These Scandalous Affairs Rocked Old Hollywood

Sarah Ng

In the world of Hollywood, affairs have kept the gossip mill alive for decades. Here are stories that practically drip with all the dirty details: broken hearts, betrayal, and red-hot passion. From man-eating beauties like Joan Crawford to shameless rakes like Marlon Brando, these stars chased after life’s forbidden pleasures, throwing morals to the wayside.


1. Richard Burton And Elizabeth Taylor: The Great Scandal

Richard Burton’s tempestuous romance with Elizabeth Taylor provided the world with the most delicious tabloid fodder: Vicious fights, passionate displays of affection, and bitter betrayal. However, it all began with one torrid affair played out behind the backs of their spouses. Burton met his gorgeous leading lady on the set of 1963’s Cleopatra…but surprisingly, it was not love at first sight.

2. They Had A Rough Start

When filming began, Burton immediately came on to Taylor with the most lackluster line imaginable…He said, “Has anyone ever told you that you’re a very pretty girl?” In Taylor’s eyes, Burton certainly didn’t live up to his reputation as a great seducer. Similarly, Burton was unenthused with Taylor’s acting chops…But that was all about to change.

3. He Softened Her Edges

According to Taylor, she fell for Burton during their very first scene together. Apparently, Burton struggled with remembering his lines and revealed a rare vulnerability that softened Taylor’s feelings toward him. Before long, their distaste for one another transformed into a heartfelt affection. While on set, they dove unabashedly into a hot and heavy affair, and soon, everyone knew about it.

4. He Couldn’t Keep A Secret

If Burton and Taylor even tried to keep their affair a secret then they failed horribly. In fact, according to the director’s son, Christopher Mankiewicz, Burton announced to the entire Cleopatra cast that he’d slept with Elizabeth Taylor in the back of his Cadillac. From there on out, whispers of their affair began slipping through the cracks.

5. They Were Perfect Tabloid Fodder

The Italian paparazzi was all over Burton and Taylor. No matter where they went, the press was always hot on their heels. In order to keep their outings on the down-low, the couple even tried an underhanded strategy: Taylor, a classic brunette, often donned a blonde wig while out on the town, making her look suspiciously like Burton’s wife, Sybil.

However, they weren’t fooling anybody, and before long, their respective spouses caught wind of their shameless infidelity.

6. He Dallied With A Homewrecker

Pictures of Burton and Taylor were everywhere, and rumors about what they got up to in their trailer ran rampant. Sounds of laughter and passionate arguments emanated from their private chambers and became gossip fuel for the masses. Having already seduced Debbie Reynold’s husband, Eddie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor was notorious for being a “homewrecker.”

But as we all know, it takes two to tango, and this time, Liz and Dick paid no mind to the destruction they left in their wake.

7. They Betrayed Their Spouses

Soon, this publicized affair garnered its very own name—Le Scandale—and what a scandal it was. Both Sybil Burton and Eddie Fisher were in Rome and watched in horror as their spouses galavanted their newfound love. Feeling the sting of betrayal, they both fled the city. For Sybil, who’d always tolerated her husband’s disloyalty, this was the last straw.

8. He Drove His Wife To Suicide

Le Scandale destroyed Sybil Burton and Eddie Fisher, and as a result, heartbreaking rumors abounded. Some sources believed that the betrayal drove them both to attempted suicide, and as such, it was only a matter of time before their marriages ended in divorce. However, when it came to Burton and Taylor, their partners weren’t the only ones enraged.

9. They Enraged The Church

Did the Church have an opinion on this epic affair? Oh, heck yes, they did. While Liz and Dick frolicked in the Vatican’s backyard, the more they ruffled the Church’s “moral” feathers. The Vatican newspaper published an open letter to Taylor, shaming her for “erotic vagrancy.” As worldwide headlines capitalized on this madness, it started to worry some of Burton’s steadfast peers.

10. He Had The Perfect Comeback

Shocked by the outright scandal, one of Burton’s idols, Laurence Olivier, reached out to him, asking, “Make up your mind, dear heart. Do you want to be a great actor or a household word?” Burton’s comeback was perfect…He replied, “Both.” After Cleopatra wrapped, Burton finally made his love for Taylor official and married her.

Considered one of the greatest couples in Hollywood history, Burton and Taylor’s story still burn bright today. However, not all affairs reached such happy heights…Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno’s train wreck of a love story is a prime example of an affair gone so so wrong.

11. Marlon Brando And Rita Moreno: Broken Dreams

In 1954, Marlon Brando set eyes on one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen—the alluring Rita Moreno. The second these two clapped eyes on each other, all bets were off. The chemistry between Brando and Moreno was so charged, it was palpable. In her memoir, Moreno described this meeting with the utmost passion: “Just meeting him that first day sent my body temperature skyrocketing as though I had been dropped into a very hot bath, and I went into a full-body blush.”

There was no doubt that this was the beginning of an epic romance—but it was doomed to a heartbreaking end.

Marlon BrandoGetty Images

12. He Was A Womanizer

You see, Brando had a tumultuous relationship with women. He had trouble trusting anybody, and even as he womanized his way through Hollywood, he always tried to protect his own heart. When Brando met Moreno, his undoubted passion for her didn’t stop him from hurting her in the worst ways imaginable.

13. He Cheated On Her Incessantly

Brando was not a committed man, and he certainly wasn’t monogamous throughout his eight-year stint with Moreno. He cheated on her constantly, both physically and emotionally, and it absolutely broke her heart. Still, the fire that raged between them had them returning to one another time and time again. But the longer she stayed with him, the more liberal he became with his betrayals.

