Old Hollywood's Dirty Secrets: 15 Of The Juiciest Scandals Uncovered

Those charming black-and-white movies romanticize old Hollywood as an age of glamour and simplicity. Whether it be Casablanca or Breakfast at Tiffany’s, there’s just something about the old Hollywood silver screen that paints a picture of safety and humbleness. But starlets back then weren’t as angelic as one would expect. In fact, many of the celebrities had their fair share of skeletons, as well as Hollywood itself. Back then, tabloids and Twitter updates were not available to keep people informed on juicy celebrity gossip. That’s probably why many of the scandals have been forgotten over time. From abortions to affairs to suicides and more, let’s take a look back at old Hollywood’s biggest scandals. We’ll never see Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz the same way again after reading this.

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15 Happy Birthday, Mr. President

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Marilyn Monroe is the epitome of glamour and numerous women have attempted to emulate her looks, her style and of course, her s*x appeal. But Monroe was certainly no angel. She had her fair share of skeletons in her closet, just like many other celebrities in Hollywood. The most famous of them all revolved around the Kennedy Family. After Marilyn’s famous ''Happy Birthday'' rendition, rumors of an affair between her and John F. Kennedy emerged, and those rumors continue to haunt her memory. She was also rumoured to have had an affair with the then-president’s brother, Robert Kennedy. In addition to her affairs, the blonde bombshell has also suffered from depression and struggled with substance abuse. Marilyn Monroe is pretty much synonymous with old Hollywood controversy.

14 Silent but deadly

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An icon of the silent film era, Charlie Chaplin’s personal life was brimming with scandal. Married four times and the father of 11 children, what stood out about him as odd was the age of his wives. They were often very young. He was 29 years old when he married his first wife, who was just 16 years old. When that marriage failed, he moved on to another young bride, who also happened to be 16 when they married. This marriage also ended in divorce and it came with a lot of scandal, when his wife accused him of forcing her to have an abortion when she was pregnant. This scandal may have dented his reputation but it didn’t stop him from marrying two more times: both who were, once again, in their teens.

13 Somewhere over the rainbow

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You watch her play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and you wonder how anything could be less than perfect in the life of Judy Garland, the actress who played the leading role. But Garland’s real life was anything but perfect.

During her career at MGM, the actress was subjected to endless abuse and harassment from executives about her weight, which led to Garland starving herself and becoming addicted to diet pills.

She was only 13 when she joined MGM, so you can see how difficult this must have been for her at such a tender age. One of the studio executives once called her a ''fat little pig with pigtails.'' By 18, Judy Garland was forced on a diet of black coffee, soup and diet pills every few hours. That’s not including the 80 cigarettes she puffed away at every day.

12 Studio-pressured operations

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You already saw how the studios in Hollywood controlled Judy Garland’s life. They also controlled other actors’ lives. See, old Hollywood wasn’t as glamorous as you may have thought. Back in the day, Hollywood studios didn’t want their leading bombshells getting married or pregnant. So when Jean Harlow became pregnant after her affair with William Powell, the studio was not impressed. They even arranged for the actress to get an abortion. Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Tallulah Bankhead and Judy Garland also had abortions arranged by the Hollywood studios. And most of the time, it was against their will."In the 1930s, vamp and man-eating thespian Tallulah Bankhead got 'abortions like other women got permanent waves,' biographer Lee Israel reveals in Miss Tallulah Bankhead."

11 Ingrid Bergman’s betrayal

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She was known for her wholesome persona, but that soon changed after Ingrid Bergman had an affair with director Roberto Rossellini in the early 1950s. They were both married at the time. Bergman even had a daughter with husband Petter Lindstrom. But when she turned up pregnant with Rossellini’s child, she divorced Lindstrom and married Rossellini.

Naturally, the affair became an international scandal and one that she could not shake off for a long time.

It definitely took a toll on her career. She was, after all, perceived as this saintly figure and now she was involved in this huge scandal. Fans were not happy. After having two more children with Rossellini, the two divorced in the mid 1950s and she eventually made a comeback.

10 The real life psycho

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He’s the man behind Hollywood’s classics, but how much do we really know about the director of Psycho and The Birds? Alfred Hitchcock, just like his movies, has a dark side. Stars who worked with him called him a predator. One of those stars was actress Tippi Hedren, star of The Birds, who spoke out about his unwanted advances: "I don't know what to call it. It was something I'd never experienced before. It wasn't love. When you love someone, you treat them well. We are dealing with a mind here that is incomprehensible. And I certainly am not capable of discerning what was going through his mind or why. I certainly gave no indication that I was ever interested in a relationship with him." Now we know who the real psycho is.

9 Hitchcock’s contemporary counterpart

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Another director involved in Hollywood scandal is Woody Allen. Only his wrongdoings are even more grisly than Hitchcock’s. In 1992, his then-partner Mia Farrow accused him of sexually abusing their 7-year-old adopted child. As a result, Allen found himself in an intense legal battle in which he was given a strict warning.

An additional scandal occurred when Farrow found nude photos of her 19-year-old adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, with whom Allen later started a relationship and married.

Allen denied misconduct. "I didn’t find any moral dilemmas whatsoever," Allen told Time. "I didn’t feel that just because she was Mia’s daughter, there was any great moral dilemma. It was a fact, but not one with any great import. It wasn’t like she was my daughter."

