Scandalous Facts About Mary Astor, The Film Noir Femme Fatale

June 18, 2023 | Sarah Ng

Scandalous Facts About Mary Astor, The Film Noir Femme Fatale

A stunning actress and a brilliant star on the stage, Mary Astor's immense talent hid a painful, messy private life. Despite her obvious gift for acting, Astor tried to shy away from the spotlight...and there were some unsettling reasons for that. From her dysfunctional family to her secret, ruinous affair, let’s dig into the secret life of Mary Astor.

1. Her Parents Were Control Freaks

Mary Astor didn't exactly have a happy home life. Her controlling parents pushed her into teen beauty contests and stringent piano lessons in the hopes she would become a star. They even moved the whole family over to New York City so their daughter could try her hand at drama. It was a lot of pressure for a little girl...and as we’ll see, it had disastrous consequences.

mary astor

2. She Was Hauntingly Beautiful

As it turns out, Astor's horrible parents were still spot-on about their daughter's star potential. Nicknamed "Rusty" after her long red hair, Astor grew into a hauntingly beautiful woman with large, sad eyes. Astor also developed early, turning tall long before her classmates, so much so that it seemed like she was never a child. Oh, but she very much was.

Mary Astor facts Wikipedia

3. She Got "Discovered"

Mary Astor's origin story is right out of the Old Hollywood starlet playbook. When Astor was only around 16 years old, famed photographer Charles Albin saw her walking down the street in Manhattan and knew he had to snap a photo of her. It was a date with destiny. Albin's headshots made their way to the desk of Famous Players-Lasky Studio, who immediately signed her on.

As it turned out, though, this was no fairy tale.

Mary Astor facts Wikipedia

4. Her Name Was Completely Different

Astor might have been beautiful enough to catch the eye of Hollywood, but she had to undergo a transformation to keep Tinseltown's interest. In a meeting the young girl wasn't even invited to, studio heads changed her name from the "cumbersome" Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke to the pert "Mary Astor" we know today. Well, thanks, guys.

It was probably an unsettling welcome for the teenage girl, yet she had more disturbances to come.

Mary Astor facts Getty Images

5. Her Mother Was Jealous

Astor's mother had always wanted to be a famous actress herself, so you'd think seeing her daughter on the cusp of becoming one would have been heartwarming for the matron. Nothing could be further from the truth. Helen Marie de Vasconcellos only tightened her controlling grip more on her young daughter, insisting on chaperoning her everywhere. And that wasn't all.

Mary Astor facts Flickr, John Irving

6. She Was Her Parents' Pet

Astor's parents lorded over every single detail of their daughter's life. Her mother accompanied her to set and would constantly re-tweak her makeup and costumes, while at home her father would open all of the letters she received. The poor girl wasn't even allowed to send her own letters, let alone leave her house solo. This did not go well.

Mary Astor facts Wikipedia

7. She Got An Embarrassing Rejection

At first, Astor let her parents suffocate her without complaint. It came with a high cost. Early on in her career, the legendary Lillian Gish took a shine to the starlet and screen-tested her for director D.W. Griffith. Although Astor was incandescent, Griffith took one look at her father and rejected her, warning, "The man’s a walking cash register. I’ll never be able to develop the daughter into an actress with the father around".

Sadly, it got much worse before it got better.

Mary Astor facts Wikimedia Commons

8. Her Parents Kept Her Prisoner

Eventually, Astor became a successful starlet—no thanks to her parents—and started pulling in big bucks. This, however, was its own kind of curse. After all, it was her good-for-nothing parents who had full control of her salary, and they had no qualms about spending it on themselves, buying an enormous mansion and keeping her as a virtual prisoner in it.

With a film career most girls could only dream of, it was a living nightmare for Mary Astor. So when she rebelled, she rebelled HARD.

Mary Astor factsWikimedia Commons

9. A Legend Fell In Lust With Her

In 1924, Astor's beauty snagged her a big film. The debonair veteran actor John Barrymore caught sight of Astor in a photograph and demanded that she star alongside him in his upcoming silent film Beau Brummell. Charismatic and talented, Barrymore took Astor under his wing, giving her career a much-needed boost. But that wasn't all he did.

