There are dazzling leading men in Hollywood, and then there are bad boys. From Clark Gable’s infamous dalliances to Dennis Hopper’s mind-boggling rebellions, these actors defined a golden age that was lawless, hard-partying, and oh-so seductive. Read on for the scandalous exploits of these infamous Hollywood bad boys.
Clark Gable: The Dark King of Hollywood
Clark Gable didn’t become a five-times-married “King of Hollywood” without stepping on a few “peasants.” As the foremost leading man of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Gable is best remembered for his role as the dashing Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. To those close to him, however, he was much more complicated, ambitious, and lustful…and he ended up paying the price.
1. Ladies’ Man at Birth
Born on February 1, 1901, in Cadiz, Ohio, “William Clark Gable” was mistakenly registered as a baby girl at birth because of the the attending doctor’s bad handwriting. Few would make that mistake about manly-man Gable again. Yet this small mishap foretold of even bigger misfortunes for the little baby Clark…
2. One Big Unhappy Family
Just 10 months after his birth, Gable was struck by a tragedy that affected him for the rest of his life. He lost his mother to either a brain tumor or an epileptic fit. The young Gable would shuffle between his Protestant maternal family, his Catholic father, and a stepmother who gave the future actor his early education in gentlemanly graces.
3. What’s Less Manly Than Love?
While Rhett Butler of Gone With the Wind became Gable’s most famous role, few people know how much the actor hated the part. He really didn’t want to do the film at all, calling the movie a “woman’s picture.” He was also worried that doing a Southern accent and romance scenes would damage his macho reputation.
4. The Courtesan’s New Clothes
To advance his early career, Gable worked as a “stage gigolo.” This position was even more scandalous than it sounds. Put simply, Gable had affairs with rich, older, and more famous women who could get him gigs. Notably, he had a two-year affair with the actress Pauline Frederick, who was 18 years older than him and gave Gable a role in her revival of Madame X.
5. The Caregiver
Gable owes his career to his first wife, Josephine Dillon. 17 years Gable’s senior, Dillon was a stage manager and acting coach who built up her young beau from nothing. Dillion nourished Gable, trained him in posture, body control, paid for his new teeth and hair, and even trained him to speak in a lower register. But Gable paid her back with a cold-hearted betrayal.
6. Trading up
Josephine Dillon and Gable divorced in 1930, and just days later he married the socialite Maria Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham, or “Rhea” to her friends. Gable was upfront to Dillon about the cause for their break-up, and his reason was incredibly disturbing. He wanted to be successful in Hollywood, and he needed a richer woman to get him there.
7. Cleanliness Is Next to Handsomeness
Gable was something of a germaphobe, and he developed some very bizarre habits to control his cleanliness paranoias. Most dramatically, He never took a bath because the very idea of sitting around in your dirty water and getting “clean” shook him to his core. The actor opted for several showers a day instead.
8. Keeping the Chemistry On-Screen Only
Gable was an infamous lothario (more on that later), but he couldn’t charm every lady in Hollywood. For one, Greta Garbo famously hated him as her co-star in 1931’s Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise). Garbo thought he was a bad actor, and when Gable found out about it, he had some choice words for Garbo, shooting back that she was a snob.
9. Daddy’s Little Secret
Gable fathered a secret daughter in 1935. He conceived the child, named Judy Lewis, with his The Call of the Wild co-star Loretta Young. Although rumors about Judy’s paternity persisted throughout her life—she had her dad’s distinctive ears—she only learned about her true father five years after Gable’s passing. But it gets even more twisted than that.
10. From Pal to Predator
Loretta Young had good reason to hide the truth of her daughter’s paternity. After the passing of both Young and her daughter, her family revealed the true, horrific story. Gable had actually assaulted Young, and Judy was a product of the attack. For years, it was an open secret in the actress’s family, but Young never told Hollywood at large for fear of ruining Gable’s career.
11. Love You Later
When Gable met the “love of his life,” beautiful blonde starlet Carole Lombard, they were both married to other people. Though the pair allegedly kept things above board for a time, when they met again at a party in 1936, all bets were off. They were soon inseparable—even though they were doomed to a heartbreaking end.
12. A Breath of Fresh Aaugh!
By the time he was 32, Gable sported a full mouth of fake teeth. Thanks to a 1933 gum infection, the actor had to get nearly all of his teeth replaced, with some pretty gross side effects. His co-star in Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh, couldn’t ignore his bad breath and frequently complained about the unhandsome stench. Uh, time for a rewatch, ladies?
13. Opposite Impressions Attract
Gable was truly in love with Lombard. As he once said of her, “You can trust that little screwball with your life or your hopes or your weaknesses, and she wouldn’t even know how to think about letting you down.” Lombard’s feelings weren’t so adoring. She once said of Gable: “I love Pappy, even though he’s not the greatest lay.”
14. Big Enough to Float Away
Gone With the Wind was a huge and lasting blockbuster, but it was also the film that helped Gable marry the “love of his life” Carole Lombard. The film’s huge success launched him into Hollywood royalty and enriched him enough to afford to divorce his second wife, Rhea Langham. So happily ever after and all that, right?
15. Better Early Than Never
In March 1939, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard got married during a production break for Gone With the Wind. His divorce from Rhea Langham wasn’t finalized for another three weeks. So, in a very on-brand move, Gable was technically a bigamist. Except that’s not even the most dramatic plot twist this relationship took.
16. Even Love Looks Elsewhere
Lombard might have been The One to Gable, but she wasn’t the only one. In truth, the Hollywood lothario just couldn’t stay faithful to one woman. In 1942, he began cheating on Lombard with his Somewhere I’ll Find You co-star, Lana Turner. It was shameless, but even Gable couldn’t have predicted the dark consequences of his affair.
