Cuba Gooding Jr., clowns for photographers backstage after winning Best Supporting Actor at the 69th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles March 24, 1997. Gooding won for his work in Jerry Maguire. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon).
Cuba Gooding Jr., clowns for photographers backstage after winning Best Supporting Actor at the 69th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles March 24, 1997. Gooding won for his work in Jerry Maguire. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon).

Inside A-lister’s downward spiral

Hard-partying actor Cuba Gooding Jr. logged years of boozing and flirting before a clubgoer alleged to police on Monday that he drunkenly groped her at a rooftop bar in New York.

The 51-year-old Oscar winner - who once introduced himself at a party as sex-crazed alter ego "Dick McWilly" - has seemingly been throwing one long party since separating from his wife of 20 years in 2014, clubbing shirtless in Miami, going on a drunken, expletive-laced awards-dinner rant and jumping into a hot tub full of bikini-clad women.

Just weeks ago, a New York Post reporter witnessed Gooding putting the moves on the mother of the scribe's friend at West Village piano bar Marie's Crisis Cafe.

"As the night went on, a man came behind me and put his hands on my shoulders as he sang along to the music," the friend, who asked not to be named, recalled. "I realised it was Cuba.

 

Gooding Jr points to his Best Supporting Actor Oscar backstage at the 69th annual Academy Awards, 1997.
Gooding Jr points to his Best Supporting Actor Oscar backstage at the 69th annual Academy Awards, 1997.

"He then stood between me and my mum and started flirting with her," said the man. "There wasn't any inappropriate touching, thankfully … but he was very much not heeding the cues she was giving that she wasn't interested - to say nothing of her clearly visible wedding ring."

That run-in was just another day in the devil-may-care life Gooding has seemingly lived over the past five years.

Months after splitting with high school sweetheart Sara Kupfer in April 2014, the newly single Jerry Maguire thespian was hanging out at chic Chelsea club 1Oak, spending like a movie star - his table dropped $US12,000 on bottle service - but flirting like a frat boy.

"Cuba was with a group of friends and was dancing and partying with two chicks," a source told Page Six at the time. "He was all over them like a freshman at a college party."

In February 2015, Gooding was putting away drinks with two European models at New York's Mercer Hotel - at one point lifting his shirt to flaunt his abs to the stunners - before abruptly snapping on a hapless waiter for what he deemed bad service.

"He grabbed a waiter by both shoulders and gave him a verbal shellacking," said one insider at the time, adding that the staffer was found sobbing in a bathroom.

A rep for Gooding denied that incident at the time, saying, "Anyone who knows Cuba knows this is not true."

Less than a week later, Gooding was on the prowl at New York Fashion Week, talking up anyone with a pulse.

"He was hitting on everyone. Everyone," said one source. "He's really nice, hugging people, trying to kiss random girls on the cheek."

Starring in The People v. O.J. Simpson. Picture: Byron Cohen/FX
Starring in The People v. O.J. Simpson. Picture: Byron Cohen/FX

Shortly after the 2016 premiere of acclaimed TV miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson - in which Gooding plays the titular grid star-turned-murder suspect - the actor took the party south to Miami, where he hit clubs sans shirt over a booze-fuelled weekend.

"He was a mess," said one insider, describing how Gooding told anyone who would listen about his separation from his wife.

Another source added that Gooding was getting "beyond frisky with girls," and handing out his hotel room key to comely clubgoers.

 

On a 2017 red carpet. Picture: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images
On a 2017 red carpet. Picture: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

He spent his days poolside at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, "grabbing beers and kissing my sunburn," said one creeped-out woman. "It was really uncomfortable."

At the 2016 Footwear News Achievement Awards in New York, Gooding's presentation of the Social Impact Award to designer John Varvatos devolved into a drunken, profanity-laden tirade.

"Nothing says I love you like f**king sugar," said Gooding. "I'm drunk now, motherf**kers! Deal with it!"

In 2017, Gooding sparked social media outrage when, at a panel discussion with his American Horror Story: Roanoke castmates, he lifted the skirt of co-star Sarah Paulson.

 

Gooding Jr reaches for co-star Sarah Paulson’s skirt. Picture: Getty
Gooding Jr reaches for co-star Sarah Paulson’s skirt. Picture: Getty

Gooding later told People that images of the stunt were taken out of context, and that he and Paulson remained on good terms.

Later that year, he was relaxing alone at the Great Jones Spa in Soho when he crashed a group's "girls' night" by jumping into their Jacuzzi and posing for photos with the bikini-clad beauties.

Gooding again took New York Fashion Week by storm in 2017, holding court at a bash at downtown dim sum spot China Chalet as a wingman kept the drinks flowing and one eye open for ladies.

"You like a girl, and I'll pull them in," the lookout could be heard saying.

Aside from the waiter-berating and the skirt-lifting stunt, Gooding's reps and friends have offered varying responses to the incidents ranging from declining comment to saying the actor was blowing off steam.

Gooding had an uncharacteristically quiet 2018, but found himself back in the headlines for the wrong reasons on Monday, when a woman accused him of drunkenly grabbing her breast at a rooftop bar in New York on Sunday night, spurring an NYPD investigation.

There was no immediate response to messages sent to an email address associated with the actor, and the last talent agency associated with Gooding in public records said that he's no longer a client.

This story originally appeared on the New York Post and is republished here with permission.


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