The press lambasted these bombshell actresses as seductresses and heartless maneaters—but their victims still couldn’t resist. Like moths drawn to a flame, they went happily into the arms of screen sirens. But what were the private lives of Eartha Kitt, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, and their seductive sisters really like? Read on to find out.
Hollywood Maneaters Facts
Elizabeth Taylor, The Queen Of Hollywood
As an Old Hollywood icon, Elizabeth Taylor exuded glitz and glamor. Her classic turn as Cleopatra only cemented what her fans already suspected: Elizabeth Taylor was royalty. Her scandalous love life filled the pages of gossip mags for a reason. With a whopping eight marriages under her belt, Taylor was the maneater.
In 1950, Taylor walked down the aisle for the first time when she married hotel heir Conrad Hilton Jr. The couple divorced just three months later, after a lengthy European honeymoon, citing irreconcilable differences. Behind closed doors, the real truth came out. Taylor was horrified by Hilton’s “gambling, drinking, and abusive behavior.”
Divide and Conquer
Next up: Michael Wilding. Taylor soon sunk her claws into this British actor, despite their extreme age difference. Wilding was a whopping 20 years older than Taylor, though it looks like he was the immature one in their relationship. According to some sources, they broke up when Taylor discovered that Wilding had hired, um, female entertainers while Taylor was away. Yikes.
Her Lost Love
After divorcing Michael Wilding in 1957, Taylor hurried down the aisle with her next conquest: Mike Todd. Todd was a famous, high-powered producer who loved spectacles: for Elizabeth’s birthday, he rented Madison Square Garden, invited 18,000 party guests, and had the whole thing broadcast on CBS.
But just a year later, tragedy struck when Todd died in a plane crash. In the years to come, Taylor described him as one of the three loves of her life, alongside Richard Burton and, we think this one is a joke, her jewellery. Taylor’s marriage to Todd was her only union that didn’t end in divorce.
The Other Woman
Mere hours after Hollywood heartthrob Eddie Fisher divorced America’s sweetheart Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor did the impossible. She didn’t walk but practically pranced down the aisle with him. And that’s not even the worst part. Before Taylor stole Fisher, Taylor and Debbie Reynolds were best friends. Imagine the scandal over Brangelina, and then dial it up a few more notches: That’s how big of a deal this was.
Now That’s Acting
Taylor and Fisher definitely shared a fiery passion. When they made the movie BUtterfield 8, Fisher claimed that husband and wife were so freaky that he and Taylor actually had sex during a lovemaking scene for the movie. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who you ask), the scene was cut from the final film.
Lucrative Love Life
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton met on the infamously troubled set of Cleopatra. Not only was the movie so expensive that it drove 20th Century Fox into bankruptcy, but even worse, it saw Taylor engage in yet another major Hollywood scandal. The film’s stars fell in love and began seeing each other—even though they both already had spouses.
Bacall Was Not A Fan
When Lauren Bacall was asked about Burton’s affair with Elizabeth Taylor, she replied with a vicious insult. The screen legend quipped, “Richard’s values were not very good and I don’t think his standards were either.” Ouch. Gonna need some ice for that burn, Burton and Taylor.
Thou Shall Not
When the press leaked pictures of Taylor and Burton getting hot and heavy on the beach, the fallout was swift and devastating. Both stars were married to other people, leading the Vatican to condemn them for “erotic vagrancy.”
Liz and Dick
After Taylor met Richard Burton, it was only a matter of time before she split from Eddie Fisher. In 1964, she dumped him and, in an iconic move, somehow rekindled her friendship with the woman she’d spurned: Debbie Reynolds. While Reynolds and Taylor managed to patch things up, Fisher and Taylor definitely didn’t. After their split, they never spoke again.
Burton and Taylor are one of cinema’s most iconic duos for a reason: After all, how many couples can say they got married, then divorced, then married again? In one of their on-again periods, Burton even bought Taylor a 69-carat diamond that was once considered the most valuable in the world. Despite the ice, the couple called it quits for the last time and divorced (again) in 1976. Well, kind of…
Partners in Life and Art, but not Death
When Elizabeth Taylor passed away, many people wondered if she would be buried near her beloved Burton, even though they weren’t together at the time of either one’s death. Understandably, Burton’s actual widow Sally Hay made darn sure that wouldn’t happen. Hay bought the plot surrounding Burton’s grave, but she went even further.
Hay put a massive gravestone across both plots, with many believing she was marking her territory. Taylor wasn’t going to pull a final diva manoeuvre on Hay’s watch.
