February 26, 2020 | Scott Mazza

These Hollywood Femme Fatales Took "Scandal" To The Next Level

A criminal. A cradle-robber. A liar concealing a ruinous secret—and more. These women were so scandalous, Hollywood tried desperately to erase them. Let's just say there's a reason they called them "femme fatales." Here are their whole, hidden histories.

Jean Harlow: The Platinum Blonde Tragedy

For a time in the 1930s, Jean Harlow was the biggest star in Hollywood. Her vampy good looks, easy glamour, and natural sensual appeal earned her the nickname “The Blonde Bombshell,” but underneath her polished façade was a tender soul too often hurt by studios and wracked with heartache—all the way until her devastating end.

Jean Harlow FactsPixabay

1. She Had an Adorable Nickname

Harlow was born Harlean Harlow Carpenter on March 3, 1911. Her nickname was “The Baby,” a name that she kept even in her silver screen days. People actually called her “The Baby” so often that she didn’t know her real name was “Harlean” until she was five years old.

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2. She Was the Original Blonde Bombshell—With a Price

Jean Harlow was famous for her so-called “platinum blonde” hair—in fact, it was her stardom that helped first coin the shiny term. When he was promoting Harlow in one of his films, director Howard Hughes publicized her hair color as new-fangled “platinum,” quickly turning Harlow into the original Blonde Bombshell. However, her gold locks came with a dark side.

Jean Harlow FactsPixabay

3. She Went to Extreme Lengths to Stay Beautiful

As a Hollywood starlet, Harlow swore up and down that her white-blonde hair was her natural color—but nothing could be further from the truth. She actually reportedly kept up the façade with weekly bleachings of ammonia, Clorox, and Lux soap flakes. The process did horrific damage to her naturally ash-blonde locks.

Jean Harlow FactsShutterstock


4. She Had a Very Foolish Marriage

Few people know that Jean Harlow was married before she ever became a star. When she was still a freshman at her prep school, fell head over heels in love with Chuck McGrew, a handsome 19-year-old from a wealthy family. The two lovebirds simply couldn’t wait, and married in 1927 after a scant year of dating. Sadly, they were doomed to a heartbreaking end.

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5. She Hid a Little-Known Dark Side

Harlow’s marriage to McGrew was full of luxe living, midnight galas, and dry martinis. After McGrew got his inheritance, the couple moved to Beverly Hills and posted up in a mansion. While there, both Harlow and McGrew became notorious lushes, drinking their days away and growing increasingly unhappy with each other.

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6. She Was a Teenage Divorcee

Despite all her efforts to keep her relationship together, McGrew and Harlow divorced in 1929. Still in her teenage years, Harlow now had one failed marriage under her belt. But her most devastating loves were still ahead of her.

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7. She Endured a Huge Insult

In 1934, Harlow reportedly went head-to-head with the cutting British socialite Margot Asquith at a dinner party—and she received a brutal comeback. Apparently, the naïve Harlow kept pronouncing Asquith’s name as “Mar-GOT” rather than “Mar-GO.” Unable to bear it any more, Asquith snapped back, “No, no; the 't' is silent, as in 'Harlow'.” That’s right, she called poor unsuspecting Jean a “Harlot.”

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8. She's the Inspiration Behind Catwoman

Jean Harlow partly inspired the iconic Batman character Catwoman. Creator Bob Kane once said that when he was an impressionable boy, Harlow “seemed to personify feminine pulchritude at its most sensuous." The other inspiration for the leather-clad anti-heroine was actually Harlow’s fellow screen siren Hedy Lamarr (but more on her later).

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9. Her Second Marriage Was Her Happiest—And Most Tragic

After their deep friendship developed into something much more, MGM executive Paul Bern and Jean Harlow married on July 2, 1932. Bern was one of the only people who truly believed in Harlow as a serious actress and selflessly wanted her to succeed. It was a loving marriage—but that didn't save them from an infamous, violent end.

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10. Her Home Became a Gruesome Crime Scene

Just two months after the wedding, authorities found Bern dead in the couple’s home from a gunshot wound. When authorities first took in the scene, many speculated that Harlow had offed her new husband. The truth was actually much darker. In the short suicide note that lay beside beside Bern, he wrote his devastating final words.

Jean Harlow FactsWikipédia

11. Her Husband's Last Words Are Infamous

Bern's words were incredibly mysterious, and have puzzled old Hollywood sleuths to this very day. "Dearest Dear,” the note read, “Unfortuately [sic] this is the only way to make good the frightful wrong I have done you and to wipe out my abject humiliation, I Love [sic] you. Paul You understand that last night was only a comedy.” Most interpretations of his words are scandalous.

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12. Her Husband's Suicide Note May Have a Secret Meaning

People have speculated for years about what Bern meant by “frightful wrong” as well as the reasons for his suicide. After he passed on, rumors abounded that he was impotent or embarrassed about the size of his manhood. Other theories claimed that his family history of suicide finally overtook him. There is, however, one final, disturbing possibility.

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13. Her Husband's Death Is Stranger Than Fiction

Though the authorities soon cleared Harlow of any involvement in Bern’s tragic end, many still suspect the suicide note was a fake and that someone killed Bern. Indeed, many Hollywood insiders believe that Bern’s ex-lover Dorothy Millette killed him in a jealous rage, an allegation that one of Bern’s biographers backs up.

Tragically—and maybe tellingly—just days after the incident, Millette jumped off of a ferry and passed on. Nonetheless, Bern’s official cause of death remains a suicide. And Harlow’s heartache was far from over.

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14. She Had a Horrific Illness

In 1937, Harlow's health took a terrifying turn. She had been mildly ill for months, but while filming Saratoga, the star began to complain of nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain. It got so bad that she had to lean on her co-star and friend Clark Gable between takes. When they found out the awful truth, it was too late.

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15. Her Final Days Were Filled With Tragedy

Harlow took time off work to recover from what doctors now diagnosed as an inflamed gallbladder, but when Clark Gable visited her, he was heartbroken to find her severely bloated with, astonishingly, urine on her breath. Soon after that, medical professionals confirmed the beautiful girl was in the final stages of kidney failure.

Jean Harlow FactsWikipédia


16. She Kept Working Even When She Was Dying

Harlow worked for months throughout her illness, tirelessly trying to please her exploitative studio heads while becoming weaker and weaker. She was so determined to curry their favor that she even attended the Oscars ceremony in 1936 while incredibly ill. She was apparently so sick that fellow actress Carole Lombard had to help her reapply her makeup in the powder room.

Jean Harlow FactsWikipédia

17. Her End Was a National Tragedy

On June 6, 1937, Harlow was taken to the hospital. That night, she slipped into a coma. By the next morning, she was dead. She was only 26 years old, and mourned by all of Hollywood. As one MGM writer later wrote of Harlow’s utterly senseless end: “The day Baby died...there wasn't one sound in the commissary for three hours.”

