Maybe blondes have more fun, but they have more tragedy too. From Jean Harlow’s sudden end to Zsa Zsa Gabor’s vengeful antics, there’s no shortage of drama when it comes these silver screen golden girls. Put on your best stilettos and bust out the peroxide: It’s time for these facts about Old Hollywood’s blonde bombshells.
Blonde Bombshell Facts
1. To Have and to Harlow
For a time in the 1930s, Jean Harlow was the biggest star in Hollywood. Her vampy good looks, easy glamour, and natural appeal earned her the nickname “The Blonde Bombshell,” but underneath her polished façade was a tender soul too often hurt by studios and wracked with heartache—all the way until her devastating end.
2. Certified Platinum
Harlow was famous for her so-called “platinum blonde” hair—in fact, it was her stardom that helped first coin the shiny term. When he was promoting Harlow in one of his films, director Howard Hughes publicized her hair color as new-fangled “platinum,” quickly turning Harlow into the original Blonde Bombshell.
3. Bold and Beautiful
At the height of her fame, rumors abounded that Harlow only slept in the buff—and perhaps more scandalously, that she never wore underwear.
4. Bringing up Baby
Harlow’s real name was Harlean Harlow Carpenter, but from birth her nickname was“The Baby,” which she kept even in her silver screen days. People actually called her “The Baby” so often that she didn’t know her real name was “Harlean” until she was five years old.
5. Maybe She’s Born With It, Maybe It’s Clorox Bleach
As a Hollywood starlet, Harlow swore up and down that her white-blonde hair was her natural color—but nothing could be further from the truth. She actually reportedly kept up the façade with weekly bleachings of ammonia, Clorox, and Lux soap flakes, a process that did horrific damage to her naturally ash-blonde locks.
6. The Cat’s Meow
Harlow partly inspired the iconic Batman character Catwoman. Creator Bob Kane once said that when he was an impressionable boy, Harlow “seemed to personify feminine pulchritude at its most sensuous.” The other inspiration for the leather-clad anti-heroine was actually Harlow’s fellow screen siren Hedy Lamarr.
7. The Long Goodbye
Harlow was always a favorite with her male co-stars, and Jimmy Stewart once recalled a kissing scene with her that he deliberately messed up. As he said, the director “made us repeat the scene about half a dozen times…I botched it up on purpose. That Jean Harlow sure was a good kisser. I realized that until then, I had never been really kissed.”
8. Critical Sass
In 1934, Harlow reportedly went head-to-head with the cutting British socialite Margot Asquith at a dinner party—and received a brutal comeback. Apparently, the naïve Harlow kept pronouncing Asquith’s name as “Mar-GOT” rather than “Mar-GO.” Unable to bear it any more, Asquith snapped back, “No, no; the ‘t’ is silent, as in ‘Harlow’.”
That’s right, she called poor unsuspecting Jean a “Harlot.”
9. Baby Sister
Though almost everyone in Hollywood called Harlow “The Baby,” Clark Gable called her “Sis.”
10. An Icon’s Idol
Marilyn Monroe absolutely loved Jean Harlow, and even lobbied to play Harlow in a biopic after her idol’s life was cut tragically short. But once Monroe read the badly written and exploitative script, she point-blank refused to do it. Monroe later confessed to her agent, “I hope they don’t do that to me after I’m gone.”
11. The Bar Is Low
Harlow struggled with both her public and private images throughout her life. MGM was in a constant battle to turn the glam queen into a girl-next-door, and went through many publicity manoeuvres to alter her persona. Frustrated and hurt by all these machinations, someone once heard Harlow mutter, “My God, must I always wear a low-cut dress to be important?”
12. Woman’s Best Friend
Fans knew the actress as much for her beauty as for her kind, sweet heart. When she was a bona fide star, she lived next door to the Hollywood celebrity dog Rin Tin Tin, who was getting on in age at 16 years old. When Rin Tin Tin was dying, Harlow went over and held his head in her lap until the very good boy passed on.