In addition to her many marriages, Taylor had brief flings with a, shall we say, diverse group of public figures. Her former boyfriends include actors Peter O’Toole, Mickey Rooney, and Rod Steiger, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, and glam rock icon David Bowie.
Eartha Kitt, The Wicked Minx
Eartha Kitt was a sex symbol who blazed the path for countless Black singers and actresses. Her slinky portrayal of Catwoman made history immediately, as did her famous, seductive renditions of songs like “Santa Baby” and “I Want To Be Evil.” Eartha Kitt purred and prowled her way to the top…and en route, she definitely had her fun with Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs. Get it, Eartha.
Earth Kitt said that she had an intimate encounter with James Dean and Paul Newman…at the same time. Understandably, she referred to it as “one of the most celestial experiences of my life” and also added that “white boys are delicious.” All I can say is, All Hail Eartha Kitt.
Big Ticket Lovers
Before her marriage to a real estate investor named John W. McDonald, Kitt enjoyed romances with big time breadwinners. Among her elite past lovers were the cosmetics magnate Charles Revson, the banking heir John Barry Ryan III, and the millionaire playboy Porifirio Rubirosa. Rubirosa shed some light on just how Kitt made men wild: She was “fire and ice.” In Kitt’s own words, she “loved teasing men.” They clearly loved it too.
Prostrated to Silence
In a 1989 interview with TV host Terry Wogan, Kitt was asked, “You’re always perceived as a wicked female, aren’t you?” Kitt shot back by purring, “No, I’m not, but who’s going to believe me?” She then flirtatiously slid her foot across Wogan’s lap on live TV and said, “Oh Mr. Wogan, how wicked do you think I am?” You can watch the saucy clip here.
Can’t Touch This
According to Kitt’s autobiography, Confessions of a Sex Kitten, she had an affair with Orson Welles during her stage days. However, this relationship was never consummated. According to Kitt, “The most exciting men in my life have been the men who have never taken me to bed.” For his part, Welles described Kitt as “the most exciting woman on Earth.”
Gloria Grahame, The Forgotten Temptress
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 box office poison, it’s time to remember Gloria Grahame, Hollywood’s most scandalous temptress.
Fourth Time’s the Charm
Grahame’s love life was often as troubled as her professional career. She was married no less than four times, with only one of her marriages lasting much longer than four years.
A Ray of Light
Grahame’s most high-profile—and most notorious—marriage was to film director Nicholas Ray, who directed the actress in her 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.
Not Without My Wife
Initially, the producers of In a Lonely Place were looking at Lauren Bacall (as per star Humphrey Bogart’s request) to play the lead femme fatale, but Nicholas Ray insisted that they cast his wife Grahame—despite the fact that their marriage was in very troubled waters. Spoiler: This all went horrifically.
30. Sign on the Dotted Line
If Grahame and Ray’s marriage was on the rocks by the time they were starting to shoot In a Lonely Place, it completely fell apart by the end of it. Ray was reportedly controlling and aggressive with Grahame on set, and even forced her to sign a bizarre, disturbing Hollywood contract in order to work with him.
In it, she had to agree that “my husband shall be entitled to direct, control, advise, instruct and even command my actions during the hours from 9 AM to 6 PM, every day except Sunday.” She then further acknowledged in writing that “in every conceivable situation his will and judgment shall be considered superior to mine and shall prevail.” All I can say is: YIKES.
Stay Together for the Film
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Ray and Grahame separated while In a Lonely Place was still in production, though they tried to keep it hush-hush. Terrified that one or both of them would get the boot, Ray started sleeping in a dressing room under the guise of working on the script, while Grahame played along and acted like nothing was wrong.
For all the dramatics while filming In a Lonely Place, the reason for Grahame and Ray’s final, official divorce is even darker—and like something out of one of their hardboiled movies. 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.
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.
The Tijuana wedding wasn’t to everybody’s tastes. Cy Howard, one of Grahame’s bevy of ex-husbands, was so incensed and disturbed by the union that he went to great lengths to punish Grahame. He charged her with being an unfit mother. Both he and Nicholas Ray soon entered into a long, protracted legal battle with the star over the custody rights of their children.
Get Outta Town
Though Grahame and Anthony kept their forbidden love under wraps for years, their secret leaked in 1962. The revelation ignited a blaze of tabloid speculation and scandal-mongering, with widespread denouncements of the union. Almost overnight, Gloria Grahame’s fading Hollywood star turned into total box office poison. By 1964, Grahame was so distressed that she submitted herself to electroshock therapy.
