With the balloon-boy debacle now exposed as a hoax, the spotlight has turned on Richard Heene's wacky and not-so-camera-shy behavior. The 48-year-old amateur scientist/wannabe reality TV star tried his hand at acting and standup comedy in the early '90s in Hollywood. And though that ended up being a "total bomb," says an associate, Heene was still constantly trying to get people to invest in his storm-chasing exploits—like riding a motorcycle into the middle of a tornado.
Heene was fixated on tornado-related inventions—an obsession that developed in the 1970s after a storm ripped off the roof of a building he was working on—and fame, calling his two Wife Swap appearances "the best thing that's ever happened in our life. Seriously." Not-so-best things included getting an eviction notice from the house they were renting in June 2007; the owner says they split, and still owe her $6,000 in damages.