Hollywood has its fair share of controversies. Every single week there seems to be a new news story about someone in Hollywood doing something crazy, and the general public eats it up. These stories are always so interesting to read about because the subjects are usually rich, famous, beautiful and successful. There are times when the stories seem to always be about the same person (the LiLoh era or Charlie Sheen) and there are also times when shocking stories about celebs come out of nowhere. Whatever the case may be, reading about the pastimes of the rich and famous is always interesting.
The thing that is wild to imagine is that Hollywood is fairly tame considering how out of control it was back in the day. The stars of Old Hollywood truly knew how to party and create a scandal. Even stars all the way from the 1920s were much worse than our celebs. In fact, the stars from back then were so bad that the public started to turn away from Hollywood, afraid that the morality of the country would be ruined. In an attempt to prove that Hollywood wasn’t full of debauchery, the industry enforced strict morality codes for all of its films to win back the public. That’s why you’ll never see sex or violence in films from 1930s – 1950s. Even with the strict morality code in these films, that didn’t stop the celebs from being a bit, uh, immoral off set.
If you think the Kardashian sex tape, LiLoh mug shots or love triangles of Hollywood today are bad, just wait till you read about the 11 controversies on this list.
11. Olive Thomas Died After Drinking Syphilis Medication
Olive Thomas was a beautiful Ziegfeld Girl, who transitioned into a silent film actress. Olive married Jack Pickford, an actor and brother of the actress Mary Pickford. Mary Pickford was one of the biggest silent film stars, having signed the first $1 million contract and even had the nickname “Queen of the Movies,” so brother Jack was always living in her shadow.
Though he was married to Olive Thomas, Jack Pickford had certainly enjoyed himself beforehand considering the fact that he had syphilis. This syphilis would lead to Olive Thomas’ death in the oddest of ways. One night, she accidentally drank his medicine for the disease (mercury bichloride) and died five days later due to the poisoning her body endured as a result. There had been rumors that she actually drank the medicine on purpose to kill herself after learning about Pickford extramarital affairs, but either way, dying because you drank you husband’s syphilis medicine is one hot scandal.
10. Grace Kelly Had Affairs With Everyone
Ice queen on the screen and the real life princess, Grace Kelly is an Old Hollywood legend. Despite the fact that she only appeared in 11 films, Kelly still managed to nab an Oscar and become an international star. This may have something to do with her icy exterior and red hot sex life. That’s right, The Princess of Monaco liked to get it on.
Supposedly, Kelly had a thing for older men and basically all of her co-stars. She had an off-screen romance with Gary Cooper during High Noon, Clark Gable during Mogambo, William Holden during The Bridges At Tokyo-Rim, and Ray Milland during Dial M For Murder. The affair with Milland nearly ruined her career, as Milland was married and Kelly was portrayed as a homewrecker in all of the papers. So, long story short, Kelly slept around in the 50s, when women were not sleeping around. It was an era of Victorian-style prudence but Kelly did as she pleased and she ended up a princess. Of course, after she became royalty, all of these rumored affairs had become hush-hush. We're all still left with one lovely quote from Grace Kelly, though. While doing press for Mogambo, which was filmed in Africa, she commented on her affair with Gable by asking, “What else is there to do if you’re alone in a tent in Africa with Clark Gable?” You get yours, Grace Kelly.
3 Charlie Chaplin Married Teenagers
Charlie Chaplin is best remembered for his onscreen persona of “The Tramp” during the silent film era. People should also remember him for his, uh, interesting marriages. His first marriage was to Mildred Harris, who was 16 years old at the time. Chaplin was 29. So, there’s that.
Chaplin moved on from his teenage wife to, err, another teenage wife. He married Lita Grey, 16 years old. At this point, Chaplin was 35, so the 19 year age difference is totally normal, right? The pair had a messy divorce, which tainted the public perception of Chaplin.
