A diva is the female version of a hustler—and these classic divas prove it. No one had as much talent, but no one had as much drama, either. From bedroom scandals to unimaginable tragedy, these excessive, brilliant, demanding women truly took “more” to the next level. Put on that maribou robe, warm up those vocal cords, and settle into these facts about history’s divas.
1. Josephine Baker: The Black Pearl of Paris
Often referred to as the Beyoncé of the 1920s, Josephine Baker lived a dozen lives in just her one lifetime. The African-American singer made France her home, rising to stardom in Hollywood and beyond for her sultry voice and slinky dance moves. But why doesn’t history talk more about the “Black Pearl” of Paris? Well, you’re about to find out…
2. Going Bananas
Baker is probably most famous for her banana-skirted dance, the “Danse Sauvage.” Beyond the fashion statement, the act revolutionized how dancers thought about movement itself, and it stirred up its fair share of scandal. To quote one writer, Baker used her famous backside “as though it were an instrument.” But that wasn’t the only scandal Baker caused.
3. Name Dropping
In Paris, Baker rubbed elbows with the biggest names in art—and caused an absolute frenzy. Writer Ernest Hemingway declared her to be “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw” and Pablo Picasso jumped at the chance to paint her beauty. The French director Jean Cocteau also got to work promoting her to stardom.
4. Room for 12 More
Beating the likes of Brangelina by decades, Baker adopted 12 foster kids of many ethnicities and nationalities. She called her family “The Rainbow Tribe.” On the surface, the Rainbow Tribe seemed like an idyllic, diverse brood of children. Yet after the children grew up, they told a much different story—more on that later…
5. Smash Bros
It feels like a tale of medieval chivalry, but it’s true: Two men once dueled over Baker’s honor. While staying in Budapest, a Hungarian Calvary Captain ogled and accosted Baker. Baker’s manager, Count Pepito di Albertini, would not tolerate such ignoble behavior toward his Josephine, so he challenged the man to a sword duel. Baker’s response was unforgettable.
She cheered on from her seat atop a tombstone as the suitors sparred for 10 straight minutes. What a diva, right? But when it comes to diva behavior, Baker was just getting started.
6. Spot the Difference
Baker had a pet cheetah named Chiquita, who actually had a role in the singer’s act. When they weren’t in the spotlight, Baker spoiled Chiquita by letting her ride in the car and sleep in her bed. Chiquita was truly living our dream lives.
7. There Can Only Be Four
According to legend, Baker received more than 1,500 proposals from men over the course of her life. That makes it all the more impressive that she got married only four times. Of course, her love life wasn’t the only shocking thing to happen to Baker.
8. The Secret Star Package
Even while she was a star on screen and stage, Baker hid a huge secret. She was actually a spy for the French Resistance in World War II, and often took advantage the trappings of her superstar lifestyle. For one, the large piles of “sheet music” that accompanied her person on tours were really secretly coded intel. She even pinned confidential photographs inside her underwear.
9. Pay to Play
Why did Baker adopt so many kids? She was out to prove that “children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers.” The Rainbow Tribe lived on her estate of hotels, farms, and rides. Baker would charge admission to visitors who wanted to come in and watch her children play and sing. But her son Jean-Claude Baker believed there was a darker, more cynical reason for her generosity.
10. Boy Toy
In Jean-Claude Baker’s skeptical words, “she wanted a doll.” However, a softer take on the Rainbow Tribe’s “quirky” upbringing comes from her Japanese son, Akio, who described Baker as “a great artist, and she was our mother. Mothers make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.” Well, if Baker wasn’t perfect, the next entry on our list certainly knew how that felt…
11. Eartha Kitt: The Feline Fatale
If we’re talking divas, then we definitely have to talk about Eartha Kitt. Kitt was a sex symbol who blazed the path for countless black women after her. Unlike some others, however, Kitt’s journey to stardom was met with hardship, poverty, and even surveillance by the CIA. One could never accuse the figure behind Catwoman of being shy.