In it to Win It
Grahame and Anthony Ray’s relationship lasted just shy of 14 years, and it was her longest marriage by far. They only divorced in May 1974.
Josephine Baker, The Black Pearl of Paris
Often referred to as the Beyoncé of the 1920s, Josephine Baker lived a dozen lives in her one lifetime. The African-American singer made France her home, rising to stardom for her legendary dance moves, sultry voice, and vaudeville humor. But why doesn’t history talk more about the “Black Pearl” of Paris? What was the deal with her many marriages? Did men literally tear each other apart for her favor? Which big names in art and history did she rub elbows—and other things—with?
It sounds like a tale of medieval chivalry, but it’s true: two men duelled over Baker’s honor in 1928. While staying in Budapest, Baker was ogled and accosted by Andrew Czlovoydi, a Hungarian Calvary Captain. Baker’s manager, Count Pepito di Albertini, would not tolerate such ignoble behavior towards his Josephine, so he challenged Czlovoydi to a duel by sword.
Baker cheered on from her seat atop a tombstone as the suitors sparred in a local cemetery for 10 straight minutes. She did, however, put an end to the fight as soon as Albertini took a shoulder injury. In the name of their beloved lady, the men agreed to wrap things up.
There Can Only Be Four
It’s said that Josephine Baker received more than 1,500 proposals from men over the course of her life. That makes it all the more impressive that she got married only four times.
Playing for Both Teams
Baker’s bisexuality was an open secret. She entertained several female lovers and sang them odes in songs like “J’ai Deux Amours” (“I Have Two Loves”). For years, this song has been interpreted as “Oh, she’s talking about her love for both America and France.” But as time went on, people like Jean-Claude Baker, her biographer and adopted son, saw the subtext (and sexuality) for what it was.
Baker started her temptress cred early, walking down the aisle for the first time at just 13 years old. The groom’s name was Willie Wells and the young lovers’ marriage lasted for barely a year. The teenage Baker rebounded from her divorce by joining the Jones Family Band and marrying someone else…just two years later.
Who Needs Alimony?
At the age of 15, Josephine married her second husband Willie Baker. Although they divorced just four years later, she would keep Willie’s last name for the rest of her professional life.
In Business and In Bed
Baker’s manager, Giuseppe Pepito Abatino, passed himself off as a noble count but in reality, he was just a former stonemason from Sicily who had the hots for his client, Josephine Baker. While Abatino proposed marriage, Baker was still married to her second husband at the time. But hey, what’s a little fun on the side? With her ring firmly on her finger, Baker quickly embarked on an affair with her manager.
All the Ladies
No one could resist Baker’s charms. The showgirl had same-sex affairs with performers like Evelyn Sheppard, Bessie Allison, Ada Smith, and Mildred Smallwood. But Frida Kahlo is perhaps the most famous of Baker’s (rumored) female lovers. The Mexican artist met Baker on a 1939 visit to Paris. Awkwardly, Kahlo’s possessive husband was traveling with his wife at the time. Don’t hate the player, Diego, hate the game.
Hedy Lamarr, The Brilliant Bombshell
Hedy Lamarr was the perfect combination of beauty and brains: By day, she was a glamorous movie star, by night, the mastermind of a scientific revolution. With her collaborator, George Antheil, Lamarr developed groundbreaking technology that led to wi-fi, all while looking absolutely drop dead gorgeous.
Talk about an entrance: Lamarr became a sensation in 1933 with her turn in Ecstasy. Though fairly tame by modern standards, the film caused scandals around the world. Ecstasy was the very first film to depict not just an intimate scene, but a female orgasm. The scandal intensified when reporters discovered that Lamarr was only 17 when the movie was filmed.
Ecstasy was banned in the United States, denounced by the Pope himself, and in time, forbidden by Hitler.
Flirting with Fascists
Despite her Jewish heritage, Lamarr married a fascist in 1933 when she was just 19 years old. Friedrich “Fritz” Mandl, a munitions manufacturer, was one of the richest men in Austria. While Lamarr had already been raised Christian by her Catholic convert mother, even this wasn’t enough for Mandl. When they married, he demanded that Lamarr officially convert.
It may go without saying that Lamarr’s parents, especially her dad, did not approve of the match.
My Best Friend’s Girl
Among his many other faults, Mandl was intensely jealous. After his marriage to Lamarr, he travelled Europe, buying and destroying every copy of Ecstasy that he could find. He’s reported to have spent modern-day millions on his quest to eliminate the movie, but even with all that cash, Mandl failed. The movie was such a sensation that even Mandl’s friends refused to part with their copies. After all this time, you can still watch the movie today. Take that, Mandl.
