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The 40 Best Celebrity Rumors



From Nerve.com

The golden age of celebrity rumors may be coming to an end. As Britney Spears spreads her legs to the world and Nicole Richie gets arrested driving north in the southbound lane, truth may at last have outstripped semi-fiction. Today's celebrities have so little left to hide. But fear not, scandal-mongers! The past remains a bottomless well of salacity. In tribute, we present our picks for the forty best celebrity rumors ever. Dive in. But be careful. This stuff doesn't wash off. — Peter Smith





40. Kiddie idols meet grisly end
Did you hear that Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez (Zack and Slater from Saved by the Bell) died in a car accident? You may have around 1993, when rumors of the stars' demise spread like wildfire across the nation's middle schools. (We won't implicate our middle school by name, but we did have an honest-to-God moment of silence in English class.) Of course, the stars of Saved by the Bell are all doing fine, and have gone on to lucrative careers in amateur porn (Dustin Diamond), amateur dancing (Mario Lopez), and amateur porn-dancing (Elizabeth Berkeley). But the public's thirst for grisly death rumors about beloved stars has not been sated; in 1999, Blue's Clues host Steve Burns suffered a "heroin overdose," and just a month ago Tom Hanks "fell off a cliff." — Gwynne Watkins


39. J. Edgar Hoover cross-dressed
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was such a mean son-of-a-bitch it's no surprise that people whispered about him. Rumors that Hoover was gay or a cross-dresser have circulated for decades; one claim comes from Anthony Summers' 1993 biography Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Susan Rosenstiel, the ex-wife of liquor-industry chair Lewis Rosenstiel, claimed she had seen Hoover in a dress, stockings, heels and wig at a party hosted by gadfly lawyer Roy Cohn. This seems fairly unlikely; historian Athan Theoharis notes that anyone as secretive and power-obsessed as Hoover would never have been so blatant about a predilection that could be embarrassing. We may never know the truth. — Peter Smith


38. Milton Berle had the biggest penis in Hollywood
You can die satisfied when your enormous penis has been mentioned, even tangentially, in the New Yorker. Milton Berle got just that honor, though he'd already kicked off; a 2002 story about the Friars Club memorial roast of Berle features Freddie Roman remarking, "We are here to honor Milton Berle, who passed away on March 27th. On May 1st and May 2nd, his penis will be buried." The New Yorker story is a fitting homage to Berle's colossal member, which for many years was, indeed, the talk of the town. Berle and the big penis shared many adventures; most famously, writer Alan Zweibel alleged that Berle had shown him his penis during rehearsals for his infamous Saturday Night Live appearance. Zweibel confirmed the penis's large size. — PS


37. Stevie Nicks' alternate cocaine-delivery method
Supposedly, Fleetwood Mac's gypsy songstress, hoping to spare her vocal cords from her severe blow habit, got a little help from a coke-straw-bearing groupie. Nicks tends to be pretty forthright about her history of cocaine abuse, and she denies this story. But that doesn't mean that it didn't happen. We all know "Gold Dust Woman" was autobiographical, but maybe the phrase "roadie blowing coke up my ass" didn't fit the rhyme scheme. — PS


36. Marisa Tomei won an Oscar by mistake
Many critics have their complaints about Marisa Tomei's Best Supporting Actress win for My Cousin Vinny in 1992 — so many, in fact, that a rumor materialized to explain it. According to lore, the presenter of the award, Jack Palance, couldn't read Vanessa Redgrave's name on the envelope and blurted out the name of the last nominee he had announced: Tomei. Other versions claim Palance uttered the wrong name because he was too stoned to know better, or because he had a crush on Tomei. Journalist Steve Pond, who covers the Oscars for Premiere, addresses the story directly in his book, The Big Show: High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards. He writes that PricewaterhouseCoopers representatives "have very clear instructions that if a presenter opens the envelope and says the wrong name, they are to walk on stage, stop the show and announce the correct winner." Tomei quieted the chatter (somewhat) by receiving another nomination for In the Bedroom in 2001. — Kristin Gangwer


35. Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean
According to rumors, Uncle Walt was many things besides the father of Mickey Mouse: a Nazi, an anti-Semite, a communist. The most persistent tale, though, is that Disney was so obsessed with immortality that he made arrangements to have himself cryogenically frozen after death. Ever since Disney shuffled off this mortal coil in 1966, popular myth has found him frozen beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in California's Disneyland. Two biographies, Marc Eliot's Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince and Leonard Mosley's Disney's World, have kept this rumor alive and kicking. But though cryogenic freezing was a popular topic in the late '50s and early '60s, there's no evidence whatsoever that Disney had any specific interest or even knowledge of cryogenics, outside of dodgy anecdotal evidence. Who knows? Maybe one day Disney will be re-animated and will go on to rule the world with his legions of cartoon anthropomorphs enforcing his terrible will. We've seen Epcot Center. It's possible. — John Constantine


34. Prince Harry's father is not Prince Charles
It was clear — and tacitly accepted — that after only a few years of marriage, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were cheating on each other. Prince Harry was born in September 1984, and after the public glimpsed his puglike features and red hair, rumors began to circulate that he was the product of Diana's affair with army officer Major James Hewitt. Diana publicly admitted her liaison in 1995, but insisted that she met Hewitt too late for him to be Harry's father. Hewitt too claims that he first met Diana in May of 1986, when Harry was twenty months old. Simone Simmons, a former close friend of the Princess, wrote Diana: The Last Word, a book serialized in The Sun. In it, she clamed that Diana was forced to carry out paternity tests on both Harry and his brother, Prince William. The tests reportedly showed that both boys were fathered by Prince Charles. — Catrinel Bartolomeu


33. Napoleon's Bonaparte is a collector's item
A number of famous penises are said to be floating about the world, having various adventures long after their owners went toes-up. John Dillinger's is said to be in the Smithsonian, and the Russian Museum of Erotica proudly boasts Rasputin's. But the Holy Grail of infamous dongs is that of Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte's autopsy was performed in 1821 by his personal doctor, in the presence of seventeen witnesses, including seven British doctors and a priest. Organs removed from Napoleon included his heart, which he requested be delivered to his wife, and his stomach, which the assembled experts agreed was ridden with cancer and the cause of Napoleon's demise. Accounts of the autopsy claim the penis was small (guy couldn't catch a break), but there's no mention of its removal. In 1916, the priest's descendants sold off a collection of Naploeonic relics that included "the mummified tendon taken from Napoleon's body during the post-mortem." The memento has since changed hands a number of times; the latest story is that American urologist John Lattimer bought it at auction in 1977. Lattimer defends its authenticity today, but it's hard to disagree with Sir Arthur Keith's 1913 argument that, given the number of witnesses at the autopsy, someone probably would have noticed if his penis went missing. — JC


32. Lyndon Johnson, exhibitionist
Climbing the ladder of American society all the way to the top requires a certain amount of ego. This may explain why LBJ was so proud of his penis, which he allegedly nicknamed "Jumbo." According to Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian and author of Lyndon Johnson & the American Dream, Johnson had unorthodox Presidential customs. During meetings, he would suddenly decide it was time for a swimming break. Then he'd drag everyone down to the White House pool, strip naked and invite the rest to do the same. When Johnson needed to visit the toilet mid-conversation, he would insist whomever he was talking with continue the conversation while he shat. Goodwin was a White House Fellow during Johnson's administration, so she may have been witness to/victim of these practices herself. — JC


31. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy bearded for each other
Hepburn was a legendary tomboy, so it's easy to understand the popularity of the rumor that she was a lesbian, that her lover Tracy was gay, and that they were bearding for each other. According to William J. Mann's biography Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn, published last month, Hepburn was asexual, Tracy was probably very gay, and Hepburn was less his lover than his caretaker, though they had a strong nonsexual connection. Of course, this could be standard Hollywood bio sleaze, but hey, Publisher's Weekly really liked the book (they called it "definitive," even!) — PS


30. Keanu Reeves married David Geffen
Where to begin? In the mid-'90s, a French tabloid reported that Keanu Reeves, the actor of ambiguous sexuality, had married David Geffen, the gay mogul and philanthropist, in a secret ceremony. This turned out to be a blatant fabrication. Quipped syndicated gossip columnist Billy Masters, "Sources tell me that David is holding out for someone who can actually act." The simple fact is, this rumor couldn't possibly be true, because it would make Keanu Reeves ever-so-slightly interesting, if only by association. — PS


