She was Australian television’s golden girl during the 1990s – but then, just as quickly as her star had risen, Jo Beth Taylor disappeared.
Taylor starred across the light entertainment programs Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show (1993–1997), Hey Hey It’s Saturday (1995–1997) and What’s Up Doc? (1996–1997), before taking a sudden hiatus from the entertainment industry.
In a new interview with New Idea, Taylor, now 50, reveals she was “burnt out” and was also dealing with a nasty rumour about her personal life at the time.
“There were warning signs that I was headed for an emotional crash. I was burnt out, found myself crying for days on end and unable to leave the house,” she told the mag.
“I was dealing with a stalker situation, plus there was that untrue but devastating rumour I’d done a sex tape.”
Taylor was one of the most recognisable people on Australian television by the time she took her much-needed hiatus in 1998. Craving anonymity, she packed her life up and went to live with a friend in San Diego, starting a new “normal” life where she worked as a barista and surfed every day.
Taylor’s break from television came to an end in 2000, when she hosted the first season of the TV talent show Starstruck. But that gig was short-lived, and Taylor was once again largely absent from our screens until more recent appearances as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars (2010) and I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! (2016).
Taylor had previously opened up about the circumstances that led to her turning her back on fame during her stint on I’m A Celeb.
“There was a rumour that I’d done a porno and that really hurt me,” she confided to a campmate on the program.
“I felt condemned even though I’d done nothing wrong. There was nothing I could do. I just felt really attacked, even though I hadn’t done anything.”
She denied the existence of any such video in an interview with Newscorp during filming of I’m A Celeb.
“There was no porn, I can guarantee. Someone had done one (a porno) and their really nice boyfriend at the time put it out there so there was one and then that started a whole lot of rumour and this whole list of celebrities came out. I was supposedly caught with someone at Crown Casino and it was supposedly shown on the screen — as if that happened, it’s so ridiculous,” she said.
Taylor said the pressures of starring in three big TV shows at once had been too much to take on: she had been “too busy in hindsight; too much pressure.”
“I was really burnt out and couldn’t do it anymore. I woke up one day in a ball and couldn’t stop crying for like two days. I probably wasn’t thinking all that rationally and I quit.”
Originally published as Why Jo Beth Taylor really disappeared