12. Bringing Color to Television
In 1967, Julie Newmar left the role of Catwoman in the Batman TV series. Donning the sultry leather catsuit, Eartha Kitt stepped into the traditionally white part and revolutionized black female representation in Hollywood. Some may have found it shocking at the time—but Kitt would go on to do far more scandalous things.
13. Three’s Company
Now here’s a scandal I want to be part of. Kitt infamously once confessed that she had an intimate menage-a-trois encounter with none other than Hollywood heartthrobs James Dean AND Paul Newman. Kitt referred to the bedroom visit as “one of the most celestial experiences of my life.” Yeah, I’ll say so, Eartha.
14. Big Ticket Lovers
Before her marriage, Kitt enjoyed romances with big breadwinners. Among her elite past lovers were the cosmetics magnate Charles Revson, and even banking heir John Barry Ryan III. In the end, she ended up marrying real estate investment associate John William McDonald, who was no slouch in the bank accounts, either.
15. Going Stag
Despite her active of love life, Kitt married only once. In 1960, she wed John W. McDonald, with whom she had one daughter, Kitt McDonald. After divorcing in 1965, she never married again nor had any more children.
16. Between Two Worlds
Kitt’s mother was black and her father was white, and she struggled with her mixed-race status all her life. In a 1954 interview, she confessed: “When people come backstage and announce themselves as relatives of mine, they get the brush-off treatment. I’ll never forget how my own people treated me and my mother.” Tragically, this only got worse.
17. Home Isn’t Where the Heart Is
Kitt’s ostensibly mixed-race origins put her at odds with her family. When her mother moved in with another black man, the young Kitt was not allowed to join them, because her light complexion deemed her untrustworthy. Instead, she moved in with an aunt named Rosa and endured further pain from these relatives.
18. Can’t Touch This
According to Kitt’s autobiography, she had an affair with the actor and director Orson Welles during her stage days. But the couple hid a secret behind bedroom doors. They never actually consummated their love! As Kitt once said, “The most exciting men in my life have been the men who have never taken me to bed.”
19. Not a Kitty to Sit Pretty
In 1968, Kitt got in trouble at the White House. After getting invited to Lady Bird Johnson’s luncheon, Kitt got more and more offended at the speeches that the mostly white people around her were giving. In contrast, when it was Kitt’s turn to talk, she criticized the conflict in Vietnam, sniping, “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed.” Her fiery words had dark consequences.
20. So, No Dessert?
Kitt’s statements made Lady Bird Johnson burst into tears. It became known as the “White House Incident,” and it ended up completely derailing Kitt’s career over the next few decades. After Kitt’s conduct at the luncheon, Hollywood effectively blacklisted her from work in the United States. But that wasn’t even the worst part.
The CIA also reportedly spread rumors about her being “a sadistic nymphomaniac,” and even planted a dossier about her bedroom life into the public consciousness.
21. Rough Ride Home
The government made its stance on Eartha Kitt immediately clear following her comments to President Johnson’s wife. She had arrived at the luncheon via arranged car, but she found none waiting to help her leave. She had to cab her way back. When she did, she heard the radio already breaking down her words on the commute.
Granted, our next diva knows a thing or two about controversy as well.
22. Stevie Nicks: Bohemian Queen
Stevie Nicks is an American rock heroine who is best remembered as Fleetwood Mac’s resident songstress. With her dreamy style and haunting voice, Nicks was the spirit of classic 1970s rock. But from her addictions to tragedies and infamous impulses, Nicks also knew how to make the headlines for her very questionable life choices.
23. She’s Been Everywhere, Man
Before she was “Stevie Nicks,” she was Stephanie Lynn Nicks, born on May 26, 1948 in Phoenix, Arizona. However, her father’s work as a food business executive meant the family moved around all over the country, living in places such as Los Angeles, El Paso, and even San Francisco. But it was far from an idyllic childhood.
24. Fine With Confinement
Even by the standards of the day, Stevie Nicks’ mother was overprotective. According to the artist, her mother confined her at home with fairy tales for comfort, and the young girl itched to get out into the world and to stop being treated like a breakable, china doll. Maybe this is why she ended up rebelling—and with such dire consequences.