Mary Astor facts Beau Brummel (1924), Warner Bros.

10. Her Co-Star Seduced Her

In the timeworn tradition of creeps everywhere, the 40-year-old Barrymore wasted no time on set trying to woo his new, nubile co-star—after all, the stage icon had a notorious reputation around Hollywood as a boozy philanderer. Ever the smooth-talker, Barrymore told the teenaged Astor that she was so beautiful she made him "feel faint!" Astor's response? Well...

John Barrymore factsWikimedia Commons

11. She Was In A May-December Romance

Poor Mary Astor was only 17 years old, and had barely been let out of her own house at this point. So, of course, the naive teenager fell head over heels for Barrymore. There was just one huge problem. There was no way on God's green Earth her strict parents were going to be letting a tryst happen. Instead, Barrymore and Astor had to come up with a scandalous plan.

Mary Astor factsBeau Brummel (1924), Warner Bros.

12. She Had A Secret Engagement

In order to get around her parents' (totally valid) concerns, Barrymore set up "private lessons" for him to "teach" Astor and improve her "craft". In other words, they used this alone time to thoroughly boink each other from here to Shanghai, and soon got engaged on the down-low. Still, trouble was already showing up in Paradise.

Katharine Hepburn FactsGetty Images

13. She Had A Romeo And Juliet Story

In taking up with John Barrymore, Astor earned herself a shred of independence, but not her full freedom. Her parents still constantly meddled in her life, and she and Barrymore were reduced to setting up secret communiques months apart. Worst of all, Barrymore knew Astor would never work up the courage to truly defy her parents and marry him. It all ended in heartbreak.

Mary Astor factsBeau Brummel (1924), Warner Bros.

14. Her First Relationship Was Doomed

Unable to stand his girlfriend's family, Barrymore dealt Astor a cruel betrayal. Eventually, his eye started to wander right over to Astor's fellow starlet, Dolores Costello. Nicknamed "The Goddess of the Silent Screen," Costello soon owned Barrymore's whole heart. He married her in 1928, discarding Astor along the way. Ouch. But that's when Astor really broke free.

Mary Astor facts Wikipedia

15. She Ran Away From Home

Mary Astor squarely blamed her controlling parents for the breakup, and her bitterness made her lash out at them in a big way. She became a passionate party-goer, running away multiple times to attend Hollywood soirees, even if it meant escaping out of her bedroom window. And then she took drastic measures to take back control of her life.

Mary Astor facts Wikimedia Commons

16. She Fired Her Parents

Astor wasn't playing games anymore, and she kicked her parents right to the curb. She hired a maid to be her assistant on set, not her mother, and barred her father from negotiating on any more of her film contracts. Then she twisted the knife in: At 26 years old, she demanded full control of her salary. To Astor's shock, her parents got brutal revenge.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

17. She Was In A Bitter Court Battle

Without a source of income, and saddled with a very expensive mansion, Astor's parents sued their famous daughter for financial support. Disgusted but ready to be done with it, Astor eventually settled out of court, agreeing to pay her folks a paltry $100 per month if they'd stay out of her business. It was supposed to be a fresh start, but it wasn't a smooth ride.

Mary Astor facts Shutterstock

18. The Studios Insulted Her

As the silent movie era ended, and the age of the talkies began, Astor found herself in deep trouble. The studio brought her in for a sound test, and it quickly turned into a disaster. While her face was as gorgeous as ever, they found her naturally deep voice "masculine" and "hollow," and put her out of work for 10 long months. But by this time, Astor had other things on her mind.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

19. She Got A Lavish Wedding Gift

In 1928, Mary Astor sealed her new independence by getting married to director Kenneth Hawks, whom she had only known for a year. By all accounts, he was a gentle, upstanding man, and he doted on Astor, even giving her a car as a wedding gift. For her part, Astor had nothing but love and respect for him—which made her next move a strange one.

Mickey Rooney FactsShutterstock

20. She Had Specific Bedroom Tastes

While Hawks was a financial and emotional rock for Astor, they were hiding a big secret behind bedroom doors. Their intimate life was far too boring and stilted for Astor, who, after all, had gotten her "education" from the very senior lover John Barrymore. She tried to be a good little girl and wife for a few months, but the wheels came off quickly.