17. One-Way Ticket to Widowhood
That same year, Gable tragically lost Carole Lombard to a plane crash…which may have been tied to his infidelities. Lombard was away in Indiana fundraising while Gable was seducing Lana Turner on set. Rumors of the romance reached Lombard, who immediately scheduled a flight back home. The plane then crashed with everyone on board, including Lombard, perishing.
18. Self Loathing
Gable was emotionally destroyed by the loss of Carole Lombard. After claiming her body, the actor retreated into their once-shared ranch and fell into binge drinking for many days and weeks, blaming himself for her loss. After he sobered up, though, Gable decided to punish himself in an utterly brutal manner.
19. Close Call
Either as an apology for Lombard or as self punishment, Gable enlisted himself in WWI. Yeah, that’s a big swing. Though he was eager to go, MGM Studios was less than enthusiastic about risking their chief movie star. All their fears came true. During a raid in Germany, a stray bullet pierced through Gable’s clothing and narrowly missed his head.
When MGM caught wind of this close call, they hounded the US Army to reassign their most beloved star to less intense duty.
20. My Fair Lady
Gable’s fourth and most disastrous marriage was to British model and socialite, Sylvia, Lady Ashley. They married in 1949 after a whirlwind courtship, where Gable called her a “wildcat in the sack.” Unfortunately, he found this cat to be less cuddly in their domestic life. Ashley’s spending and parties began to wear down on him, and they divorced just three years later in 1953.
21. It Pays Not to Read
Carole Lombard was reportedly the first to suggest that Gable play the lead role in Gone With the Wind. She bought her fiancé a copy of the original novel. Gable refused to read it, but he took the role of Rhett Butler nonetheless. But before you go judging Gable for his lack of interest in the book, there was actually a good reason for this.
22. Hard to Get a Read
Clark Gable was actually dyslexic. This impairment was not publicized for most of his life, but it might explain why he was reluctant to read Gone With the Wind.
23. Long Live the King
Gable’s nickname was the “King of Hollywood.” The title went to the grave with him, and many think the “Golden Age of Hollywood” ended with Gable too.
24. Go With the Gold
Gable infamously gave his Best Actor Oscar for It Happened One Night (1934) to a random child. Yeah. All because the kid thought the statue was pretty. Gable was more concerned with the honor than the actual statue, so he donated his award to the tyke. The Oscar would not return to Gable’s family until after his untimely end.
25. Starlets With Benefits
Gable was lifelong friends Joan Crawford. They worked together on many movies, but the two were sometimes more than friends and colleagues. When Crawford divorced her third husband in 1946, Gable oh-so-gallantly stepped in to keep her “company.” They even lived together for a time, as good friends with benefits do.
26. Home Sweet Home
In 1955, Gable made his fifth and final marriage to sugar-refining heiress Kathleen Williams. By all accounts, Gable was delighted to play stepfather to Williams’s children, and his famous wandering eye began to settle down.
27. The Next Generation
Despite his five marriages by 1960, Gable had failed to produce any (acknowledged) children with his wives or girlfriends. This changed that year when his wife became pregnant. Unfortunately, their impending domestic bliss was not to be.
28. Take a Bow
Gable’s wife was six months pregnant when the actor passed on suddenly on November 16, 1960. Gable was filming The Misfits alongside Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. Production had wrapped just four days ago when his debauched life came back with a vengeance. He was 59 years old and would never meet his future son.
29. Save Our Final Date
As he requested, Clark Gable got buried next to his third and favorite wife, Carole Lombard, in the Great Mausoleum at Glendale’s Forrest Lawn Memorial Park. Over 200 people attended his funeral.
James Dean: The Young Rebel
For all that James Dean was a massive Hollywood star, he lived an incredibly short life. Before his tragic passing at the age of 24, his days had more torment, drama, and misplaced passion than even his films could match. From the rumors about his personal life to his personal demons, James Dean was a bad boy to remember.
1. Momma’s Boy
Dean’s childhood may have been one of the most heartbreaking of all the actors on this list. When he was just nine years old, Dean’s mother passed from cervical cancer, and his father sent him away from California to Indiana. His mother’s passing deeply affected him: One day in the fourth grade, Dean even burst into tears, saying that he missed her.
2. The Short Career of James Dean
Dean only starred in three movies during his short career: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, and studios only released the latter two after his fatal accident in 1955. One role he really wanted? Billy the Kid. He was a big fan of the book The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid and read it many times, but he would never get to fulfil his dreams.
3. Don’t Mess With Dean
Dean was a troublemaker from very early on. While at school, he nursed pipe dreams of becoming an actor, and he was scarily serious about his work. Once, someone bothered him while he was practicing lines. Dean’s response was so disturbing, it’s impossible to forget. He leapt up and tried to choke the man, forcing the school to suspend him for three days.
4. Changing His Stars
Dean was always painfully insecure, but he tried desperately to hide it. Early on in his college years, he even carried a dictionary around with him because he wanted to have intelligent conversations but didn’t have the vocabulary to match.
5. Short Fuse
Dean was an incredibly jealous lover, and his relationship with his college sweetheart Beverly Wills proves it. Wills and Dean were deep in young love—and then Dean ruined it in an instant. After he spotted a man asking Wills to dance at a function, Dean “exploded,” ran up to the would-be suitor, and threatened him. Once she saw Dean’s true colors, Wills called it off.
6. Everybody’s Going to Know Your Mine
One of Dean’s most famous romances was with the beautiful Italian actress Pier Angeli. The pair were inseparable and passionate, and director Elia Kazan even remembered a time on set where he could obviously hear them making loud, raucous love to each other in the dressing rooms. Sadly, their end was swift and brutal.
7. See You Never
Sources vary about why Dean and Angeli broke up, with some saying her Catholic mother didn’t approve of Dean, while others blame studio meddling. Either way, one day while Dean was away in New York, Angeli abruptly announced that she was engaged…to another man. It was a cruel betrayal—but there may have been an even darker reason for the split.