13. Paul and Jean Forever
After their deep friendship developed into something much more, MGM executive Paul Bern and Jean Harlow married on July 2, 1932. Bern was one of the only people who truly believed in Harlow as a serious actress and selflessly wanted her to succeed. It was a loving marriage—but sadly, it was doomed to an utterly heartbreaking end.
14. Infamous Last Words
Just two months after the wedding, authorities found Bern dead in the couple’s home from a gunshot wound. When authorities first took in the scene, many speculated that Harlow had killed her new husband. The truth was actually much darker. In the short suicide note that lay beside beside Bern, he wrote his devastating final words.
“Dearest Dear,” the note read, “Unfortuately [sic] this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and to wipe out my abject humiliation, I Love [sic] you. Paul You understand that last night was only a comedy.”
15. No Small Matter
Interpretations about what Bern meant when he referred to his “frightful wrong” and the reasons for his suicide are varied, and many of them scandalous. After his demise, rumors abounded that he was impotent or embarrassed about the size of his manhood. Other theories claimed that his family history of suicide finally overtook him.
16. Murder Mystery
There is, however, one final, disturbing possibility. Though investigators soon cleared Harlow of any involvement in Bern’s end, people still suspect the suicide note was a fake and that someone killed Bern. Indeed, many Hollywood insiders believe that Bern’s ex-lover Dorothy Millette attacked him in a jealous rage, an allegation that one of Bern’s biographers backs up.
17. Tragedy Comes in Twos
Harlow’s heartache was far from over. In 1937, her health took a terrifying turn. She had been mildly ill for months, but while filming Saratoga, the star began to complain of nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain. It got so bad that she had to lean on her co-star and friend Clark Gable between takes. When they found out the truth, it was too late.
18. Last Days
Harlow took time off work to recover from what doctors now diagnosed as an inflamed gallbladder, but when Clark Gable visited her, he was heartbroken to find her severely bloated with, astonishingly, urine on her breath. Soon after that, medical professionals confirmed the beautiful girl was in the final stages of kidney failure.
19. The Baby Sleeps
On June 6, 1937, Harlow was taken to the hospital. That night, she slipped into a coma. By the next morning, she was dead. She was only 26 years old.
20. Not a Dry Eye in the House
The warning signs were there, but no one paid attention to them. Harlow’s pallid complexion, many illnesses, and even an earlier severe sunburn all pointed to kidney failure—yet everyone missed the bigger picture. As one MGM writer later said of Harlow’s utterly senseless end, “The day Baby died…there wasn’t one sound in the commissary for three hours.”
21. Marry Me, Mamie
Sophisticated. Demure. Elegant—NONE of these words describe Mamie Van Doren, and we wouldn’t have her any other way. Her loud and proud life is absolutely chock full of scandal, rivalry, and good old fashioned revenge.
22. The Three M’s
23. A Star Is Born
Mamie Van Doren was born Joan Lucille Olander on February 6, 1931, but real names are for non-famous people. The day she signed her first studio contract was President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration, and studio heads decided to rename her “Mamie” after his wife Mamie Eisenhower. Not exactly the inspiration I think of when I see a smokin’ hot blonde.
24. It Wasn’t Me
Everybody’s got to let their bad girl out once in a while, and Mamie Van Doren sure knew how to do it. While married to her second husband Ray Anthony, she started a hot and heavy tryst with her co-star Steve Cochran on set. The frenzied lovers would jump into the dressing room immediately after shooting and get it on—until the day it all unraveled.
Anthony came to visit his dear wife on set one day and entered her dressing room without knocking. Well, Van Doren was there, but she definitely wasn’t dressed.
25. Boxing Clever
Mamie Van Doren had her eyes on the prize. She was once engaged to famed heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey, but dumped him the minute she signed a contract with Universal Studios in order to pursue her dreams. It wasn’t even that hard of a decision. As she once pertly put it, “He was a lousy lover.” Priorities: very much in order.
26. Reverse Psychology
The actress claims she actually turned down more lovers than she took up, and she had a bizarre, scandalous way to keep men at bay. “I don’t wear panties anymore,” she once confessed. “This startles the Hollywood wolves so much they don’t know what to pull at, so they leave me alone.” It’s so crazy, it just might work.