25. Twiddle Tee-Dee
Stevie’s stage name came about in her infancy. The baby Nicks could only pronounce her real name, “Stephanie, as “tee-dee.” This eventually led to her going by “Stevie.”
26. Sweet Vocals High
Fleetwood Mac vocalist Lindsey Buckingham was more than Stevie Nicks’ first music partner—he was also her high school sweetheart. The two met during Nicks’ senior year in high school, when she saw Buckingham perform “California Dreamin’” at a club. Nicks joined his psychedelic rock band, Fritz. But as many know, their love had a spectacularly bad ending—we’ll get to that soon.
27. Some Girls Allowed
The year 1974 changed everything for Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Nicks’ music producer landlord, Keith Olsen, played their song “Summer Love” for Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood. That year, Fleetwood asked Buckingham to be the new guitarist for their band. He agreed—but only if his partner Stevie Nicks could join too.
28. All It Takes Is One Hit…
To cope with the hardships of her fledgling career, Nicks took cocaine for the first time ever. Her friend told her it wasn’t dangerous—just for fun. But by the 1980s, her addiction had turned deadly. Before one tour, Nicks asked a plastic surgeon, “What do you think about my nose?” He replied, “Well, I think that next time you do a hit…you could drop dead.”
29. Thank Goodness for Recycled Songs
With Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in the mix, Fleetwood Mac achieved worldwide success with their eponymous album in 1975. This album contained the song “Rhiannon,” which Nicks composed herself while still just a duo act. And it was a good thing too: The song became one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
30. For Worse, But Not for Better
Nicks and Buckingham survived hard times, but success proved to be their undoing. The pressure of the band’s fame proved too much for the creative duo, and Nicks ended their romantic relationship soon after, never to fully rekindle it again. It was a harsh blow, but tragically, there was even worse heartbreak ahead.
31. You Win Some, You Lose a Lot
In 1981, Nicks’ best friend Robin Anderson was diagnosed with leukemia and had only three months to live. Even worse, Robin was pregnant at the time. In a cruel twist of fate, Nicks found this out on the same day that her solo album, Bella Donna hit No. 1. To quote her, “Something went out that day; something left.” Then, all this turmoil led to a very bad and very strange decision.
32. Some Things Can’t Be Replaced
In 1982, Nicks mourned her best friend Robin, who passed on from cancer shortly after giving birth to a son. Stricken with grief, Nicks was convinced Anderson would want her to take care of the baby…so she married Anderson’s widower, Kim Robinson. The marriage lasted only three months. Nicks would go on to describe her initial decision as “completely deranged.”
33. Not Leaving Without a Fight
Right before Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 Shake the Cage tour, Nicks and her ex-romantic partner Lindsey Buckingham got into what bassist John McVie called a “physically ugly” altercation. The cause? Nicks became allegedly enraged at Buckingham’s decision to call it quits on his band. She hadn’t worked this hard to have him up and leave.
34. Stop Before You Drop
After overcoming her addiction to the white stuff, Nicks sadly developed another dependency—this time on klonopin. One day, it all came to a horrifying climax. In 1993, Nicks tripped and bashed her head on a fireplace. Describing the incident, she said, “I’m one of those people who doesn’t injure themselves. I was horrified to see that blood…I knew it was the Klonopin.”
Immediately afterward, Nicks checked herself into the hospital for a grueling 47-day detox.
35. The Paths Not Taken
Nicks’ life is chock full of drama and famous bedroom dalliances, not the least of which was with Eagles’ singer Don Henley. But the fling had dire consequences. One day, Nicks found herself pregnant with Henley’s child. Knowing their relationship couldn’t last, she made the difficult decision to have an abortion.
36. Billie Holiday: The Strange Fruit
If you think Nicks had it hard, just wait until you know what happened to legendary songstress Billie Holiday. Holiday was one of the signature voices of jazz, and occasionally the blues. Yet she was born into a life of incredible hardship and poverty, and her utterly tragic fate kept her from knowing the full extent of her legacy.
