Whether it is Lindsay Lohan's boozing or Miley Cyrus' twerking, it seems like there is a new scandal buzzing through the Internet on a daily basis. With each new Hollywood trainwreck, there is an outpouring of outrage from all corners of the web. Then come the think pieces about the degradation of our moral fabric. As it turns out, our moral fabric has been pretty well-degraded for a long time.
Even back when Hollywood films meant five-minute reels of clowns hitting each other with baseball bats and damsels tied to railroad tracks, stars were getting crazy. The antics of some early stars of the silver screen make the actions of our favorite ex-Disney employees seem tame. Sure, today's stars like to get naked and booze, but the rates of heroin addiction, serial adultery, and murder seem to have taken a downturn since Hollywood's Golden Age.
From serial spouses to mysterious murders, Hollywood's past is full of antics that would feed TMZ for an entire year. Once the stars got caught, they wouldn't go to rehab; they'd just have the studio PR department clean it up and get back to debauchery. Here are
Though Veléz met great professional success for much her career, the actress known as the "Mexican Spitfire" was plagued by a tumultuous personal life. Veléz engaged in a series of affairs involving a who's who of the Golden Age of Hollywood. She was linked to Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, and Gary Cooper (who she shot at, you'll recall) and many more men during her life.
She was a jealous lover. After discovering Gable's affair with Marlene Dietrich, she threatened to rip out Dietrich's eyes given the chance. She was as protective of her career as she was her men; Delores del Rio, Velez's primary rival was afraid to meet Lupe, as she was often so biting and aggressive towards her in public, and she was not the only actress afraid of Veléz. In her mid-30s, amid rumors of a pregnancy by a married man, Veléz took her own life after overdosing on sleeping pills.
What if we were to tell you that Charlie Chaplin and Citizen Kane were involved with the same woman? No, we aren't talking about Orson Welles, who played Charles Foster Kane, but William Randolph Hearst, the inspiration for Kane. Word on the street is that Hearst and Chaplin were both seeing Davies, and Hearst was not thrilled about it. Davies was Hearst's longtime mistress, as Mrs. Hearst would not consent to a divorce without a sizable cash payout. Though they never married, the comedienne was always number one in Heart's heart. Hearst liked to remind people of this by flying into a jealous rage over Davies from time to time.
No one is exactly sure how the confrontation between Chaplain and Hearst played out, but we do know that it ended in the death of director William Ince, which no one was ever tried for. The official cause of death was listed as a "heart condition." The exact story remains unknown to this day, but the two most popular theories are that either Ince was mistaken for Chaplin and Hearst shot him or he was accidentally shot when Hearst was trying to mow down Chaplin. Due to Hearst's immense power and the fact that the cruise in question had the unofficial theme of "come cheat on your spouse in secret," witnesses were reluctant to come forward and the mystery remains unsolved.
There have been few comedic big men as talented and famous as Fatty Arbuckle. With impeccable comedic timing, the agility of a dancer, and a wonderful singing voice, he had it all in his trademark plus-sized package. Though Arbuckle was supremely talented, nothing could stop him from becoming a victim of yellow journalism. If you think that today's stars get it hard from Us Weekly, that's nothing compared to the treatment that William Randolph Hearst's papers doled out back in the day. Arbuckle liked to party, and by party we mean go on alcohol and morphine fueled benders. Though by all accounts, Arbuckle was a peaceful man, a combination of his alcoholism and ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time ruined his life.
On September 5th, 1921, the funnnyman and some friends rented three hotel rooms for a night of partying an debauchery. By the end of the night, Virginia Rappe, an aspiring actress, was dead. Though evidence has proven that Fatty hadn't really touched the woman outside of casual contact, the papers, led by Hearst, ran with the story.
Before long, it was printed that Arbuckle had raped the late Ms. Rappe with a Coca-Cola bottle in a violent attack. Though the evidence leaned strongly in Arbuckle's favor, he endured three trials as the media's accusations grew more and more extreme. Though the third trial ended with not only an acquittal, but an apology from the jury, Arbuckle's career was ruined. Arbuckle sold all his riches to pay court fees and couldn't find meaningful work for the rest of his life.
Joan Crawford was never the sort of person to wait around for the casting couch to come to her. When Vincent Sherman was prepping his feature The Damned Don't Cry, Crawford invited him over to check out some of her previous work, and the check out a little more than that. After Sherman's wife found out, she's said to have replied, "I guess it's too much to ask of any man to turn down the opportunity to sleep with Joan Crawford."
After a rough childhood, Crawford set out to take Hollywood any way she could, which often meant using her feminine wiles to procure better roles and more close-ups. Crawford had relationships with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and scores of other less famous Hollywood types during her life.
There was another far less glamorous chapter in Crawford's fame. In 1978, one of Crawford's adopted children Christina penned Mommie Dearest, a scathing appraisal of her mother as a vicious, abusive alcoholic. Some highlights from the book include the revelation that Christina was required to call her mother's endless string of paramours "uncle," and that Joan once tore into Christine for using wire coat hangers instead of high-end padded hangers. The book, as well as the accounts of those close to her, painted her as an intensely jealous aging actress who often sabotaged her younger counterparts and was given to egotistical fits.
Her descent from fame was long and painful. After numerous attempts to stay relevant and even more affairs, she ended her days in a small New York apartment as a self-described "ex-movie star."
If you've ever seen a Charlie Chaplin movie, it's hard to imagine the guy was guilty of any crimes, except maybe stealing a shoe to eat or something. It turns out that the man had an appetite for more than footwear. Chaplin was not only into sex, the man was a pioneer of sexual deviance. His taste for underage women is well-documented: his wives ages were 16, 16, and 18.
He and Fatty Arbuckle are reported to have organized elaborate Hollywood orgies. Apparently, Chaplin was also one of the first pioneers of the "casting couch" method. Not only did he sleep with ladies as part of the audition process, but the man also subjected them to some truly weird shit. Film historian Kevin Browning claims, "Charles would only communicate with the actress he was auditioning via caption cards and mime, supposedly to test their ability to 'perform' in silent movies. The cards would become ever more lewd and suggestive as he got them to undress, and he would fondle their breasts in an exaggerated silent movie acting manner... eventually, he would get them to stand naked and throw custard pies at them..." That sort of puts all of our embarassing job interviews in perspective.
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