14. He Kept Coming Back To Her

To Moreno’s dismay, Brando married multiple times while still seeing her. They were on and off for years—a vicious seesaw of delightful intimacy and broken hearts. But that wasn’t the worst part. Moreno desperately wanted Brando to marry her, but for some reason, he never wanted to make her his wife. Even so, he never had to worry about losing her because she just kept crawling back…at least for the time being.

15. He Was In For A Surprise

On one occasion, Moreno decided to give Brando a taste of his own medicine. And boy, did it leave a wicked taste in his mouth. When Moreno found some lingerie that clearly did not belong to her, all of her hurt came to a peak and she crumbled. The very next day, however, she got a call that surprised the daylights out of her. Better yet, it was the perfect opportunity for revenge.

16. He Got A Taste Of His Own Medicine

Moreno’s caller was none other than Elvis Presley, and she knew that if there was anyone in the world that could make Brando jealous, it was The King himself. She decided to accept Presley’s advances, but only as a means to an end: She wanted Brando to feel exactly how he made her feel. But Elvis only served her up a generous dollop of disappointment.

17. He Was A Better Kisser Than Elvis

In comparison to Brando, Elvis’s lovemaking was terribly underwhelming. Even as she stared into the musician’s angelic face, she couldn’t help but think of Brando and his kissing expertise. She went so far as to call her time with Presley “amateur night.” Ouch. Still, this clumsy affair managed to get the job done…When Brando found out, all hell broke loose.

18. He Made A Scene

Although Brando had no problem sleeping around, he certainly didn’t like the sting of Moreno’s fling with Elvis. The second his devoted mistress took the plunge with another man, his jealousy came bubbling to the surface. According to Moreno, Brando was so incensed, he even “threw chairs.” Of course, this was payback at its finest, and Moreno delighted in watching her lover squirm, reminiscing fondly—”It was wonderful!”

But in the end, it was exactly this kind of toxicity that ruined them forever.

19. He Didn’t Want Her Baby

Brando was always in Moreno’s orbit, and she was the one person that never strayed. But as they say—all good things must come to an end. When Moreno discovered she was pregnant with Brando’s child, he quickly arranged for her to have an abortion. Sadly, nothing went as planned, and once again, he had another relationship disaster on his hands.

20. He Had His Priorities Mixed Up

Rita Moreno’s abortion went horribly wrong. The doctors completely botched the job, and soon after the procedure, Moreno started bleeding heavily. She had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. After this traumatizing ordeal, Moreno was even more horrified when Brando seemed more concerned about the money he’d spent than about her own wellbeing.

Devastated in more ways than one, Moreno did the unthinkable.

21. He Had To End It

Brando was completely blindsided when Moreno tried to take her own life by overdosing on pills. Luckily, his assistant was at the right place at the right time and found her before the pills could take effect. At the hospital, doctors pumped Moreno’s stomach and she lived to tell the tale. But after this extremely close call, one thing became crystal clear—Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno had to end their romance once and for all.

Brando and Moreno’s final chapter was undeniably brutal—but while some affairs are raging and destructive, others are far more cringeworthy. Buckle up, because Audrey Hepburn and William Holden present a cautionary tale for us all.

22. Audrey Hepburn And William Holden: A Doomed Romance

Audrey Hepburn and William Holden met on the set of 1954’s Sabrina—and under the director’s nose, these two besotted actors embarked on a sordid affair. You see, even before he began working with her, Holden had harbored a schoolboy crush on this graceful, young actress. They became quick friends and it wasn’t long before their easy camaraderie evolved into passionate affection. But there was more than one problem barring these two from a happily ever after.

23. Her Beau Had Baggage

Unfortunately, William Holden wasn’t exactly Prince Charming. He had a whole arsenal of personal problems including his affinity for drink, not to mention the fact that he already had a wife. However, even with all his baggage in tow, Holden couldn’t control his love for Audrey. He wanted to marry her, and even proposed—but Audrey turned him down…Why?

Well, there was something that Audrey wanted that Holden just couldn’t give her…

24. She Turned Him Down

According to rumors, Audrey Hepburn’s desire to start a family destroyed all chances of her ever marrying William Holden. He’d gone ahead and had a vasectomy, making their union an impossibility in Audrey’s mind. Completely heartbroken by the whole situation, Holden later commented, “I really was in love with Audrey, but she wouldn’t marry me.”

Clearly, the doomed fling hit Holden much harder than Audrey. And later, when the reunited for their second film, his undying affections bubbled to the surface in a disturbing way.

25. They Reunited

In 1964, Hepburn and Holden reunited for Paris When It Sizzles—but it ended badly. You see, after all this time, Holden still harbored deep feelings for the one that got away. In Audrey’s orbit for a second time, he took it upon himself to revive their long-lost passion. Blinded by hope, he did something so embarrassing, it’s unforgettable.

26. She Watched Him Humiliate Himself

Poor William Holden made a huge mistake in trying to seduce the married Audrey Hepburn. Tack on his horrible drinking problem, and you have a recipe for disaster. One night, while horribly intoxicated, he attempted to climb up to her dressing-room window, but before he could make his grand entrance, he lost his grip and fell. There was just no coming back from such a humiliation. It was the nail in the coffin.

As cringeworthy as poor Holden and Hepburn were, their affair at least had a sense of decorum. Gary Cooper and Lupe Vélez, on the other hand—now, they were downright incendiary.