37. Going It Alone
From the very beginning, Holiday’s life was far from picture perfect. Shortly after her birth, Holiday’s father abandoned her and her mother, hoping to make it as a musician. Holiday’s mother had it rougher, though. Her parents kicked her out of their home for getting pregnant. Sadly, that may have been the least heartbreaking thing about Holiday’s life.
38. Family Business
When Holiday was in her early teens, her mother went to desperate measures for cash, and started working out of a brothel. But it was about to get even worse. In 1929, times got even tougher, until Holiday herself joined her mother in the oldest profession in the world. At the time, she wasn’t even 14 years old yet.
39. Flower Girl
As a singer, one of Holiday’s trademarks was her habit of wearing white gardenias in her hair. This came to be a defining part of her appearance onstage.
40. How It All Began
Holiday’s career as a singer began as an act of complete desperation and a little luck. When she was 16, she and her mother were trying to make some form of living, and Holiday went to the Log Cabin Club looking for work. She told the manager that she could dance—but after seeing her audition, his response was heartbreaking.
He turned her down flat. She then quickly replied that she could also sing. This is where the magic started. According to Holiday, the patrons at the bar began weeping as she sang. Obviously, she got that job.
41. A Bad Influence
Holiday’s massive talent and gifts came with one weak spot: her addictions to bad substances and worse relationships. She and her fellow performer Joe Guy were madly in love, but both also struggled with addictions, goading each other on. Even while Holiday was shooting the film New Orleans, Guy would often visit the set just to supply her. Yet even worse relationships were ahead…
42. When Life Gives You Lemons…
Holiday’s 1942 song “God Bless the Child” has heartbreaking origins. It stems from one of the fiercest fights she ever had with her mother. Over the years, Holiday had given a great deal of money to her mother, but when she herself was short on funds, her mother refused to help. Reportedly, during this argument, Holiday’s mother shouted, “God bless the child that’s got his own.”
43. The Sopranos Could Have Warned You…
In 1957, Holiday married Louis McKay, who worked as an enforcer for the Mafia. The end of their love was sad and cruel. Like many men in Holiday’s life, McKay got physical during arguments and didn’t treat the singer with respect. Before her untimely end, Holiday had separated from her husband and was seeking a divorce.
44. Conditions for Performance
“Strange Fruit” is Holiday’s most famous song, and talks about the ruthless racism black people experienced, particularly in lynch mobs. It’s a heartbreaking tune—and it took a brutal toll on Holiday. When she performed it, she would only do so under certain conditions: First, it had to be the closing number. Second, no waiters could serve anything while she sang, and there could be no lights except for one focused on her face.
45. The End
After years of chemical dependency, Holiday was diagnosed with cirrhosis in 1959. By that point, however, she was unable to give up drinking, despite her doctor’s warnings. On May 31, 1959, Holiday took up treatment for liver disease and heart disease. She would never leave the hospital, dying on July 17 at the age of 44. But before she died, there was one more indignity.
46. Awkward Timing, Fellas…
Holiday spent her final moments of life under arrest. While she was in the hospital in 1959, agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics descended upon her. The Bureau had reportedly been focusing on Holiday for nearly 20 years, and as she was dying, she was put under arrest, and a guard constantly stood watch at her room.
47. Barbra Streisand: The Hollywood Songstress
Google “Renaissance Woman” and it will ask if you meant Barbra Streisand, as she has done it all in her illustrious career. The singer, actor, and director—just to name a few—has found success in every medium she’s pursued, and has the awards and accolades to prove it. But her life behind the scenes has been even more dramatic.
48. The Shorter the Better
Barbara Joan Streisand was born on April 24, 1942, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. And no, that is not a typo in her first name; her given name was actually spelled that way. She would eventually drop the second “a” in her name at the beginning of her career, since she thought it would help her stand out more. It may have helped her fame, but it didn’t save her from tragedy.