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Merle Oberon: The Dark Angel

Heartbreak. Struggle. Love affairs. And a dark secret that she tried to hide until the day she died. In her time on Earth, starlet Merle Oberon lived a thousand lives. Her devastating beauty propelled her to stardom, but the scandalous circumstances of her birth haunted her throughout her life. It was only after she passed on that her truth was finally exposed.

Merle Oberon FactsWikipedia

1. Her Birth Is Shrouded in Mystery

Merle Oberon's affairs and relationships might have set Hollywood a titter during her adult life, but the starlet was quite literally born into scandal as well. While Oberon's birth certificate lists Arthur Terrence O'Brien Thompson and Charlotte Selby as her parents, in reality, the truth was so much stranger and darker.

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2. Her Ancestry Was Scandalous

Merle Oberon was born Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson in 1911 in Bombay, British India—what we know today as Mumbai, India. Oberon's father, Arthur Thompson, was a British mechanical engineer who worked for Indian Railways. Oberon's mother, Charlotte Selby, was from Ceylon and was of mixed ancestry, including some Maori roots.

Merle Oberon FactsPixabay

3. Her Birth Certificate Was a Huge Lie

Oberon’s birth certificate hid a twisted secret. Charlotte Selby, the woman listed as her mother, was actually her grandmother. Charlotte’s 12-year-old daughter Constance was Oberon’s real mother, and the starlet's real father is unknown to this day. Oberon was raised to believe that she was just Constance’s sister.

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4. She Was an Overnight Success

After appearing in a number of British films, Merle Oberon became Hollywood royalty nearly overnight thanks to a contract with legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn. She was just 24 when she appeared in the hit film The Dark Angel. Not only did Dark Angel launch Oberon's career, it also sky-rocketed her into cinema history.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

5. She Suffered Immense Heartache As a Child

Young Merle was just three years old when the man she thought was her father, Arthur Thompson, died during WWI. He perished on the Western Front at the Battle of the Somme—but he didn’t die in combat. Instead, pneumonia took his life in 1914.

Merle Oberon FactsWikimedia Commons

6. Her Childhood Was Never Stable

Thompson’s tragic end left Charlotte, Constance, and Merle alone and impoverished in Bombay—until 1917, when it finally looked like their lives were turning around. They moved to Calcutta where Oberon received a scholarship to attend one of the finest private schools in the city. It should’ve been a step toward a better life, but it was the beginning of a nightmare.

Merle Oberon FactsWikimedia Commons

7. Kids Were Incredibly Cruel to Her

Oberon was relentlessly bullied at La Martiniere Calcutta School for Girls. They targeted her home life—she had no father anymore, and her single mother was poor and a woman of color. Kids always seem to know what will cut the deepest.

Merle Oberon FactsFlickr

8. She Had a Regal Nickname

As a girl and into her teen years, Oberon went by the nickname “Queenie.” She got it at birth, since her arrival on this planet coincided with Queen Mary’s and King George V’s 1911 visit to India.

Merle Oberon FactsWikimedia Commons

9. Her First Love Betrayed Her

When Oberon was just 18 years old, she met a former actor named Colonel Ben Finney at a local restaurant and began dating him—but he would soon deal her a savage betrayal. When Finney went to visit Oberon’s home and meet her mother for the first time, he broke up with her. The reason? Oberon’s mother was a woman of color.

Merle Oberon FactsWikimedia Commons

10. She Risked It All for Fame

Despite this heinous rejection, Oberon stayed in contact with Finney. Turns out that this was definitely a good move for the aspiring actress. Finney knew the Irish director Rex Ingram, who was working out of a French film studio at the time. Finney suggested that Oberon go to France to meet the director and jumpstart her film career. It was a gamble, but it paid off in a big way.

Merle Oberon FactsWikipedia

11. Her First Roles in Hollywood Were Disappointments

Oberon and her mother packed their bags and headed to France. They expected to immediately meet Ingram, only for him to avoid them. Thankfully, he came around, hiring Oberon as an extra in a party scene for the film The Three Passions. However, it was hardly the overnight success of a young actress' dreams. Between 1928 and 1932, all Oberon's parts in films were uncredited.

Merle Oberon FactsWikimedia Commons

12. She Lied About Her Success

Later in life, Oberon looked back on this time and remarked that she only began acting because she couldn’t “dance or sing or write or paint." In her own opinion, Oberon only had one thing to rely on: her extraordinarily beautiful face. Considering that she had moved to France specifically to meet a producer, this might have been an embellishment on her part.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

13. She Starred in the Biggest Films of the Day

When Oberon met director and producer Alexander Korda, he gave her the world. Not only did the pair fall in love, but he cast her as Anne Boleyn in his 1932 film The Private Life of Henry VIII. Oberon co-starred with Hollywood heavyweights like Charles Laughton in the role of Henry VIII and Elsa Lanchester—the Bride of Frankenstein herself—as Anne of Cleves.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

14. She Mixed Business With Pleasure

Oberon maintained a working and (on-and-off) romantic relationship with Hollywood big wig Alexander Korda for years. While she had a contract with Korda, her success made her an in-demand property. In a strategic move, Korda sold some of the “shares” of her name to Samuel Goldwyn, the legendary Hollywood studio executive.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

15. She Got Nominated for an Oscar

It was Goldwyn who put Merle Oberon in the film The Dark Angel in 1935, about two male friends for vie for the heart of one woman. For this film, Oberon would get her sole Oscar nomination in the revered Best Actress category.

Merle Oberon FactsThe Dark Angel, United Artists

16. She Was Hopelessly in Love With an Awful Man

While in Hollywood, Oberon fell desperately in love with actor David Niven, with the two even becoming engaged. Overjoyed, Oberon announced that the pair were going to wed, but sadly, Niven would end up leaving her with a broken heart. After numerous affairs, Niven refused to change his ways and walk down the aisle. The couple parted.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

17. She Played Some of the Most Iconic Women in History

Aside from her role as Anne Boleyn, Oberon portrayed a number of famous historical figures on film, including Empress Josephine, the woman who broke Napoleon's heart, and the writer and cross-dressing playwright George Sand.

Merle Oberon FactsFlickr

18. She Went Through Everyone's Worst Nightmare

Oberon was supposed to work with both Korda and Charles Laughton again in 1937’s I, Claudius, where she’d appear as Claudius’s wife Messalina, but the project was abruptly abandoned for an incredibly dark reason. After a terrible car accident, Oberon was far too injured, and some would say disfigured, to film anything.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

19. She Bonded With Her Husband Through Trauma

While I, Claudius may have been canceled, Oberon and film exec Alexander Korda weren't. The couple finally cemented their on-and-off relationship by tying the knot in 1939.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

20. She Tried Desperately to Fix Her Deformation

Who could Oberon turn to in this trying time? Her beloved husband, of course. Korda paid for his wife to go to New York City and receive first-rate cosmetic procedures that would help fix her damaged skin. They helped—and stage makeup was able to do the rest—but sadly, nothing could ever heal Oberon's scarred face completely.