A Clean Getaway
Eventually, Mandl’s jealous, controlling behavior became too much for young Lamarr. When enough was enough, the actress fled Austria after she hatched a brilliant plan. Lamarr claims that she disguised herself as a maid and escaped to Paris, where she finally got a divorce from her awful first husband. Other sources insist that Lamarr did something that’s maybe even more impressive: the story goes that Lamarr wore all of her expensive jewels to a dinner event, and then ran off into the night.
Seeing the Future
It’s shocking, but it turns out that being married to a Fascist isn’t actually very nice. The wedding to Mandl was a bust by every measure but at the the very least, Lamarr enjoyed one silver lining. Because he was so jealous, Mandl insisted that Lamarr accompany him to business meetings. In other words, Lamarr spent many hours listening to some of Europe’s top scientists discuss cutting edge applied science. Lamarr later went on to invent the foundation of wifi technology. Mandl, on the other hand, went into exile. Boy, bye.
Better as Business Partners
Hedy Lamarr described Howard Hughes as “the worst lover she ever had.” But everyone loves a man who collects his own urine!
Here Comes the Bride, Again
Between 1939 and 1963, Lamarr married five times. Authors, naval officers, actors, musicians, oil magnates…Lamarr went for ’em all. After four of her unions went up in flames, Lamarr lived out Charlotte’s plot in Sex and the City and married her own dang divorce lawyer in 1963. After even they couldn’t make it work, Lamarr gave up on marriage for good.
Hedy Lamarr and her divorce lawyer/husband, Lewis J. Boies
Lady on the Town
Outside of her marriages, Lamarr dated Charlie Chaplin and the famous director Billy Wilder. She also posed topless for the notorious lesbian photographer Trude Fleischman, leading some critics to speculate that the actress was bisexual. In her contentious autobiography, Lamarr claimed, but then denied, that she had relationships with women and participated in some kinky, 50 Shades-adjacent activities.
When Lamarr was married to one of her many husbands, Gene Markey, she adopted a son named James. Then, when Lamarr walked down the aisle with John Loder, her new hubby put in the paperwork to officially adopt James as his own. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but Lamarr’s dealings hid her biggest secret…
James and his movie star mother had a sudden, mysterious falling out when James was just 12 years old. In the end, the child went to live with another family. Tragically, mother and son never spoke again.
In 2001, Hedy Lamarr’s son dropped a bombshell: James Lamarr Loder hadn’t just been adopted by John Loder. A birth certificate proved that he was, in fact, the biological son of Lamarr and Loder. It turns out that James was born out of wedlock while Lamarr was still married to Gene Markey. The actress merely pretended that he was adopted. If that isn’t good old fashioned Hollywood drama, I don’t know what is.
Mae West, The Original Blonde Bombshell
Long before the likes of Rihanna, Michelle Pfeiffer, and even Marilyn Monroe, Mae West was an iconic female sex symbol and film star in Old Hollywood. One might be tempted to leave it at that, but West was far more than just a pretty face. She was also one of the most controversial celebrities of her time. She said it best, “When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.”
Lady Mae West, Beatles at her Feet
There’s an incredible story behind Mae West’s surprising appearance on the cover of the Beatles’ famous album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Apparently, when West heard that the band wanted her to pose, she said no. Her explanation? The sultry starlet merely asked, “What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?” Excuse us while we find a mike to drop.
Husband? What Husband?
In 1911, a 17-year-old West got married to fellow vaudevillian Frank Wallace. The couple would never live together, however, and West spent years denying that she’d even married Wallace in the first place. Clearly, a pesky little thing like a husband wasn’t going to get in West’s way of fun and stardom. A legal divorce wasn’t carried out until 1943, fully 32 years later.
At the age of 61, West began a relationship with Paul Novak, who acted as one of the muscle men appearing in her Las Vegas show. Despite being 30 years younger than West, Novak would continue his relationship with West until her dying day.
Look at All Those Popped Monocles!
One of the most shocking acts in West’s career was also her first starring role on Broadway. In 1926, West wrote, directed, produced, and starred in a controversial play titled Sex. As if the title wasn’t shocking enough for the 1920s, the content also led to conservative critics denouncing the piece and religious groups voicing complaints. The show, meanwhile, was highly attended, with more than 375 performances!
Just Try Me!
Despite the wild success of West’s play, Sex’s run came to an abrupt halt when New York City police officers launched a raid in the winter of 1927 and arrested West. She was charged with obscenity and “corrupting the morals of youth.” She was sentenced to either pay a fine or serve ten days in prison. Ever the one to buck the trend, West proudly declared that she would go to prison for her art.
