Some of the stars in Hollywood complain about living such widely publicized lives, but the press has always played an imperative role in the success of these same actors and actresses. One of the biggest draws for media attention is unsolved, tragic mysteries that occur among these stars. This obsession began back in the days of silent films when America was first given a glimpse of real motion picture stars.
With the birth of movie stars came the birth of wild partying and displays of grandeur like that shown by Fattie Arbuckle in the story of Virginia Rappe. Before the scandal of Arbuckle, Hollywood stars were seen as wholesome, and although the American public disapproved of the debauchery, they loved to read about it in the press. The relationship between tabloids and the celebrity elite has always been tense but also necessary, since the major fan base of celebs reads tabloids to keep up.
Celebrities having control over the media has long been a conspiracy theory of those who believe in the Illuminati but nothing of that regard has been proven. Deaths, tragedies, and conspiracy has surrounded those in the A list and reality stars in these tales of unsolved mysteries of well-known Hollywood celebrities.
15 Phil Hartman
Most well known for his work on Saturday Night Live Phil Hartman’s tragic death was widely publicized. Although it is known that his wife shot him and then shot herself the exact reason will never be known. Hartman had been married twice before him and Brynn got together, although neither wanted a divorce Brynn was severely jealous of Phil’s success. Although Phil tried to get her jobs her constant use of narcotics and alcohol made it impossible for her to find success. On May 27, 1998 Brynn came home from dinner with a producer and the couple fought about her using drugs again after going to rehab multiple times. The actor then went to sleep, Brynn followed him and shot him right in the head. After killing her husband Brynn drove to her friend’s house where she confessed to the killing, her friend didn’t believe her until he drove back to her home and discovered the body. By the time the police arrived Brynn Hartman has locked herself in the bathroom and shot herself in the head.
14 The Laurel Canyon Conspiracy
This Illuminati Hollywood-based conspiracy is based around the dark side of the Hippy culture that blew up in the 1960-70s. Laurel Canyon was a hotbed of folk singers and counter-culture in these decades with stars like Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, and Jim Morrison living side by side. It is highly believed that many of the hippies in Laurel Canyon at the time were actually CIA plants. Many of them were children of high-ranking military officers like Jackson Browne, Frank Zappa, and Jim Morrison. The conspiracy relies on Frank Zappa being one of the largest implants in the project, he was a father figure to most of the Laurel Canyon movement. Many hippies lived in the strange tunnels and caves around Zappa’s Laurel Canyon home, included in these travellers was the Manson family. Some could say that Manson made one of his first infiltrations into Hollywood culture on Zappa’s land, often called “the log cabin.”
13 Bruce Lee Never Wakes Up
On May 10, 1973 Bruce Lee was diagnosed with a cerebral edema at the hospital after suffering seizures and even passing out. Two months later he was in Hong Kong to meet about making a new film, they worked on the project entitled Game of Death for two hours before four colleagues drove to the house of Taiwanese actress Betty Ting Pei. Lee suffered an intense headache much like the one experienced on the day he passed out two months prior. Betty Ting Pei gave him a painkiller Equagesic and he laid down to take a nap. Bruce Lee never woke up from that nap, after a doctor attempted to revive him for ten minutes he was rushed to the hospital but he passed on before arriving. After an autopsy it was revealed that Lee had an allergic reaction to a common painkiller additive used in the Equagesic, his death was ruled “death by misadventure.” The legend of Bruce Lee caused much speculation as to what really took out the martial arts icon, rumors have gone as far as his death being a hit called by the Triads.
12 Thelma Todd
The 29 year old actress and comedienne was discovered dead in her car in the garage of Jewel Cartman. Cartman was the ex-wife of Roland West, Todd’s lover. On the night before her death it was discovered that Todd spent the evening at a party thrown by Stanley Lupino and his daughter Ida at a popular Hollywood restaurant. Some believe that she saw her ex-husband Pat DiCicco at this party and the pair got into an altercation, this is supported by the bloody lip Todd had when she was discovered. Despite this many friends reported that the actress was in good spirits and wouldn’t have committed suicide, the LAPD ruled her death an accident at first. The grand jury looked into her demise and ruled there was no evidence of murder but why was Todd in the garage of Jewel Cartman and what role did West play in the actress’s death. Perhaps she was warming up her car or maybe she was locked out, the moments before her death are only known by her at this point.