Merle Oberon FactsWikipedia

21. She Repaid Her Husband's Loyalty With Betrayal

Oberon's own experiences with disfigurement were, in a strange way, part of what led her to find love. In 1941, while she was still married to Korda, Oberon struck up a relationship with young Richard Hillary, a RAF fighter pilot. During his valiant actions at the Battle of Britain, Hillary sustained terrible burns that disfigured his face and deformed his hands into claws. Tragically, he passed on at just 23 years old.

Merle Oberon FactsPxHere

22. She Was Very Unfaithful

Oberon's affair with Hillary wasn’t her only infidelity. She also had an on-again off-again relationship with none other than John Wayne, classic Western star, between 1938 and 1947.

Merle Oberon FactsFlickr

23. She Had a Rags-to-Riches Story

Before Grace Kelly ever became a princess, Oberon fulfilled an unbelievable rags-to-riches dream. In 1942, her husband Alexander Korda got himself knighted. This honor suddenly transformed Merle Oberon, Hollywood star, into “Lady Korda,” esteemed aristocrat—but not even a fancy title could tie a lady like Merle down.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

24. Her Face Revolutionized Cinema

Who’s an actor’s best friend—other than their makeup artist? Whoever’s in charge of her lighting, of course. In 1944, cinematographer Lucien Ballard put together a small light that could be mounted on his camera specifically for Oberon. It provided an effect that washed away any blemishes or scars. Now known as a catch light, it was originally nicknamed the “Obie light” after, of course, Oberon.

Merle Oberon FactsWikimedia Commons

25. Her Second Marriage Was as Doomed as Her First

Lucien Ballard sounds like a pretty devoted cinematographer, huh? Well, there may have been another reason for his intense involvement in inventing the famed Obie light. In 1945, Oberon divorced her longtime partner Korda and married her beloved cinematographer Lucien Ballard. Tragically, they were doomed to a sad end. The use of the light outlasted their relationship—they divorced in 1949.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

26. She Mourned Her Mother in a Heartbreaking Way

In 1937, Oberon lost her “mother,” Charlotte Selby, who was actually her grandmother. By this time, Oberon was in on the dark secret of her parentage, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t mourn the loss. In an utterly heartbreaking gesture, Oberon had portraits painted of Charlotte. She hung them in each of her homes.

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27. She Lied Until She Couldn't Anymore

Due to how young her mother was when she was born, and her Indian heritage, Merle Oberon spent most of her life obscuring the circumstances of her birth. It was only later in her life that all her lies began to unravel.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

28. She Tried to Hide the Truth From the Press

The story that Oberon generally told about her birth was that she was born and raised in Tasmania, Australia. If pressed for details, she would demur by claiming that her birth records had been destroyed. As the years wore on, more and more people began to question her cover story—including the press, and even some members of her own family.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

29. She Started to Break From the Pressure

Oberon visited Australia in 1965, and despite all her Hollywood training, she didn’t exactly react in the most inconspicuous manner. When the press asked questions about her early life in Australia, Oberon would become nervous. Whether it was feigned or not, she became sick before her planned visit to Hobart, Tasmania, and flew back to Mexico immediately.

Merle Oberon FactsWikimedia Commons

30. Her Lying Caused an International Incident

In 1978, Oberon actually did visit Hobart, and a ceremony was planned to honor their native daughter—and it couldn’t have been more of a disaster. First, the mayor found out that she wasn’t actually Australian, but it was too late to cancel the gala. He was ready to cover for her—but then Oberon’s bizarre behavior caused the whole thing to unravel.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

31. She Made Excuses to Get out of Telling the Truth

When she got to the party, Oberon began to deny that she’d been born in Tasmania at all. Instead, she made up a convoluted story about spending some years on the island after her father fell ill. Once again, perhaps realizing that she was in a tailspin of deception, Oberon panicked, said that she was sick, and left. The press hounded her, but she refused to answer any more questions.

Merle Oberon FactsGetty Images

32. She Destroyed Her Beauty

While Oberon sustained serious injuries from the 1937 car crash, she was able to return to the screen the next year—but soon enough, her worst nightmare would come true. In 1940, she found herself scarred from a combined “cosmetic poisoning” and an allergic reaction to a prescription drug. For a woman who told the press that her face launched her career, it must have been devastating.

Merle Oberon FactsFlickr

33. Her Family Kept Her Dark Secret

Oberon's mixed Indian background had long been a badly-kept secret in Hollywood, but in the final years of Oberon’s life, one of her family members worked to expose the truth about her parentage. After Oberon's birth, her biological mother, Constance, went on to marry and have four legitimate children. All were told that Oberon was their aunt, despite the fact that she was actually their half-sister. For one of the kids, that answer wasn't good enough.

Merle Oberon FactsShutterstock

34. She Had Skeletons in Her Closet

It was one of these half-siblings, Harry Selby, who found Oberon's real birth certificate in Bombay. It contained a jaw-dropping revelation: Oberon wasn't his aunt. She was his half-sister. After this discovery, Oberon dealt her own brother a heartbreaking betrayal. She refused to see him. He must have understood her wishes, because he didn’t discuss the truth of her parentage until 2002, when he participated in a documentary about Oberon.

Merle Oberon FactsFlickr

Barbara La Marr: The Screen Siren

Gorgeous, talented, and wife to an indeterminate number of husbands, Barbara La Marr took "femme fatale" and turned it into a way of life. Combine the allure of Hollywood glamor, the boldness of an independent woman professional in the 1920s, and the drama of a sordid personal life rife with fiction and romance, and you’ve got Barbara La Marr.

Barbara La Marr facts Wikimedia Commons

1. She Was a Party Girl—And It Cost Her

As La Marr's film career rose, she threw herself into Hollywood night life. The already-wild actress adjusted to this change of pace with enthusiasm. She once claimed never to sleep more than two hours a night because she had “better things to do.” These bad habits, however, came back to haunt her in some of the worst ways possible.

Barbara La Marr facts Wikimedia Commons

2. She Once Collapsed Into a Coma

La Marr’s party life and sleep deprivation finally caught up to her. While shooting The Girl from Montmartre, disaster struck. One day on set, La Marr suddenly collapsed and fell into a coma. Even worse, no one actually stopped the production; they just used a body double in long shots to complete the film. Hollywood really knows how to make a girl feel special.

Barbara La Marr facts Wikimedia Commons

9. The Studio Tried to Control Her

La Marr’s penchant for having a good time got out of hand fast. By the time she was filming Thy Name Is Woman, the production supervisor had to make regular visits to the set, just to make sure that La Marr’s notoriously heavy drinking wasn’t interfering with filming. In other words, a fully grown woman had a babysitter.

Barbara La Marr factsWikimedia Commons

3. She Was Unlucky in Love

La Marr was a dazzling beauty who could entrance a man in mere minutes. Unfortunately for her, La Marr tended to attract...horrible options. After many failed attempts at wedlock (more on that later), La Marr was officially tired of romance. She was quoted as saying, “I am sick of men. The admiration of men. The so-called love of men.” Honestly, me too, sis.