Queen of the Jail
West’s decision to go to prison wasn’t just about standing for her art. She was also fully aware of the publicity that would come with this decision. Her efforts were duly rewarded, and she had a ball playing it up. During her time in prison, West alleged, she had worn her silk panties rather than the standard prison clothes.
Rita Hayworth, The Ultimate Femme Fatale
Rita Hayworth was one of Hollywood’s biggest, most beautiful stars of the 1940s—they called her the “Goddess of Love”—but in real life, Hayworth suffered in the romance department. She may have played the sizzling Gilda and been the first Hollywood star to marry into a royal family, but it was hardly a fairy tale.
The Darkest of Knights
Rita Hayworth’s father Eduardo Cansino was desperate for his daughter to get famous in Hollywood. After her first contract with 20th Century Fox quickly dissolved, Cansino took his chances and risked it all. He hired a sleazy promoter named Edward Judson to get his daughter another contract. Judson proved to be the exact opposite of Hayworth’s knight in shining armor.
Seven Years of Bad Luck
In hindsight, Judson’s arrival was more of a curse than a blessing. Judson practically owned the young Hayworth. Under his orders, the starlet started to dress more provocatively. She dyed her black hair its now trademark shade of red. She changed her freaking name, with Margarita Cansino going by the now-iconic moniker Rita Hayworth.
Hayworth even altered her hairline—through torturous rounds of electrolysis—to reshape her face. After enduring all this, Hayworth landed a seven-year contract, with Columbia Pictures.
First—and Tied for the Worst—Husband
After all the pain brought on Hayworth by Judson, we’d expect Hayworth to never want to see him again. Instead, she fell in a twisted kind of love. Hayworth eloped with Judson even though he was a whopping 22 years older than her. But that’s not the worst part. Judson frequently pressured Hayworth into becoming intimate with studio executives to ‘advance’ her career.
She Got Mature, and Brought Mature
When Hayworth was 23 years old, she starred in the movie Blood and Sand. The film was successful, crowning Hayworth as a new, young starlet. Gaining a degree of confidence, and maturity, Hayworth decided to walk out on first husband, Edward Judson. Ever the gentleman, Judson threatened to disfigure Hayworth’s face if she left him. But Hayworth wasn’t afraid. She had brought back-up—a tough-guy actor, named Victor Mature, who was her lover at that time.
Welles Fell for Her
Famed actor, writer-director, and producer, Orson Welles caught a glimpse of a famous pin-up picture of Rita in Life magazine. He fell for the ravishing redhead immediately. They married in 1943, but, within a year, their love affair ended for a tragic reason. Welles realized that Hayworth wasn’t the ‘Love Goddess’ she portrayed in films. Instead, she was an insecure, scarred woman.
Hayworth knew it too. In a devastatingly sad interview, she said “Men go to bed with Gilda, and they wake up with me.”
Hayworth really knew how to pick em. For a brief time, she was married to a film producer named James Hill. While at dinner with Charlton Heston, Hill was so viciously cruel to Hayworth that Heston and his wife stood up and left. In his autobiography, Heston wrote that he always regretted walking away from Hayworth in her time of need.
Pursued by a Prince
Hayworth’s third marriage brought her the closest to a fairy tale. Prince Aly Khan, as he was known, was a fabulously rich playboy and adventurer whose family owned a pricey stable of racehorses. Khan had a private movie theatre in his palatial residence on the Riviera, and his favorite film, in 1948, was Gilda…starring Rita Hayworth.
After watching the film numerous times, Khan was hooked. There was just one problem: he was still legally married to his first wife—but that was a trifling matter, to the Prince.
Four Year Itch
Hayworth married Khan in 1949, and gave birth to their daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, in December of that year. The marriage barely lasted until 1953. Although Khan professed to be deeply in love, his chilling actions suggested otherwise. He was never faithful and may have had an affair with Hayworth’s rival Joan Fontaine.
On top of this, Hayworth’s temper tantrums—caused by their unstable home life and the residue of Haywood’s childhood trauma—were epic. Hayworth married two more times in her life, but never successfully, or for long.
A Shocking Case of Cold Feet
Hayworth always said that Orson Welles was her greatest love. Right before her 1949 wedding to Prince Aly Khan, Hayworth cried out to Welles, begging him to see her. Welles arrived at her hotel to a startling sight. He found Hayworth’s room lit with candles and his ex-wife in a sensual negligee. She pleaded with him to remarry her, and Welles had to calm her down, sadly convincing her that it would never work. Welles apparently remained haunted by the tragedy of Hayworth’s life for as long as he lived.