11 Bob Crane Murder & Scandal
Actor Bob Crane is most well known for playing a prisoner of war on hit show Hogan’s Heroes which garnered him two Emmy nominations. Crane’s career declined rapidly after his work on Hogan’s Heroes after some failed shows he was only really working on guest spots when it came to television. In the Summer of 1978 he was found bludgeoned to death in his Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. The weapon used to kill him as well as his murderer were never found. Speculation surrounded the murder but the small Scottsdale police department didn’t have a homicide division, it wasn’t until almost two decades later that the Phoenix police department began investigating the murder once more. Crane’s friend John Carpenter was arrested and tried for the murder of Bob Crane in 1992 but was eventually acquitted. Crane’s son continues to hunt for who killed his father although most of the evidence has since been lost and those involved have died of natural causes.
10 Death of Virginia Rappe
American model and silent film actress died after attending a Labor Day party hosted by Fattie Arbuckle. Arbuckle and his friend drove up the coast from Hollywood to San Francisco to throw a party at the Saint Francis Hotel where alcohol would be served despite prohibition. Rappe arrived at the party with her friend Maude Delmont, known madam and blackmailer. Delmont was the only witness of Rappe’s death and the only witness against Fatty Arbuckle in the case. She reported that she heard Rappe screaming so she kicked and knocked at the door. After a delay she claims that Arbuckle came to the door in his pajamas shortly thereafter leaving Rappe moaning in pain sprawled on the bed. The actress stayed in the room for a couple of days before being moved to the hospital where she died of a ruptured bladder. This was the first scandal to hit Hollywood and show fans just what went on behind the scenes. The death of Virginia Rappe was ruled an accident due to overindulgence in alcohol but it is still a widely disputed claim.
9 Lana Turner
After being discovered while buying a soda at the drugstore Turner became a well known actress and bombshell. She was also known for wearing tight, form-fitting sweaters which garnered her the name “The Sweater Girl”. At what seemed to be the end of her career she met John Steele whose real name was Johnny Stompanato, an underground mobster of Los Angeles. The two would have big, knock down drag out fights; one of which led to Johnny pulling a gun on Turner’s co-star Sean Connery. On the night of Stompanato’s death Turner’s daughter Cheryl was staying at the house, she heard Stompanato threatening to cut Turner’s face to keep her from ever working again. Cheryl reported that she was sure he would kill her mother and then her if she didn’t intervene. The young woman reports that Stompanato "walked into" a knife that she was holding. Stompanato died that night in a pool of his own blood. Many believe that Cheryl took the blame for her mother who actually killed the abusive lover, but the world will never know.
8 The Superman Curse
George Reeves is most often referred to when talking about famous Hollywood legend ‘The Superman Curse’. They creative people behind various adaptations of Superman have suffered misfortunes that are only explained by a connection to the film. George Reeves starred as Superman in the television series from 1952 to 1958. He died of a gunshot wound in his home with his Luger nearby which caused his death to be ruled a suicide. The conspiracy regarding his death is based on the fact that his fingerprints were never found on his gun. It was also a well known fact that Reeves was having an affair with the wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix, causing many to believe that he could be the cause of Reeves untimely death. This occurrence is what sparked the first rumors of the Superman Curse that carried on well into the paralyzation of the next big television Superman in 1995.
7 Natalie Wood Drowning
One of the beauties of her generation, Natalie Wood starred in classics like Miracle on 34th St and Rebel Without a Cause. While on a boat in Santa Catalina Island with her husband Robert Wagner and young actor Christopher Walken in 1981 Wood drowned in a freak accident that has never been explained. It was reported that Wood and Wagner fought passionately before they parted ways on the yacht, Wagner reports that he never knew what happened while she drowned. Wood’s body was found a mile away from the boat near a beached inflatable dinghy that was taken from the yacht. Her toxicology report showed a blood alcohol level of 0.14% with traces of painkillers and motion sickness medicine, both of which heighten the effects of alcohol. Because of this her official cause of death was drowning and hypothermia as a result of falling due to intoxication. Thirty years later they case was reopened, which is understandable when you consider the shady nature of her death.
6 The Cecil Hotel
A couple of the stories on this list of terrifying unsolved mysteries intertwine with The Cecil Hotel. Many writers and historians believe that the Cecil could play a part in the multiple murders, suicides, and even shady residents that have inhabited one of the many rooms located in the Skid Row motel. The Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, a Satanist with a violent need to sexually assault, rob, and murder. Rumor has it that he got his start in San Francisco before moving down into the Cecil Hotel and mainly focusing on torturing the Los Angeles public. After him an Austrian crime reporter Jack Unterweger moved into the hotel before he was revealed as a lover of killing prostitutes. After being discovered at The Cecil Hotel Unterweger was extradited to Austria to stand for his crimes there. The history of The Cecil Hotel is almost as dramatic as the history of its inhabitants over the years and houses most of the unsolved mysteries of Hollywood.