27. Gary Cooper And Lupe Vélez: Dangerous Rumors

In 1929, Gary Cooper embarked on one of his most tempestuous affairs. On the set of The Wolf Song, Cooper fell for the alluring Mexican actress, Lupe Vélez. However, Vélez’s hot-blooded nature often landed them in some outrageous fights. Emotions were running high at all times and the tabloids just ate their antics up.

28. He Ran From Her

During one notable spat, Vélez grabbed a knife and began chasing Cooper around. She certainly didn’t play lightly, and her anger wasn’t just fun and games. Vélez aimed to maim and she eventually hit her mark: She cut Gary Cooper so deeply, he required stitches. Of course, this was only the beginning. Where Vélez used physical aggression to hit her lover where it hurt, Cooper betrayed her in his own nefarious way.

29. He Was A Shameless Womanizer

Gary Cooper was not a man of loyalty and commitment. While entertaining his fiery passion with Vélez, he also struck up some affairs on the side. And the women he chose weren’t just anybody. He seduced and ravished some of the greats, including Marlene Dietrich and Carole Lombard. Of course, his hungry libido didn’t end there.

30. He Couldn’t Do It Any Longer

Gary Cooper and Lupe Vélez lasted an entire three years before their relationship wore him down. She just didn’t fit into his life, and to make matters worse, his mother despised her. When they finally broke up, Cooper was exhausted. However, Vélez had one last go at her lover. She’d never backed away from violence in the past—but what she did next was perhaps her most dangerous act of all.

31. He Dodged Bullets

As the story goes, a run-down Gary Cooper was just about to board a Los Angeles train, when Lupe Vélez caught up to him. However, this was no tearful goodbye—this was revenge at its finest. Allegedly, Vélez yelled out, “Gary, you son of a b*tch.” But that wasn’t the worst part. She also took aim and fired a shot at him. Luckily, the bullet didn’t touch the actor, and in the wake of the commotion, he ducked into the train car.

Vélez—standing at only five feet—was small but incredibly mighty. And even though she almost ended Gary Cooper’s life, the lothario never forgot her.

32. He Never Forgot Her

Down the road, Cooper shed some light on how and why he stayed with Vélez—his wildest temptress—for so long. He wrote, “You couldn’t help but being attracted to Lupe Vélez. She flashed, stormed, and sparked, and on the set, she was apt to throw things if she thought it would do any good. But she objected to being called wild. She’d say, ‘I am not wild! I am just Lupe.'”

Now, we don’t know all the secrets that this couple kept, but Vélez—always one to feed the gossip mill—revealed some tawdry details about Cooper to the journalist Hedda Hopperand the scoop was downright scandalous.

33. He Had An Affair With A Man

While dating Vélez, Cooper had an extremely close friendship with the actor Anderson Lawler. They even shared a house together for a short while. Vélez revealed that every time Cooper returned from visiting Lawler, she’d pick up on Lawler’s scent. But that wasn’t the wildest part. Later, her biographer claimed that Vélez supported Cooper’s intimate relationship with Lawler as long as she could join them.

These allegations insinuated quite the scandalous three-way, but when it came to scandal, Gary Cooper was just getting started.

34. Rumors Came Back To Haunt Him

Gary Cooper’s infamous love affair with Lupe Vélez ended with a dodged bullet and a hasty train getaway…but did it really end there? Down the road, writer Robert Slatzer made some intense claims in regard to Lupe Vélez, who ended her life by suicide, taking her unborn child with her. According to his interview with her, she told him that the child she carried was none other than Gary Cooper’s.

35. He Could Have Been The Father

Vélez confided in Slatzer, telling him that Gary Cooper believed Harald Ramond to be the father. When Slatzer tried to follow up with Cooper, the actor admitted that he may have been the father. Now, Slatzer’s alleged knowledge can’t be thoroughly confirmed, but he talked to one more star about the whole debacle—and she revealed a deranged piece of the puzzle.

36. His Reputation Was On The Line

In Slatzer’s account, Clara Bow confessed to hearing Gary Cooper on the phone with Lupe Vélez shortly before her passing. He was screaming at her—and his words were utterly chilling: He threatened Harald Ramond’s life for impregnating his old flame. Bow, however, didn’t believe that Harald Ramond was the father at all, and that, instead, Vélez had tried to save Cooper’s reputation by lying about the whole thing.

There’s no denying that Cooper and Vélez were a mess, but they weren’t the only ones lighting up the rumor mill in Hollywood. Take a startling age gap and one toxic love triangle, and you have one of the most infamous celebrity affairs: Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart.

37. Lauren Bacall And Humphrey Bogart: Fighting For Love

When Howard Hawks cast Lauren Bacall at the romantic lead in To Have and Have Not, it was supposed to be her big break in Hollywood. Instead, she wound up on the wrong end of a disturbing love triangle. Despite the fact that his own wife had discovered Bacall, Hawks was a notorious womanizer, and he had his sights set on the young actress.

Considering he’d pulled this type of nonsense off before, it was no surprise—but Hawks didn’t know what he was in for with Bacall.

38. She Wanted Someone Else

Lauren Bacall was emphatically not interested in her boss—but that doesn’t mean she was above falling for another colleague. The chemistry between Bacall and her co-star Humphrey Bogart was undeniable, and it translated into red-hot passion offscreen. There was just one problem: his notoriously jealous wife, actress Mayo Methot.

So, for those keeping track, that’s one jealous director, one jealous wife, and one vulnerable young starlet—definitely a potential recipe for disaster.

39. He Was A Huge Creep

To make things even more disturbing, director Howard Hawks had based much of Bacall’s character on his wife at the time, including her nickname (“Slim”), her enigmatic demeanor, and her low, smoky voice—which he had purposely taught Bacall to mimic. Despite this misguided tribute, Hawks wound up with something of a consolation prize.