27. Power Couple
In 1949, famous producer and Hollywood mega-creep Howard Hughes spotted Mamie Van Doren when she won the title of “Miss Palm Springs” and decided he was going to turn her into a star. He cast her in small parts in several of his films—and behind the scenes, the pair started a steamy relationship, because what else are male mentors for?
28. Drive-By Sniping
The only time any of the “Three M’s” starred in a movie together was Mamie Van Doren and Jayne Mansfield’s turn in The Las Vegas Hillbillys. Spoiler: It did not end well. Mansfield considered Van Doren her nemesis, and refused to share any screen time with her, spitting out that she was “the drive-in’s answer to Marilyn Monroe.”
Sorry Jayne, but you’re starring in a film called The Las Vegas Hillbillys. Did you expect Laurence Olivier to co-star?
29. Simply Irresistible
It’s pretty clear by now that Mamie Van Doren had appeal to spare—but if you believe the actress, her charms were so powerful she even seduced gay icon Rock Hudson. According to Van Doren, when the pair went on a studio-orchestrated date early on in her career, people assured her she didn’t have to worry about any wandering hands from Rock.
Well, they were wrong. Hudson took her home and made a move on her, though Van Doren cheekily says he couldn’t get past her crinoline.
30. Kissinger and Tell
One of Van Doren’s most bizarre dates—and that’s saying something—was with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger apparently found her just as irresistible as everyone else did, and started trying to woo her. Van Doren didn’t quite feel the same. She pushed him away because, as she put it, “He had denture breath.”
31. Teenage Scream
When Howard Hughes first met a teenaged Mamie, he really broke the mold on “creep.” According to Van Doren, the much-older man first asked her how old she was. When she answered “15,” he followed up by inquiring if she lived with her parents, which, obviously yes. Though I know it seems impossible, he then outdid himself.
The main thing he really wanted to know was “Are you a virgin?” Ah, young love.
32. A Woman Never Tells
Van Doren’s response to Hughes’ impertinent question, however, was a total boss move. The teen only quipped, “You’ll never know, Mr. Hughes.”
33. Blondes Prefer Bombshells
The actress once had a juicy run-in with Marlene Dietrich’s sensual side. When Mamie Van Doren was sitting in the wardrobe department at Columbia Pictures, Dietrich strutted in with a raincoat on and a hat tipped over her eye (hot). Then, the Teutonic beauty began flirting with Van Doren…who froze and choked, ending a thousand burgeoning fanfics.
Van Doren later mused, “Today, I’d know what to do. I probably would have flirted back to her. I would have taken her up on it.” The fanfic lives!
34. My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose: Unoriginal and Cheap
Van Doren’s relationship with her second husband Ray Anthony was bitter and cruel. One day, she even found out the jerk was sending roses to none other than her rival Marilyn Monroe. After their split, she referred to him as “Ray Agony.”
35. Poor Little Marilyn
Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe is one of the most tragic and notorious actresses in Hollywood history, but her hardships began even before she was born. Her mother Gladys was a schizophrenic who was completely unprepared to have a child. Monroe grew up in foster care, and this lack of steady, maternal love affected her for the rest of her life.
36. A Rose by Any Other Name…
Everyone knows Marilyn Monroe’s real name was actually Norma Jeane Mortenson. What they usually don’t know is that the stage name was so unfamiliar to her, the first time she signed an autograph as “Marilyn Monroe,” she had to ask how to spell it.
37. Line Please, Sugar
Monroe found it almost impossible to learn lines, and took 60 takes to deliver the simple line “It’s me, Sugar” in Some Like It Hot.
38. Cruel Curtis
Sadly, the filming of the beloved Some Like It Hot was incredibly difficult for Monroe. She had issues with her mental health, and often suffered sudden crying fits where she would lock herself in her trailer and cling to her acting coach. As a result, the cast and crew began to resent the star’s presence, and they treated her in an incredibly cruel manner.