5 Who Shot William Desmond Taylor?
William Desmond Taylor was an Irish-born director who directed over 50 silent films and starred in more than 20 other silent films. He was murdered by a shot in the back on February 1, 1922; to this day the murder has not been solved. The small caliber pistol that was used in the murder was not found on the scene and as a result the media frenzied over who the possible killer could be. Over 12 suspects were named in the time following the tragic demise of William Desmond Taylor. The story of his death unearthed passionate, steamy love letters from his protege Mary Miles Minter who was more than 30 years his junior. This led police to question both Minter and her stage mother but no conviction was ever made. This was one of the very first Hollywood newspaper scandals and some would say the beginning of tabloid reporting.
4 Anna Nicole Smith & Her Son
Most know Anna Nicole Smith as the Playboy Playmate, or the woman who married an exceptionally older man, or even as the star of her E! Reality show The Anna Nicole Show. Anna Nicole Smith was obsessed with Hollywood glamour growing up and idolized Marilyn Monroe. She married J. Howard Marshall after meeting him at a strip club where she was working. The pair had one son Daniel Wayne Smith before Marshall passed away. Like the death of her idol Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole’s sudden death was highly speculated about. She died only five months after her son’s surprise overdose. These facts were suspicious enough but once her will was released it was clear to many that foul play had to be involved. All of her estate was left to Daniel with a somewhat recent (at the time) addendum that her partner, Howard K. Stern (who is an attorney, not the talk show host) would hold her estate until he came of age. These deaths all unfurled shortly after the birth of Dannielynn, a child that was not born of Howard K. Stern. Many believe that he could be responsible for the deaths of these two innocent Hollywood reality stars.
3 Marilyn Monroe’s Suicide
There are tons of Marilyn Monroe death conspiracies since the bombshell actress preferred to carry on with affairs with important married men. The most popular unsolved conspiracy revolving around Monroe’s death (which was labelled a suicide) involves the prominent Kennedy family. Aside from lesser believed accidental overdose or suicide, many believe that Monroe was murdered. It is said that Monroe had an affair with John F. Kennedy and was then passed on to his brother Robert Kennedy. The story goes that Monroe threatened to expose government secrets the men had told her in the throws of passion. Bobby Kennedy did not want anything revealed and some believe he banded together JFK and actor and brother-in-law Peter Lawford to kill her. The reason these theories are so widely believed is that there was no trace of pills in her system and no vomit as per usual with overdoses of this kind. Some also believe it could be a set up by the mafia to frame the Kennedy family.
2 Strange Death of Elisa Lam
Elisa Lam was a student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver before travelling to Los Angeles, CA for a vacation. During her stay at the Cecil Hotel Lam was showing some strange and erratic behavior that caused her roommates to complain to hotel management. After the complaint Lam was moved to her own room. She disappeared soon after leaving just one thing behind, an eerie video of the young woman gesturing wildly, seemingly talking to someone, and even hiding at points. For one month after the disappearance of Elisa Lam no one knew where her body was, until the water in the hotel began turning brown. After many complaints from guests about the water quality the 1000 gallon hotel water tanks were inspected. In one of the tanks was Elisa Lam’s body floating a foot below the water. The mystery of how she died has not been solved but the elevator video has inspired theories of bipolar disorder and even paranormal intervention.
1 The Black Dahlia
This is a nickname that was given to Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actress living in Hollywood in the late ‘40s. Her stunning good looks, beautiful black hair, and terrifying death made her murder the subject of tons of media attention. The body of Elizabeth Smart was discovered in a vacant lot near Leimert Park completely cut in half at the waist and severely mutilated. After the mutilation the body was scrubbed clean and drained of blood. The killer then posed the body parts suggestively and completely nude. The case was left unsolved for decades before new information emerged in 2013. A young man accused his late father Dr. George Hill Hodel of being the Black Dahlia murder. Lab samples of his basement were taken and a dog trained to smell body decomposition was brought into his house; but conclusive evidence was never found. The Black Dahlia murder is one of the most publicized, famous unsolved Hollywood murders to this day.