The Secret Destroyed Her Life
Why did Hayworth keep marrying such awful men? The horrible truth came out when Hayworth’s biographer interviewed her great love Orson Welles. In a heartbreaking interview, Welles revealed that Hayworth had an unwilling, incestuous relationship with her own father. Welles admitted that Hayworth had confided her terrible secret to him during their marriage.
Ginger Rogers, The Dancing Queen
Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer, and singer who was best known for her on-screen partnership with Fred Astaire in a series of movie musicals throughout the 1930s. After a difficult childhood, Rogers eventually became a Hollywood superstar—complete with scandalous relationships, an Academy Award, and plenty of behind-the-scenes drama.
Ginger and Pepper
Before Ginger Rogers famously danced with Fred Astaire, she partnered with vaudeville dancer, singer, comedian, and musician Jack Culpepper. At just 17 years old, Rogers and Culpepper fell head over heels and said “I do.” Culpepper’s mother was furious, which perhaps led to the teenagers’ hasty divorce. Rogers’ first marriage only lasted two months.
And The Jack Came Back
Ginger had a thing for guys named Jack. After a brief marriage to the actor Lew Ayres, Rogers moved onto her third husband Jack Briggs, a handsome US Marine who had been an actor before going off to war. When that fizzled out, Rogers tied the knot with a French actor named Jacques Bergerac. He seemed like a perfect match, but the couple was hiding a dark secret.
Bergerac was a whopping 16 years younger than his new bride, and she managed him a little like a mother would control her son. Rogers got Bergerac his first screen test, leading him to a brief career in Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, the mismatched couple didn’t last long. But Rogers’ most scandalous relationship was yet to come…
The American aviator/filmmaker Howard Hughes loved very little outside of money, movies, airplanes, and women—but boy did he love women! He met Rogers in 1932 while dancing at the Coconut Grove club (with another woman, natch). Their relationship was on-again/off-again for years, with the pair getting engaged in 1940, and Hughes promising to build her a mansion on Los Angeles’s Cahuenga Peak.
Jekyll and Hyde
The love affair between Hughes and Rogers soured pretty quickly once his true colors started to show. He started ordering her to be available to him at all times, and she was certain that he had tapped her phones and was following her to keep tabs on her behavior. He even tried to regulate how much time she could spend talking to her mother. Needless to say, warning bells were going off.
Rogers finally broke it off with Hughes when she went to visit him in the hospital after a car crash. As she tended to her lover, her jaw dropped: he tried to blame the accident on her! He said it was her fault since he’d only driven into traffic because she made him angry by refusing to go to the dentist with him.
Enough was enough. Rogers told him that she knew he’d been cheating, gave him back his jewelry (including the engagement ring) and ended things right there. It was the last time she ever saw him, and the first time, according to Noah Dietrich, anyone had seen him cry. Honestly, he had it coming.
Brigitte Bardot, The French Temptress
With great beauty comes great controversy—as in the case with Brigitte Bardot, cinema darling of the French New Wave. As a model, actress, and singer, Bardot was the European sex symbol from the 1950s to 70s. With four marriages and countless flings to her name, she’s gone down in Hollywood history as a blonde bombshell for the ages.
When she was a young actress, Bardot desperately wanted to book a role in a film by the esteemed director Marc Allégret. She didn’t succeed, but the man who informed her that she didn’t get the part would turn out to play a huge part in Bardot’s life. The studio lackie was the soon-to-be-famous erotic auteur Roger Vadim. Bardot fell instantly in love, but she didn’t realize that their romance would end in scandal.
Stay in Touch?
According to Bardot, her first marriage to Roger Vadim broke down as a result of Vadim’s trysts…with other men. Not to be outdone by her husband, Bardot embarked on an affair of her own. She got it on with her And God Created Woman co-star, Jean-Louis Trintignant. Unsurprisingly, she and Vadim officially divorced in after less than five years of marriage. With her first wedding under her belt, Bardot was back on the prowl.
Short Turnover Time
While both were still married to other people, Bardot dated her And God Created Men co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant for two years. Unfortunately, the relationship barely lasted a year after her divorce from Roger Vadim. What got in the way this time? Trintignant’s military service and Bardot’s other love affair, with the musician Gilbert Bécaud.
