There’s something about vintage Hollywood that makes us assume that every single star had a squeaky clean personality. Maybe it’s the classic, tinny sound of the music from old school flicks, or that natural smile the stars had, but whatever it is, that distinct je ne sais quoi of vintage Hollywood just gives you a feeling that everything is alright. It was, after all, a more innocent age - especially when it came to film content and the way that television stars were portrayed.
It’s partly because of the G-rated entertainment of the time that most of us can’t imagine Hollywood stars being anything other than perfect role models and kid-friendly people. If you don’t believe it, try to imagine a guy like Charlie Chaplin going on a crazy, drug-induced rant like the ones that Charlie Sheen became famous for. Simply put, people back then had a much nicer, much more innocent veneer than today’s stars do.
But, just like with the current wave of Hollywood stars, nothing is ever really 100% innocent in Tinseltown. Whether we like to think about it or not, some of the most beloved classic film stars and starlets had some pretty horrifying dark sides. During the 1950s and earlier, most of the scandalous sides of Hollywood were kept under wraps. However, it’s now 2017, and many former castmates and family members are coming forward to talk about things that would have gotten them blacklisted before. What they had to say about some of the world’s most beloved actors, singers, and dancer will shock you.
15 Charlie Chaplin Was A Sex Fiend
Charlie Chaplin is most commonly known as the famous silent actor who embodied his comical creation, The Little Tramp. With his funny moustache, his awkward humor, and the adorable romance scenes that would be found in almost every movie, it’s nigh impossible to imagine such an innocent, sweet man doing anything even remotely X-rated.
That is, unless you were on set. Many of his female co-stars had come forth to talk about how lewd and creepy he was on set. His biggest turn-on apparently was girls who were still only young teenagers, and he actually married actress Lita Grey after he impregnated her. At the time, Lita was 15 – and Chaplin was 35. It gets even worse when you hear that Grey was also pushed by Chaplin to do sex acts that were illegal at the time. She also was coerced into having threesomes with the actor.
Lita and Chaplin divorced 3 years later, and Chaplin remarried several more times. According to the old actor himself, by the time he had died at age 88, he had slept with over 2,000 women. So, maybe he was a tramp, after all.
14 Liz Taylor Had A Ton Of Affairs
Her gorgeous, famously violet eyes were the talk of every single magazine out there. When she was big in the Hollywood scene, her feminine charm and fashionable dress made her a media darling. However, behind closed doors, she had a lot of very unladylike behaviors that stirred up gossip. One of the worst scandals she had happened shortly after her then-husband, director Mike Todd, died in a plane crash. Sources say that she ended up finding solace in the arms of Eddie Fisher, his best friend.
The problem with this was that Eddie Fisher was married to Liz Taylor’s good friend, Debbie Reynolds. And, later on, Fisher left Reynolds for Taylor. Despite all the hurt that Liz may have caused her friend, Debbie Reynolds eventually seemed to forgive her.
13 Errol Flynn Assaulted An Underage Girl
To be fair, Errol Flynn was never exactly seen as an “innocent man.” Back in his heyday, he was a womanizer and party animal extraordinaire. This particular 40s playboy took his philandering a little too far when he had met an aspiring actress by the name of Betty Hansen. He and the 17-year-old girl ended up drinking together, and after a while, she drank too much. Hansen got sick and threw up.
Under the guise of helping her “clean up,” Errol Flynn took her back to his place and had sex with her. Hansen filed a complaint, and Flynn was promptly arrested. Flynn’s popularity sank after the scandal hit the presses, but eventually, he was cleared of charges. He ended up regaining public love, and everyone forgot he was even arrested for rape within a matter of months.
12 Fatty Arbuckle Assaulted And Killed A Woman
Fatty Arbuckle was the kind of comedian that could be equated to a modern Eric Andre. He had a huge vaudeville following which later transformed into an extremely impressive $3 million deal with Paramount Pictures. By 1916, it became clear that Fatty Arbuckle couldn’t cope with the fame. The comedy superstar began to drink heavily, party heavily, and binge eat.
One day in 1921, he had decided to rent a couple of hotel rooms for a massive party featuring actresses, “ladies of ill repute,” and tons of booze. One of the women in attendance was a teenage actress by the name of Virginia Rappe. Rappe was found in one of the hotel rooms later on, sick, shaken, and seemingly hurt.
She had claimed that Arbuckle raped her, and that she didn’t feel well. Upon doctors’ inspection, it was found that she had cystitis that was aggravated by the alcohol she drank. She died later of a ruptured spleen, which was later ascribed to Arbuckle’s heavy weight on her. He was tried multiple times, and his name was smeared in every paper in the nation. Though he swore innocence and was later acquitted, he was blacklisted from Hollywood – even after he was cleared of the crime.