49. Hard-Knock Life
Due to her unique look, Streisand struggled early on in life and had to deal with cruelty both at school and at home. She was mocked by other students and emotionally hurt by her unsympathetic stepfather. But her mother was even worse. Her mother never supported her, since she believed her daughter wasn’t attractive enough to make it.
50. Finding Light in Darkness
Tragedy struck Streisand very early on in her life when her dad passed on after suffering a seizure. She was only 15 months old, and ended up having to move in with her grandparents. As difficult as it is to lose a parent, especially at such a young age, Streisand believes her father’s untimely end helped shaped who she would later become in life.
51. One Bad Day
In 1967, Streisand caused a total disaster. In every performer’s worst nightmare, she forgot the lyrics to some of her songs while performing a concert in Central Park for more than 130,000 people. This moment took such a toll on her that she developed stage fright, which led a 27-year period where she did not perform live in front of an audience.
52. An Offer She Could Refuse
Streisand’s favorite actor of all-time is Marlon Brando, and he just so happened to be her teenage crush as well. Later, she would end up becoming close friends with him—and one day, he made a disturbing move on her. While they were both on a road trip, the much-older actor tried to take her to bed. Streisand, for her part, shut him down. Apparently, teenage crushes don’t last forever.
53. Mall of Streisand
Streisand has an estate in Malibu that consists of three houses. But it gets better from there. Her basement is essentially a mall, including a frozen-yogurt shop, a dress shop filled with old costumes and Oscar dresses, a doll shop called Bee’s for her antique doll collection, and a screening room with a 17-foot wide screen.
54. Put the Load on Her
Streisand literally did it all when it came to her 1983 movie Yentl. Get this: She wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the Oscar-nominated feature film. Not only was that an impressive feat in and of itself, but it was also the first time a woman had ever accomplished that in the history of Hollywood. Babs really is a true diva.
55. Three’s Company
After Streisand’s beloved dog Samantha passed on in 2017, the diva made headlines for a very bizarre reason. Unable to let go of Sammie, Streisand actually cloned her dog. No, really. The cloning process ended up producing four puppies. While one sadly didn’t make it, Babs kept two for herself and gave one to her friend.
56. If the Shoe Fits
Another one of Streisand’s accomplishments is the film A Star Is Born, but few people know just how much of her heart and soul she poured into the production. When dressing her character, Streisand actually used clothes from her own closet. Fans of the movie may have even noticed that her clothes get a shout-out in the credits: It says “Miss Streisand’s clothes from her closet” in the crawl.
57. Different Times
When Streisand directed her first film, Yentl, the crew welcomed her with open arms. Her next film was a much different story.While making The Prince of Tides, Streisand entered a waking nightmare. According to Streisand, the whole crew and even some of the cast was an “old boys’ club,” and they refused to listen to her expertise.
58. Janis Joplin: The Rock Goddess
Famous for her husky voice and electrifying stage presence, Janis Joplin managed to become an icon in her all-too brief life. For the little time she was here, Joplin forever changed the landscape of rock and roll in the 1960s. But her problems were deep and many, and they led to her absolutely heartbreaking end.
59. Heart and Bottle Breaker
The Doors frontman Jim Morrison was reportedly so enamored with Joplin, he went to disturbing lengths to get a date. Joplin, on the other hand, wasn’t interested, but Morrison was pretty sure he could turn that “no” into a “yes.” He kept bothering her and bothering her—until Joplin broke a bottle over his head, knocking Morrison out.
That never changed Morrison’s opinion of Joplin, though. Even after the incident, he said, “What a great woman! She’s terrific!”
60. Dared to Be Different
While Joplin was an undergraduate attending college, the school paper ran an article on her titled “She Dares to Be Different.” The piece described her strange habits, like walking around barefoot and carrying an autoharp with her just in case she felt like singing. But these lighthearted quirks soon turned dark.
61. A Party for Every Problem
Joplin got into counterculture—and the illicit substances that went with it—hard and fast. By 1965, her health was rapidly deteriorating due to her drug use. She was so severely underweight and wasted, her friends even threw her a bus fare party so she could afford the trip back home to get clean and sort herself out.