29. Angelina Jolie and her brother had an incestuous relationship
At the 2000 Oscars, Angelina Jolie raved, "I'm so in love with my brother right now," and the siblings shared a long kiss on the lips. Many viewers claimed to have seen tongue, igniting the rumor that the actress and her brother, James Haven, were sleeping with each other. Jolie quickly tossed cold water on the rumors, saying, "I don't know if it's divorced families, but he and I were each other's everything. We've always been best friends. He's the funniest, sweetest person I know. He just gives me so much love, it's great." Haven also responded: "It's a very weird thing when a brother and sister can't show love for each other in public without people gossiping about them." — Jennifer Waller


28. Jim Morrison is alive
No one really knows how Jim Morrison died. His death certificate, signed by a doctor whom no one has ever been able to identify, lists the cause of twenty-seven-year-old Morrison's death as "heart attack." There was no autopsy, and only two people ever saw the body: the mystery doctor and Morrison's long-time girlfriend, Pamela Courson. The most plausible explanation is some sort of overdose, but a better one is that Morrison didn't actually die. In his bestselling bio The Lizard King, Jerry Hopkins says that pre-fame Morrison often joked about faking his own death to get publicity and post-fame Morrison often joked about faking his own death to escape publicity. It may not have been a joke; it was, in fact, a pretty well-established plan, which involved Morrison moving to rural Africa and communicating with his friends via telegram, under the alias "Mr. Mojo Rising." His bandmates, sad to say, have yet to receive any telegrams, as Morrison is probably just too busy partying with Elvis and Andy Kaufman. — GW


27. Led Zeppelin violated a groupie with a fish
This tale from the briny depths of the '70s was first reported in Hammer of the Gods, the notoriously sordid 1985 Led Zeppelin bio based on the booze-soaked recollections of road manager Richard Cole. As any Zeppelin fan knows, Cole is a shameless self-promoter and general prick, so his account needs to be taken with a grain of salt (or maybe an entire shaker). In fact, even Cole seems a bit shaky on the details: Hammer of the Gods featured drummer John Bonham stuffing pieces of shark into a groupie's vagina, but a more recent account from Cole tones things down (a little). Snopes.com helpfully provides Cole's correction to the legend:
It wasn't Bonzo, it was me. . . it was a red snapper and the chick happened to be a fucking redheaded broad with a ginger pussy. And that is the truth. Bonzo was in the room, but I did it. Mark Stein [of Vanilla Fudge] filmed the whole thing. And she loved it. . . It was the nose of the fish, and that girl must have come twenty times.
So, can we conclude that a ocean-dwelling creature of some kind was introduced to the vagina of a human female, by persons affiliated with Led Zeppelin? Perhaps. Using the widely accepted Richard Cole Plausibility Scale, we can even add that the woman may not have found the experience entirely degrading or repulsive. Maybe. — PS


26. Courteney Cox bleaches her . . .
In these heady times, bleaching your anus for aesthetic reasons is totally normal. But way back in the mists of the early 2000s, anus-bleaching was still ever so slightly unusual. (Your parents probably hadn't gotten into it yet.) The late Talk magazine delivered an early report on the supposed celebrity craze in their October 2001 issue. E! Online columnist Ted Casablanca took up the cause earlier still, reporting in April 2000 that Lara Flynn Boyle was a bleacher. Jill Soloway, a playwright and producer of Six Feet Under, continued the trend with her short story, "Courteney Cox's Asshole," available for your perusal on her website. Soloway narrates from the POV of Cox's imaginary personal assistant, who fields endless calls from tabloids about whether her boss bleaches her asshole. The story is fiction (and Soloway consistently misspells Cox's name, though maybe it's for effect), but feel free to take it as fact. — PS


25. Danny Thomas, No. 2 fan
There's no delicate way to describe this one (other than to call it by its street name, "getting a Hot Karl". . . but somehow that's even worse). Thomas, famous for his role as the "Daddy" of the '50s sitcom Make Room for Daddy, is also infamous for his alleged fetish: lying under glass coffee tables while women defecated on them. The rumor has been perpetuated by radio shock jocks and standup comedians, including Sarah Silverman, who notes that "at Canter's Deli in L.A., the Danny Thomas sandwich is number two on the menu." — Will Doig