Mary Astor factsWikipedia

21. She Was Unfaithful

Mary Astor later confessed that she wasn't exactly faithful during her marriage to Kenneth Hawks, and she struck up an affair soon after tying the knot. The really scandalous part? Even years after the fact, Astor refused to name the mystery lover who managed to seduce her from her marriage bed. Then again, she had one very illicit reason to keep him secret...

Mary Astor factsWikipedia

22. She Had A Secret Love Child

Less than two years into her marriage to Kenneth Hawks, Astor made a disturbing discovery. She was pregnant, and not with her husband's child. In fact, given just how little bedroom relations they had been having, there was no way she could even hope to pass off the baby as his. Instead, the young starlet had a hush-hush abortion and tried to mend the error of her ways.

Fate, however, had other plans.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

23. Her Marriage Ended In Tragedy

On January 2, 1930, Kenneth Hawks was directing an aerial scene for his upcoming film Such Men Are Dangerous. Suddenly, two of the planes met in a mid-air collision, and both aircraft plummeted into the Pacific Ocean, taking the lives of everyone on board—including Hawks—in what was called "the worst air accident in film history".

Mysterious Disappearances factsWikimedia Commons

24. She Went Underground

When Mary Astor got the grim tidings, she received the news in the worst way possible. She had just finished up a matinee performance on stage when her friend, actress Florence Eldridge, told her about the crash. Aides immediately swept a shell-shocked Astor away from the play, and she holed up in Eldridge's apartment for days. When she came out, though, it somehow got worse.

Mary Astor factsWikipedia

25. She Buried Herself In Work

Although clearly traumatized by the loss of her husband, Mary Astor became an eerie, frozen picture of normalcy when she emerged from that apartment. Acting as if nothing was wrong, she buried herself in work, staging show after show and even starring in her first talkie, Ladies Love Brutes, in the same year. Astor thought she could outrun her pain...but it came back to haunt her.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

26. She Had A Nervous Breakdown

When the horror of what had happened to Kenneth Hawks finally caught up to Mary Astor, it was an utter catastrophe. She had bottled it all up so deeply, that when it emerged it nearly destroyed her, causing her to suffer a full-blown nervous breakdown and putting her out of film roles for months. Clearly, Mary Astor needed a break. Except she didn't actually get one.

Mary Astor factsShutterstock

27. She Had A Freudian Romance

While in the throes of her illness, Astor fell under the care of the dashing, handsome Doctor Franklyn Thorpe. If you're getting a sense of unease here, well, follow that feeling. In a move that would have made Sigmund Freud shake his head, Astor soon became infatuated with the good doctor, and married him in 1931. Yes, this was a big YIKES.

Sigmund Freud facts Freud (1962), Universal International Pictures

28. She Was In A Power Couple

To be fair, Thorpe and Astor had some things in common: Both had demanding careers, as well as high expectations of themselves and others. In 1932, they also had a daughter named Marylyn together, which could have only drawn them closer for a time. Astor even briefly considered quitting the screen and settling down as a doctor’s wife.

Except when things fell apart with them, they got very nasty, very fast.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

29. Her Husband Was Violent

As it happens, having an uber critical husband isn't much of a happily ever after. By 1933, Astor was worn thin with Thorpe's constant listing of her flaws. Even more alarmingly, he was easily annoyed by their daughter Marylyn and had started to shake her so hard that "her teeth rattled". That, however, was just their home life...

Mary Astor factsFlickr, Isabel Santos Pilot

30. Her Marriage Was A Sham

Besides being less than a Prince Charming inside their house, Astor also claimed that Thorpe had no fewer than four affairs over the course of their marriage, and had also neglected to inform her that he had been married before. It was all too much for the actress to take, and she demanded a divorce and took him to court. That's when her husband showed his sinister true colors. 

King Louis XI Of France FactsShutterstock

31. Her Divorce Got Nasty

During the divorce proceedings, Mary Astor presented her evidence for why Dr. Thorpe was The World's Worst Husband, but her ex-lover bit back—hard. Instead of admitting to any philandering himself, Thorpe turned the tables on Astor and claimed she was the one hiding ruinous secrets. More than that, he said he could prove it "in her own handwriting". And oh, he could.