When he couldn’t catch Bacall’s eye, he had an affair with another actress, Dolores Moran. Sorry, Dolores!

40. They Fell In Love

Lauren Bacall was immediately taken with Bogart—and apparently, the feeling was mutual, because one day after filming, he reached over and kissed her, before asking for her phone number. Bacall, then 19, wrote it on a matchbook for Bogart, who was 44 years old at the time. At first, they kept their affair secret, but it wasn’t easy—after all, they were under the scrutiny of a domineering director and jealous wife. It became a race to see who would find out first…

41. He Was Furious At Her

Well, spoiler alert: It was Howard Hawks, and his reaction was absolutely chilling. Hawks had signed Bacall to a contract at the beginning of filming, but now he threatened to send her off to a low-end studio and ruin her career before it even started. Obviously, she turned to Bogart for advice, who grew equally angry at Hawks for his ridiculous behavior.

The two got into a blow-out fight, and the consequences were dire.

42. They Won Out Over Him

Things were so bad between Howard Hawks and Humphrey Bogart that production on To Have and Have Not stopped for two whole weeks. Eventually, studio head Jack Warner had to intervene in the situation—and Bogart won out in more ways than one. Not only did he convince Warner to get Hawks off Bacall’s back, but he also got a hefty raise if he promised not to stall production anymore.

But just when it seemed that Bogart and Bacall could finally pursue their “happily ever after,” doubt crept in.

43. He Went Back

After the success of To Have and Have Not, the studios insisted on pairing Bogart and Bacall for another movie, and in the fall of 1944 they began to make The Big Sleep. It looked for a second like Bogart would seamlessly move from his marriage with Methot and onto a relationship with Bacall—but what he did next shattered Bacall’s heart into a million pieces.

11 days after announcing his separation, he made another announcement: that he would stay with Methot.

44. It Crushed Her

The news of their reconciliation absolutely devastated Lauren Bacall. She later said that she cried so much that she had to ice her eyes on set to be able to look remotely normal for the cameras. But still, Bogart couldn’t stay away. He once called Bacall at 3 AM, only for Methot to pick up the phone and yell a slur at the young actress. It got worse before it got better.

45. They Couldn’t Be Together

Bogart’s marriage to Methot was his third, and he was determined to make it last—but finally, he reached his breaking point. Production on The Big Sleep paused for Christmas, leaving Bogart and home with Methot. Drinking had always exacerbated their problems, and the holidays were no exception. Finally, he left her for good—and ran straight back to Bacall.

46. They Didn’t Wait Long

On May 10, 1945, Bogart and Methot were finally divorced. Just 11 days later, Bogart wed Bacall in a small ceremony on a friend’s farm in Ohio. Many thought it wouldn’t last. After all, Bogart already had three marriages under his belt, and she was 20 to his 45. Well, Bacall was determined to prove them wrong—and she would. It wasn’t always easy, but their love remained steadfast until Bogart’s death…and beyond.

Although Bacall and Bogart had their fair share of ups and downs, they still managed to find a semblance of “happily ever after.” Unfortunately, Loretta Young and Clark Gable couldn’t say the same about their own doomed affair. In fact, the consequnces of their dalliance bred a world of questions that remain unanswered to this day.

47. Loretta Young And Clark Gable: A Terrifying “Love” Story

All bets were off once Clark Gable entered Loretta Young’s life. This was a Hollywood rogue with unbeatable charm and a reputation for being a man about town, and he was also married. Both Young and Gable landed lead roles in Call of the Wild. While filming, rumors began to swirl. Had the dashing Gable found another paramour for the taking?

48. She Was A Flirt

It mustn’t have been easy to resist the charms of the so-called “King of Hollywood.” Protected to some extent by their chaperones, the two actors endured a cold shoot plagued by blizzards and bad weather. All the while, the two of them enjoyed a seemingly harmless flirtation. Whenever Gable looked for Young he’d exclaim, “Where’s my girl?”

Young loved the attention, and as long as she kept her morals straight, she believed there couldn’t be any danger…But she was wrong.

49. She Was Vulnerable

On the overnight train back to Hollywood, the stars enjoyed individual sleeping accommodations. For once, Loretta Young didn’t have a chaperone by her side. She was alone and vulnerable. Clark Gable, aware of her isolation, left his own compartment and entered hers. What conspired on the night train remained a secret until decades later.

50. She Was A Victim

It was only in her old age that Young realized that Gable had forced himself on her—that she never gave him her consent. Sadly, these horrifying allegations didn’t come out until after her death, and the full truth shall never be known. At the time, Loretta Young blamed herself for the entire affair…and especially for the dire consequences of that fateful night.

51. She Had A Secret

Even after the end of filming, rumors about Gable and Young continued. Gable’s wife at the time, Maria, wanted to dispel the gossip by teaming up with Young to shut it down. She wanted to host a party where their good standing with one another could prove the innocence of the situation. But Young couldn’t attend. She had an even bigger problem on her hands.

52. She Couldn’t Sin

To her dismay, Loretta Young discovered that she was pregnant with Clark Gable’s child. They’d only been together one time, but the damage was done. Afraid to tell her production company for fear that they’d want her to have an abortion, Young made a drastic decision. She decided to keep the pregnancy and the baby a secret.