11 Rock Hudson Had A Tendency Of Cheating On His Wife With Men
Though being gay is totally acceptable today, back in the 1950s, it was extremely taboo. Many men out there would marry women just to allay rumors of their true sexuality. Such was the case with Rock Hudson, one of Hollywood’s most popular beefcakes. His wife, Phyllis, presumably had an idea that something was up and had used a Rorschach test to broach the subject of his sexuality.
Even though papers didn’t actually publish anything about Hudson’s same-sex trysts, Hudson had eventually come clean and admitted that he had sex with men while married to his wife. However, the one thing he didn’t admit to were the random hookups that Phyllis had known about. Private investigator Fred Otash said that Hudson swore he never “picked up any boys in a bar, never.”
Rock Hudson also had a dubious “honor” in history. He was one of the very first celebrities to ever be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS – and also was one of the first celebrities to die as a result of it.
10 Judy Garland Had Serious Drug Problems
Judy Garland, known best for her adorable role as Dorothy in the globally acclaimed movie The Wizard of Oz, was kind of a mess by the time she had gone through her divorce proceedings with her third husband, Sid Luft. Because of how bitter the divorce was, Judy Garland had to hire Fred Otash to protect her from her husband and ensure he didn’t get too much evidence in divorce court.
According to Otash, Garland had such a bad drug problem that he had to step in and hide “her supplies” from her. “You wouldn't believe the cleverness of that woman in stashing her drugs so nobody could find them. And there were all kinds. Uppers, downers, and some I didn't even recognize,” he said. Her biggest vices, according to the PI, were alcohol and pills of any kind imaginable.
Though she was furious with him, Otash did a good job. He explained his rationale to her as follows: “Narcotics and alcohol are the best evidence he [Luft] could ever produce in court. Believe me."
To be fair, it wasn’t Garland’s fault that she was addicted to so many drugs. MGM studios had forced her to take barbiturates, amphetamines, and more just so that she could keep her svelte figure. At one point, the studios supposedly had her smoking 80 cigarettes a day just so that her appetite would be cut. As a result of the abuse, Garland struggled with eating disorders and drugs all her life.
9 Joan Crawford Had An Adult Film Life
Today, Joan Crawford is known as an actress who has a squeaky clean image. Her beautiful curls, feminine eyes, and classy mannerisms would still be enviable today. For the most part, her current legacy is still spot-on. Except, you know, for the fact that she pulled a Sasha Grey before adult films were even mainstream.
Back in the 1920s, films involving “soft core” erotica were totally taboo and even banned as obscenity. That didn’t stop Joan Crawford from making a naughty flick of her own and using her feminine wiles to get to the top. And, much like Sasha Grey did, Joan Crawford went from adult star to movie starlet with little issue.
When MGM found out that she had starred in the erotic film Velvet Lips as a possibly underage teenage girl, they actually went so far as to team up with the mafia to get the films back. Oddly enough, when Crawford left MGM in 1943, she paid the studio a whopping $50,000. Rumors still suggest this was her “thank you” present for having them destroy the negatives of the X-rated film, thereby removing it from history.
8 Jean Harlow’s Husband Had A Suspicious Death
During the 1930s, Jean Harlow was one of the biggest names in Tinseltown. Men wanted to be with her, and women wanted to be her. The idea that a man who was married to such a household name would ever be miserable was unthinkable. However, in 1932, Harlow’s husband’s body had been found naked, next to a gun and a suicide note.
Strangely enough, her husband died the night he was supposed to meet his ex-wife. And, his ex-wife, a woman by the name of Dorothy Millette, was found dead only a week later. Police investigation showed that the circumstances were suspicious, but it was officially ruled a suicide. Stranger still, the brass at MGM also stepped in to help Harlow “clean up” things in her studio, too. Could this have been a mafia hit? The world may never know.
7 Then, There Were The Studio-Pressured Abortions
With all the rampant sex that was happening behind the scenes of Hollywood’s biggest movies, there had to be a certain amount of “accidents” that happened. Unfortunately, 1940s Tinseltown was not a place for a pregnant unwed woman. This is why many women who had gotten knocked up during affairs ended up being pressured by studio big wigs into having abortions.
The number of women who were officially sent to a hospital to “get some rest” is sketchy at best. However, there have been multiple women who have been historically known or outed as having had abortions – often against their will. Big names such as Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Jean Harlow, Judy Garland, and Joan Crawford all had allegedly been forced into choosing between an abortion and their careers.
