The COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult time for everyone. Businesses shut down, jobs were lost and even Hollywood was left scrambling as major productions were shut down or delayed until further notice. Eventually, a vaccine was introduced that was designed to combat the virus, but this new development seemed to only make matters worse. Particularly around Tinseltown.
A line was drawn between vaccine supporters, who trusted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and “anti-vaxxers” who not only questioned the safety of the new vaccine, but shot back against mandates requiring its usage. Stars such as Evangeline Lilly took a firm stance against protocols by attending public rallies while Matthew McConaughey spoke out against administering the vaccine to younger children.
Other celebrities went one step further and outright refused to receive the vaccine, and subsequently either lost out on high-profile gigs or were outright fired from the production. Here’s a list of all the actors who lost jobs for not being vaccinated.
In November of 2021, “General Hospital” fans were shocked to discover longtime star Steve Burton, who portrayed Jason Morgan on the drama for 30 years, had been fired from the series following his refusal to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. The actor said as much via an Instagram post in which he stated: “Hey! I wanted you to hear it from me. I love and appreciate all of you! Unfortunately, ‘General Hospital’ has let me go because of the vaccine mandate. I did apply for my medical and religious exemptions and both of those were denied. Which, you know, hurts.”
Surprisingly, per Deadline, Morgan tested positive for COVID-19 in August, but that wasn’t enough to shake the star of his personal beliefs. He explained how his decision to refuse the vaccine came down to personal freedom and felt it was wrong for anyone to “lose their livelihood over this.”
Morgan has also appeared in the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” in 1988 and lent his voice to Cloud Strife in the popular “Kingdom Hearts” video game series. He doesn’t rule out a return to “General Hospital,” although his character was presumably killed off in an episode that aired shortly before his Instagram comments.
As it turns out, Steve Burton wasn’t the only “General Hospital” star who refused the COVID-19 vaccine. Fellow actor Ingo Rademacher, who had starred as Jasper “Jax” Jacks on the series since 1996, likewise attempted to file a religious exemption, was quickly denied, and fired from the show.
Rolling Stone published the actor’s exemption letter on Dec. 13, 2021: “I am entitled to a religious exemption against mandatory vaccination for COVID-19 on the basis of my deeply and sincerely held moral belief that my body is endowed by my creator with natural processes to protect me and that its integrity cannot ethically be violated by the administration of artificially created copies of genetic material, foreign to nature and experimental.”
The sudden turn of events opened the door for even more drama when Rademacher filed a lawsuit against ABC, as he felt the COVID-19 protocols were a direct violation of his civil rights. “There is no need for everybody to get the COVID-19 shot, even if the president demands it,” he stated in his lawsuit. The case goes to court in February 2023, according to Radar Online.
Following Ingo Rademacher’s lead, “9-1-1” star Rockmond Dunbar likewise filed a lawsuit against Disney and 20th Television for refusing to honor his request for a religious exemption regarding the vaccine. After portraying Michael Grant for 69 episodes, the actor had his contract terminated in November 2021. That followed his refusal to comply with studio mandates, an action he felt was discriminatory. As such, he attempted to navigate the situation via religious exemption to no avail, leading Dunbar to sue in February 2022.
“I applied for religious and medical accommodations pursuant to the law and unfortunately was denied by my employer,” the actor said in a statement to Deadline. “My sincerely held beliefs and private medical history are very intimate and personal aspects of my life that I do not publicly discuss and have no desire to start now.”
Despite the controversy, Dunbar is scheduled to appear in upcoming productions “Red Winter” and “The Waterboyz,” according to his IMDb profile.
Another name that popped up in the wake of the COVID-19 vaccine controversy was Andrea Bordeaux, who revealed on Instagram that she was fired from the Starz-Lionsgate TV series “Run the World” after failing to follow on-set guidelines. In the post, she discussed how much fun she had working on the production, calling the experience a “dream come true,” before explaining that she had no desire to exit the series. “Despite what the article says,” Bordeaux wrote in response to a report posted by Deadline, “I did not opt to leave the series and Lionsgate made no efforts to find a workable solution. I was fired.”
Bordeaux appeared in all eight episodes of Season 1 of “Run the World” as Ella. She has also appeared in TV shows such as “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Criminal Minds” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” According to her IMDb profile, the actor is not slated to appear in any upcoming productions.
Ice Cube wasn’t fired from the production of the comedy “Oh Hell No,” which was set to shoot in winter 2021, but he exited the film after turning down the COVID-19 vaccine, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As a result of his exit, Ice Cube lost out on a $9 million payday. If he had stayed on, the movie would have paired him alongside the great Jack Black and Netflix’s “Bad Trip” director, Kitao Sakurai.
Interestingly, the popular rapper-actor was a vocal supporter of mask-wearing and even helped support the cause by selling T-shirts inscribed with the phrase “Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self,” which also featured an image of him in a face covering. Even more intriguingly, Ice Cube also ended up departing a Universal Pictures project called “Flint Strong,” which actually filmed for one day before production was put on hiatus in March 2020 as the spread of COVID began to accelerate. It’s not clear why he left that film, which is said to be looking for a new star and possibly studio.
As of this writing, no one has been tapped to replace Ice Cube in “Oh Hell No,” though Jack Black is still aboard, according to IMDb.
Broadway star Laura Osnes made waves when The New York Post (via Page Six) reported that she had been fired from a one-night-only production of “Crazy For You” for not getting the COVID-19 shot. However, the actor later sued The Post for defamation, according to Forbes, claiming she did not get fired from the show, but rather quit on her own terms.
Osnes was hesitant to get the vaccine and ultimately decided to withdraw from the production after learning it would require proof of vaccination. “I would have tested in a heartbeat — something I have been doing for months, and will continue to do so, in order to keep working safely,” she wrote in a statement. The actor then stated that she believed “individuals have the right to do research, consult a doctor, and come to their own conclusions before deciding whether or not to get any injection.”
Around the same time, Osnes was also replaced by actor Frances Mayli McCann in “Bonnie and Clyde In Concert.” Osnes was nominated for a Tony Award for the original 2011 Broadway production. It’s unclear whether this action was due to COVID-19, although the production’s official statement seemed to hint as much. She had previously dropped out of a tour titled “Disney Princess — The Concert,” with the production’s vaccine mandate again being an issue.
Osnes later alluded to her tumultuous year when promoting a new album via Instagram, where she stated, “It’s been a helluva year and I’m finally ready to sing about it.”
Mark Crispin Miller is the Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU. He is the founder of News from Underground and author of numerous books, including Boxed In, The Bush Dyslexicon, and Fooled Again. This article was originally published on News from Underground by Mark Crispin Miller.