Barbara La Marr facts Wikipedia

4. She Got Kidnapped

La Marr and her half-sister, Violet, were very close. The duo would constantly pal around and go out on the town for adventures. But one fateful day, things took a disturbing turn. When La Marr was 16 years old, she and Violet took a three-day drive with a man named C.C. Boxley. They got all the way to Santa Barbara when La Marr realized the terrible truth.

Barbara La Marr facts Wikimedia Commons

5. She Became a Media Sensation

Quite simply, the crook Boxley had no intention of taking them back home ever again. Luckily, the authorities issued a warrant for Boxley's arrest, rescuing the young girls from captivity. Once they were back home safe, the press gobbled up the story of the two young women kidnapped by the sinister C. C. Boxley. So La Marr resorted to outright lies to keep their attention.

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6. She Was a Huge Liar

A strategic showgirl from the start, La Marr wasted no time in crafting fantastical details about herself to extend the media spotlight. But these weren't just any old whoppers. La Marr's lies were incredibly disturbing. The no-so-innocent 16-year-old not only claimed she was adopted, she even pretended that she was (somehow) a widow. Then, the case took another twist.

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7. She Double-Crossed Her Own Sister

Boxley wasn’t the only one wanted by authorities—the courts also issued a warrant for the arrest of a shocking suspect: La Marr’s own sister Violet! But that's not even the most scandalous part. La Marr even testified against her sister. Though the case was eventually dropped, La Marr’s name continued to appear in sensational headlines over the next several years.

Barbara La Marr facts Wikimedia Commons

10. Her First Husband Was Hiding a Secret

La Marr’s first husband was a stone-cold liar. After marrying her as Max Lawrence, it turned out he was actually an ex-soldier named Lawrence Converse. Unfortunately for La Marr, that was just the beginning of his web of deception. It also turned out that Lawrence Converse already had a wife and children. Then things really started to heat up.

Barbara La Marr factsWikipedia

30. Her Honeymoon Was a Tragedy

The wedding bells didn't ring long for La Marr and her new husband "Max Lawrence." The very day after their nuptials, the authorities detained Lawrence on charges of bigamy. Fair. Except his bad luck wasn't even over: Just three days after that, Lawrence died of a blood clot. It was a traumatic time, but La Marr's next lover didn't get any better.

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11. Her Second Marriage Ended in Disaster

La Marr likely thought she’d have better luck in the romance department when she married dancer Philip Ainsworth. I mean, what could go wrong? A lot, apparently. The good news is he didn’t immediately kick the bucket. The bad news is he was still arrested, not for bigamy but for passing bad checks. And La Marr's love life wasn't even done yet.

Quentin Tarantino factsPixabay

12. Her Third Marriage Was a Mess

La Marr’s third marriage, also to a dancer, a man named Ben Deely, ended for scandalous reasons. He was twice her age, an alcoholic, and a gambling addict. You know you need to rethink your type when this guy sets the standard for a good husband. Of course, the marriage between La Marr and Deely inevitably ended in divorce. So, was La Marr's next husband any better? That answer is no.

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13. Her Fourth Marriage Lasted—But at What Cost?

Before her divorce from Deely was even finalized, La Marr had already found her next husband. She and Jack Daugherty were married until the end of La Marr’s days…uh, technically. They did separate a year after marriage and pretty much hated each other by the end of it all, but the divorce was never finalized.

Barbara La Marr factsGetty Images

14. She Had a Secret Love Child

La Marr had only one child. Her son, Marvin Carville, was born on July 29, 1922, but his arrival wasn't even public knowledge. In a scandalous twist, especially for the 1920s, little Marvin's father’s identity was never publicly revealed. But that's not even the juiciest part. His identity as La Marr’s son only came to light after she passed on.

Barbara La Marr factsWikipedia

15. Her Insecurities Destroyed Her

Sleep deprivation, over-drinking, and exhaustion played a big role in La Marr's steady health decline. But one disastrous habit absolutely ruined her. In the last two years of her life, La Marr was plagued with insecurities about her already-thin frame. She went on several crash diets and was even rumored to have swallowed a tapeworm. All this was leading to a tragic end.

Barbara La Marr factsWikipedia

16. Her Last Days Were Heartbreaking

After years of unhealthy living, La Marr contracted a nasty case of tuberculosis. During her final battle with the illness, La Marr lost alarming amounts of weight. When the terrible disease finally ended her life, the doctors discovered that La Marr weighed less than 80 pounds. Though La Marr was gone, she was far from forgotten...

Barbara La Marr facts Wikimedia Commons

17. Her Funeral Was One for the Ages

La Marr’s funeral mimicked the way she lived with its grandeur and drama. In a crowd of 3,000 fans, no less than five women reportedly fainted. After La Marr’s body was removed from the church, people swarmed the chapel trying to get their hands on the floral arrangements. The entire thing was a mess, and La Marr probably wouldn't have had it any other way.

Barbara La Marr facts Wikimedia Commons

Hedy Lamarr: The Clever Cleopatra

Hedy Lamarr was the perfect combination of beauty and brains: By day, she was a glamorous movie star in some of the scandalous pictures of the day. By night, she was the mastermind of a scientific revolution. But for all her embarrassment of riches when it came to her looks and personality, this femme fatale still lived an utterly tragic and scandal-ridden life.

Hedy Lamarr FactsFlickr

1. The Pope Banned Her First Movie

Lamarr became a sensation in 1933 with her turn in Ecstasy. The film caused an utter scandal: Ecstasy was the very first non-adult material to depict not just an intimate bedroom scene, but a female climax. But that's not what made it infamous. The scandal intensified when reporters discovered that Lamarr was only 17 when the movie was filmed.

Ecstasy was banned in the United States, and even the Pope denounced it. But that wasn't the last scandal surrounding the film.

D.W. Griffith FactsShutterstock

2. Her First Husband Controlled Her in Disturbing Ways

In 1933, Lamarr married the wealthy Friedrich Mandl when she was only 19. Soon after the wedding, it took an utterly disturbing turn. Mandl was an incredibly jealous man, and after they married he traveled around Europe looking for copies of Ecstasy and destroying them. He refused to let anyone see his young wife like that. Is it any surprise the marriage ended in disaster?

Bride And Groom At WeddingGetty Images

3. She Had to Escape Her First Marriage

Eventually, Mandl’s jealous, controlling behavior became too much for young Lamarr. When enough was enough, she took desperate measures. Lamarr claims that she disguised herself as a maid and escaped to Paris, where she finally got a divorce from her awful first husband. However, there's an even better version of the story...

Hedy Lamarr FactsPixabay

4. She Fled Her Husband in Spectacular Fashion

Other sources insist that Lamarr did something that's maybe even more impressive to get away from Mandl. The story goes that Lamarr wore all of her expensive jewels to a dinner event, and then ran off into the night.

Royal Possessions FactsWikimedia Commons

5. She Was Breathtakingly Beautiful

Lamarr’s first American film was 1938’s Algiers, where the young actress starred opposite Charles Boyer. American audiences thought of Lamarr as a completely fresh face—and what a face it was. According to some reports, when Lamarr first appeared onscreen, audiences actually gasped at her jaw-dropping beauty. Too bad that beauty got her into such trouble.