8. Was He or Wasn’t He
Rumors have long persisted that Dean was at least bisexual, if not actually homosexual, and even Elia Kazan noted that Dean was unlikely to have much “success” with women. As a result, some of Dean’s closest friends claim that his relationship with Angeli was just a publicity stunt drummed up by the conniving studios.
9. A Dark Secret
Dean’s lifelong aggression and melancholy may have had a very disturbing source. While Dean was making Giant with Elizabeth Taylor, he made a chilling confession. Just after his mother’s passing, Dean had his first intimate experience with an older minister, who had seduced the grieving boy into his bed. Dean never really worked through this emotions about the incident.
10. Learning the ins and outs
Dean liked to tinker around with his bicycle as a kid, assembling and disassembling it over and over again. As his family noted, he was prone to getting extremely engrossed and enveloped in certain activities. Just before his tragic end, he also got intensely into sculpture, so much so that his sculpture teacher got frustrated with the constant questions Dean asked.
11. Oh, This Old Thing?
The star didn’t really care too much about his appearance, even going so far as to show up to a formal luncheon with no socks or shoes, and wearing dirty jeans. That wasn’t just a one-time thing, either. He also become infamous in Hollywood for showing up to rehearsals wearing pants that were held up with safety pins.
Dean was a big fan of fellow actor Marlon Brando. He tried reaching out to him, but Brando pretty much just shrugged him off. “I gave him the name of a [psycho]-analyst, and he went,” Brando commented once. “At least his work improved.” Yikes! But what’s even juicier? There are reports that the smouldering pair had a romantic relationship.
13. All He Wants for Christmas…
As a result of a trapeze accident in the family barn while he was growing up, Dean lost his two front teeth. He wore false teeth for the rest of his life, and liked to take them out in front of people while in conversation. He also liked to tell people that he lost them during a motorcycle accident. Nice try, James.
14. Speed Demon
Early in 1955, Dean started car racing, even placing second in his first race. He drove a white Porsche Super Speedster that day, but traded it in for the Porsche 550 Spyder a little later. This was the same car he rode to his tragic end.
15. Life Was Telling Him to Slow Down
Just two hours before his fatal accident, Dean got a speeding ticket after going 10 miles over the speed limit. The ticket shows that he was supposed to be in court just a couple of weeks later to answer to the charge.
16. Ominously on Point
This one might give you chills. Alec Guinness, the actor best known for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi, met Dean at a restaurant in Hollywood just after Dean had bought the Spyder. Guinness had a premonition and warned Dean to stay away from the car. “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week,” Guinness reportedly said to Dean.
The young star just played it off, but it was sadly, and eerily, a premonition that came true.
17. That Deadly Day
On September 30, 1955, Dean’s Spyder and a Ford Tudor sedan collided at what is now the intersection of Highways 41 and 46. Tragically, Dean passed upon arrival at the hospital, having suffered terrible internal injuries and a broken neck. Investigators were never able to determine whether or not Dean was speeding. He had only owned the car for about a week.
18. Live Fast
Dean never expected to be taken from the world so soon. His last words just seconds before the accident are heartbreaking. Sources report that Dean’s last words were, “That guy’s gotta stop… He’ll see us” right before he crashed into a car crossing over the center line.
Gary Cooper: The American Heartthrob
Fame is fleeting for most people, but then again most people aren’t Gary Cooper. This American heartthrob spent most of his life as a renowned movie star, with Cooper immortalizing his name through slick appearances on the silver screen. But behind the camera, Cooper’s controversial behavior made for a scandalous legacy.
1. Thirst Motivated
Few women could resist Cooper’s noble cowboy persona. The wild child actress Tallulah Bankhead famously said that she only came to Hollywood so that she could hook up with “that divine Gary Cooper.” Cooper was also infamous for fooling around with nearly every one of his co-stars. This made for some, er, interesting movie sets (more on this later).
2. Hired on the Spot
Few people know that Gary Cooper’s big break into the acting business was a total fluke. He landed the leading role in The Winning of Barbara Worth because the original actor never showed up for work.
3. That’s Gotta Hurt
Like all film stars, Cooper turned down his fair share of projects. While most rejections were probably good decisions, Cooper made one enormous mistake. He decided not to take the role of Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. He even said that the movie would be “the biggest flop in Hollywood history. I’m glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling flat on his nose, not me.”
4. What’s Your Damage?
When Cooper was still a teenager, tragedy struck. The young man was involved in a dreadful car accident from which he never fully recovered. After that, despite his immense talent, there was one thing he couldn’t help but bring to work. Every Cooper character walked with a slight limp because of the horrible crash.
5. Hot-Headed Woman
Cooper’s affair with “Mexican Spitfire” Lupe Velez was notorious for its scary passion. Velez, famous for her hot-blooded disposition, reportedly once attacked Cooper with a knife during a lover’s spat, hurting him so much that Cooper needed stitches. But as we’ll see, that was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Velez’s temper.
6. Two Legends Hanging out
One of Cooper’s closest friends was the famed American author Ernest Hemingway. They bonded over their love of hunting and fishing, with Cooper starring in several film adaptations of Hemingway’s novels. But their friendship has a dark side. In a haunting parallel, Hemingway took his own life just a month after Cooper’s own end.
7. “Duck, You Sucker” Was Already Taken
Anyone who’s heard of the Western genre will know that one of its most famous clichéd lines is “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” The origin of this famous phrase was none other than Cooper, who said the line in his film The Virginian. The rest is history.
8. Shout out to My Ex
Actress and ex-lover Lupe Vélez once said that Gary Cooper had “the biggest organ in Hollywood.”
9. Busy Bee
Even in his early career in the 1920s, Cooper was in extremely high demand. He received over 1,000 letters from fans each week, and Paramount was eager to get him into as many films as possible. Between 1929 and 1930, the studio released a whopping 10 films starring Gary Cooper. Sadly, Cooper’s success had a twisted side.