Nine years later, he married Paulette Goddard, a Broadway star. Though she was 22 at the time, she had claimed to be 17 for her image. 22 or 17 – it made no difference to Chaplin, who was 38 at the time. They, too, divorced.
Apparently, number four was the keeper. Chaplin married 18-year-old Oona O’Neill. Chaplin was 45 at the time but the 27 year age difference was nothing really all that new to him. O’Neill stuck with Chaplin until his death and bore him 8 children. It’s still kinda creepy though, right?
8. Loretta Young And Clark Gable's Love Child
What Loretta Young did was a media move so sly that even Kris Jenner would be impressed.
Loretta Young was an actress and Roman Catholic. Despite her religious beliefs, she engaged in an affair with a married Clark Gable on the set of The Call of the Wild. This affair resulted in a pregnancy but Young felt very strongly against an abortion so she concocted another plan. When the pregnancy started to show, she went to England for a long vacation. On this "vacation" she gave birth and lost the weight as quickly as possible.
Now, Young knew she couldn’t just turn up with a child after her long “vacation” so she put her daughter into an orphanage. Then, 19 months later, she adopted her own child and publicly stated that she was going to embrace being a single mother. This would have worked like a charm but her daughter inherited Clark Gable’s large ears and so it was often a talked about secret that she was the daughter of Gable and Young. Before her death, Loretta Young came forward about the true parentage of her daughter.
7. Marilyn Monroe's Steamy Happy Birthday
The alleged affair between JFK and Marilyn Monroe is pretty much a known fact in our society. Most people know about that and the infamous happy birthday song that Marilyn Monroe sang to JFK. It was, like, the sexiest happy birthday. Ever.
Anyway, the reason the affair between Monroe and America’s most handsome President must be pointed out is because if that shit went down today, people would not be okay. I mean, remember how we all reacted to the Clinton/Lewinsky affair? People were not okay with ol’ Billy getting it in with someone other than his wife. How do you think we’d feel about the president and a famous actress rumored to be having an affair? Oh, and on top of that, the mistress singing happy birthday in a nude, sparkly dress that was so tight she had to be sewn into it before the performance...
Apparently, after Marilyn had forever changed the happy birthday song, JFK walked on stage and said, “I can now retire from politics after having had ‘Happy Birthday’ sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.”
In 2016, heads all over America would explode if a scene such as that ever happened.
6. The Mysterious Death Of Thomas Ince
Despite the fact that Thomas Ince was a pioneer in film making, many people have never heard of him. We’re talking about a guy who was responsible for over 800 films and creating the first Hollywood studio. He literally invented the process of film production that we still follow today.
What is talked about when one hears Thomas Ince is his death. The story goes that Ince boarded the yacht of William Randolph Hearst, who basically owned every newspaper in America. The official story is that while on the yacht, Ince grew ill from indigestion and was taken off the yacht. He was escorted to a train, then a hotel, then his home, where he died a few days later from heart failure. If this all seems shady to you, you’re not alone. It has seemed shady to everyone for the past 90 years.
Popular theories usually include Hearst shooting Ince and covering it up because he had more than enough money to. One popular theory is that Hearst had accidentally shot Ince, thinking he was Charlie Chaplin, who was believed to be seeing Hearst’s mistress.
It’s likely that no one will ever really know what happened on that yacht all those years ago.
5. Elizabeth Taylor And Eddie Fisher Love Triangle
People were obsessed with the Jennifer Aniston/Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie love affair. Yet, way back in the 1950s, Hollywood had an ever juicer love affair. Elizabeth Taylor is known for her many, many marriages but this one was by far the most scandalous. Taylor was married to Mike Todd, a theater and film producer. Todd was great friends with Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds – such great friends that they were invited to Todd and Taylor’s wedding. In 1958, Todd died in a plane crash, leaving Taylor devastated and alone. She was comforted by his bestie Eddie Fisher and eventually comfort turned into a relationship. So, Eddie Fisher left Debbie Reynolds and their two children, one of whom would grow up to be Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), for Elizabeth Taylor. I’d say the friendship aspect and children make this love affair a bit worse than the Aniston/Pitt/Jolie triangle.