When it was time for a kissing scene between Monroe and co-star Tony Curtis, he sniped that he’d “rather be kissing Hitler.”
39. Brains and Beauty
When she was a rising star, Monroe and the studios played upon her looks and created a “blonde bombshell” persona. Sadly, “blonde bombshell” is apparently next door to “dumb blonde,” and she began being typecast as just that, which she hated. Probably because in reality, she was actually extremely intelligent. She had an IQ of 168.
40. Weight Woes
Monroe’s weight went up and down throughout her life and closely aligned with her emotional turbulence. Her figure shifted so dramatically during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl that the costume designer, Beatrice Dawson, had to create facsimile dresses in different sizes. “I have two ulcers from this film,” Dawson once said, “and they’re both monogrammed MM.”
41. Birthday Suit
According to those close to her, Monroe had some very kinky habits. She loved to walk around naked, at least among female studio employees. She also gave interviews in the buff, and often went out wearing nothing under a black mink coat. Though sometimes these spicy tastes got her into hot water—including an infamous 1949 risque photoshoot—she wouldn’t have it any other way.
42. Sewn in
On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe infamously serenaded President John F. Kennedy with a sultry, sensual rendition of “Happy Birthday.” At the time, she was his rumored lover—but whatever the truth of the matter, Monroe made sure she was unforgettable on stage. Her dress that night was so tight that it had to be sewn onto her.
43. In Solemn Memory
Monroe’s passionate but short-lived marriage to Joe DiMaggio lasted just a year, from 1945 to 1955. However, the union reverberated for the rest of her life—and beyond. For 20 years after Marilyn’s demise, DiMaggio sent roses to her crypt three times a week. He outlived her by 36 years but never married again, and his last words were heartbreaking.
Apparently DiMaggio’s last words were, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.”
44. Suspicious Circumstances
Monroe was found dead at her home on Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood on August 5, 1962. The evidence from that day is still haunting. She had a phone in one of her hands, and her body was completely stripped and face-down on her bed. There was no odor of drugs on her mouth, as would be consistent with suicidal pill ingestion.
45. Probable Cause
Marilyn’s fate was a “probable suicide,” but authorities only carried out toxicology tests on her liver. When the deputy coroner tried to obtain her other organs for testing, officers told him they’d been destroyed. Details like this have become part of the myriad conspiracy theories surrounding the star’s tragic, untimely end.
46. Goodbye, Cruel World
The last person to ever talk to Monroe was actor Peter Lawford. He called the starlet to convince her to come to his party, but was alarmed when she sounded sleepy and possibly not sober. Her last words to him before she drifted away were, “Say goodbye to Pat [Lawford’s wife], say goodbye to the president, and say goodbye to yourself, because you’re a nice guy.”
47. Do It for the Grahame
Actress Gloria Grahame shot to stardom and eternal fame after appearing in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Yet if her name isn’t as well known today, maybe that’s because this ingénue’s life never got a happy holiday ending—far from it. From her heights as a femme fatale to her lows as a cradle robber, it was one wild ride.
48. Get Stuffed
Grahame was infamously insecure about her upper lip, and thought it was too small and thin to be beautiful. To compensate, she would stuff cotton in her mouth to give it a plump appearance—but this had disturbing consequences. Multiple co-stars got a nasty surprise when the wadding fell out of her mouth during some particularly steamy kissing scenes.
49. Barbie Girl
The actress was an early fan of plastic surgery. She started with smaller procedures around her lips but soon moved on to larger and more obvious changes. As her niece put it, she “carved herself up, trying to make herself into an image of beauty she felt should exist but didn’t.” Apparently, “others saw her as a beautiful person, but she never did.”
50. A Ray of Light
Grahame’s most high-profile—and perhaps most notorious—marriage was to film director Nicholas Ray, who directed the actress in an acclaimed performance in In a Lonely Place. Never one to over-think things, Grahame married Ray just one day after finalizing her divorce from her first husband, the actor Stanley Clements.