10. A Very Long Vacation
Doing 10 films in just two years was a serious strain on Cooper. Being exhausted was the least of his problems. He lost 30 pounds and suffered from anemia, jaundice, and depression. In 1931, the superstar ran away from Hollywood and sailed across the Atlantic. He spent the next year of his life living abroad as he recuperated.
11. Ladies’ Man
Over his career, Cooper romanced his fair share of beautiful actresses and socialites. But one of the most famous stories comes from his rumored affair with Marlene Dietrich. Apparently, Cooper’s girlfriend Lupe Vélez was so jealous of Dietrich that she would insist on going to set every day and sitting in Cooper’s lap to make sure Dietrich didn’t try anything.
12. Red Flags
Even though Cooper was smitten with Vélez, his mother absolutely detested her. Stressed and unhappy, Cooper ended up losing 40 pounds over his rocky relationship. After listening to his mother and his studio, both of whom wanted Cooper to get away from the Mexican Spitfire, Cooper finally called it quits. But his nightmare was just beginning.
13. No One Walks Away From Me
Velez simply wouldn’t accept that she and Cooper were done and, in a scandalous twist, she took her jealousy to the next level. According to some reports, when Cooper went down to the train station to leave the Mexican Spitfire for good, Velez followed him and then actually tried to shoot her ex-lover. Thankfully, she missed.
14. Wild Rumors
During his passionate affair with Velez, Cooper aroused her suspicions that he was sleeping around with men as well as women. Specifically, Velez suspected that Cooper’s friendship with gay actor Anderson Lawler was more than platonic. According to Velez herself, she regularly pulled down Cooper’s pants to see if she could sniff Lawler’s cologne.
15. May-December Romance
When Gary Cooper filmed The Fountainhead, his bad-boy ways got the better of him. He embarked on a torrid affair with young actress Patricia Neal, who was just 21 to Cooper’s 47. Unsurprisingly, the mismatched couple was in for a tragic end. Neal became pregnant, and when Cooper found out, he demanded that she get an abortion.
16. Come on, Cooper
Sadly, things wouldn’t get better for young Patricia Neal. She went from being the object of Cooper’s affections to the chip on his shoulder. He embarked on yet another affair with a young co-star, this time Grace Kelly, whom he met while filming High Noon. The affair led Neal to the edge of insanity. She had a breakdown and left Hollywood permanently.
17. Fighting Fire With Fire
Cooper wasn’t above losing his temper. During the filming of Morocco in 1930, Cooper had a very tense and argumentative relationship with director Josef von Sternberg, who was prone to scream at Cooper in German. Eventually, Cooper had enough. He put the director in his place with an incredibly vicious gesture.
18. I’ll Show You
Cooper grabbed von Sternberg, lifting him up in midair before yelling “If you expect to work in this country, you’d better get on to the language we use here.” Well thanks for that, Gary.
Marlon Brando: The Live Wire
One of the film industry’s most famous actors and rebels, Marlon Brando was a mountain of a man who made his voice heard as much through his magnetic presence as through his scandalous on-set antics. Whether he was riling up directors or breaking his nose in fights, one thing was for sure: Marlon Brando was a true Hollywood bad boy.
1. The Brando Bunch
It’s no secret that Marlon Brando was popular with ladies (and men)—he married three different women and had at least 11 children in his life, though some reports say he may have had as many as 17.
2. Apocalypse Marlon
When Brando showed up to set for Apocalypse Now, he weighed close to 300 pounds and hadn’t even read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the short novella the movie is based on, so he didn’t have any idea who his character was. This set the tone for the film, as director Francis Ford Coppola and Brando were at each other’s throats throughout the entire process.
3. Inspired Performance
To prepare for his stage performance as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, Brando spent time at the same gym that boxer Rocky Graziano worked out at, studying the famed fighter. When production began, Brando sent Graziano tickets, even though the boxer had no idea who he was. After seeing the performance, Graziano was enraged.
As he said: “The curtain went up and on the stage is that son of a [bleep] from the gym, and he’s playing me.”
4. A Lie of a Different Color
In order to get out of the draft for the Korean War, Brando declared himself a psychoneurotic. On the questionnaire, he put his race as “human” and his color as “Seasonal-oyster white to beige.”
5. Diaper Lines
Brando didn’t always memorize his lines, and later in his career he tried to get around it with alternative tactics. For Superman, in the scene where his character Jor-El puts an infant Superman in an escape pod, he wrote his lines on the baby’s diaper so he could read them as the scene shot. But this same tactic got very creepy in a later film…
6. I’ve Got Your Back
For his role in Last Tango in Paris, Brando tried to convince director Bernardo Bertolucci to let him read his lines off of his costar Maria Schneider’s backside. Yeah, that one didn’t quite work, and the director forced Brando to remember his lines like a normal person.
7. Opposites Attract
One of Brando’s best friends was comedian Wally Cox. The two met when they were young, and though they possessed contrasting personalities, they instantly clicked. During one interview, Brando said of their friendship that “if Wally had been a woman, I would have married him and we would have lived happily ever after.” Now that’s some serious bromance.
8. Sleep, Dear Friend
When Wally Cox died of a heart attack at just 48, Brando was absolutely devastated. After showing up unannounced at the wake, he actually took the ashes against the wishes of Cox’s widow. But that was far from the strangest part. The mournful Brando reportedly also took to sleeping in his late friend’s pajamas for a time.
9. What’s All the Hype?
Brando’s role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather was a career defining moment, yet he didn’t think much of it. According to his friend George Englund, he didn’t see the big deal about the performance and considered many of his other roles above it.
10. Fixer Upper
Brando’s breakthrough performance was as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. The story behind how he got the gig is legendary. After showing up a few days (DAYS!) late for his audition with Tennessee Williams, at the playwright’s house, he proceeded to fix the electrical fuses and the house’s plumbing before finally giving his reading.