Hedy Lamarr FactsWikipedia

6. She Revealed Secrets About Her Lovers

Lamarr dated notorious producer, director, and eccentric Howard Hughes, but there was a lot of trouble in paradise. Hughes did a bunch of strange things, including collecting his own urine. Maybe unsurprisingly, Lamarr called him "the worst lover she ever had." But everyone loves a man who collects his own urine!

Hughes At CourtGetty Images

7. She Turned Into a Recluse

Late in life, Lamarr's film career sadly dried up and she became reclusive. The reason why was absolutely devastating. Lamarr was ashamed: She was once the world's most gorgeous woman, but after some botched plastic surgeries, she became disfigured and disliked being seen. Now, about those disastrous plastic surgeries...

Hedy Lamarr FactsNeedpix

8. She Was Always Inventing

Even when Lamarr was under the knife for her botched beauty surgeries, she needed to innovate. Her plastic surgeons described how Lamarr would come to them with ingenious ideas for lifting, cutting, and pulling skin so that she would appear more youthful. Apparently, surgeons still use some of her ideas to this day.

Hedy Lamarr FactsShutterstock

9. She Helped Develop a Modern Technology

Lamarr isn't just famous for her beauty. She has an even more impressive claim to fame. She was always interested in science and technology, and ended up helping develop a system for the Navy that prevented signal jamming. The even bigger result? This technology ended up producing Wi-Fi as we know it today. Now that's a legacy.

Hedy Lamarr FactsShutterstock

Gloria Swanson: Queen of the Movies

As the preferred starlet of famed director Cecil B. DeMille, Gloria Swanson was the undeniable Queen of the Silent Era. Yet for all of the glamorous star’s striking looks and acting chops, her life was full of more drama and tragedy than the films she starred in. Get ready for your close-up with this bewitching empress of early Hollywood.

Gloria Swanson factsWikimedia Commons

1. She Was a Spoiled Child

Gloria Swanson (not to be confused with Gloria Grahame, who we'll get to) entered the world on March 27, 1899, in Chicago, Illinois. She was the only child of her two parents Joseph Theodore Swanson and Adelaide Swanson Only child and an Aries? That’s a troublesome combo in the making. Don’t believe in that kind of thing? Well, just you wait and see about that....

Gloria Swanson factsWikimedia Commons

2. One Movie Made Her Legacy

After disappearing from the screen for most of the 30s and 40s, Swanson returned to Hollywood in an unforgettable way. She starred in iconic film Sunset Boulevard as Norma Desmond, a past-her-prime silent film star determined to make a comeback. It is easily ranked among the best films ever made—on countless critic’s lists top lists, the Library of Congress deemed it culturally significant and the National Film Registry preserved it for future generations.

Gloria Swanson factsSunset Blvd. (1950), Paramount Pictures

3. Her Film Lines Have Gone Down in History

When she played the unforgettable Norma Desmond, Gloria Swanson had the chance to drop some of the most iconic movie quotes in cinema history. Among them, “I am big! It’s the pictures that got small,” “We didn’t need dialogue, we had faces!” and perhaps the most famous line of all, “Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.”

Gloria Swanson factsSunset Blvd. (1950), Paramount Pictures

4. She Gave Her Husband an Ultimatum—And It Backfired

After a string of failed marriages ruined by extramarital affairs, Swanson was determined to keep one of her relationships on the straight and narrow—but sadly, this time she was faced with a problem even she couldn’t solve. Swanson’s fifth husband George William Daley was an alcoholic, and after she and her daughter found him passed out drunk, they left him some pamphlets for Alcoholics Anonymous.

His reaction was utterly devastating: He walked out on them the next day after a year together.

Jayne Mansfield factsShutterstock

5. She Put Herself in Danger on Set

One scene in DeMille’s 1919 film Male and Female required Swanson, whose character is shipwrecked with a small group on a deserted island, to act alongside real lions. At first, DeMille had wanted to cut the scene entirely, knowing how dangerous it could be, but Swanson talked him into keeping it and even demanded that she do the scene herself.

However, before filming started, DeMille took some unusual precautions.

Gloria Swanson factsWikimedia Commons

6. Her Director Asked Her Extremely Inappropriate Questions

DeMille enlisted two trainers to keep a close watch on the lions on set, and Swanson’s father was close by in case anything went wrong. But first, DeMille had to ask Swanson an important—and inappropriate—question. He asked her if she was on her period, as the big cats would be able to smell it. She said no, and they were allowed to begin filming.

Gloria Swanson factsMale and Female (1919), Paramount Pictures

7. She Hid a Dark Secret

During the early part of her career, Swanson was hiding a scandalous secret. When she was just 17, Swanson married fellow actor Wallace Beery—but according to Swanson, her own new husband assaulted her. To make matters even worse, he even hurt her on their wedding night. But that wasn't even the worst part.

Gloria Swanson facts Wikimedia Commons

8. Her First Marriage Was Doomed

Swanson became pregnant shortly after marrying her first husband Wallace Beery. It should’ve been a happy time for the young couple, but there was one problem. Beery didn’t want to have children with his wife. Swanson later revealed that Beery went to chilling lengths to avoid having a family. She said that he made her drink a mystery liquid that ended up terminating the pregnancy. Thankfully, the couple would separate and divorce by 1918.

Whoopi Goldberg factsShutterstock

9. Her Second Marriage Only Seemed Perfect

Swanson’s next marriage was to man-about-town Herbert K. Somborn. Not only was he president of a film company, he was also the owner of Hollywood hotspot and landmark the Brown Derby restaurant. For Swanson, who was still an up-and-coming star on the verge of fame at that point, it was a match made in heaven—but it wouldn’t be for long.

Gloria Swanson factsWikipedia

10. Her Divorce Made Hollywood Headlines

The six-year marriage between Swanson and Somborn produced a daughter, Gloria Swanson Somborn—but it also produced an utterly scandalous divorce case that rocked Hollywood to its core.

Gloria Swanson factsRawpixel

11. Her Ex Accused Her of Scandalous Acts

During their divorce proceedings, Somborn accused Swanson of adultery—but that wasn’t the worst part. Somborn claimed that not only had Swanson cheated on him, she had done so with 13 different men, many of them famous. They included her frequent collaborator Cecil B. DeMille, the "Latin Lover" Rudolph Valentino, and director and producer Marshall Neilan.

Old Hollywood Stars factsGetty Images

Rudolph Valentino

12. The Studios Forced Her to Sign a Sinister Contract

The salacious details of Swanson’s divorce caused an absolute media frenzy, and Paramount Studios, who held her contract at the time, had to act. They added a morality clause to the star's contract. These types of clauses basically stated that the person had to behave in a way that followed general moral standards, or else. If Swanson misbehaved, she could be let go from Paramount.

In the 20s, especially following the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, clauses like this became more and more common.