53. She Had To Make A Choice

Nobody ever discovered Loretta Young’s pregnancy. She isolated herself from prying eyes, and when her daughter was finally born, she named her Judy after St. Jude—the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. According to rumors, an anonymous sender sent Clark Gable a telegram notifying him of his daughter’s birth. His reaction was chilling.

He allegedly tore the notice up, letting the pieces fall to the ground. He wanted nothing to do with her. Young, on the other hand, now had a living, breathing child to consider and a difficult choice to make.

54. She Never Swayed Him

In order to raise her own daughter, Young gave Judy up for adoption and then adopted her so that nobody would suspect her of having a biological child. Despite the secrecy, Young still tried to reach out to Gable—but her attempts all ended in disappointment. She invited him over to see his daughter, but she could only recall him visiting Judy once. But that wasn’t all.

Young even opened up a bank account to allow Gable to discreetly provide for his daughter, but he never deposited a single dollar. Despite her efforts to allow some father-daughter connection, her main goal remained the same—nobody could ever discover that Gable was Judy’s real father. The truth remained buried for years, with Young only detailing the affair in her shocking biography.

55. She Wanted A Happy Ending

Young decided to publish her biography posthumously. Working with author Joan Wester Anderson, she planned to give the world what they wanted—what they’d been speculating about for decades—an admission that Clark Gable was Judy’s true father. But the book never revealed an alleged assault, and instead attributed her affair with Gable as a moment of weakness—a mere slip in her chaste ideals.

The world’s perception of her—her daughter’s perception of herremained tantamount. Loretta Young cared deeply about her good-girl reputation and her affair with Clark Gable haunted her for years. She certainly occupied one end of the spectrum…and then there were stars like Jayne Mansfield—a blonde bombshell who dove after any man she wanted, no matter the repercussions.

56. Jayne Mansfield: Unending Betrayals

Jayne Mansfield had found the beefy, brawny hunk of her dreams in Mickey Hargitay, but it was far from happily ever after. Although the pair became a camp power couple and had three children together, Jayne quickly got up to some of her old tricks. Soon, she carelessly flaunted a series of high-profile affairs right in front of Mickey’s face…and they were doozies.

57. She Slept With A President

Mansfield’s little black book was the hottest ticket in town. According to many sources, Mansfield had affairs with the likes of  Robert Kennedy and even his brother John F. Kennedy, who obviously had a thing for busty blondes. The nail in the coffin of Mansfield’s relationship to Hargitay, however, was her fling with the Las Vegas crooner Nelson Sardelli. It all led up to a divorce even more bitter and dramatic than her last.

58. She Tried To Make Her Ex Jealous

In May 1963, Mansfield was so desperate to divorce Hargitay, she insisted they go down to Juarez, Mexico to push through a quickie split. In a supremely cruel boss babe move, Jayne Mansfield also brought along her new lover Sardelli to the proceedings, just to dig the knife into Hargitay’s side a little more. Thing is, that that wasn’t even the worst part.

59. She Came Up With An Awful Plot

Jayne Mansfield could be disturbingly cunning when she wanted. In the wake of her split with Hargitay, the starlet wanted to take the bodybuilder for all he was worth. Her plan was terrifyingly spiteful. In a ploy to get more money in the divorce settlement, Mansfield accused Hargitay of kidnapping one of her kids, even though her claims were patently untrue. All I can say is YIKES.

There’s no denying that Mansfield had a messy love life and a touch of ruthlesness, and so did our next starlet—Ava Gardner— who felt the sting of infidelity, and then later, didn’t think twice about becoming the “other woman.”

60. Ava Gardner: Cornered By Infidelity

Ava Gardner’s first marriage, to MGM superstar Mickey Rooney, was far from ideal—but the way it came crashing down was utterly brutal. They were still in their honeymoon phase when Gardner suddenly became terribly ill. She had to spend several weeks in a Los Angeles hospital to recover after an emergency appendectomy. When doctors finally released her, she was ecstatic to return home—but heartbreak was the only thing there to await her return.

61. She Was Heartbroken

Gardner excitedly returned to the Westwood apartment she shared with the diminutive comic, only to make a disturbing discovery. She found evidence that while she’d been in the hospital, he’d been sleeping with another woman…in their bed. Their short marriage had never exactly been a fairytale, yet Gardner did stick around for a little longer. Eventually, the infidelity became all too much, and Gardner filed for divorce.

But while an affair had destroyed her marriage, this wouldn’t be her last brush with scandal.

62. She Was A Whirlwind Romance

No matter what she did, Gardner couldn’t escape her femme fatale reputation—and she didn’t know it, but the tabloid attention was about to reach a fever pitch. Years before, when she’d been a studio nobody, Gardner had met Frank Sinatra, who at that point was a veritable superstar. Now, nearly a decade later, the roles had reversed. Sinatra’s career had been steadily declining—but that didn’t stop Gardner from falling hard for him.

63. They Wanted To Be Together

This time, it wasn’t a one-sided relationship, and Sinatra was as obsessed with Gardner as she was with him—but once again, they faced a pretty serious roadblock. Sinatra was married to his first wife, Nancy Barbato, at the time. Regardless, the couple started a passionate affair. When he told Barbato that he was in love with Gardner, she locked him out of the house. Finally, the truth was out in the open, but that didn’t mean the drama was over.

64. He Saw Red

Sinatra and his wife were Catholic, so there was some dilly-dallying over the divorce. For her part, Gardner went to Spain to make a movie for MGM. While she was there, she made a disturbing realization. Sinatra had a dark side, which she learned the hard way. He was wildly jealous. When he visited her in Spain, he asked her if she’d seen anyone, and said that if she was honest, he wouldn’t get mad.