Williams was expecting nothing special, as he thought perhaps the handiwork was an attempt to butter him up for a poor audition, but Brando quickly proved him wrong. Williams said he witnessed “the most magnificent reading” for a part he had seen in his life.
11. Duking It out
After Brando landed the part of Stanley Kowalski, he performed the show on stage for quite some time. But after a year of performing, he grew restless with the mundanity of reading the same lines again and again. To stave off his boredom, he often fought with a stagehand who was also an amateur boxer. But one day, he took it much too far.
12. The Nose Knows
After Brando insisted that the stagehand not take it easy on him, the aide broke his nose…during the middle of a show. Brando then stumbled onto the stage, bloody and bruised, and his co-star Jessica Tandy improvised with it by saying “You bloody fool” and playing the injury off as though Stanley had just been in a street fight.
13. Scar Tissue
After the performance where Brando broke his nose, the producer, Irene Selznick, tried to persuade him to have it reset. Of course, he resisted this advice, and Selznick is now happy he did so, later stating: “I honestly think that broken nose made his fortune,” she said. “It gave him appeal. He was too beautiful before.”
14. Frankie and the Grudge
When Brando originally declined his Oscar-winning role of Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, Frank Sinatra was cast as his replacement…only to get pushed out once Brando changed his mind again. Sinatra didn’t much appreciate the switch, and held a grudge for many years. As a part of his grudge, he referred to Brando as “mumbles,” and made fun of Brando’s Method acting.
15. Stirring the Pot
Though Sinatra held a grudge against Brando, they co-starred in the 1955 film production of Guys and Dolls. Aware of Sinatra’s animosity, Brando purposely worked to get under the crooner’s skin, and would intentionally mess up scenes because he knew it would get to Sinatra. But one of his pranks disturbed Sinatra so much, he couldn’t take it anymore.
16. Cheesecake Takes
During the famed cheesecake scene of Guys and Dolls, Brando reportedly screwed the scene up a glorious nine times, thus making Sinatra stuff a whopping nine pieces of cheesecake into his mouth. Eventually, Ol’ Blue Eyes erupted at the director, shouting “These [bleeping] New York actors! How much cheesecake do you think I can eat?”
17. Going Ham
During the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, Brando was at the height of his powers, both in acting and in eating. As the production was taking place in Tahiti, Brando had planes fly in large amounts of ham and champagne specifically for him to indulge in. Because, why the heck not? You’re Marlon Brando!
Tyrone Power: The Tragic Hero
Bearing one of the greatest names in Hollywood history, Tyrone Power was the Tom Cruise of his day. Known for his incredible looks, Power was a diverse actor but was most famous for his swashbuckling action flicks. Over two decades in Old Hollywood, Power’s star shone high amongst his peers, and was made all the more legendary by his tragic passing.
1. En Garde!
Power’s most famous film was 1940’s The Mark of Zorro. The movie was a smash hit, due in no small part to the sword-fighting scenes, which remain legendary action scenes to this day. Power himself was a highly skilled swordsman, to the point that his co-star, Basil Rathbone, called him the most skilled swordsman that he’d ever seen before a film camera.
2. Scarf Guys Finish Last
While filming The Razor’s Edge, Power fell head over heels in love with his beautiful co-star Gene Tierney. He went to disturbing lengths to prove his affection. He made no secret of his interest, even though Tierney was trapped in a failing marriage and a failing romance with a pre-political John F. Kennedy. Then Power took it a step too far.
When he bought Tierney a scarf with “Love” embroidered into it, Tierney finally had to snap at him to back off.
3. Oh Son, Where Art Thou?
During the production of Jesse James, one of his most successful films, Power had an affair with a woman who lived close to the filming locations in Missouri. The affair scandalously led to a baby boy, which the woman put up for adoption. Though Power looked for the babe, he never found him. And that was just the first of his scandals…
4. As Told by Lana
In her autobiography, Lana Turner made a dark revelation about Tyrone Power. She claimed she and Power started an affair in 1946 and that she had also gotten pregnant by the actor. Since Power was married at the time and feared that the love child could ruin his image, he pushed Turner into getting an abortion.
5. The Power of Power
A fitting tribute to Power’s status as a bad boy heartthrob came from romance novelist Barbara Cartland. At one point in her life, she was asked how she could have written such gripping romance novels when she herself had still been a virgin. Cartland’s response was as scandalous as it was legendary. As she said, “We didn’t need sex. We had Tyrone Power.”
6. Light It up
On the screen, Power seemed like a confident, beautiful man. But he was hiding disturbing habits behind the scenes. Not only was he a heavy smoker, he was also struggling with alcoholism as well as a dependence on pills. Because of all of these disruptive vices, the actor usually only slept a maximum of three hours a night.
During the filming of The Mark of Zorro, producer Darryl F. Zanuck played a cruel prank on Power. Power usually went for a morning swim, and he made sure that the pool’s water was pre-heated prior to his entry. One day, Zanuck arranged for the heating to be canceled. Power didn’t find out until he dove in, and he later claimed that he nearly had a heart attack. He made sure to get his revenge.
8. Vengeance Is Mine
Zanuck insisted on watching the dailies for his films, and Power used this to his advantage. One day while Zanuck was reviewing the footage of Power robbing a stagecoach as Zorro, he was astonished to see that instead of making a “Z,” Power made a “DZ,” and that one of the actors then shouted “Zanuck!” instead of “Zorro.” His prank achieved, Power then turned to the camera and announced, “Let that be a lesson to you!”
9. You’ve Looked Better
Power’s bad habits eventually took a cruel and visible toll on him. When audiences saw him The Sun Also Rises, they were shocked to see how old and weary he looked, especially since he was only in his early 40s at the time. This loss of his good looks was also an omen of something even darker: His approaching end.
10. Heartbreak After Heartbreak
After a string of broken relationships and marriages, Tyrone Power vowed to never marry again. That is, until he met Deborah Ann Minardos in 1957. They were married in 1958, and she became pregnant soon after with the son Power had always wanted—but tragically, their love was utterly doomed. Power passed on two months before their son, Tyrone Power Jr., was born.