Mary Astor factsWikimedia Commons

32. She Made A Private Confession

See, during the dissolution of their marriage, Thorpe had got his grubby little hands on Astor's private diary. Its contents nearly destroyed her. In the slim book, Astor spilled the beans about a hot and heavy tryst she had with the playwright George S. Kaufman just after she had informally split with Thorpe. Thorpe saw his opportunity, and he pounced.

Anne Frank FactsShutterstock

33. She Was An "Unfit Mother"

According to Thorpe, the confessions in Astor's diary—plus the other liaisons he was sure she was having—were enough to show that she was an unfit mother to little Marylyn, and that he should get custody of their daughter. The thing is, Thorpe never actually showed this diary in court, but he sure as heck mentioned it a lot. Soon enough, trouble started brewing.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

34. She Became A Tabloid Sensation

A Hollywood divorce was already big tabloid fodder, and the addition of a secret and mysterious diary was too much for gossip hounds to ignore. Once the news about Kaufman went to the press, the papers jumped on Astor's personal strife. After that, unfounded stories of her bedroom romps only grew larger, until they hit a notorious apex.

Deannie Best factsWikimedia Commons

35. Karma Came For Her Ex-Husband

Take note: Cheaters never prosper. Although Thorpe wanted to destroy Astor, he only made her stronger. A judge deemed the diary inadmissible in the custody battle for Marylyn, and threw it out of court. As a result, Thorpe was unable to build his case, and Astor received majority custody of Marylyn, all while her career got a fresh wave of interest. Take that, fool.

Lawyers Screwed factsShutterstock

36. She Destroyed Incriminating Evidence

Although Astor's diary scandal set the world alight, today we know the grim truth. In an act of supreme vengeance, Thorpe likely faked most of Astor's supposed "confessions," though Astor did confirm her dalliance with Kaufman. Still, if there was any shred of truth to his claims, we'll never know: The courts sealed the diary in the 1930s and destroyed it in 1952.

The thing is, Mary Astor's scandals were just getting started.

Algonquin Round Table Facts Wikimedia Commons

37. She Took A Foreign Lover

Mary Astor couldn't stay away from trouble for long, and in 1935 she really got herself in it. That year, she met the devastatingly handsome Manuel del Campo, a British-Mexican film editor and aspiring actor. Astor found him "kind and decent," and a little exciting too, with his British accent, mixed heritage, and love of adventure. In other words, it was time for Astor to do something supremely misguided again.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

38. She Kept Her Wedding Secret

In a case of history repeating itself, Astor and del Campo got secretly engaged and then married just a year after meeting. Seriously, the union was so confidential that his own parents didn't know about it, much less hers. In due time, the two had a son named Anthony "Tono" del Campo together...but the addition of a new family member didn’t turn del Campo into a family man overnight.

Mary Astor factsWikipedia

39. Her Third Husband Was A Womanizer

Del Campo would rather spend his days partying in nightclubs with other women than cleaning up baby spit, all while Astor was waking up at the crack of dawn for early film calls. It led to a dreary fate. His enlistment into the Air Force was the final nail in the coffin for their relationship. The pair split in 1941, with del Campo barely seeing his son or ex-wife afterward.

Maureen O'Hara factsWikipedia

40. She Rewrote An Entire Film

Eventually, Mary Astor grew confident in her abilities—and when she did, watch the heck out. While portraying a concert pianist in the 1941 film The Great Lie, Astor realized she hated the schlocky material. A perfectionist until the end, she and her co-star Bette Davis tweaked the script. It paid off big time, earning Astor an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Mary Astor factsThe Great Lie (1941), Warner Bros.

41. She Had A Hidden Talent

Obviously, Astor’s background as a pianist came in handy in The Great Lie. Or at least, it should have. Sadly, her piano playing was actually dubbed over—but she still "played" so convincingly that no one could believe it. As Davis once proudly said, "These concert scenes of Mary's were the most believable ever seen on screen—because she really was a pianist par excellence".

Mary Astor factsThe Great Lie (1941), Warner Bros.