2 Peg Entwistle Killed Herself On Hollywood Sign
You know the iconic Hollywood sign? Yeah, well, did you know a woman killed herself by leaping off of it?
Peg Entwistle was a beautiful 24-year-old actress who, like most beautiful 24-year-old actresses, was struggling to make it. She even had a supporting role in a play, along side Humphrey Bogart, for which she gained some very favorable reviews. Apparently, things were just not going as well as Entwistle had hoped. She climbed on top of the H and jumped to her death, leaving behind a suicide note, which read: "I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E."
3. Lana Turner’s Boyfriend Was Stabbed To Death By Her Daughter
Lana Turner is quite similar to Taylor in terms of love affairs. She also had eight marriages but those are not the scandals that would cause America’s jaws to drop today. Turner’s second marriage, to Stephen Crane, produced a child – Cheryl Crane. When Cheryl was just 14 years old she stabbed her mother’s boyfriend to death. Yes, she stabbed him to death. Apparently, Johnny Stompanto, Turner's boyfriend who was known for violent tendencies, had threatened Lana Turner and in defense on her mother, Cheryl stabbed him. Even though the death was ruled a justifiable homicide, Cheryl was placed in psychiatric therapy. TMZ would run wild with a story about the child of a famous scarlet stabbing her mother's boyfriend to death.
2. Natalie Wood’s Whole Life
Natalie Wood’s entire life seems to be one big scandalous Hollywood story. Wood started acting as a child (co-starring in Miracle on 34th Street) and transitioned into teen roles with Rebel Without a Cause, West Side Story and Splendor in the Grass. Even during her success, things were not sunshine and rainbows. Kirk Douglas had been accused of brutally raping the young actress, though these allegations have not been proven. What was proven was her open affair with the director of Rebel Without a Cause. At just 16 years old, Natalie Wood slept with Nicholas Ray (44 at the time) to secure her role in the film.
Oh, her story gets weirder. So, she was married to Robert Wagner, an actor, then divorced him, only to remarry him again a few years later. Remarrying an ex is not the oddest situation in Hollywood. I mean, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton did the same thing. What is odd is that after reconciling, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood went for a nighttime sail on their yacht and Natalie Wood never returned. The 43-year-old drowned to death but the autopsy revealed dozens of bruises on her body. The death was originally ruled an accident but in 2011 the case was reopened for investigation.
1 The Alleged Rape That Ruined Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was a huge, huge silent film star back in the day. How huge? Well, in 1918, Paramount offered him a three-year, $3 million contract. In today’s money, that’s equivalent to a shit ton of cash – nearly $50 million.
In 1921, Arbuckle threw a little hotel party. As fate would have it, Virginia Rappe, an up and coming young actress, attended the hotel party. She suffered from chronic cystitis, a condition that drinking liquor didn’t help. Rappe was found in one of the rented rooms in a very ill state. A few days later, she died of a ruptured bladder.
What followed was a media shit storm. Rappe’s friend accused Arbuckle of raping Rappe, even though the doctor who examined Rappe determined that there had been no evidence of rape. This story snowballed into Arbuckle raping and crushing her with his overweight body, and using a piece of ice to simulate sex, which in later stories turned into a Coke can and even into a champagne bottle.
These stories ran in all of ol’ William Randolph Hearst’s papers. Though Arbuckle maintained his innocence, morality groups called for him to be put to death. The jury not only found him innocent but felt so strongly that they prepared this statement:
“Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done to him … there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime. He was manly throughout the case and told a straightforward story which we all believe. We wish him success and hope that the American people will take the judgment of fourteen men and women that Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free from all blame.”
Well, his career was still ruined.