11. What a Guy
While Power was filming The Razor’s Edge, the director approached him with a bizarre demand. He told Power that in order to into the role, the actor should stop having any, er, intimate relations. Even more strange, the virile young Power agreed, saying that “chastity intensely enhances the power of the spirit.” Sure, whatever you say, Tyrone.
12. Powerless to Stop It
In September 1958, Power traveled to Spain to film the historical epic Solomon and Sheba. By November 15, he had filmed the majority of his scenes, and was just finishing up shooting a fight scene with his co-star, George Sanders. Suddenly, disaster struck. Out of nowhere, Power collapsed on set, causing mass confusion.
13. Panic on the Set
After Power’s collapse, the film crew panicked, and multiple rumors have flown around about what happened next. There’s a story that he died on the way to the hospital in a co-star’s car, and another where the crew took his body out of his trailer, attempting to make him look alive in case his wife was around. Either way they all end the same: Power was gone.
14. A Star Is Gone
After that ill-fated day, the autopsy revealed the truth about his tragic end. A lifetime of smoking, drinking, and pills pushed Power into a fatal heart attack at the age of 44. Hauntingly, the last complete work that Power did before his passing was a PSA for television on how to identify the early signs of a heart attack.
Rudolph Valentino: The Latin Lover
He was born—deep breath now—Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella, but people more often called him “The Great Lover.” One of the first male heartthrobs of cinema’s silent era, Rudolph Valentino had a short life filled with fame, but also plagued with tumultuous love affairs and bad fortune.
1. Momma’s Boy
Valentino was born to a French mother and an Italian father. His father generally disapproved of his son’s unconventional nature, but he could do no wrong in his mother’s eyes. She and he were very close.
2. Childhood Tragedy
Tragedy would come to define the Latin Lover’s final years, but it was actually a part of his life from an early age. His older sister, Beatrice, died when she was an infant, and his father passed when he was just 10 years old.
3. Waiting List
The archetypal all-American leading man was almost exclusively fair-skinned when Valentino was trying to break into the industry. Valentino’s dark complexion—and the warped sensibilities of the time—meant that he was always playing villains, and the leading man stardom that lay just around the corner was but a wistful dream.
4. Superstardom Awaits
Valentino finally landed his first leading role in 1918, as a diabolical Italian nobleman in The Married Virgin. Knowing that most people wouldn’t be able to pronounce his last name, it was here that he asked to be billed as Rodolpho di Valentini—soon simplified to Rudolph Valentino. Ah, a legendary star is born.
5. The Latin Lover Is Born
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse propelled Valentino into superstardom and cemented his “Latin Lover” image. Photoplay raved about his performance, calling him “the continental hero, the polished foreigner, the modern Don Juan.”
6. Unlucky in Love
Valentino impulsively married his first wife, actress Jean Acker, in 1919, two months after they met. However, Acker had only seemed to be interested in women at the time, and she immediately regretted her decision. She locked Valentino out of their hotel room on their wedding night, and the couple separated soon after.
7. Studio Stupidity
Despite the overwhelming evidence following The Four Horsemen’s release, Metro refused to acknowledge that Valentino had become a star and immediately dumped him into a B-movie called Uncharted Seas. Fittingly, Valentino realized he was being undervalued and soon left them for the uncharted seas of the Famous Players-Lasky studio.
8. Second Time’s the Charm
Though being forced into a bit part in Uncharted Seas instead of allowing his star to shine was undoubtedly a slap in the face, it turned out to be a stroke of luck for Valentino. It was on this film that Valentino would meet his second wife, the beautiful, tempestuous ballet dancer and costume designer Natacha Rambova.
9. Bigamous Blunder
Valentino and Rambova married in Mexico on May 13, 1922, but they were hiding a dark secret. Valentino had just divorced his first wife, and California law considered him a bigamist since he hadn’t waited a year to get hitched again. As a result, Valentino got thrown behind bars, and had to wait for his friends to rescue him with bail money.
10. The Fatal Collapse
During the press tour for his final film, The Son of the Sheik, Valentino was in for an infamous surprise. One day, he suddenly collapsed. When they rushed him to the hospital, doctors discovered a perforated ulcer. Fans stood outside Polyclinic Hospital in New York for a week, but Valentino succumbed to infection around midday on August 23. He was only 31 years old.
11. Famous Last Words
Supposedly, among his last words before passing were, “Don’t pull down the blinds. I feel fine. I want the sunlight to greet me.”
12. Valentino’s Vaselinos
At the time, there were countless men who imitated Valentino’s distinctive, heavily-pomaded hairstyle and adopted his general demeanor. These guys were not-so-affectionately referred to as “Vaselinos.”
13. The Third Wife?
Valentino had been involved with Polish actress Pola Negri prior to his passing, though many believed they were both using the relationship for publicity. Negri’s behavior at his funeral made her infamous. She fainted over his coffin in hysterics, claimed to have been Valentino’s future third wife, and even sent out a massive floral display spelling out “P-O-L-A” just to hammer the point home.
14. Not-So-Smooth Sailing
Valentino’s second marriage was even rockier than his first. Rambova was not popular with a number of Valentino’s friends, and the marriage disintegrated to the point where Rambova was contractually banned from his sets towards its end. They finally divorced in 1925, just a year before his death. It was a bitter end, too—Valentino left Rambova one single dollar in his will. Ouch.
Steve McQueen: The King Of Cool
Whether it was a cop film, a Western, or a heist film, Steve McQueen’s smouldering good looks and tough swagger were unforgettable to audiences of the 60s and 70s. Of course, behind the scenes, McQueen’s star power led to increasingly hostile interactions with his co-stars and crew, especially if things didn’t go his way.