42. Her Father Believed A Lie

After The Great Lie came out, Mary Astor gave her father a heartbreaking gift. Although their relationship was complicated, to say the least, she took her old man to see the movie shortly before his passing. When he watched it, the patriarch actually thought his little girl really was playing the piano, and was proud of her at long last.

Hedy Lamarr FactsShutterstock

43. Her Fourth Marriage Was Loveless

With a string of incredibly dysfunctional relationships behind her, Mary Astor thought she had it all figured out by the 1940s, and settled down into yet another marriage with the military man Thomas Gordon Wheelock. He was loyal and dependable, and everything Astor thought she needed. Except for one thing: She didn't love him in the slightest. And when it rains, it pours.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

44. She Got A Depressing Nickname

In the early 1940s, Astor's luck sadly ran out. Though she was only in her mid-30s, studios began to relegate her to the "mom" roles, including most famously in 1944's Meet Me in St. Louis. In a further indignity, soon almost every young actor on the studio lot nicknamed her "Mom". Ah, the name every woman wants to hear.

Mary Astor factsMeet Me in St. Louis (1944), MGM

45. She Gave Up On Love

In 1955, unable to get over her lack of passion, Mary Astor officially divorced Thomas Wheelock after 10 lukewarm years of marriage. It was her romantic swan song: She gave up on love entirely after that and never married again. Instead, the star fell into isolation, suffering from severe insomnia and nerves. Then, her biggest inner demon reared its ugly head.

Mary Astor factsFlickr, Jack Samuels

46. She Had A Huge Addiction

Throughout her years in Hollywood, Astor had always liked a drink, but it had never affected her work before. Well, that all changed in the blink of an eye. Her troubled relationships took their toll, and she took a hiatus from acting, steadily drinking more each day while falling further into debt. Eventually, she needed to apply to the Motion Picture Relief Fund to buy groceries.

Dumb parents factsLibreshot

47. She Was The First Femme Fatale

One of Astor’s most famous roles was as Brigid O’Shaughnessy in the film The Maltese Falcon, where the starlet set the mold for the "femme fatale" stereotype. Astor played up the character’s nervousness and vulnerability, going so far as to hyperventilate before her scenes started to sound breathless and desperate for help. Clever girl.

Mary Astor factsWikipedia

48. She Thought She Was Stupid

Astor's family life took a bigger toll on her than most people even knew. Despite being an avid reader of history books and a lover of classical music, she never felt smart enough or capable enough—after all, her parents were always treating her like a baby. Soon enough, her fellow actors noticed her low self-esteem, and one took advantage of it in an unsettling way.

Mary Astor factsFlickr, Isabel Santos Pilot

49. Humphrey Bogart Negged Her

While filming  The Maltese Falcon opposite Humphrey Bogart, the noir heartthrob apparently noticed Astor's nerves. His response was the definition of gross. In a misguided attempt to give her a boost, Bogie consoled her, "So you’re not very smart, but you know it, and what's the matter with that? Be yourself". Umm. Thanks?

Mary Astor factsThe Maltese Falcon (1941), Warner Bros.

50. She Lost Her Passion

Hard up for cash, Astor transitioned over to early live television later in her career. While she featured in plenty of big-name shows, the depressive star couldn't keep up with the fast-paced schedule. Dressing up became "too much trouble," and even going on set was a bother. Still, this finally pushed her to do something that she always wanted to do.

Mary Astor factsFlickr, James Vaughan

51. She Loved To Read

Astor had an active imagination, and this worked hand-in-hand with her love of reading—she even liked to read the labels on medicine bottles if there were any lying around. Everywhere she went, Astro's first thought was to look around for reading materials, and it helped shape her emerging talents as a writer. Soon, she began a new chapter of her life.

Toxic familyPexels

52. She Had A Surprising Skill

In 1959, Astor published her memoir, My Story: An Autobiography, which became a bestseller. She chronicled a lifetime of experiences in the tome, speaking frankly about her troubled past and revealing intimate details about her relationship with her parents, her many affairs and marriages…and, as we'll soon see, one more surprising revelation.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg FactsShutterstock

53. She Kissed Clark Gable

Mary Astor wasn't shy about revealing the tips and tricks of the film trade. In her second book, A Life on Film, she revealed that movie scenes depicting spontaneous moments of romance were definitely not spontaneous, and the hours and hours put into making sure the scene played out just so made them far from romantic to shoot.