24. Mick, Marianne and the Mars Bar
In 1967, police raided a party at Keith Richards' estate and supposedly found Mick Jagger chowing a Mars Bar out of Marianne Faithfull's nay-nay. A delicious, nougaty rumor, for sure, but according to Faithfull's autobiography, the story is nothing but "a cop's idea of what people do on acid." Chris Gibbs, one of Richards' guests, said that the cops never kicked down the door, but knocked and were admitted into "a scene of pure domesticity," in which Faithfull was wearing a towel. Faithfull's long, high-profile relationship with Jagger in the '60s no doubt only added grist to the mill. In fairness to the cops, Faithfull admitted to giving them "a quick flash." — JC


23. Oprah is gay
Until 2000, Oprah and her longtime beau, Stedman Graham, were frequently photographed together. After that point, however, Oprah's best gal-pal Gayle King became her most-photographed companion. . . and tongues started wagging. In the August 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah says, "I understand why people think we're gay. There isn't a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women. So I get why people have to label it — how can you be this close without it being sexual?" Gayle adds, "If we were gay, we would so tell you." Probably true. — KG


22. Michael Jackson slept in a hyberbaric chamber
In September 1986, the National Enquirer ran a page-one photo of the King of Pop sleeping in a large glass tube over the headline, "Michael Jackson's Bizarre Plan to Live to 150." The story reported that Jacko had been reposing in a compartment of pure oxygen used by doctors to heal severe wound victims, because he believed it would increase his lifespan (this is not, by all accounts, medically possible). The truth, according to Iain Calder, the Enquirer's senior editorial director at the time, is that Jackson's PR machine and the Enquirer had worked in concert to create the story, which made a great exclusive for the magazine and bought Jackson a ton of free publicity. According to Calder, Jackson's only stipulation was that the word "bizarre" had to appear in the headline. As if any other description could have worked. — WD


21. Mama Cass and the fatal ham sandwich
Most rumors start with a grain of truth. The story that infamously obese singer Mama Cass asphyxiated on pig's meat can be traced to her doctor, who told a reporter that Cass "probably choked to death on a sandwich." Smart-ass comment or ironic demise? Either way, the story soon spread around the world via papers and television news. Years later, even Austin Powers would have his say on the matter: "I could never be in a hurry at the dinner table without my mother reminding me of the sad fate of Mama Cass." In truth, her autopsy report showed that she died of a heart attack. — Cord Jefferson


20. Clara Bow and the football team
Clara Bow was the quintessential flapper icon and one of the first Hollywood sex symbols, and the most famous example of the football gangbang rumor — was there one in your high school, too? The original "It Girl" (the star of 1927's hit comedy It) was playful, emotive and endlessly flirtatious. She also had a really shitty life; as a child, she was raped by her father and her prostitute mother tried to kill her while she slept. The movie studios who profited off her charm got tired of her unreliability. She was eventually sent to a mental institution, where she suffered shock therapy and died of a heart attack at age sixty.
The gangbang story originated in Kenneth Anger's sordid expose Hollywood Babylon, and gossip-hungry fans were happy to believe the titillating anecdotes. The always helpful Snopes.com offers a different story about Bow and the football team, citing her more sober biographer, David Stenn. Stenn interviewed the USC Trojans alleged to have slept with Bow and concluded that "the quaint reality of these evenings hardly corresponds with the scurrilous rumors spread about them later." Stern writes that Bow invited the team to her house for occasional parties and went on a date with quarterback Morley Drury, but that according to Drury, "nothing happened." Given how Bow's life turned out, it's nice to see Drury defending her honor. They don't make football players like they used to. — PS


19. James Dean, human ashtray
The rumors swirling around James Dean were reaching a fever pitch when he fatally crashed his car; Dean didn't live long enough to confirm or deny them. As a result, he's rumored to have slept with pretty much every woman — and man — in Hollywood. One of the best bits of hearsay appears in Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon, in which he reveals James Dean's nickname, The Human Ashtray. Why? Some say it's because Dean liked to extinguish cigarettes on his arms, but Anger claims that the nickname comes from Dean's visits to gay BDSM clubs, where he'd ask men to extinguish their cigarettes on his bare chest. True or false, it's an intriguing image — and given Dean's love of extremes, a plausible one. — GW


18. Jennifer Lopez insured her ass
According to tabloids in London (The Sun) and New York (The New York Post) Jennifer Lopez insured her entire body for $1 billion in 1999. According to the Post, Lopez's breasts were valued at $100 million each; her buttocks and legs combined went for $300 million. Finer details overlooked, the rumor soon became that her ample derriere alone had been insured for $1 billion. "The billion-dollar booty" — it's just catchier. Lopez denied the claims, but not very fervently: "I don't know where they got [that story] from. When I heard the story I thought it was very funny." Interestingly enough, Lopez's ass is not the only celebrity body part that is rumored to be financially guarded. Dolly Parton's breasts, male stripper Frankie Jankman's penis and both Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart's voices join the ranks as well. — KG