1. It’s on Now
While McQueen was living in Malibu, he was next-door neighbors with Keith Moon, the legendary drummer in The Who. A consummate party animal, Moon infuriated McQueen by constantly leaving the bathroom light on at night and making it impossible for McQueen to sleep. Eventually, the feud reached disturbing heights.
After McQueen confronted Moon without success to change the situation, the Hollywood action star finally grabbed a shotgun and shot out Moon’s bathroom light from his bedroom window!
2. Runaway Rebel
As a child, McQueen’s stepfather physically hurt him. Things became so brutal for the nine-year-old that he found it preferable to live on the streets. It was there that he joined a local gang of juveniles who committed various acts. His desperate mother eventually sent him back to live with his grandparents and great-uncle.
3. Think of Your Future
At the age of 14, after a particularly nasty incident, McQueen’s mother and stepfather had him committed to California Junior Boys Republic in Chino. This was a school for juveniles that promised to straighten them out. In McQueen’s case, this effort was successfully implanted. Though he was quick to admit that he’d had a rough time with them, McQueen always maintained that he began to turn his life around in that school.
4. What Needs to Be Done
When McQueen won his role in the classic The Magnificent Seven, he was already committed to the hit TV series Wanted Dead or Alive. In order to get the chance to make the movie while also keeping his contract, McQueen went to extreme lengths. He deliberately crashed his car, took time off to “recover” from his “accident,” and then went to make The Magnificent Seven while he was on leave.
5. Battle of the Big Heads
One of the main reasons why Steve McQueen won the role of Vin in The Magnificent Seven was because the film’s star, Yul Brynner, personally requested that producers cast McQueen. Brynner greatly regretted this decision. The two men clashed frequently on set. During their scenes together, McQueen would make gestures or movements to deliberately draw audiences’ eyes to him rather than Brynner.
For his part, Brynner became paranoid about these movements and also wanted to appear taller than McQueen in the film. Even though he was already an inch taller than McQueen, Brynner arranged it so that he stood on a small mound of earth whenever they were standing beside each other.
6. Hey, That’s a Good Idea
In 1976, McQueen brought up the idea for a film involving a bodyguard protecting a music star from a stalker. That sound familiar? The film, initially a vehicle for McQueen and Diana Ross, got shelved for nearly 20 years, until it finally came out as The Bodyguard in 1992, starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston.
7. Don’t Let Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story
The Great Escape has gone down as one of the most famous films ever made, as well as one of the biggest hits of McQueen’s career. In particular, it was a chance for him to show off his skills with a motorcycle as he eludes the villains chasing him down. Of course, this was exactly the reason why he agreed to do the movie in the first place.
The motorcycle chase scenes during the climax of the film had nothing to do with the true story behind the film, it was just an ego-stroking condition that McQueen insisted on before he agreed to the part.
8. Come at Me, Bro
During the 1960s, the womanizing McQueen ended up in a bitter love triangle. He’d spent part of the decade fooling around with actress Mamie Van Doren, but Van Doren also had a romantic fling with controversial mogul Howard Hughes. Hughes was especially possessive of Van Doren, leading McQueen to publicly vow that if Hughes didn’t leave her alone, McQueen would break his nose.
Rather than take on the King of Cool in a fistfight, Hughes backed down.
9. It’s Not All Sunshine and Rainbows
The neo-noir The Getaway turned out to be one of the biggest financial hits of McQueen’s career. But it was an infamous production. On set, McQueen and his married co-star Ali McGraw began torrid affair that eventually led to McGraw divorcing her husband to marry McQueen. Not exactly the publicity they wanted.
10. Steve Is Snubbed
McQueen’s relationship with McGraw had far-reaching consequences for his film career. The year after they got together, McQueen gave what many have said was his best performance in the film Papillon. However, despite the universal praise, McQueen didn’t get an Academy Award nomination for his troubles—for one unsettling reason.
11. Players Get Punished
Many have said that the snub was because McGraw’s ex-husband was the powerful Hollywood producer Robert Evans, the man behind The Godfather and many other classics. Allegedly, it was Evans who caused McQueen to get blackballed. It didn’t help McQueen’s case that he was romantically linked with several other married women in Hollywood as well.
12. Love Never Dies
Although McQueen and Ali McGraw divorced in 1978 after just a few years of marriage, McQueen’s friends revealed after his passing that he carried a torch for McGraw, and that she was the love of his life.
13. The Beginning of the End
McQueen’s final film was The Hunter in 1980. During filming, McQueen suffered a health issue when he performed a scene in which his character runs down the street and around a corner. When he didn’t reappear after “cut” was called, McQueen was found unable to catch his breath. He was officially diagnosed with lung cancer the month after the film wrapped production.
14. A Happy Ending After All
For what it’s worth, McQueen and Yul Brynner eventually reconciled, but only when McQueen was dying of cancer. At one point, McQueen called an incredulous Brynner and thanked him for never getting him fired from The Magnificent Seven. For his part, Brynner graciously accepted McQueen’s thanks, which also served as an apology of sorts.
McQueen later explained that he felt he owed his career in part to Brynner. Both men passed on from cancer within five years of each other.
15. Farewell to the King of Cool
By October 1980, McQueen was in dire condition due to cancer. Against the advice of American doctors, McQueen flew to Mexico to undertake a highly risky surgery to have an abdominal tumor removed from his liver. True to the warnings that his heart wouldn’t be able to handle the operation, McQueen succumbed to heart failure after surgery was completed. He was 50 years old.
16. Calling Their Bluff
Before he played a hard-as-nails L.A. cop in the film Bullitt, McQueen rode around with officers in preparation. The officers in question wanted to see what McQueen was really made of, so they took him to the morgue to gauge his reactions. Allegedly, McQueen strolled in, calm as can be, while casually eating an apple.
Dennis Hopper: The Hollywood Renegade
Dennis Hopper’s film career began during a period of great transition. The 1960s were a tumultuous time for the United States, and the era of Old Hollywood started becoming the New Hollywood movement. Right in the middle of this rebellion was wild card actor Dennis Hopper, and he sure gave the studios something to remember.