In one instance, after all the prep needed to make a love scene with Clark Gable work, Astor could barely remember what it was like to kiss him.

Mary Astor factsWikipedia

54. A Temper Tantrum Won Her A Role

During a game of golf with some big wigs at Paramount Studios, Mary Astor took a swing and completely missed her shot. Her reaction was legendary. Angry, Astor let her temper loose. However, this actually convinced the studio heads that she would be the perfect person to play the tough-as-nails saloon owner Fritzi Haller in the upcoming Desert Fury. Guess it pays to be true to yourself.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

55. She Took Her Work Home

Astor loved her role as Fritzi, and had trouble getting out of character after a day of shooting. She didn’t realize this until one evening, while at the dinner table, she suddenly snapped "Pass the butter!" in a very Fritzi-like manner. After realizing her mistake, she tried very hard to leave her work on the studio lot.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

56. She Was Cruel To Her Staff

Astor’s high expectations extended beyond herself and her family; even her household staff couldn’t escape her critical eye. Regularly finding faults in her hired help, Astor constantly hovered around them as they worked. This didn’t stop some of them from taking her silverware or just complaining about the job—although this only made her fire them more easily.

Mary Astor factsShutterstock

57. She Was Tough On Her Daughter

Astor’s daughter Marylyn often found herself on the receiving end of Astor’s ire, and the actress loved to "win" all arguments. Marylyn also had the unenviable title of "Mary Astor’s daughter," which overshadowed her for years. After watching how the film industry ruined her mother in many ways, Marylyn unsurprisingly decided against joining Hollywood herself.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

58. She Had A Sense Of Humor

Despite not always listening to her daughter, Astor still found the time to have a bit of fun with Marylyn. The actress had a studio photographer who regularly took pictures of her at home, and after the photographer left, mother and daughter would often go up to the balcony and drop the flashbulbs he left behind, trying to see whose flashbulb would smash the loudest.

Babe Paley FactsShutterstock

59. She Shunned Fame

Above all, Mary Astor wanted financial and job security, not stardom and all the drama that came with being in the spotlight. She regularly took on supporting or featured roles, since there would be a lot less pressure to carry the movie, and she still made a pretty penny for her work on set. All in all, this was one smart cookie.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

60. She Hated Charlie Chaplin

For all her meek start, Mary Astor was not afraid to speak her mind by the end. She didn’t like Charlie Chaplin, for one, and thought he "was a bore". She thought actress Loretta Young "looked like some underwater creature," and that Louis B. Mayer was a "bossy tyrant". Astor was done with holding back her opinions, and this extended to her own films...

Charlie Chaplin FactsWikimedia Commons

61. She Mocked Her Own Films

Astor frequently played the damsel-in-distress in her films, and she disdainfully called those who contributed to these movies, including herself, "the hope peddlers. " She thought these movies were formulaic and dishonest, and hated that they were only out to make a quick buck, making audience members believe that life was full of happy endings.

Mary Astor factsFlickr, Jack Samuels

62. She Was Professional To A Fault

Astor regularly worked from 5:30 AM to midnight, putting pride in being on-time and dependable. She hated the idea of keeping others waiting around, and couldn’t stand actors who were constantly late to set. Astor never let her personal issues, even her drinking, affect what happened in the studio, and was a total pro when it came to filmmaking.

Mary Astor factsFlickr, Jack Samuels

63. She Faked An Accent

During her years with Manuel del Campo, something strange happened to Mary Astor. Like Madonna after her, Astor started to take on a thick British accent in the mode of her then-husband. Somehow, Astor kept the act up for literal years while she was still married to del Campo, though she mercifully dropped it after they divorced.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

64. She Had A Famous Feature

When she was young, no one in Hollywood could get over the perfection of Astor's face, particularly in profile. The smooth curves and jutting angles of her sideways gaze was so famous and iconic, she earned the nickname "The Cameo Girl".