62. Chelsea Girl
Joplin had a one-night-stand with folk singer Leonard Cohen, who penned the song “Chelsea Hotel #2” about their time together. He once told Rolling Stone about that night, saying, “She wasn’t looking for me, she was looking for Kris Kristofferson.” Cohen lived to regret his confession: He later apologized for connecting Joplin with the song and kissing and telling.
63. Almost a Bride
Joplin got engaged once to a man she’d met in San Francisco, Peter de Blanc. Sadly, it was doomed to a heartbreaking end. He’d asked for her father’s permission to marry her, and Joplin and her mother had already started planning the wedding when de Blanc suddenly broke it off. Why? We don’t know, but given the next fact, maybe it’s for the best…
64. Who Do You Love?
Even though Joplin was heartbroken over losing de Blanc, she might very well have been better off without him. According to Peggy Caserta—a former girlfriend and best friend of Joplin—the legendary rocker was bisexual. It’s also hardly likely the creative, free-spirited Joplin would have settled down into the life of a housewife.
65. Paid in Furs
During Joplin’s heyday, she became infamous for her love of one boozy brand: Southern Comfort. As a way of saying thanks for all the free advertising, Southern Comfort even gave her a fur coat in return, and she’d often take a fifth of the whiskey onto stage with her during performances. Maybe that explains what happened during one of those performances…
66. Rowdy Night
In 1969 while performing in Tampa to a restless crowd, the authorities asked Joplin if she would help them calm down the audience. Joplin did something else entirely. Instead, she shouted at the police, cursing at them—and even more surprising, the crowd did actually calm down. But the authorities got their revenge on Joplin.
The authorities decided they actually didn’t really like being yelled at and detained Joplin after the show was done. She spent the night in jail.
67. Camera Shy
In the summer of 1969, Joplin performed at this little music festival—Woodstock—maybe you’ve heard of it? There was a documentary crew there to record the mythical event, but you won’t find Joplin on any of their tapes for one big reason. She didn’t feel her performance at Woodstock was good enough, and refused to let it be part of the documentary.
68. Planned Screamer
While it might seem like Joplin improvised her raw vocal outbursts, she actually planned them! One of her friends and colleagues once recalled a recording session, saying, “She practiced. I remember her trying out different screams on us.”
69. Lost Love Letter
One of Joplin’s ex-boyfriends once sent her a telegram that said, “Love you Mama, more than you know…” Sadly, it never reached her. She died before being able to read it. The sender was David Niehaus, who met Joplin on a trip to Brazil. At the time, he helped her get clean again, but she ended their relationship and started using once more. Then, she went back to San Francisco…and her tragic end.
70. Young and Done
Joplin is a member of the infamous “27 Club,” a group of artists who’ve died tragically at 27. Joplin passed from an overdose October 4th, 1970. Even eerier, she died only weeks after Jimi Hendrix also passed on in similar circumstances, also at 27. Then, less than a year after Joplin’s tragedy, Jim Morrison was also found dead at age 27.
71. Drinks Are on Pearl
Joplin didn’t want a big fussy funeral after she died. In fact, she left money in her will for a party at her wake. It was a bash for the ages. According to party-goers, everyone got as drunk as possible, which might have been the best way to honor Joplin—so long as the drinks were Southern Comfort, naturally.
72. Happy Birthday, Baby!
The very last thing Joplin recorded was a birthday song for fellow rock legend John Lennon.
73. Liza Minnelli: The Tragic Daughter
Some people achieve greatness, while others are born into it: Liza Minnelli did both, arguably. Born to the Hollywood legend Judy Garland, one would think it would be easy street. Unfortunately, Minnelli’s path to fame was paved with addiction, divorce, and insecurity. It’s a mild miracle she made it to the other side.
74. House Rules
Minnelli comes from a famous and twisted family tree. In 1946, she was born to the second marriage of screen legend Judy Garland. Meanwhile, her father was Italian film director Vincente Minnelli. Her parents divorced in 1951, when she was 5 years old. They would each go on to re-marry several times, resulting in a tangle of half-siblings for the little Minnelli.