6 The Munchkins Apparently Molested Judy Garland On Set
While we’re basically on the task of ruining your childhood images of favorite classic Hollywood stars, let’s talk about one of the most famous films in history: The Wizard of Oz. This film has had a lot of strange rumors swirling around it throughout the years, including the urban legend about one of the munchkins hanging himself while the movie was being filmed. Though that munchkin rumor isn’t true, Garland’s ex insists that there was some scandalous stuff going on during this filming.
According to ex-husband Sid Luft (yes, that one), Garland explained that many of the little people who were hired as munchkins were “little drunks” who got plastered every night after taping. He also alleged that they would “make Judy’s life miserable on set by putting their hands under her dress.”
One of the people who played a member of the Lollipop Guild insisted that the rumors Luft spread weren’t true at all. He also added, “Those stories are very upsetting.” Sadly, Garland is no longer around to set the record straight, so we may never really know what happened on set.
5 Country Legend Spade Cooley Beat His Wife To Death
If you loved country music in the 1950s and 1940s, then Spade Cooley was probably your favorite singer. Cooley was the all-out king of Western swing, and prior to that, also made a strong name for himself in the world of big band music. At the top of his fame, Cooley had it all – record deals, a loyal fanbase, as well as his very own TV show.
Unfortunately, like many people in Hollywood, Cooley really wasn’t capable of handling fame. All the contractual obligations, media appearances, and modern stressors got the already impulsive and hot-headed celebrity to a breaking point. After accusing his wife Ella Mae of an affair, he snapped and beat her for hours on end. Ella Mae lost consciousness and died. Cooley was found guilty of murder, but thanks to celebrity pleas to president Reagan, he was pardoned. Ironically, Cooley died of a heart attack before he ever was able to hear of his presidential pardon.
4 Loretta Young Hid Her Pregnancy And Then “Adopted” Her Own Child
Loretta Young, a staunch Catholic girl, was one of Hollywood’s first child stars to transform into a full-fledged movie star. Like many actresses, she had a fling with a fellow co-star while taping Call of the Wild. And, as we’ve discussed earlier in this list, most women who found themselves pregnant in Hollywood would be forced to have an abortion in order to keep their jobs. Young, on the other hand, wasn’t having any of it.
In an incredibly risky and slick move, she hid her pregnancy and even had a “sick bed” interview to stage herself as sick from a mystery illness. She gave birth in secret, then came out to Hollywood as a lady who had decided to adopt an orphan baby named Judy as a single mom.
3 Elvis Presley Was Attracted To Teenage Girls
Elvis Presley might have one of the most solid “bad boy” images on this list, but the truth was that he was really not much of a lothario when he was alive. The truth was that he was insanely insecure about his sexuality and manhood – and this meant that older women with experience typically intimidated the daylights out of him.
Because most teen girls didn’t really have much experience under their belt, Presley would actually ask managers to round up girls who were under the age of 16. Even back then, this was totally illegal. Oh, and it gets creepier. He’d also ask managers to select girls by how attractive their feet were, because he also happened to be a foot fetish. Needless to say, a lot of parents were rightfully leery of letting their daughters near the King of Rock N’Roll.
2 Jack Ryan Enjoyed Being A Total Creep
If you have ever played with Barbie dolls or enjoyed collecting Hot Wheels, congratulations. You like Jack Ryan’s work. Ryan was most well-known for making beloved toys, but during the 1950s, he was more infamous for being Zsa Zsa Gabor’s sixth husband. After he died, strange rumors began to circle about his more intimate habits.
According to one book about Hollywood secrets by an author named Scotty Bowers, Jack Ryan was kind of a major creep. He said that Ryan loved to invite women over to his room, scatter rose petals around, then shock the daylights out of them by having them discover him in a coffin while he was pleasuring himself. So yes, we can totally see why Zsa Zsa dumped this creeptastic dude.
1 Alfred Hitchcock Was A Sadistic Director Who Tortured His Female Leads
Tippi Hedren was an up-and-coming starlet who had gotten an offer from famed film director Alfred Hitchcock. Her lead role in his film, The Birds, is still regarded today as one of cinema’s greatest masterpieces. But, nobody really thinks about what happened to Tippi, who at one time was slated to be the next Joan Crawford.
Well, Alfred Hitchcock happened.
Women who were on set as leading ladies said that Alfred Hitchcock made a point of terrorizing them. He would often make them get into strange positions, force them to wear bondage ties until they bled, or harass them on a near-constant basis. During The Birds , Hitchcock had actually forced her to work with live birds, leaving scratches on Tippi’s face. He’d also randomly throw stuffed crows at her. Hedren had called the work “grueling,” and it was clear it was a pretty nightmarish setup for her.
Hitchcock often would demand his blonde leading ladies to be available to him sexually, and that’s where Tippi refused. Rumor has it that Hitchcock ensured she’d never work in that town again...and she never did.