But between scathing pieces, she spent time with her daughters, the youngest of whom was born at the beginning of 2023. She took to X (formerly Twitter) to announce the news, writing, “Overjoyed to welcome our new daughter Clover yesterday morning and officially announced we are a family of four! Thank you all for the well wishes – we are all blissed out happy, healthy and exhausted.” She and her husband Ben Domenech are now parents of two: Liberty Sage and Clover Jade McCain Domenech.

 

Phil Mickelson fueled feud with biographer and got exposed by a gambler

Phil Mickelson was the most-searched athlete from Arizona in 2023, so we had to include him in this list. The golfer’s talent and fame undoubtedly have something to do with his internet ranking, but we have a feeling the scandals he’s been involved in during the past year have something to do with it as well.

One such scandal erupted after the release of professional gambler Billy Walter’s book, “Gambler.” In it, Walters alleges that fellow gambler Mickelson cruelly left him hanging when he was in a bind, which resulted in Walters spending five years in prison while his friend walked free. The infamous gambler also revealed that Mickelson wagered more than $1 billion and lost more than $100 million. Apparently, he even wanted to wager on the 2012 Ryder Cup when he was on the roster.

Another scandal involved the 53-year-old’s ongoing feud with his biographer, Alan Shipnuck. The 2023 chapters included Shipnuck claiming the golfer was telling people that Jon Rahm was going to join LIV Golf. In response, Mickelson called the writer “the worst liar and a pathetic human,” to which Shipnuck responded, “I guess Phil tweeted at me? I wouldn’t know since he’s blocked me in a classic tough-guy move. But we all know that what he says publicly and privately are *very* different.” Oh, the drama.

 

Dierks Bentley gained an album and shared his family life on TikTok

Dierks Bentley started off the year right by releasing his 10th studio album, “Gravel & Gold.” The single “Gold” proved a hit and quickly rose to the top of the country music charts. He then set off on a 26-city tour. “I’ve been waiting as patiently as possible for the time when we could tell our fans about this tour and I’m happy the moment has arrived,” the 48-year-old said in a press release. “With new music, a whole new set and vibe along with incredible musicians and singers to share the stage with.… I can honestly say I think this will be our best tour ever.”

In addition to recording and touring, the singer spent plenty of time at home with his wife and their three children—Evalyn Day, Jordan Catherine, and Knox. Fans loved seeing his fatherly side in TikToks, one of which showed him awkwardly bra shopping with Jordan, while another showed him nervously giving Evie driving lessons. The ultimate #girldad.

 

Busy Philipps took a terrifying tumble and took on a Mean Girls remake

Arizona celebs' most memorable moments from 2023

Photo courtesy of Featureflash Photo Agency via Shutterstock

Actress Busy Philipps kicked off 2023 by recovering from a major fall. In a NYE Instagram post, she told fans that 2022 broke her in multiple ways but didn’t manage to kill her, and proceeded to share brutal security camera footage of her taking a tumble down her outdoor stairs.

“Please enjoy this video of me miraculously tumbling down the front stoop in October and not injuring myself at all,” she wrote, noting that she was not under the influence at the time.

However, things started looking up when “Mean Girls” fans around the world got the best news: that a reboot was finally on the way. Moreover, they found out that the star-studded cast includes fan favorites like Tina Fey (who wrote the screenplay), Jenna Fischer, and Busy Philipps, who plays Regina George’s mom (a role previously played by Amy Poehler).

Although the release date isn’t until the start of 2024, Busy was definitely busy filming and promoting the musical-comedy during 2023. She also spent plenty of time on the picket line, showing solidarity with the WGA during their 148-day strike, advocating for various causes, podcasting, and spending time with her two children.

 

Cody Bellinger made an astonishing MLB comeback

MLB player Cody Bellinger received quite the title in 2023: National League Comeback Player of the Year.

In 2022, the 28-year-old was considered a former MVP who had backslid so much that the Los Angeles Dodgers sent him into free agency. Flash-forward to now, and he’s one of the most desirable free agents available.

According to CBS Sports, the center fielder “authored a .307/.356/.525 line with 26 home runs in 130 games with the Chicago Cubs in 2023, a 4.4 WAR performance that figures to earn him MVP votes.”

Although we’re not yet sure what team will snatch him up, it’s safe to say Bellinger is a hot commodity. We’re pretty sure his wife and two daughters (one of whom was born in April 2023) think so, too.

 

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Author

  • Claire Mainprize

    Claire Mainprize is a writer and editor who covers the intersections of pop culture, lifestyle, and spirituality. Find more of her work at ClaireMainprize.com.

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