75. The Insecurities of the Mother
Minnelli’s inheritance isn’t so charmed. Her mother suffered from addictions from adolescence due to pressure from the Hollywood system. Minnelli is public about comparing her own struggles to her mother’s, saying, “My whole life, this disease has been rampant. I inherited it, and it’s been horrendous.” That wasn’t the only thing she inherited from her mother, either.
76. I Got It From My Mama
For the record, Garland died of a barbiturate overdose when Minnelli was only 23 years old. Minnelli also inherited Garland’s physique of a large chest, short waist, and long legs—the same physique that studio executives endlessly criticized Garland for. Due to her similar body and unique features, Minnelli grew up thinking she was ugly, too.
77. Climbing the Rainbow Mountain
Judy Garland’s shadow loomed so large over Minnelli that, for years, she was hesitant to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” since that number was so deeply tied to her mother. However, in a 2002 comeback performance, she finally sang it in public and received a standing ovation for continuing her mother’s legacy.
78. Never Too Early to Know Your Lines
Minnelli’s showbiz career began at age three, when she made a cameo appearance in her mother Judy Garland’s musical, In the Good Old Summertime. It only got more serious from there. When most girls were playing hopscotch, Minnelli was singing at nightclubs. Since she was a teenager, Minnelli was used to gracing bars with her voice.
79. Gals and Palindromes
For her 1963 TV debut on The Jack Parr Show, Minnelli was introduced by the name “Yduj Dnalrag.” After her performance, the host revealed that she was Judy Garland’s daughter, and her on-screen name was merely “Judy Garland” spelled backwards.
80. Four Strikes, You’re out
To date, Liza Minnelli has been married and divorced four times. This matches the record of her mother, Judy Garland, who was also divorced four times—but had five husbands.
81. Mother’s Milk Is Toxic Today
It’s likely that Minnelli’s prescription drug use began with her use of Valium to cope with the death of her mother.
82. If He Only Had a Heart
Minnelli almost built a Wizard of Oz family dynasty with her second husband, Jack Haley, Jr. He was the son of Jack Haley, who played the Tin Man alongside Minnelli’s mother in The Wizard of Oz. Alas, this magical union was not to last. They divorced after just five years of marriage in 1979. But Minnelli had even more heartbreak to come.
83. Had Enough Vows
Minnelli’s third marriage was to stage manager and sculptor, Mark Gero. The two were married in December 1979, but divorced in 1992. At 13 years, this was her longest-lasting marriage.
84. Love Lost
Minnelli’s most recent marriage, to TV personality David Gest, was explosive. They were married for just a year before he accused her of being emotionally and physically harmful. Then in 2003, he launched a $10 million lawsuit against her. Minnelli would insist Gest only made up the accusations for money. Whatever the truth, a judge dismissed the case in 2006 for lack of evidence.
85. Laugh or Cry
While Minnelli has no children to speak of, most tragically, she was pregnant once, but she experienced dire complications. The baby did not survive, but Minnelli did get a severe hernia from the procedures that doctors performed trying to preserve the pregnancy. In a 2008 interview, she was able to laugh about the twisted trade-off.
86. Man of Regrets
Liza Minnelli was good friends with Michael Jackson, who served as best man at her wedding to David Gest. After the marriage fell apart, she jokingly (we think) blamed Jackson for ever marrying him. To quote Minnelli, “I grabbed [Michael]… And I said, ‘Why did you let me marry this idiot?’ He said, ‘I thought you liked him! You looked so happy.”
87. Diana Ross: The Supreme Queen
Entering her eighth decade in show business, Diana Ross has proven to be one of America’s most enduring entertainers. As a singer and an actress, she has maintained a consistent level of success and continues to record hit albums and sell out concert tours around the world. But those who witnessed her rise to fame might say she was cutthroat in her pursuit of the spotlight.
88. Diane With an “E”
Though the world knows her as Diana, Ross was actually named Diane at birth. A typo led to her name being recorded as Diana in official records, but close friends still refer to her as Diane. Ross is even credited as “Diane Ross” on some early Supremes records.