51. Lip Service
By 1955, Grahame’s insecurities caught up with her. After she starred in the musical Oklahoma!, audiences complained that her femme fatale good-looks didn’t match up with the country bumpkin she was playing—but there was something even worse. By this time, her obsession with plastic surgery was so bad that a procedure had paralyzed her lip, affecting her performance.
52. Not Without My Wife
Initially, the producers of the film In a Lonely Place were looking at Lauren Bacall or Ginger Rogers to play the lead femme fatale role, but Nicholas Ray insisted that they cast his wife Grahame—despite the fact that their marriage was in very troubled waters at the time. Sadly and very predictably, this all went horrifically.
53. Sign on the Dotted Line
If Grahame and Ray’s marriage was on the rocks by the time they started In a Lonely Place, it was completely falling apart by the end. Ray was reportedly controlling with Grahame on set, and even forced her to sign a disturbing Hollywood contract. In it, she had to agree that “my husband shall be entitled to direct, control, advise, instruct and even command my actions.”
54. Fatal Attraction
For all the dramatics while filming In a Lonely Place, the reason for Grahame and Ray’s final, official divorce is even darker.Though the pair briefly reconciled afterward, it all permanently unraveled when Ray made a whopping, deal-breaker of a discovery. Ray claims he came home and found Grahame in bed with his 13-year-old son, Anthony. Yeah, I wasn’t kidding about the “deal-breaker” part.
55. Young Flame
Somehow this freaky Mrs. Robinson situation gets a whole lot weirder. In 1958, eight years after they were caught red-handed, Grahame and Anthony Ray got back in touch. Two years later, the lovebirds married in a wedding ceremony in Tijuana, Mexico—a well-known destination for highly respectable, pre-planned unions.
56. Go West, Young Man
Long before the likes of Rihanna, Michelle Pfeiffer, and even Marilyn Monroe, Mae West was an iconic actress and film star in Old Hollywood. Of course, that’s where you might be tempted to leave it at that, but West proved to be far more than just a pretty bad girl with an alluring bedroom appeal.
57. The Moving Pictures, You Say?
Surprisingly, West didn’t get into the movies until she was nearly 40 years old.
58. No Monkeying Around
True to her Hollywood diva roots, West owned an exotic pet: a chimpanzee named Coffee.
59. Whatever Works
Hollywood stars have some strange habits, but West’s regime was likely the most bizarre. To prepare for film roles, she often used enemas. She would reportedly take them in the morning, and she claimed that they improved her physical health. In true West fashion, she also commented that enemas resulted in her “smelling sweet at both ends.”
60. She’s Got the Beat
West’s iconic mug appears on the cover of The Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Hilariously, she was initially uninterested in the gig, and the iconic band had to beg her for the cameo. In fact, when they first asked, her response was unforgettable: “What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?” Excuse me while I find a mic to drop.
61. Cola Curves
Allegedly, West’s figure inspired the Coca-Cola bottle. Whether that’s true or not, the public certainly saw a connection. Because of the actress and bottle’s similar curves, they nicknamed Coke bottles “Mae West” bottles.
62. Bless Your Innocent Little Hearts
The 1930s’ Production Code had huge restrictions
and censorships, and they challenged West’s writing at nearly every turn. So West came up with an ingenious plan. Unleashing her inner imp, West would purposefully write in lines that she knew would provoke the censors. It didn’t matter if these lines didn’t make it—sticking it to the man was thanks enough for her.
63. Just Try Me
In 1926, West wrote, directed, produced, and starred in a play titled Sex. It was wildly successful, but came to an abrupt halt when New York City officers launched a raid and apprehended West, among others. Authorities charged West with obscenity and “corrupting the morals of youth” and sentenced her to either pay a fine or serve 10 days in prison.
West’s reply shocked everyone. Ever the one to buck trends, West proudly declared that she would go to prison for her art. That’s our Mae, everybody.
64. The Profane Angel
A director once dubbed Hollywood screen siren Carole Lombard “the profane angel” because of her angelic appearance and surprisingly filthy mouth. Needing a way to ward off unwanted advances from Hollywood “wolves,” as she called them, she had her brothers teach her some choice curse words, which she used whenever a man pushed his luck.