Mary Astor factsFlickr, Isabel Santos Pilot

65. She Was An Ice Queen

In the 1970s, Astor moved into a retirement home, and she was not the social butterfly you might imagine. She took her meals alone in the dining room, monopolizing a little table to herself and speaking as little to the other residents as possible. When people did manage to talk to her, her conversations were often heavy with profanity. What a dame.

Mary Astor factsGetty Images

66. She Tried To Save Herself

Writing healed Astor like nothing else would, and she eventually stopped drinking entirely. Trading the bottle for the pen allowed Astor to find release through the written word, and she learned to eventually love herself. Astor continued to release more books, and even worked on acting gigs from time to time. Yet her battle was far from over.

Rebekah Harkness factsShutterstock

67. She Witnessed A Tragedy

Although Astor had quit drinking since she started writing, this healthy streak came to a violent and abrupt end when she watched her Siamese cat meet her end at the hands of a German Shepherd. The trauma caused Astor to take up the bottle once more soon afterward, and she would never completely conquer the habit again. After all, she didn't have much time left.

James Dean FactsWallpaper Flare

68. She Made A Heartbreaking Confession

Although Astor bared a lot of painful memories in her memoir My Storythere was one revelation that shocked readers. Astor admitted she had a deep amount of self-loathing for herself, and that she "would have liked… a nice, quiet release from the life I did not know how to live". Sadly, she acted on these dark impulses...

Mary Astor factsFlickr, John Irving

69. She Tried To Take Her Own Life

In the 1950s, Astor reached a tragic breaking point and overdosed on sleeping pills. Although she ended up surviving the night and swore it was only an accident, her friends and family knew better than to believe her. Perhaps more heartbreakingly, it wasn't Astor's last attempt; later, a family member had to rescue her from a bathtub.

Change Life FactsShutterstock

70. She May Have Ranked Her Lovers

Remember the stories that came out about Astor's diary during her divorce? Well, As Astor's time in court raged on, the most infamous rumor about her came out. People started to claim that in her diary, besides relating her many affairs in high definition detail, Astor also ranked and scored her Hollywood hunks according to how much pleasure they had given her. It was a forest fire of a scandal, and it was spreading fast.

Mary Astor factsFlickr, janwillemsen

71. She Almost Got Fired

Unfortunately for the starlet, her acting contract included a morality clause, which meant that Astor had to be in squeaky-clean shape to stay in the movies. The outrage over her affair and the messy divorce almost got her kicked off her next film, Dodsworth, with many campaigning producer Samuel Goldwyn to outright fire her. Instead, the exact opposite happened.

Merle Oberon FactsWikipedia

72. Crowds Loved Her

Goldwyn decided to keep her on, and Astor repaid him back tenfold. She held her head high throughout both filming and her court battles, and Dodsworth ended up receiving rave reviews, thanks in part to Astor's charm. Indeed, when she came on the screen for the first time in the film, audiences would often break out into applause. And the hits kept coming.

Mary Astor factsDodsworth (1936), The Samuel Goldwyn Company

73. Her Mother Didn’t Recognize Her

In the 1940s, Astor’s mother was gravely ill and staying at a hospital long-term. She began deteriorating both physically and mentally, and as her condition grew worse, she would often be delirious. When this happened, she would rant and rave about Astor, unable to recognize that the woman by her bed was her own daughter. It didn’t get any better from there.

Mary Astor factsFlickr, Isabel Santos Pilot

74. Her Mother Hated Her

Throughout this ordeal, Astor took to copying down her mother's diary for posterity. That's when she found the sickening entries. On page after page, Mommy Dearest went on at length about how much she hated her own daughter, despised her choices, and was jealous of her success. Astor was heartbroken, and when her mother finally passed in 1947, the star's downhill spiral was well on its way.

Queen Joanna Of Naples factsShutterstock

75. She Went Out On Top

In 1960, Astor received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Shortly after, she made one more movie, Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, before turning in her Guild card and retiring for good. Astor lived to the ripe old age of 81, passing on September 25, 1987, during a prolonged stay in hospital. Rest in peace, you brassy broad.

Mary Astor facts Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), Twentieth Century Fox

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.