Gloria Swanson factsWikimedia Commons

13. She Fell in Love With a Nobleman

After her divorce, Swanson threw herself into her work. It was probably a pretty good way to keep out of trouble—at least at first. While filming Madame Sans-Gêne in France, Swanson hired a translator to help her cope in the new country, and it didn’t take long for the two to fall in love. But this translator wasn’t just any regular guy—he was Henri, Marquis de la Falaise, a French nobleman.

Gloria Swanson factsWikimedia Commons

14. She Became a Marquise

The impulsive pair of Henri, Marquis de la Falaise, and Swanson wed while they were still in France, which meant that when Swanson returned stateside, she came back as a noblewoman—the Marquise. This step up the social hierarchy only served to add another layer of glamor to an already glamorous life. But that wasn’t the only thing she brought back to the US…

Gloria Swanson factsGetty Images

15. She Had to Make a Horrific Choice

When she came back to the United States, Swanson found out that she was pregnant, but there was one problem—her due date was just seven months after her wedding, meaning that the baby had been conceived out of wedlock, and Swanson had a morality clause on her contract. So she made a heartbreaking decision. Swanson terminated the pregnancy.

Agrippina The Younger FactsShutterstock

16. She Had an Affair With a Kennedy

It was Old Hollywood, and nobody escaped without some sort of scandal—but Swanson’s secret affairs went beyond the usual cinema scandals. For three years in the 1920s, Swanson carried on a poorly-concealed affair with the politician and businessman Joseph P. Kennedy, father to future president John F. Kennedy. Both Swanson and Kennedy were married to other people at the time.

Gloria Swanson factsWikimedia Commons

17. She Had a Double Breakup

After her lengthy extra-marital affair, Swanson finally divorced Henri, Marquis de la Falaise—although it didn’t mean happily ever after for her and her paramour. She and Kennedy broke up as well. After a lot of poor financial advice from Kennedy, she was in bad shape—but when it came to romance, not even a double breakup could slow Swanson down.

Gloria Swanson factsWikipedia

18. She Was a Bigamist

While Swanson initiated her divorce from the Marquis in 1930, she was so impatient to move on that she neglected to wait for the paperwork to be finalized before marrying athlete the Michael Farmer in August 1931. This meant that their marriage was null, so they had to wed again in November 1931—at which point she was already four months pregnant.

Gloria Swanson factsGetty Images

19. Her Fourth Marriage Ended Bitterly

Swanson gave birth to her first child, Michelle Bridget Farmer, in 1932—but it would be far from happily ever after for Swanson’s little family. She and Farmer divorced in 1934, when their daughter was still just a toddler—all because Swanson was hiding a dark secret.

Gloria Swanson factsGetty Images

20. She Always Went Back to Bad Habits

Swanson had begun another extramarital affair while still married to Farmer—this time, with British actor Herbert Marshall. This time, she couldn’t keep the affair from the tabloids. After her divorce from Farmer, she kept seeing Marshall.

Gloria Swanson factsWikimedia Commons

21. She Only Loved One Man

Swanson’s affair with Marshall went on for three years, until she made a heartbreaking realization. She had been under his spell, but he still hadn’t left his wife for her—and she began to understand that he never would. Years later, Swanson still wasn't quite over their failed romance. As she later put it, "I was never so convincingly and thoroughly loved as I was by Herbert Marshall."

Gloria Swanson factsNeedpix

22. Filming Sunset Boulevard Made Her Cry

The infamous last scene of Sunset Boulevard featured Norma Desmond descending her home’s grand staircase to meet a crowd of tabloid photographers—who, in her delusion, she believes to be fans. In order to make sure she didn’t trip, she did the scene barefoot. Her performance was an absolute tour de force, and when it was done, Swanson burst into tears.

It was so clearly an instant masterpiece that director Billy Wilder threw a party for Swanson on the spot.

Gloria Swanson factsSunset Blvd. (1950), Paramount Pictures

23. She Despised Her Later Career

Sadly, the success of Sunset Boulevard had a heartbreaking dark side for Swanson. Many films that followed tried to bank off of the popularity of Sunset Boulevard and tried to cast Swanson. She appeared in one such film, Three For Bedroom “C.” After that, she refused to play a “parody of a parody.” While Swanson had already essentially withdrawn from Hollywood prior to 1950, she basically retired from film after that.

Bettie Page FactsShutterstock

24. She Finally Got Her Happy Ending

When Swanson took a break from Hollywood, she also took a break from back-to-back marriages. Between her fifth and sixth marriages, Swanson was single for 30 years—but she made the final one last. Swanson met author William Dufty in 1965. By 1967 they were serious, but perhaps because of her checkered romantic history, she was cautious.

They waited until 1976 to marry, and stayed together until Swanson's last breath.

Gloria Swanson factsWikimedia Commons

25. Her Husband Gave Her a Heartbreaking Tribute

Around the time of her 84th birthday, Swanson took a holiday on the Portuguese Riviera. On April 4, 1973, just after returning home to New York, she passed on from an unspecified heart condition. Dufty showed his devotion with a heartbreaking gesture. While Swanson and Dufty had been world travelers, Dufty returned to his home state after Swanson passed on and never remarried.

Gloria Swanson factsFlickr, Eden, Janine and Jim

Rita Hayworth: The Goddess of Love

Rita Hayworth was one of Hollywood’s biggest, most beautiful stars of the 1940s—they called her the “Goddess of Love”—but in real life, Hayworth suffered in love. Her stardom was manufactured by the Hollywood studio system of the time, and she was the first Hollywood star to marry into a royal family—but it was hardly a fairy tale.

Rita Hayworth FactsGilda,Columbia Pictures

1. She Has a Little-Known Ancestry

Hayworth’s real name was Margarita Carmen Cansino. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1918, her mother was American, and her father Eduardo was Spanish, emigrating to the US in 1913 before having a family. As we'll see, unfortunately, Hayworth's Spanish ancestry would cause her a world of pain when she tried to make it in Hollywood.

Olivia de Havilland FactsShutterstock

2. She Started Working From a Heartbreakingly Young Age

Hayworth’s parents were both professional dancers. She started dancing young, and her father made her practice, practically every waking moment, at home. When Hayworth was only eight, she appeared with her father in a black-and-white movie called La Fiesta. She smiles in the performance, but young Hayworth's life was far from picture-perfect.

Jayne Mansfield factsShutterstock

3. Her Father Was an Absolute Monster

Hayworth left school at just 12 years old when her father reinvented her as his dance partner. He dressed her and made her up to look much older, and they started performing together. But her father did far worse things that that. He also beat her, beginning when she was just 10 years old. This had lasting and devastating consequences.

Rita Hayworth Facts Wikipedia

4. The Studios Forced Her to Change

When she was an aspiring star, Hayworth's father hired Edward Judson to help make her famous. It obviously worked, but it came at a heartbreakingly high price. Under Judson's orders, the young starlet started to dress more provocatively, changed her black hair to red, and even changed her name to Rita Hayworth. But that wasn't all.

Rita Hayworth Facts Pixabay

5. She Took Drastic Measures for Beauty

Hayworth even changed her hairline—through torturous rounds of electrolysis—to reshape her face. After enduring this, Hayworth landed a seven-year contract with Columbia Pictures.