65. The Queen of Comedy
Many of the most popular films of the mid-1930s were screwball comedies, and Life magazine crowned Lombard “America’s Screwball Queen” for her ability to be beautiful and still play a clown.
66. Nothing at All
When Carole Lombard and Clark Gable starred together in the 1932 romantic drama No Man of Her Own, the on-screen chemistry didn’t continue off screen. She told her director “We did all kinds of hot love scenes…and I never got any kind of tremble out of him at all.” As we’ll see, these were some famous last words…
67. A Change of Heart
Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures, kept making passes at Lombard while she was filming Twentieth Century. To get rid of him once and for all, Lombard came up with an ingenious plan. She also roped in her director Howard Hawks, who more than happily obliged his star. One day while Hawks was in Cohn’s office, Lombard rushed in.
She then immediately started shouting, “I’ve decided to say yes!” and acted as if she was about to take off her clothes. Hawks feigned disgust at the spectacle, saying, “I’d better get out of here if this is the kind of studio you run,” and left. Cohn was so embarrassed, he asked Lombard to leave—and never bothered her again.
68. Once More, With Feeling
Comedy was not exactly Alfred Hitchcock’s forte, but he allegedly took the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith for the opportunity to work with Lombard. During the shoot, Lombard directed Hitchcock’s cameo—and gave the infamously persnickety auteur a taste of his own medicine. Even for the small part, she made him do the scene over and over.
69. You Want a Piece of Me?
Fredric March, Lombard’s co-star in Nothing Sacred, was infamous for hitting on his leading ladies. When he attempted to seduce Lombard, she gave him much more than he bargained for. She invited March into her dressing room, and as soon as she picked up her skirt, he was treated to the sight of an anatomically-correct intimate toy between her thighs. Not surprisingly, he left her alone after that!
70. Second Time’s the Charm
Four years after starring together in No Man of Her Own, Lombard and Clark Gable crossed paths again under different circumstances. They met again at the Mayfair ball and this time, there was a spark. Then, when Gable invited Lombard back to his hotel room that night, she gave a legendary response. She replied: “Who do you think you are, Clark Gable?”
71. Attached at the Hip
Despite the fact that Gable was still married at the time of their reunion, he and Lombard quickly only had eyes for each other. They tied the knot in 1939, and were almost inseparable until Lombard’s tragic end, never being apart for more than six days at a time.
72. A Cruel Twist of Fate
In 1942, tragedy struck. Lombard was flying back to Los Angeles from a trip to Indiana, where she had been selling bonds. Though the rest of the people in her party were terrified of flying and wanted to take the train, Lombard wanted to get home quickly and insisted on the faster route. Sadly, it would be her doom.
The plane crashed into a mountain, killing Lombard and everyone on board.
73. Your Cheating Heart
Though Lombard perished in the tragic plane crash, her husband Clark Gable may have had blood on his hands. According to recent revelations about the fateful trip, the couple had supposedly fought the night before, and Lombard was worried he was cheating. She demanded to go by plane so she could hurry home and save her marriage.
74. Eternal Grief
Gable never got over Lombard’s tragic end. After the crash, he became depressed, reckless, and suicidal, and enlisted in the US Air Force. Although he lived another 18 years and remarried twice after, he still wanted to be buried beside his true love, Lombard.
75. Zhuzh It up With Zsa Zsa
Long before the Kardashians became famous for being famous, that honor went to Zsa Zsa Gabor. While she was a noted actress in her prime, Gabor’s more lasting fame came from her scandalous socialite activities in the most elite circles of Old Hollywood. From her petty fights to her many marriages, Gabor’s personal life far overshadowed her career.
76. Nice to Meet You, Dahling
Gabor was famous for calling everyone “darling,” which her Hungarian accent turned into the drawling, sophisticated “dah-ling.” Of course, Gabor wasn’t just keeping up her elegant socialite persona: During one TV interview, she admitted her dirty little secret. She called everyone “dah-ling” because it was much easier than actually remembering people’s names.