No Way Out
1958 was a tough year for Brigitte Bardot. Her divorce from Roger Vadim was quickly followed up by a break-up with her sidepiece of two years, Jean-Louis Trintignant. The double-loss led to rumors of a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide, although her public relations team vigorously denied the claims.
Easy to Replace
In 1967, Bardot and her then-boyfriend Serge Gainsbourg wrote and recorded the notoriously steamy love song, “Je t’aime… moi non plus.” Bardot was married to a powerful man at the time, who refused to let the single be released. Bardot begged Gainsbourg not to let the song out, but soon enough, Bardot awoke to a brutal betrayal. Gainsbourg had re-recorded the song with his new girlfriend Jane Birkin and it became a huge hit. Ouch.
Business with Pleasure
Bardot has been romantically attached to singer Serge Gainsbourg, writer John Gilmore, and actor Warren Beatty. She also dated Laurent Vergez, her co-star in Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman… which, in a very awkward twist, was directed by her first-ex husband. We can’t say she casts a wide net.
Would a Rose by Any Other Name Mess Up Your Lawn?
In 1966, Bardot married her third husband, the German millionaire playboy, Gunter Sachs, who was the heir to one of Germany’s biggest automobile suppliers. The industrialist gave Bardot a Hollywood courtship, flying over her French home via helicopter and dropping dozens of roses onto her property. Sweet, but maybe it wasn’t worth the clean up: Bardot and Sachs divorced just three years later, in 1969.
She Found Mr. Far Right
Bardot’s current (and fourth) husband is a notorious name in right-wing politics. He is none other than Bernard d’Ormale, former advisor to Jean-Marie Le Pen, AKA the former leader of France’s far-right party, National Front.
Janet Leigh, The Original Scream Queen
After her iconic performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Janet Leigh cemented herself in Hollywood history. Yet for all this icy blonde’s good looks and acting chops, her life was full of more drama and tragedy than her thrilling films. Pull back that shower curtain and jump into the twisted romantic life of Janet Leigh.
Second Time’s the Harm
The actress was always in love with love, but that didn’t mean she was good at it. Before she was 23 years old, Leigh had already gone through not one, but two husbands. When she was only 15, she married John Kenneth Carlisle and annulled the nuptials within months. Then, when she was eighteen, she married sailor Stanley Reames, only to divorce him four years later.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
Like just about every starlet in Hollywood at the time, Leigh once had a creepy brush with the infamous eccentric and lothario Howard Hughes. Unlike most actresses, Leigh was supremely unimpressed. She recalled how “over-attentive” he was, noting, “He was twice my age and, besides, I was dating someone else. He made me uncomfortable.”
Then she added, “Subsequently, I got to know him better, which made me even more nervous.” Whew, somebody call the burn unit. MAN DOWN.
Leigh’s most high profile romance was with fellow superstar Tony Curtis, and magazines fell over themselves to cover their love life. Yet when it came time to marry, the studio heads had a disturbing response. These bozos tried to talk Curtis out of it for three full days, telling him he would become “box office poison” if he got married.
Run Away With Me
In order to get away from the meddling studio, Curtis and Leigh eloped together on June 4, 1951. They got a local judge in Greenwich, Connecticut to perform the ceremony, and their good friend Jerry Lewis was present as a witness during the intimate affair. Box office poison, my butt.
Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis may have been the power couple of 1950s Hollywood, but they were doomed to a heartbreaking end. In 1962, after more than a decade of marriage, Curtis served divorce papers to his wife while she was on the set of The Manchurian Candidate. Not exactly a way I’d want to receive news like that…
Make It Go Away
Though Curtis and Leigh put on a brave face for the press after their split, inside Leigh was broken. Just days after their legal separation, someone reportedly found her passed out in a coma on the floor of her hotel bathroom. Driven to the brink, the actress had apparently overdosed on pills to numb the pain.
Zsa Zsa Gabor, The Hollywood Dahling
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, the Hungarian-born 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.
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?
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.” As we’ll see, Zsa Zsa accomplished her mission.
Gabor wasn’t just a pretty face. She was known 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!”
Hilton and the Hungarian Hottie
Gabor met the ultra-wealthy hotel heir Conrad Hilton on the Hollywood party circuit. Hilton was enamored of the voluptuous Gabor—who was 30 years his junior, but he had his suspicions about Gabor. He thought that she was only interested in his fortune. Apparently, one night, Hilton presented Gabor with two jewelry boxes—and made her choose between them.
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.
Sugar daddy meets sugar baby sounds like a winning formula, but a happy marriage was not in the cards for Hilton and Gabor. The couple called it quits in 1947 after a few years of marriage. Years later, Gabor revealed the horrible truth about their relationship.