89. Keeping Tabs
At 16, Ross signed with Motown Records—but not as a singer. She actually worked as a secretary when she first started. Motown president Berry Gordy wanted to support Ross and her group, but he still felt they were too young to sign to a record deal, so he enlisted her to file papers around the Motown offices. Hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.
90. New Name, Who Dis?
As a teenager, Ross formed a singing group called the Primettes with neighborhood friends Florence Ballard, Betty McGlown, and Mary Wilson. They renamed themselves the Supremes in 1961, but not everyone was happy with the choice: In fact, Diana Ross herself absolutely hated the band name. But that was just the beginning of the strife.
91. A Change in Strategy
The Supremes were not an instant success. In fact, they were known around Hitsville as “the no-hit Supremes.” Their fortunes seemed to change when Gordy decided that Ross should be the lead singer, rather than the girls sharing lead duties. The group finally hit number one with the Ross-led “Where Did Our Love Go?” in 1964.
When the Supremes were just starting out, Ross came up with an ingenious—and immoral—plan to get on top. Because they were lower-billed and usually on earlier in the night, Ross would go into the audience and study the remaining acts’ dance routines. She would usually learn the routines, teach them to the rest of the Supremes, and perform them at the following concert.
It took the thunder from the bigger acts and infuriated them, but Ross got what she wanted. And the drama didn’t stop there.
93. In the Spotlight
As the leader of the Supremes, Ross garnered much more attention than either Ballard or Wilson. This caused a lot of jealousy between the hungry young women, and Ballard eventually left the group out of frustration. But Ross’s star wouldn’t stop rising: In 1967, the group was officially called Diana Ross and the Supremes, and Ross soon embarked on a solo career.
94. I Pity the Fool Who Messes With Diana Ross
Future A-Team star Mr. T once served as Ross’s bodyguard.
95. Too Much Too Soon
In her autobiography Secrets of a Sparrow, Ross made a tragic revelation. The legendary diva confessed that she suffered from anorexia. She placed a lot of the blame on the pressure that Motown executives put both on her and her fellow Supremes, and talked about staying strong in the face of her deep insecurities.
96. No Love Lost
When her former bandmate Florence Ballard passed away in 1976, Ross showed up for the funeral to pay respects. It turned out to be a terrible idea. Throngs of mourning Supremes fans booed her as she exited her limo. Ballard had fallen on hard times since leaving the Supremes, and many fans blamed Ross for Ballard’s exit from the group.
97. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough?
Ross married Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Naess Jr. in 1986, and they had two children together before divorcing in 2000. Still, Ross called Naess the love of her life and seemed to hope for a reconciliation—but all she got was tragedy. Naess died while mountain climbing in 2004. Despite this horrifically sad ending, we’ve actually saved Ross’s most dramatic romance for last…
98. Baby Love
From 1965 until 1971, Ross had a romantic relationship with Motown Records president Berry Gordy, the same man who first hired her as a secretary. Their steamy affair came with a dark secret. When Ross married music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein in January 1971, she was actually pregnant with Gordy’s child.
99. Friends With No Benefits
To go back to Liza Minnelli, she also had one particularly nightmarish relationship. Her first marriage was to a man named Peter Allen, and it ended with a spectacularly awful discovery. One day, she decided to surprise Peter by coming home early, only to find her husband in bed with someone else. Also, that someone else was a man.
According to her, she was the last to know Allen was gay. As she said, “I married Peter, and he didn’t tell me he was gay. Everyone knew but me. And I found out … well, let me put it this way: I’ll never surprise anybody coming home as long as I live. I call first!” Nevertheless, the two stayed close friends. Okay…but it gets even more twisted.
100. Love Square
While still in the closet, Minnelli’s first husband Peter Allen embarked on a secret affair with Minnelli’s own stepfather, Mark Herron. He was still married to Judy Garland at the time, which must have made an awkward event of both family dinners and red carpets. But I guess that’s good old Hollywood for you, right?
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