Rita Hayworth Facts Wikipedia

6. She Endured Years of Assault

Harry Cohn, who ran Columbia Pictures, was the brilliant executive partly responsible for shaping Hayworth's stardom. Behind the scenes, however, Cohn was utterly monstrous. He aggressively pursued Hayworth as a conquest, bugged her dressing room, issued her fines for nonsensical reasons, and even forced her to punch a time clock on set. Yet Hayworth's troubles with men were just beginning.

Jane Bartholomew Possible Model for Columbia Pictures'' Miss Liberty Logo.Getty Images

7. She Loved All the Wrong Men

After all the pain Judson brought her, you'd expect Hayworth would never want to see him again. Instead, she fell in a twisted kind of love. Hayworth eloped with Judson even though he was a whopping 22 years older than her. But that's not the worst part. Judson frequently pressured Hayworth into becoming intimate with studio executives to "advance" her career.

Creepy Things in Basements factsShutterstock

8. She Bravely Left Her Husband

When Hayworth was 23 years old, she starred in the movie, Blood and Sand. The film was successful, crowning Hayworth as a new, young starlet. Gaining a degree of confidence and maturity, Hayworth decided to walk out on Edward Judson. His reaction was utterly disturbing. He threatened to disfigure her face if she left him. She went anyway.

Rita Hayworth Facts Wikipedia

9. Her Most Famous Role Ruined Her Love Life

Hayworth had become a movie star prior to the release of Gilda—but it was in that movie that her reputation as a femme fatale really took off. To this day, Gilda is known for making Hayworth a cultural icon. But it also had a huge downside. Men idolized Hayworth, but never really knew her. As she later famously said, "Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda and woke up with me."

Rita Hayworth FactsGilda,Columbia Pictures

10. Her First Husband Took a Cruel Revenge

After Hayworth left her cruel first husband Edward Judson, he came up with a chilling plan for revenge. He demanded her whole assets before he would grant her wish for a divorce. As Orson Welles said later in Hayworth’s defense, “Rita didn’t just have her father to contend with, she also had that first husband.” Speaking of Welles...

Rich Kid Syndrome FactsShutterstock

11. Only Orson Welles Knew Her Dark Truth

When Welles caught a glimpse of a famous pin-up picture of Rita in Life magazine, he fell for the ravishing redhead immediately. They married in 1943, but their love affair ended for a tragic reason. Welles realized that Hayworth wasn’t the "Love Goddess" she portrayed in films. Instead, she was an insecure, scarred woman who would never heal from her awful past. And, as it turns out, she kept making the same mistakes.

Carole Lombard FactsWikimedia Commons, RKO Radio Pictures

12. She Married a Prince

Hayworth’s third marriage brought her the closest to a fairy tale. Prince Aly Khan was a fabulously rich playboy, adventurer, and uh, prince, whose family owned a pricey stable of racehorses. Khan had a private movie theatre in his palatial residence on the Riviera, and his favorite film, in 1948, was Gilda...starring Rita Hayworth.

After watching the film numerous times, Khan was hooked. There was just one problem. he was still married to his first wife. Now, you know what they say about a relationship ending how it starts...

Rita Hayworth Facts Wikimedia Commons

13. She Didn't Get a Fairy-Tale Ending

Hayworth and Khan's marriage barely lasted until 1953. Although Khan professed to be deeply in love, his actions were much darker. He was never faithful, and may even have had an affair with Hayworth's rival, actress Joan Fontaine. On top of this, Hayworth's temper tantrums with Khan were epic and earth-shattering.

Farrah Fawcett FactsShutterstock

14. She Had Horrific Maternal Instincts

Hayworth gave birth to two daughters, one with Orson Welles, and the other with Khan. After becoming a mother, Hayworth realized a dark truth. She wasn't cut out for the maternal life, and often left her children alone while she went off gallivanting with lovers. One day after depositing her kids with an inattentive babysitter, a neighbor even saw a horrific sight: Hayworth's children playing in the trash.

Rita Hayworth FactsShutterstock

15. It Wasn't Her Fault She Was a Bad Mother

After watching in horror as Hayworth's kids entertained themselves in the dumpster, the neighbor called the authorities. Though they didn't charge the actress, the episode devastated her. As Hayworth biographer Barbara Leaming noted, Hayworth wasn’t an intentionally bad mom. It was her own dark childhood that rendered her unable to properly parent her kids.

Stevie Nicks FactsShutterstock

16. She Tried and Failed Get Orson Welles Back

Hayworth always said that Orson Welles was her greatest love. Right before her 1949 wedding to Prince Aly Khan, Hayworth cried out to Welles, begging him to see her. Welles arrived at her hotel to a startling sight. He found Hayworth’s room lit with candles and his ex-wife in a sensual negligee. She pleaded with him to remarry her.

Welles had to calm her down, sadly convincing her that it would never work. Welles apparently remained haunted by the tragedy of Hayworth’s life for as long as he lived. Her sad end probably didn't change his mind.

Riverdale factsWikimedia Commons

17. Her Love Life Disturbed Her Co-Stars

For a brief time, Hayworth was married to a film producer named James Hill, but Hill's behavior was so disturbing it's impossible to forgetHe was screaming so loudly at Hayworth during a dinner party that actor Charlton Heston got up and left. In his autobiography, Heston wrote that he always regretted walking away from Hayworth in her time of need.

Rita Hayworth FactsGetty Images

18. She Used Dark Coping Mechanisms

Both Orson Welles and Hayworth's daughter commented publicly on her alcohol dependence. They felt utterly helpless as they watched Hayworth slowly destroy herself. Sadly, things would only get worse. In 1974, Hayworth’s two brothers passed on within a week of each other. Her inconsolable sadness fuelled more devastating drinking. But as we'll see, even more tragedy was ahead...

Alcoholism.Getty Images

19. The Sad Truth Didn’t Set Her Free

The end of Rita Hayworth's life was just as tragic as her beginning. She got increasingly temperamental and dependent on alcohol, until a doctor revealed the truth in 1980. After what her daughter claims were "two decades of hell," medics diagnosed Hayworth with Alzheimer's disease. It had been wreaking havoc on her brain and body. She eventually passed on in 1987.

history chilling momentsShutterstock

Gloria Grahame: The Insecure Ingenue

Actress Gloria Grahame shot to stardom and eternal fame after appearing in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Yet if her name isn’t as well known today, maybe that’s because this ingénue’s life never got a happy holiday ending—far from it. From her heights as a femme fatale to her lows as a cradle robber, it was one wild ride.

Gloria Grahame FactsFlickr, Pierre Tourigny

1. She Hid a Secret in Her Mouth

Grahame was infamously insecure about her upper lip, and thought it was too small and thin to be beautiful. To compensate, she would stuff cotton in her mouth to give it a plump appearance—but this had disturbing consequences. Multiple co-stars got a nasty surprise when the wadding fell out of her during some particularly steamy kissing scenes.