It was the oldest trick in the book. When Gardner confessed to a one-night stand with a local bullfighter, Sinatra was furious with her—but it would take more than one matador to tear these two apart.

65. They Were A Target

Eventually, Sinatra left his wife and their children to be with his famous mistress—and just ten days after the courts finalized his divorce, Sinatra wed Gardner. It would be an understatement to say that the tabloids had a field day. After years of accusing Gardner of being a femme fatale, she’d finally lived up to the role. And as for Sinatra? His career was already in decline, but now it was all but finished.

In the end, Ava Gardner got what she wanted. But what happens when the man you love doesn’t love you back. Actress Linda Darnell certainly knew the feeling. She desperately wanted to be a man’s first choice—and yet, in the eyes of her lovers, she was never enough.

66. Linda Darnell: Unlucky In Love

Linda Darnell was called “the girl with the perfect face”—but her stunning features couldn’t save her from her disastrous affairs.  During the shooting of the western, My Darling Clementine, she fell in love with the wealthy womanizer and business magnate, Howard Hughes. But Hughes had a terrible reputation, and when Darnell fell for him, she stepped right into the path of oncoming danger.

67. She Ignored The Warning Signs

You see, Hughes was notoriously known for his terrible dating history. His track record included a long list of the most famous names in Hollywood, and it didn’t matter to him if the women he dated already had partners. In fact, he entertained multiple women whenever he could. As such, Darnell’s close friend, actress Ann Miller, warned her about Hughes.

Having experience with Hughes herself, Miller told her that Hughes had a short attention span when it came to women and that he’d probably dump her in no time. But of course, Darnell was far too stubborn to take this advice to heart—and she paid a terrible price.

68. Her Lover Wasn’t That Invested

As expected, Hughes ended up breaking Darnell’s heart. She was willing to divorce her husband to marry him, but Hughes didn’t want to take their relationship that far and rejected any of her serious advances. Ouch. In the end, Darnell had to shamefully return to her husband…and to call that homecoming awkward would be an understatement.

69. She Had Terrible Taste In Men

Even after her horrible breakup with Hughes, Linda Darnell continued to barrel down a path filled with romantic misadventures. Not long after adopting her daughter with Marley, Darnell fell for Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the director of her most critically acclaimed film, A Letter To Three Wives. Mankiewicz was also married at that time to Austrian actress Rose Stradner, but that didn’t seem to pose an issue for him, or for Darnell.

Once again, Darnell got her divorce papers ready, and once again she faced betrayal.

70. She Thought He Was The One

Darnell emotionally invested herself in Mankiewicz—and it was an awful mistake. Even after the man made it clear he wouldn’t leave his wife for her, Darnell still stayed with him for six years, and even called him the “great love of her life.” As for Mankiewicz, let’s just say he viewed their relationship very differently.

71. Her Lover Wouldn’t Claim Her

When it came to defining their turbulent relationship, Darnell and Mankiewicz were not on the same page. Not only did he never publicly admit to his affair with her, but he also called her a “marvelous girl with very terrifying personal problems.” Were these “personal problems” caused by Mankiewicz’s callous disregard for her? Probably. Were they indeed “terrifying?” Absolutely.

72. She Tried To Take Her Own Life

The emotional toll from her relationship with Mankiewicz put Darnell’s mental health in jeopardy. She fell into a spiraling depression and had to go to therapy in 1949. Later the same year, Mankiewicz left her to focus on his own career, and as a result, she almost took her own life. She wasn’t free of him until the mid-1950s…and by then, her own marriage was past the point of no return.

While Linda Darnell struggled to find true love, so did our next two actors, Anthony Perkins and Tab Hunter—two actors with a secret too salacious, even for Hollywood.

73. Anthony Perkins And Tab Hunter: A Forbidden Affair

In 1956, four years before Psycho, Anthony Perkins set his eyes on teenage heartthrob Tab Hunter—blond, blue-eyed, and stunning in every way. They met innocently at the pool of Chateau Marmont, and their romance blossomed undercover. In order to upkeep their vigilant discretion, they often went to creative lengths for the sake of their affair…

74. They Were More Than Friends

Together, the two lovers went on double dates with other Hollywood starlets, providing delicious fodder for media magazines. When dinner was over, Perkins and Hunter headed home together instead of with their respective dates. To their friends, they were simply “college buddies.” To their production companies, it was another story…

75. The Boss Didn’t Approve

Paramount wasn’t in favor of Hunter’s love life ruining his glossy image. They told him to stop seeing Perkins and voiced their disapproval to Hunter directly. This didn’t stop the two lovebirds from convening behind the boss’s back. They even visited a beach house together—finding time amidst their busy schedules for one another. But as they say, all good things must come to an end.

76. They Were Competitive

The three-year relationship ended on a sour note. Hunter starred in the TV production Fear Strikes Out and Perkins’s ambition drove him to take the same role for its movie adaptation. The competition between the two actors—the all-American boy and his brooding counterpart—was too much to overcome. However, this wasn’t the last time Perkins would hear from Hunter.

Down the road, fate brought them together again for one final goodbye.

77. He Was Shy Around Women

Although Hunter was one of Perkins’ first and well-lit affairs, biographers connect him to other famous names such as Rock Hudson, Rudolf Nureyev, and Stephen Sondheim. His comfortability with men contrasted his shyness with women, but his dedication to maintaining a proper public persona trumped all.

78. His Ex Propositioned Him

In 1985, when Perkins’ career was at an all-time low, a familiar face re-entered the picture. His old flame—the golden Tab Hunter—appeared out of the blue with an important question for Perkins. He wanted him to star in the comedy Lust In The Dust, his latest production. He even showed up at Perkins’ front door and asked him in person, but Perkins turned him down.