17. Marilyn Manson, sitcom star
Did Marilyn Manson have a rib removed so he could auto-fellate? Did he play nerdy Paul Pfeiffer on late-'80s sitcom The Wonder Years? Could Paul give himself a blowjob? This much we know: Manson was not on The Wonder Years. Josh Saviano played Kevin's best friend, and the ex-actor is alive and working as an attorney in NYC. In 2001 Saviano told Star that he didn't mind being mistaken for the rocker. "What would you rather have, people thinking you're a dorky kid from The Wonder Years or a Satanic rock star?" Saviano did not address the fellatio rumors, but Manson did. In his autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell (ghostwritten by The Game author Neil Strauss), he remarks, "If I really got my ribs removed, I would have been busy sucking my own dick on The Wonder Years instead of chasing Winnie Cooper." — Sarah Harrison


16. John Lennon had an affair with Brian Epstein
According to Albert Goldman's book, The Lives of John Lennon, the Beatle had an affair with the band's manager and close friend, Brian Epstein, from 1963 until Epstein's death in 1967. Two other authors, Peter Shotten and Hunter Davies, claimed that Lennon and Epstein had sex but not a long-term relationship. Lennon denied the rumor, telling Playboy in 1980 "it was never consummated, but we had a pretty intense relationship." Lennon's ex-wife Cynthia also refuted the claim in her memoir, John, saying, "[Like] most lads at the time, [John] was horrified by the idea of homosexuality." — SH


15. Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo had an affair
Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo may be a match made in lesbian heaven — but not in '30s Hollywood. In fact, Garbo and Dietrich were known as bitter rivals during their respective careers. Is it possible that in the more liberal environment of Weimar Germany, the two young actresses had an affair? Could their later Hollywood "rivalry" have been a PR ploy to keep their past hidden? Or are the stories only wish fulfillment, bolstered by their fiercely guarded private lives and androgynous screen personas? Dietrich's daughter, Maria Riva, addressed the rumors in her 1994 biography. Though she denies an affair, this interview with The Advocate shows that she, like the rest of us, has engaged in some speculation. — GW


14. Admission to Yale's secret society, Skull and Bones, involves various sexual humiliations
Some of the nation's most prominent politicians, including George W. Bush and his father, are members of Yale's secret society Skull and Bones. Bonesmen are sworn to secrecy, so no one knows what really goes on in the Tomb (the group's on-campus headquarters), but rumors about bizarre initiation rituals and connections with shady organizations like the Illuminati and the CIA and have circulated through word of mouth and in publications like Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times. According to these reports, to gain admission to the sect, our future president lay naked in a coffin while masturbating and reciting his sexual history, participated in nude mud-wrestling matches, jumped into a pile of shit, kissed a skull and received $15,000 upon becoming a member. Bonesmen give each other secret names; supposedly Bush Sr. received the title "Magog," awarded to the inductee with the most sexual experience. Bush Jr. was allowed to choose his own nickname, but didn't come up with one, so the elders christened him "Temporary." Given W's infamous facility with comedic handles ("Turd Blossom" for Karl Rove, etc), this seems unlikely. — SH


13. Hitler had one testicle
"Hitler — has only got one ball/ Göring — has two but they are small. . . " That's the classic doggerel verse, set to the "Colonel Bogey March." (MIDI here; thanks, Wikipedia). But what's the truth behind it? While historians generally agree that Hermann Göring's testicles were of average size, the notion that Hitler had but one testicle (or a shrunken testicle, or a retracted testicle, or one smooth blue testicle and one fuzzy green testicle) actually has some grounding in history. A Soviet autopsy report from 1945 written by one Dr. Faust Shkaravski, reports that "the left testicle could not be found. . . "
Very interesting, but dubious. First of all, Hitler's body, of course, was burned, removing any kind of testicular evidence. More importantly, Soviet documents are not noted for their untouched authority. In 1945, the Soviets had plenty of reasons to discredit Hitler. As Ron Rosenbaum writes in his fascinating book, Explaining Hitler, "the lost testicle has become a repository for the hope that some singular solution — an explicatory single-bullet theory — exists somewhere to explain everything ." — PS