1. Day One
Dennis Lee Hopper was born on May 17, 1936, in Dodge City, Kansas. His father, James, worked as a post office manager while his mother, Marjorie, supervised a swimming pool.
2. I Found My Icon
Hopper’s film career began when he appeared alongside film legend James Dean in both Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. Hopper later admitted that he arrogantly considered himself to be the best young actor around, until he met Dean. Unlike Hopper’s Shakespearean training, Dean had a flair for improvisation rather than just miming the actions for the camera. Hopper called Dean the best actor he’d ever worked alongside.
3. For Too Brief a Moment
As you can imagine, Hopper was particularly devastated when James Dean met his untimely end in 1955. When his agent told him the news, Hopper was in a small Los Angeles theater. He was so distressed that he fled into the street. Dean continued to impact Hopper throughout his career, such as when Hopper improvised his way through his performance in Apocalypse Now.
4. The Devil’s in the Details
Following his work with James Dean, Hopper acted in the 1958 film From Hell to Texas. However, foreshadowing Hopper’s troubled and controversial film career, he clashed viciously with the film’s director, Henry Hathaway. During the production, Hopper once insisted on reshooting a specific scene more than 80 times. Hathaway told Hopper that he was finished in Hollywood when production wrapped.
5. What Might Have Been
While many remember Hopper for his eclectic acting career, he was always interested in directing films as well. In fact, the only reason why Hopper even participated in his big break Easy Rider was because Peter Fonda promised Hopper that he’d also get to direct. Even in his old age, Hopper always lamented that he never got the directing career he felt he deserved.
6. How Did He Live So Long?
Hopper’s career was constantly marred, or even defined, by his struggles with substances. In one interview, Hopper revealed his lowest point. He spent a period of his life consuming “half a gallon of rum, 28 beers, and three grams of blow” on a daily basis.
7. Green Day
In true counterculture spirit, Hopper was often on illicit substances while working on the film Easy Rider. Few viewers realize that all the marijuana scenes in the film were done with the genuine article. In fact, Jack Nicholson claimed that he, Hopper, and Peter Fonda went through over a hundred joints just to complete a single scene together.
8. Not Exactly a Meet-Cute
During his younger years, Hopper studied acting at Lee Strasberg’s school in New York. While he was there, he encountered a then-unknown Marilyn Monroe. According to Hopper, Monroe “kept herself to herself in class, never wore make-up, wore a bandana over her hair, and baggy trousers and a sweatshirt.” Hopper also admitted that if he were trapped on a desert island with any actress, he’d have picked Monroe.
9. Would You Call That a Fail or a Success?
In Easy Rider, the two main characters motorcycle through the American South and are treated with hostility by the locals. This cruel treatment wasn’t confined to the page, but to real life as well. Hopper once recounted an incident where he played a joke to see how bad things could get. He walked into a small bar and loudly announced, “Hi there, I’m on my way to the peace march.” Immediately, eight different men attacked him!
10. I Have a Better Idea
Hopper’s role in Blue Velvet has become one of his most celebrated performances, and for good reason. Few people realize that one of Hopper’s ideas changed the film’s entire tone. Originally, the villain Frank Booth was addicted to helium, but Hopper was convinced that he should be addicted to amyl nitrite instead.
Director David Lynch later admitted that it was the right move, as the idea of a high-pitched villain would have been too laughable to take seriously.
11. Missed Opportunity
Hopper’s performance as Frank Booth in the 1986 film Blue Velvet has often been hailed as one of the best villains in American film. However, Hopper only got the role after several other actors turned the opportunity down. Apparently, the controversial character was just too repulsive for their taste. Hey, someone’s too-creepy-villain is another person’s iconic role.
12. Everyone’s a Critic…
One of the most infamous films of Dennis Hopper’s career was the film Super Mario Bros., a universally despised adaptation of the ultrapopular video game franchise. Hopper portrayed the villain and later admitted that the production was a complete mess. Reportedly, Hopper’s own son asked his dad why he acted in that awful film.
When Hopper explained “Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes,” his son replied “Dad, I don’t need shoes that badly.”
13. Not a Good Look
Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now has gone into legend as one of the most grueling film productions of all time. One of the side effects of this was rampant substance use among the cast, and Hopper was no exception. In fact, he allegedly persuaded actor Laurence Fishburne to try smack. But that’s not even the worst part.
The worst part is that Fishburne was only 14 years old at the time.
14. Eat Your Heart out, Christian Bale
The set of Easy Rider was particularly problematic for the cast and crew because of Hopper. By his own admission, he didn’t respond well to marijuana, and he was prone to paranoid tantrums during production. Things got so bad that crew members took matters into their own hands. They secretly recorded Hopper’s outbursts as proof of why so many people were quitting.
15. Quickie Wedding
Hopper was notorious for his relationships as well as his substance problems. He was married five times in his life. His second wife, Michelle Phillips from The Mamas and the Papas, divorced Hopper just eight days after their wedding.
16. Well, This Is Awkward
In the mid-1950s, Hopper fell in love with Joanne Woodward. He even took her to the premiere of Giant instead of doing as the studio asked and taking someone more famous. Later on in the evening, Woodward asked Hopper to take her home, but refused to let him in the door. From Hopper’s own account, she even pushed him down a flight of stairs when he didn’t take the hint.
Later on, he found out the truth. Paul Newman, Woodward’s future husband, was waiting for her in her apartment at the time.
Although they both got their big career break together, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda spent a lot of time arguing while making Easy Rider. In fact, things became so messy that even though Fonda got Hopper involved in the first place, he tried to get him fired from the movie several times throughout the shooting. Sounds like an, um, interesting set.
After their falling out, they never reconciled, and Hopper was so vengeful that he barred Fonda from attending his funeral. Loyal to the end, Fonda went anyway, only to have Hopper’s family refuse him entry.