Maybe old feelings were just too much, but either way, this was the last time the old lovers ever laid eyes on one another. As Perkins learned the hard way, sometimes love isn’t enough. Sadly, the same can be said about Liza Minnelli and Peter Allen. And in the end, there was one glaring problem destined to rip them apart.

79. Liza Minnelli And Peter Allen: It’s Not What It Seems

After Liza Minnelli lost her mother, she distracted herself with work. Even so, she couldn’t escape the call of Hollywood drama. In the midst of her grief and busy agenda, Liza Minnelli’s seemingly happy marriage to Peter Allen took a nose-dive it would never recover from. While filming Cabaret, she struck up an illicit affair with music producer Rex Kramer, flaunting him very publicly in front of her none-too-happy husband. Then again, she had good reason to seek revenge.

78. Her Husband Was Hiding A Secret

Although Peter Allen certainly cared for Minnelli, he was hiding an enormous secret for their entire marriage—he was gay. Even worse, although it seemed like everybody else in their circle knew about Allen’s real predilections, Minnelli herself was totally naïve and clueless about it. And when Minnelli did finally find out, it was in the worst situation imaginable.

79. She Got A Nasty Surprise

Minnelli and Allen’s marriage went up in a blaze of glory, to say the least. According to Minnelli herself, she came home one day to find Allen making love to someone else—and that “someone else” was a man. As Minnelli said of the shock, “let me put it this way: I’ll never surprise anybody coming home as long as I live. I call first!” Only, if you think that’s awkward, just wait.

80. Her Family Was Incestuous

Although Minnelli and Allen were both cheating on each other during their marriage, Allen won the “bad spouse” sweepstakes. While he was still in the closet, Allen had another secret affair…with Minnelli’s own stepfather, Mark Herron. It was a huge blow to Minnelli’s ego, and they officially divorced in 1974 after a long separation.

Now, this next famous affair, didn’t endure quite as long as Minnelli and Allen—but it did burn ten time hotter. Clara Bow and Bela Lugosi had a whirlwind affair, and it ended on the most scandalous note possible.

81. Clara Bow And Bela Lugosi: A Vampiric Lust

Of all of Clara Bow’s scandalous affairs, her tryst with horror star Bela Lugosi was the most bizarre—right from the very beginning. Bow was attracted to Lugosi when he was still doing the stage version of Dracula, and sauntered down to a performance one night wearing only her mink coat and bathing suit. Need I say that Bela was hooked?

82. She Had an Open Relationship

When it came to Lugosi, Bow took her bad girl image into overdrive. The pair were obsessed with each other, but as two Hollywood hotties, they also saw other people. Lugosi must have gotten confused about this arrangement, because during this time he married…not Clara Bow. In 1929, Lugosi tied the knot with wealthy socialite Beatrice Weeks. This did not end well.

83. She Was the Scandalous Other Woman

Lugosi’s marriage to Weeks might have been for her money, or maybe he was trying to make Bow jealous. Either way, no one was surprised when it ended, but they were downright astonished by just how quickly things went south. The union only lasted an infamous three days. And the reason Weeks cited for the split? Clara Bow, of course. As we’ll see, it only got weirder from there.

84. She Became a Bizarre Totem

Although Clara Bow’s love for Bela Lugosi flamed out fast, she gave the Dracula star a creepy memento of their time together, and it wasn’t a chaste lock of hair. It was her own naked portrait. Even more scandalously, the OG vampire hung it over his bed for the rest of his life, including through his next two marriages. In fact, the naughty work was still hanging over him when he passed. And they say love isn’t real.

Although Clara Bow and Bela Lugosi’s affair was rocky, it ended on a rather tidy (though scandalous) note. The same can not be said for Esther Williams. Faced with a streak of bad luck, she entertained multiple affairs that never ended on positive note.

85. Esther Williams: A Scandalizing Surprise

Esther Williams was Hollywood’s favorite swimming starlet—but even this mermaid had her fair share of secrets. Williams often stated that Million Dollar Mermaid was her favorite film. There must be some truth to it, as she named her autobiography after it. But there was something a little more scandalous that made the film special.

86. It Came To A Painful End

Williams’ co-star in the film was the ruggedly handsome Victor Mature, who played a manly caveman in One Million B.C. Williams later admitted that the two had a passionate affair during the filming of Millions Dollar Mermaid. But their affair was doomed to a painful end…literally. During filming, Williams performed a diving stunt that left her with three fractured vertebrae.

It’s safe to say that her body cast put an end to those racy hijinks with Mature. However, when it came to Esther Williams, there was always someone waiting in the wings.

87. She Cozied Up To The Competition

After MGM dumped her, Williams’ marriage to Gage was definitely on the rocks. She’d already had her affair with Victor Mature, next was Jeff Chandler. Chandler was on contract with competing studio Universal Pictures and was one of their most bankable stars. Williams and Chandler were on the verge of tying the knot—until Chandler gave her the surprise of her life. 

88. She Had A Shock

Williams tells the story of walking into her bedroom, and seeing Chandler in a way she’d never seen him before: dressed in a gown, wig, and high heels. Chandler had a reputation for being very manly: all six foot five inches of him. Williams ended the relationship immediately and told no one—well, until she spilled the beans in her scandalous autobiography.

Like Williams, the indelible Ingrid Bergman kept her secrets close. In fact her greatest affair didn’t spill out until years after her death.