77. Social Butterfly
Gabor was married to a whopping nine different men over the course of her life. Seven of these marriages ended in divorce, while another was annulled. But hey, maybe Zsa Zsa was just a hopeless romantic?
78. Bedroom Eyes
Gabor very consciously modeled her persona after some of the most saucy and scandalous historical mistresses. As one writer put it, “Zsa Zsa is unique. She’s a woman from the court of Louis XV who has somehow managed to live in the 20th century…She says she wants to be all the Pompadours and Du Barrys of history rolled into one.”
79. Born Comedian
Gabor wasn’t just a pretty face. She was famous for her razor-sharp wit, penchant for one-liners, and self-deprecating humor. On one occasion, when talking about her notorious love life, she quipped, “A girl must marry for love and keep on marrying until she finds it.” In a reference to her many divorces, she later joked, “I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house!”
80. Honeymoon Suite
Gabor always had expensive tastes, and she liked to find expensive men to keep the cash flowing. In 1942, she thought she’d found just the ticket: Conrad Hilton, founder of the famous (and swanky) Hilton Hotel chain. But it was far from happily ever after. The couple was married a handful of years, but called it quits in 1947.
81. Oh No, You Didn’t!
As with any self-respecting Old Hollywood bad girl, Gabor was involved in several feuds, but nothing compared to her spat with Elke Sommer. The fight began after the two actresses appeared on the annual television special Circus of the Stars. Reportedly, when Sommer watched Gabor mount a horse, she cattily muttered, “Poor horse.”
82. I’ll See You in Court
Eventually, the feud landed Gabor and Sommer in libel court. As it turned out, Gabor lost, and the court awarded Sommer a nice $3.3 million in damages. Upon hearing the verdict, Gabor’s response was chilling. She announced her intent to appeal and said bitterly, “I’d rather see her starve to death than give her one single dollar.”
83. Reckless Behavior
On June 14, 1989, officer Paul Kramer pulled over the elderly Gabor while she was driving a fancy Rolls-Royce. Not only was she driving without a license, there was also an open alcohol container in the car. But then Gabor made it so much worse. Instead of admitting any guilt, she slapped Kramer in the face and drove away from the traffic stop.
84. Not Getting off With a Warning
Three months later, Gabor was convicted of slapping Kramer, along with alcohol and license infractions. She had to pay a hefty fine and serve three days in jail for her bad behavior. That’s right, in 1990, a 72-year-old Gabor landed in the slammer.
85. The Peeler Pioneer
Fittingly for a woman nicknamed “The Cleavage Queen,” the buxom Jayne Mansfield was the first American actress to appear in the buff in a big American sound film. 1963’s Promises… Promises! made good on its threats and showed Mansfield in her birthday suit. Of course, it was then promptly banned in several American cities.
The canny Mansfield was the master of the “wardrobe malfunction.” Somehow, her (nip)slip-ups always happened at the perfect time for cameras to take pictures. One of the most infamous examples happened in 1955, when Mansfield attended a pool party while wearing an itsy-bitsy red bikini. When she dove into the pool, her top predictably came off.
87. Lies, All Lies
Despite gaining fame as a platinum blonde, Mansfield was naturally brunette.
88. Teen Mom
Jayne was no stranger to scandal, even from a young age. When she was just 17 years old, she married Paul Mansfield on May 6, 1950. But as she stood at the altar, she was hiding a dark secret. The teen girl was about three months pregnant, and she and Paul had a little daughter six months later in November of 1950. Sadly, the marriage didn’t last.
89. Round Two
In 1956, while Mansfield was still embroiled in her first divorce with Paul, she met bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay at a nightclub. Now, Hargitay wasn’t just any bodybuilder. He’d actually just won Mr. Universe the year before, and he was performing in Mae West‘s chorus line when Mansfield spotted him. Apparently, the moment they locked eyes, Mansfield went gaga.
90. A Clash of Titans
One person was certainly no fan of Mansfield’s crush on Hargitay: Mae West. The Hollywood starlet was enraged and jealous at Mansfield’s advances on her Adonis-like employee—and a legendary cat fight ensued. That same night, the two blondes quarrelled, and the fight ended with fellow chorus member Mr. California beating Hargitay up. Well, that’s one way to do a meet-cute.