12. Anna Wintour's broken heart belongs to the late Bob Marley
A funny thought, surely; the queen of high-strung hauteur pining away for perhaps the most relaxed musician of all time. In Front Row: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue's Editor-in-Chief, Jerry Oppenheimer claims that in the late '70s, when Marley was on tour in New York, Chris Blackwell of Island Records introduced the two, and Wintour "fell for" the Rastafarian. Wintour's rep gave no comment to "Page Six," but a friend reportedly told Oppenheimer that the editrix acted as if she'd "met God" and she "virtually disappeared for a week" while Marley was in town (presumably, she was back stage puffin' and lovin'.) "When Wintour finally resurfaced, she looked utterly worn out," Oppenheimer writes, "but [she] denied to friends she'd spent the week in Marley's bed." This doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd deny, even if you were Anna Wintour, but then, who can fathom her frosty heart? — CB


11. Jamie Lee Curtis is intersex
Jamie Lee Curtis was born with a penis! Jamie Lee Curtis was born with an extra chromosome! We remember hearing these lines on the playground before we had any idea who Jamie Lee Curtis was. Curtis has never discussed her genital status, so let's consult a more entertaining source: the CHUD.com message boards. Writes "Cheese Biscuit," "She has two XXs and a Y chromosome. She's all woman physically, but she can't have kids due to the genetic defect." (According to imdb.com, Curtis' two kids with Christopher Guest are adopted. Gosh, this is getting awfully personal.) Replies "Brian Ross," "Her facial features are rather manish [sic]." In conclusion, arguments are strong on both sides of this important issue; judge for yourself. Incidentally, we're grateful for a job that allows us to spend hours Googling "jamie lee curtis hermaphrodite." — PS


10. Catherine the Great died while having sex with a horse
In her lifetime, Catherine II dethroned her husband and took control of Russia, guided geniuses like Voltaire and Diderot and cultivated a flourishing Russian art scene. And yet, more than 200 years after her death, barnyard trysts are what she's best known for. The myth stems from Catherine's healthy sexual appetite — she took on several lovers after her husband's death — as well as envy and fear. In the eighteenth century, questioning a woman's sexuality was a vicious and efficient way to shame her. While there weren't tabloids to sully a good name, there were jealous French nobility, whom historians believe spread the rumors about Catherine after her death in an attempt to destroy her legacy. It was basically Mean Girls with fancier gowns. — CJ


9. Marilyn Monroe + JFK
These days, if the phrase "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," sung in a sultry half-lisp, conjures Wayne's World instead of Marilyn Monroe, YouTube has the remedy: video of Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" to JFK on his forty-fifth — May 19, 1962. The performance is certainly suggestive, as is Kennedy's deadpan response ("I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.") Can the rumor be confirmed? A tryst between the two icons certainly seems possible, but since so many people want it to be true, the actual evidence can be hard to judge. For example, Kennedy papers discovered in 1997 included an agreement by Kennedy to buy Monroe's silence on the subject of their supposed affair, but forensics experts quickly showed the documents to be fake. — PS


8. Hilton mothers give their daughters sex lessons
Kathy Hilton taught her daughter Paris not to perform fellatio because it would put "holes" in her cheeks, according to Jerry Oppenheimer, author of the exposé House of Hilton. A tradition of sex lessons amongst the Hilton women supposedly originated with Kathy's mother; a source in Oppenheimer's book claims Big Kathy wanted her daughter to know "all about sex, and how to perform sex, literally the best possible way." To that end, Grandma Hilton allegedly asked a young man to teach her Kathy how to have sex in a van in the front of their house. Although this is probably all spurious and mean-spirited invention, House of Hilton sounds like a pretty awesome book. — CB


7. Marilyn Monroe did porn
If a Marilyn Monroe porn reel existed, it's hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't want to see it. Does it? According to FBI files turned up by The Smoking Gun, Joe DiMaggio once tried to purchase a "French-type" movie of "Marilyn Monroe, deceased actress, in unnatural acts with an unknown male." And in 1980, a Swedish photographer unearthed a silent reel from 1948, featuring an awkward young actress with a striking resemblance to Monroe. After intense scrutiny by everyone from the American Film Institute to Penthouse, the film is still a mystery: no one can be certain that the actress is Marilyn. Does it matter? — GW