89. Ingrid Bergman: Her Biggest Secret

Ingrid Bergman was Hollywood’s saintly good girl—but nothing could be further from the truth. She had many affairs, but only one turned an entire nation against her, and it quickly became the Hollywood scandal. But that was only the beginning. Even after her death, sordid secrets from Bergman’s naughty past kept surfacing—and they threatened to ruin her legacy forever.

90. She Was A Heartbreaker

Bergman had a reputation for keeping her heart locked away and Gary Cooper certainly learned this the hard way. He fell head over heels for her during the filming of For Whom the Bell Tolls—but their brief affair was never made to go the distance. Later, Cooper said, “No one loved me more than Ingrid Bergman, but the day after filming concluded, I couldn’t even get her on the phone.”

She was elusive and enchanting, but the disappointed hopes she left in her wake were a mere preview of the scandal to come.

91. She Started An Infamous Scandal

Now, Bergman was no stranger to affairs, but her love for Roberto Rossellini was a whole different story. Still married to her husband Petter Lindström, Bergman went ahead and had a child with her Italian director. This was a game-changer, and not in a good way. When the press caught wind of the illegitimate child, they had a field day. Just like that, Bergman and Rossellini quickly became the Hollywood scandal.

92. She Wasn’t A Saint

Bergman’s unabashed infidelity turned audiences against her; the public felt betrayed. You see, because of her chaste roles, like that of a pious nun and a saint, everyone believed that Ingrid Bergman was the ultimate “good girl.” They confused her for her characters, making her unsaintly behavior all the more shocking. Even her old lovers felt like their world had turned upside down. And that wasn’t all.

93. She Enraged A Nation

Forget the public, the entire nation came to despise Bergman. Heck, even politicians became involved, with Senator Edwin C. Johnson stating, “Under the law, no alien guilty of turpitude can set foot on American soil again.” He even called her “a powerful influence for evil.” It was the perfect opportunity for prejudice to rear its head.

Because Bergman was a foreigner—and an immoral foreigner at that—her bad behavior only fueled America’s disdain for immigrants. She, however, was more than ready to cut her strings loose.

94. She Deserted Her Daughter

It’s safe to say that Bergman’s daughter Pia, endured the brunt of her mother’s absence. With an ocean between them, Pia could only read about her mother in the paper. And when Bergman finally secured a divorce from Lindström, she threw herself into putting down fresh roots and cultivating a home life that did not include her firstborn.

The desertion was real, and to add insult to injury, it became clear that Bergman absolutely adored her new life. However, while she overcame the fallout from her relationship with Rossellini, there was one shocking tryst she kept hidden to the day she died.

95. Her Ex-Lover Broke His Silence

Five years after her death, news of one of Bergman’s secret affairs came to light. In an interview with People, Gregory Peck made a shocking confession: On the set of 1945’s Spellbound, he and Bergman had enjoyed a fleeting moment of pure passion: “All I can say is that I had a real love for her (Bergman), and I think that’s where I ought to stop…I was young. She was young. We were involved for weeks in close and intense work.”

To end our list of infamous affairs, we have the ever-haunting Joan Crawford. Much has been said about her questionable mothering—but she’s also known for her wild affairs with both men and women. Let’s take a deep look into Crawford’s piercing eyes as we try to uncover the truth: the good, the bad, and the downright disturbing.

96. Joan Crawford: A Scary Seductress

Joan Crawford’s marriage to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. had never been that stable—and it reached a disturbing climax. Crawford, always focused on her career ambitions, had started an affair with rising star Clark Gable, though it wasn’t like Fairbanks was any better. He unsuccessfully pursued Katharine Hepburn and had a slew of other trysts as well. In other words, they had nowhere to go but down.

97. She Flaunted Her Infidelity

Crawford and Clark Gable were horrifically blunt about their affair, despite the fact they were both married at the time. In fact, their most scandalous moment together was right next to their spouses. One night, their friend Adela Rogers St. Johns was out with the couples when she stumbled upon Joan and Clark, wrapped around each other behind a bandstand. When Joan saw she was caught, her reply was…unexpected.

98. She Sent a Racy Letter

As St. Johns put it, Crawford “had her legs wrapped around him, in a position that only a supple dancer like Joan could assume.” However, Crawford didn’t seem to notice the indignity of the situation. She simply looked up and said, “Adela! Darling!” But then she outdid herself. The next day, she sent St. Johns flowers and a note that read, “I bet you were thrilled watching!”

However, when it came to Crawford’s affairs, this was only the tip of the iceberg.

99. She Had Bizarre Bedroom Habits

Crawford soon developed a reputation for unbounded sensuality…and not always in a good way. When she was in her 30s, Crawford even seduced the teenage star Jackie Cooper, and she had some pretty strange bedroom habits. As Cooper recalled, “She would bathe me, powder me, cologne me. Then she would do it all over again.” Think that’s bad? Just wait.

100. He Liked “Dirty” Talk

Crawford’s obsessive cleanliness reared its pristine head during another questionable affair. 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, “You’re so clean. It’s wonderful that you shaved your armpits when you made Champion.” As Douglas put it, her passionate outburst was “a real conversation stopper.”

But while Crawford’s eccentricities didn’t always win her points in the bedroom with men, some believe that she also had her head turned by women.

101. She Went Both Ways

Crawford’s reputation as a dynamo in the sack was well-earned, but there was a side to her sensuality most people don’t know. Today, some Hollywood historians believe Crawford was bisexual, and her many affairs spanned not just men but also some of the most eligible women in Hollywood, including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and even Marilyn Monroe.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

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