Gloria Grahame FactsWikipedia

2. She's in a Christmas Classic

In 1946, Grahame got a featured role in Frank Capra’s film It’s a Wonderful Life. She played the cheeky Violet Bick, the flirty woman who is ultimately saved from a life of shame at the end of the film. It was a promising start, but Grahame's tragic life and personal scandals quickly sent her down an utterly ruinous path.

Gloria Grahame FactsFlickr

3. Her Insecurities Had Grave Consequences

The actress was an early fan of plastic surgery. She started with smaller procedures around her lips but soon moved on to larger and more obvious changes. As her niece put it, she "carved herself up, trying to make herself into an image of beauty she felt should exist but didn't.” These insecurities eventually caught up with her, big time.

Gloria Grahame FactsShutterstock

4. Her Plastic Surgery Destroyed Her Looks

By 1955, Grahame’s insecurities caught up with her. After she starred in the musical Oklahoma!, audiences complained that her femme fatale good-looks didn’t match up with the country bumpkin she was playing—but there was something even worse. By this time, her obsession with plastic surgery was so bad that a procedure had paralyzed her lip, affecting her performance.

Gloria Grahame FactsWikimedia Commons

5. Her First and Second Marriage Were Steeped in Scandal

Grahame’s most high-profile—and most notorious—marriage was to film director Nicholas Ray, who directed the actress in an acclaimed performance in In a Lonely Place. Never one to over-think things, Grahame married Ray just one day after finalizing her divorce from her first husband, the actor Stanley Clements. That was just the beginning of their drama. 

Gloria Grahame FactsGetty Images

6. She Got Her Roles Through Nepotism

Initially, the producers of the film In a Lonely Place were looking at Lauren Bacall or Ginger Rogers to play the lead femme fatale role, but Nicholas Ray insisted that they cast his wife Grahame—despite the fact that their marriage was in very troubled waters at the time. Spoiler: This all went horrifically.

Gloria Grahame FactsWikipedia

7. Her Husband Made Her Sign a Disturbing Contract

If Grahame and Ray’s marriage was on the rocks by the time they started In a Lonely Place, it was completely falling apart by the end. Ray was reportedly controlling with Grahame on set, and even forced her to sign a disturbing Hollywood contract. In it, she had to agree that "my husband shall be entitled to direct, control, advise, instruct and even command my actions during the hours from 9 AM to 6 PM, every day except Sunday.”

She then further acknowledged in writing that “in every conceivable situation his will and judgment shall be considered superior to mine and shall prevail." Soon, the cracks in their marriage started to show...

Gloria Grahame FactsGetty Images

8. She Tried to Hide Her Dysfunctional Marriage

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Ray and Grahame separated while In a Lonely Place was still in production, though they tried to keep it hush-hush. Terrified that one or both of them would get the boot, Ray started sleeping in a dressing room under the guise of working on the script, while Grahame played along and acted like nothing was wrong. But as we'll see, it was all about to implode.

Gloria Grahame FactsWikipedia

9. She Was a Cradle-Robber

For all the dramatics while filming In a Lonely Place, the reason for Gloria Grahame and her husband Nicholas Ray’s final, official divorce is even darker. Though the pair briefly reconciled afterward, it all permanently unraveled when Ray made a whopping, deal-breaker of a discovery. He came home and found Grahame in bed with his 13-year-old son, Anthony.

Yeah, I wasn’t kidding about the “deal-breaker” part. And it didn't end there...

Gloria Grahame FactsShutterstock

10. She Married Her Teenaged Fling

Somehow this freaky Mrs. Robinson situation gets a whole lot weirder. In 1958, eight years after they were caught red-handed, Grahame and Anthony Ray got back in touch. Two years later, the lovebirds married in a wedding ceremony in Tijuana, Mexico—a well-known destination for highly respectable, pre-planned unions.

Bride And Groom At WeddingGetty Images

Mae West: The Firebrand

Long before the likes of Rihanna, Michelle Pfeiffer, and even Marilyn Monroe, Mae West was an iconic female stage and film star in Old Hollywood. Of course, that’s where you might be tempted to leave it at that, but West proved to be far more than just a pretty bad girl with an alluring and undeniable bedroom appeal.

Mae West FactsShe Done Him Wrong, Paramount Pictures

2. She Was Much Older Than Most Actresses

Surprisingly, West didn’t get into the movies until she was nearly 40 years old. Hollywood only knocked on her door after she’d conquered the world of theater with her highly successful—and highly controversial—plays.

Elizabeth Taylor FactsShutterstock

3. She Owned Exotic Pets

True to her Hollywood diva roots, West owned an exotic pet: a chimpanzee named Coffee.

Mae West FactsPixabay

4. She Loved Enemas

Hollywood stars have some strange habits, but West's regime was likely the most bizarre. To prepare for film roles, she often used enemas. She would reportedly take them in the morning, and she claimed that they improved her physical health. In true West fashion, she also commented that enemas resulted in her “smelling sweet at both ends.”

Mae West FactsFlickr,Juhan Sonin

5. The Beatles Loved Her

West's iconic mug appears on the cover of The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Hilariously, she was initially uninterested in the gig, and the iconic band had to beg her for the cameo. In fact, when they first asked, she had a legendary response. "What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?” Excuse us while we find a mic to drop!

Sir Walter Raleigh factsGetty Images

6. She's the Inspiration Behind the Classic Coke Bottle

Allegedly, West’s figure inspired the Coca-Cola bottle. Whether that’s true or not, the public certainly saw a connection. Because of the actress and bottle’s similar curves, they nicknamed Coke bottles “Mae West” bottles.

Mae West FactsPexels

7. She Infuriated the Studios in the Best Way

The 1930s' Production Code had huge restrictions and censorships, and they challenged West’s writing at nearly every turn. So West came up with brilliant plan. Unleashing her inner rebel, West would purposefully write in lines that she knew would provoke the censors. It didn’t matter if these lines didn't make it—sticking it to the man was thanks enough for her!

Mae West FactsGetty Images

8. She Starred in an Infamous Production

One of the most shocking acts in West’s career was also her first starring role on Broadway. In 1926, West wrote, directed, produced, and starred in a play titled Sex. As if the title wasn’t shocking enough for the 1920s, the content also led to conservative critics denouncing the piece and religious groups voicing complaints. But the best was yet to come...

Mae West FactsShutterstock

9. She Got Herself Arrested

Sex’s run came to an abrupt halt when authorities launched a raid in the winter of 1927. Stunningly, they even detained West, charging her with obscenity and “corrupting the morals of youth.” She was sentenced to either pay a fine or serve ten days in the clinker. Ever the one to buck the trend, West proudly declared that she would go to prison for her art. But her reason for this was ingenious. 

Instant Karma factsMax Pixel

10. She Made Prison Work for Her

West’s decision to go to prison wasn’t just about standing for her art. She was also fully aware of the publicity that would come with this decision. Her efforts were duly rewarded, and she had a ball playing it up. During her time behind bars, West claimed she wore her silk panties every day rather than the standard jumpsuit.

Juiciest Gossip factsPixabay

Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

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