8 A Hollywood makeover to remember

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Like we said before, Hollywood studios practically controlled their stars. If you wanted to be a star, you had to follow their instructions and if you didn’t like it, you knew where the door was. With her Latin beauty and sultry personality, Rita Hayworth was born a star. At least, that’s probably what everybody thinks. The reality is, Hayworth was made to go under a drastic makeover in order to de-Latinize herself. To do that, she underwent extensive hairline electrolysis to remove her widow’s peak, dyed her black hair red and ultimately changed her name from Margarita Carmen Cansino to Rita Hayworth. Back then, plastic surgery wasn’t so popular, so celebrities found other radical alternatives to change their appearance. As long as the Hollywood studios were happy, that was all that mattered.

7 The mysterious death of Jean Harlow’s husband

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Even today, people still wonder what really happened to Paul Bern. He was a famous Hollywood director, a screenwriter, an MGM producer and also the husband of actress Jean Harlow. But only two months after marrying Harlow, Bern committed suicide. He left behind a vague suicide note that led people to believe that his death was somewhat mysterious.

Could it really have been suicide?

Some speculate that the note was down to studio involvement. Some people have even connected Harlow to Bern’s death, but somehow that just doesn’t seem possible. What would she get out of his death? It wasn’t as though she was a struggling actor or anything. We guess it’s just going to be one of those mysteries that remain a mystery. But there certainly wasn’t any mystery concerning the next scandal.

6 Elizabeth Taylor and her lovers

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Elizabeth Taylor was pretty open about her marriages. Everybody knew that she had a lot of lovers. She was in fact known for her eight marriages. In her defence, two of those marriages were to the same man, but there’s a lot more to her love life than the figure eight. Taylor’s third husband, Mike Todd, for instance, died in a plane crash in the '50s. Not long after, Taylor had an affair with Todd’s best friend, Eddie Fisher, who was actually married to Debbie Reynolds at the time. He divorced Reynolds to marry Taylor but the marriage soon ended in divorce when she began an affair with Richard Burton. Naturally, it was a big scandal in Hollywood, not that it wasn’t already used to its abundance of controversies at the time.

5 Tragedgy at the Hollywood sign

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Hollywood is a tough business. Nobody felt this more acutely than actress Peg Entwistle who, after appearing in several Broadway plays but still not making it on the big screen, felt like a failure. When she finally landed her first big role in ''Thirteen Women,'' she was cut from the film.

At only 24 years old, Entwistle had enough.

Overwhelmed with disappointment, the actress climbed up the Hollywood sign ladder and jumped from the letter ''H.'' Her body was discovered by a hiker two days later together with a suicide note which was found in her purse. The note described everything this young aspiring actress was feeling at the time:"I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E."


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Ronald Reagan may have been the President of the United States, but that does not exclude him from scandal. Prior to becoming POTUS, Reagan had a reputation for being abusive towards women. Actress Selene Walters even accused him of assaulting her in the 1950s. "I opened the door, then it was the battle of the couch,'' she told People. ''I was fighting him. I didn't want him to make love to me. He's a very big man, and he just had his way. Date rape? No, God, no, that's [Kelley's] phrase. I didn't have a chance to have a date with him." Another victim of Reagan’s predation was Piper Laurie, who claimed he assaulted her when she was only 18 and he was 39.

3 Barbie Man

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He was the sixth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor and the creator of Barbie. Jack Ryan was definitely successful but was he sane? We’re not so sure. According to stories, Ryan had an unhealthy obsession with his icon doll creation.

Scotty Bowers, author of Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, claims Ryan created Barbie as his vision of the perfect woman.

According to Bowers, Jack Ryan was "addicted to women...young, slim, attractive….[and] endowed." In other words, this isn’t the kind of guy any young attractive woman would want to be alone with. Ryan obviously has an unhealthy and warped vision of how women should look. Sure, most women would love to look like Barbie, but unless we all undergo major cosmetic surgery, there’s no chance of us ever resembling the iconic blonde doll.

2 And then there was one

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Natalie Wood was another old Hollywood beauty. Sadly, her life wasn’t smooth sailing, which seems to be par for the course for actors in her era. In order to get parts in his movies, Wood started an affair with director Nicholas Ray when she was just 16. It was a competitive industry and she apparently felt there was no other way for her to break into it. She wanted to be a star and she wanted a part on the silver screen, so she had to sacrifice a lot to do that. It was also rumoured that she was having an affair with actor Christopher Walken. The two were together on a boat the night she drowned. Wood’s tragic death still remains a mystery today. Her then-husband Robert Wagner believes her fall from the boat was purely an accident and not intentional, but officials recently reopened the case because his story doesn't add up.

1 Lana Turner’s grisly ordeal

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You know how we said Hollywood studios controlled everything back in that era? Well, we weren’t exaggerating. Another example of Hollywood’s cruel clutches is actress Lana Turner. When she got pregnant in 1941, she was forced to have an abortion, which was covered up by a promo tour in Hawaii. Most shocking is the actual procedure of the abortion. It was carried out without anesthesia on her hotel bed. The pain was so bad, her mother actually had to cover her daughter’s mouth to stifle her cries. The studio deducted the $500 for the abortion from her paycheck and demanded that she return to set the following week. It doesn’t get more brutal than that does it? It makes modern Hollywood look like a breeze in comparison.

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