6. Gallon of semen, stomach pump, etc.
You might have heard Rod Stewart was rushed to an emergency room, where he had a quart of semen pumped out of his stomach. Your friend disagrees, claiming it was Lil' Kim who collapsed at a party, suffering from the same ailment. Someone else heard the same rumor, but about Elton John, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Jon Bon Jovi, Alanis Morissette or Britney Spears. The first pop-culture references usually implicated a gay-seeming male rock star (Bowie, Stewart), but today the most popular lore surrounds sexualized female performers (Britney). Urban-legend authority Snopes.com points out that most stomachs can't even hold that much liquid, that you'd have to perform blowjobs for three days straight and that semen, "in any quantity, isn't toxic." — CB


5. David Bowie's wife walked in on him and Mick Jagger having sex
Some have said that the rumor about Mick Jagger and David Bowie having an affair in the '70s was fueled by prurient homophobia. We prefer to think it became popular because it's fucking hot. Regardless, according to Snopes.com, the rumor was started by Angela Bowie on The Joan Rivers Show. Recently freed from a gag order against her ex-husband, Bowie told Rivers that "I caught him in bed with men several times. In fact, the best time I caught him in bed was with Mick Jagger." She also specified that the men were naked. David and Mick's lawyers quickly denied the story, after which the ex-Mrs. Bowie did some extreme backpedaling, saying they hadn't necessarily had sex just because they were naked in bed together. Then came this passage from her 1993 memoir Backstage Passes : ". . .when I walked into that room and found Mick and David together, I felt absolutely dead certain that they'd been screwing. It was so obvious, in fact, that I never even considered the possibility that they hadn't been screwing. . . I didn't have to look around for open jars of K-Y jelly." — GW


4. Mikey died from eating Pop Rocks and soda
Remember Mikey, the little advertising mascot kid who liked Life cereal? "Mikey likes it," and all that? Presumably, Mikey, though he liked Life cereal, was not as much a fan of exploding. Luckily, contrary to popular opinion, John "Mikey" Gilchrist did not explode after eating Pop Rocks and chugging a Coke, and the combo of Pop Rocks and soda isn't deadly — although it may cause you to lose your lunch. The rumor will probably never go away, but Mikey is alive and well, as you can read in this transcript of a 2000 CNN piece including the ex-cereal enthusiast. — JW


3. Nancy Reagan was a blowjob queen
According to Kitty Kelley's biography, the future first lady "was renowned in Hollywood for performing oral sex." Back when she was Nancy Davis, the actress reportedly went down on many an actor "not only in the evening but in offices. That was one of the reasons that she was very popular on the MGM lot." You have to shift your conception of '80s conservatives around a little to buy this, but it's worth the effort. — Ada Calhoun


2. Suri Cruise is a scam
Does Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' larvum actually exist? Cruise is so strange, and Scientology so shadowy, that it's easy to imagine the whole thing is some kind of conspiracy. Not helping matters: Holmes's press-friendly, four-year pregnancy; the media-whorish couple's failure to exhibit their offspring in public for months after her birth; and the rumor that Tom Cruise auditioned a stable of actresses for the part of his wife (among them Jessica Alba, Keri Russell and Scarlett Johansson). Then Vanity Fair got the photos, the result of days of shooting around the Cruise estate, and the smiling, glassy-eyed features editor was on Larry King declaring that Cruise and Holmes are the best parents in the world and that Scientology "didn't come up" during the shoot. So for the first time in history, documentation only made the existence of the subject seem less true. — AC


1. Richard Gere and the gerbil
Throughout the '80s, accusations of gerbiling (i.e. "coaxing a live gerbil into your rectum for the purposes of sexual pleasure") haunted several D-listers, including a news anchor in Philly and a Cleveland Browns linebacker, before permanently latching onto Gere, who was allegedly rushed to the hospital for emergency rodent removal. Hearsay ballooned into the most famous celebrity rumor in history when someone faxed dozens of Hollywood offices a fake ASPCA press release claiming that Gere had "abused" a gerbil. Since then, the legend has been passed around locker rooms and the writers' offices of animated series (South Park, Family Guy). Perhaps none of Gere's interviewers have had the guts to go there, or maybe there's some kind of publicist-issued fatwa, but Gere has never publicly addressed the rumor. Would you? — CJ



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