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 only daughter Francesca Hilton was conceived through an act of non-consensual sex by Gabor’s then-husband Conrad Hilton.
There’s Something About Georgia
That wasn’t the only secret that Gabor spilled in her book. She also revealed that Hilton ended her freedom and her identity. According to Gabor, Hilton renamed her Georgia because he apparently couldn’t pronounce her name. He also made her sleep in a different bedroom, and he strictly controlled her spending habits. But Gabor used her maneating wiles to get her revenge: Gabor also claimed that she had an affair with Hilton’s eldest son, Conrad “Nicky” Hilton.
Keeping It Symmetrical
One of Gabor’s many husbands was Oscar-winning British actor and singer-songwriter George Sanders. Like many of Gabor’s relationships, their love was incredibly passionate but also incredibly volatile. They married on April 2nd, 1949 and divorced exactly five years later to the day, on April 2nd, 1954. Really, it’d be poetic if it wasn’t so sad.
Maybe Sanders never quite got over Zsa Zsa, because in 1970, he did something truly perverse. He married her older sister Magda after a whirlwind romance. Unfortunately, this union was just as ill-fated as his other foray into the Gabor family: they divorced after a mere 32 days, and the split even quickly drove Sanders into an alcoholic bender.
Hard to Find the One
Maybe bad luck in the romance department ran in the Gabor family. Collectively, the three Gabor sisters were divorced a whopping 18 times.
The “Still Counts” Of Prince Charmings
Gabor’s mother Jolie may have married a count, but Gabor did her one better and married a prince—sort of. Zsa Zsa’s ninth and final husband was Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, a German-American entrepreneur whose real name was Hans Lichtenberg. Rather bizarrely, in 1980, the deposed Princess Marie-Auguste of Anhalt adopted Frederic as an adult when he was a ripe 36 years old.
Though he was never an official royal, he liked to style himself “Prince Frédéric of Anhalt, Duke of Saxony and Westphalia, Count of Ascania.” So in the end: Zsa Zsa Gabor got her prince.
Joan Crawford, The Queen of the Feud
Joan Crawford was one of the biggest stars in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Her sultry beauty, bold fashion, and powerful performances won adoration from film critics and audiences alike. But she was also known for her eccentric off-screen behavior, like her long-simmering feud with Bette Davis, her four tumultuous marriages, and her germaphobia.
Not the Girl Next Door
Crawford was infamous for once quipping about her glamorous looks and prickly personality, “If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.”
When Joan Crawford was a young, up and coming actress, she made a splash by saying “I do” to a member of Hollywood royalty: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., the son of the iconic director Douglas Fairbanks and the legendary silent film actress Mary Pickford. Unfortunately for young Douglas and his blushing bride, the Fairbanks parents were deeply opposed to the match. They refused to attend the wedding and when Crawford came over, Pickford would get up and leave the room. Yikes.
Pick Yourself Up and Try Again
Unsurprisingly, things didn’t work out between Crawford and Fairbanks Jr. Soon after they split, she shacked up with her co-star, the French hunk Franchot Tone. Crawford thought she’d found her guy, but she was so, so wrong. After two difficult miscarriages, the couple began to fall apart. Tone turned to drink and began to be abusive. In the end, he cleaned up his act, but not before Crawford said goodbye.
So Fresh and So Clean
Crawford’s obsessive cleanliness reared its pristine head even in her bedroom affairs. In his memoirs, Kirk Douglas recalled a particularly disturbing and bizarre romantic encounter when the two stars once went back to Crawford’s house. In the middle of the act, Douglas reports, Crawford leaned in and murmured into his ear—but it was far from sweet nothings.
“You’re so clean,” she said. “It’s wonderful that you shaved your armpits when you made Champion.” As Douglas put it, her passionate outburst was “a real conversation stopper.”
In 1978, Christina released a tell-all book entitled Mommie Dearest, which described her fraught relationship with her mother. Her claims are deeply unsettling. Christina alleged that she and her brother Christopher were both victims of emotional and physical abuse by Crawford. The book caused a huge sensation, and it quickly topped the bestsellers list.
Mom the Miser
Crawford adopted a brood of four children, doting on each of them and lavishing them with many gifts. When she died in 1977, they were heartbroken—until the contents of her will revealed the dark truth. Though she left two of her children a small sum of money, she infamously shut out her two other children entirely from an inheritance.
As she said, “It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son, Christopher, or my daughter, Christina, for reasons which are well known to them.”
Sources A: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 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, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100
Sources B: 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192