91. Not Just a Pretty Face
Don’t be fooled by Mansfield’s reputation as an air-headed blonde. Her IQ was notably high, she was fluent in no fewer than five different languages; many called her “the smartest dumb blonde.” However, she often complained that the public didn’t care about her intellect, saying, “They’re more interested in 40–21–35″—her chest, waist, and hip measurements.
92. A Foreign Affair
Mansfield and Hargitay married in 1958, just after Mansfield’s divorce went through. But it was far from happily ever after. Though the couple had a popular entertainment career together, Mansfield engaged in several very high-profile affairs while married to Hargitay, including with successful producer Enrico Bomba.
93. Let’s Not Be Friends
Like her first marriage, Mansfield’s second try at love with Mickey Hargitay ended in bitter, dramatic divorce. In fact, when she and Hargitay went down to Juarez, Mexico to push through a quickie split, Mansfield cruelly brought along her new lover, the crooner Nelson Sardelli. Except that wasn’t even the worst part.
In a ploy to get more money, Mansfield also accused Hargitay of kidnapping one of her kids. Uh…
94. The Original Side-Eye
One of the most notorious pictures of Mansfield features a young Sophia Loren giving the actress some serious side-eye while Mansfield grins and poses for a picture in a (naturally) very low cut dress. People have wondered about the true meaning behind Loren’s look for years, and the Italian actress finally revealed the whole story.
Delightfully, it’s exactly what you think. The party that evening was supposed to be Loren’s official welcoming into Hollywood, but Mansfield apparently sauntered in late, sat down beside her, and tried to take the spotlight with her, er, assets. As Loren explains it, “[In the photo] I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow—BOOM!—and spill all over the table.”
95. Think Pink
A true girl’s girl, Mansfield was obsessed with the color pink. She dyed her poodle pink, drove around in a pink Cadillac, and she often drank pink champagne. This was actually a cunning business move: Mansfield had chosen her “signature color” as a branding act. In fact, she’d initially chosen purple—before realizing it was too close to actress Kim Novak‘s trademark lavender.
96. This Is the End
In the early morning hours of June 29, 1967, the last tragedy of Mansfield’s short life occurred. She was on her way to New Orleans with her driver, her attorney, and her children Miklos, Zoltan, and Mariska. At 2:25 am, their Buick slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer, killing the three adults instantly. Mansfield was only 34 years old.
97. Gory Details
When news broke of Mansfield’s tragic, violent end, wild rumors started flying. Legend had it that the actress was decapitated in the crash, with many pointing out that photos of the wreck showed her signature blonde hair pressed into the windshield. However, Mansfield actually succumbed to typical head trauma—the blonde object was her wig.
98. It Takes Two
Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe’s hourglass figures almost single-handedly started the breast craze in America; tastes before them leant toward slimmer and straighter women. In fact, Mansfield’s chest was so popular in the public conscious, talk show host Jack Parr once introduced her onto The Tonight Show by saying, “Here they are, Jayne Mansfield.”
99. Hilton and the Hungarian Hottie
When Zsa Zsa Gabor met Conrad Hilton on the Hollywood party circuit, he was immediately enamored with the voluptuous actress, who was 30 years his junior. But Hilton did have his suspicions: He thought that she was only interested in his fortune, so he came up with a cunning test. Apparently, one night, Hilton presented Gabor with two jewelry boxes—and made her choose.
One box held a gaudy, massive ring, and the other, a smaller, more refined sparkler. Gabor knew it was a test…so she chose the less expensive ring.
100. Tell-All Terror
In 1991, Gabor released her autobiography One Lifetime Is Not Enough. As you might imagine, some of the claims in the book are incredibly scandalous—but no one was prepared for her most disturbing revelation. In one chapter, Gabor reveals that her daughter Francesca Hilton was conceived through an act of non-consensual intimacy by Gabor’s then-husband Conrad Hilton.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50