Behind all the glitter of the golden age of Hollywood dark secrets were hidden, denied, and buried far away from the prying eyes. On rare occasions, affairs came to the surface like Black Dahlia murder, but many were hushed up by the major production companies. Decades later, some of them came into the spotlight leaving us speechless by the amount of filth and debauchery. Here are the ones that finally saw the light of day.
Before Macaulay Culkin, there was Jackie Coogan. The famous Uncle Fester has had a fallout with his own family that eventually changed the history and the law concerning child actors. Coogan was a very successful child actor before hitting big as a creepy and funny member of the Adams family. By the time he earned over $4 million only to find out that his mother and stepfather blew it all on their lavish lifestyle. Jackie took them to court, but the judge awarded him only $125K. The trial was in the spotlight the whole way which led to California Child Actor’s Bill, commonly known as the Coogan Act.
The Hollywood Madams
In the 1990s we had Heidi Fleiss, and the world was stunned for a second. However, the madams were a common fixture among socialites for a long time. In 1930 there was a Lee Francis who had a lot of major names written down in her little black book. Clark Gable and Errol Flynn were regulars in her Hacienda Arms Apartments on the Sunset Strip. The LAPD turned a blind eye. However, Francis was eventually arrested. She was quickly replaced by other ladies that run the business for decades before also getting locked up. And the wheel keeps turning. We’ll be shocked again in a few years probably.
Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds were close friends. Debbie was married to Eddie Fisher with whom she had a girl and was pregnant with their second child. While Raynolds was giving birth, Taylor and Fisher started an affair. The lovers married only to divorce a couple of years later when Elizabeth Taylor cheated Eddie Fisher with Richard Burton. The two friends from the beginning never spoke again, however, Taylor and Fisher made amends five decades later.
Judy Garland’s Diet Plan
Judy Garland signed up with MGM at the age of 13. Although she was charming, the studio deemed her to be too fat. In order to get any job at all and honor her contract, Garland went onto a grueling diet plan. Her meals consisted of amphetamines, barbiturates, black coffee, and packs of cigarettes. The actress dies of overdose at the age of 47.
Mandated abortions by the production companies were a common thing in the golden age of Hollywood. Actresses were told when they were allowed to have a child. In case they got pregnant in an “undesirable period” they would, without a word, go and have abortions. Special clinics checked them in as having ear infections or some similar issue, to avoid public scrutiny. Many Hollywood superstars at the time, like Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Jeanette MacDonald, and Bette Davis had abortions on a regular basis. Jean Harlow was even forbidden to marry the father of her child since a married woman could not be a “bombshell”.
Joan Crawford Adult Movie
When Joan Crawford signed the contract with MGM, the producers had no idea that she starred in an adult movie “Velvet Lips” as an underage girl. The studio spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get ahold of the tape, which they eventually did. One of MGM’s clean-up men bought off the tape for $100K. When Joan’s contract was up, she left the studio and paid back half of the amount, $50K.
Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich Affair
Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich came to Hollywood around the same time from Europe. Garbo was a Swedish stunner, while Dietrich came from Germany. The two allegedly had a steamy affair while filming the silent German film “The Joyless Street”. The German actress denied ever appearing in the movie, and her presence was never firmly proved. The two stars never filmed together again. Decades later, Marlene Dietrich confided in her friend that Greta Garbo was acting like a child and “wore dirty underwear”. How did she know that?
Lana Turner’s Family Tragedy
Back in the 1950s, Lana Turner was the most popular actress in Hollywood. She was in a relationship with Johnny Stompanato who had close ties with the mafia. One night the police were called to Turner’s house where they found Stompanato stabbed to death. Turner’s 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane took the blame. The judge ruled it to be a justifiable homicide. For years later, the public speculated that Lana actually killed Johnny after a jealous fit of rage.
Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini Had a Child
In the late 1940s, Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini had an affair while they were both married. Bergman got pregnant and gave birth to a son in 1949 after both got a divorce from their spouses. However, the public was outraged by the immorality of the famous actress. She was ignored by Hollywood studios for years before she returned with a vengeance. In the mid-50s Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar gaining her fans back.
Charlie Chaplin Married Only Teenagers
Charlie is one of the most inventive and beloved comedians for almost a century. His love life, however, was no joke. The actor married four times. His first two wives were 16, the third wife was 20, and his last wife whom he married at the age of 54, was an 18-year old girl. Charlie Chaplin was a father to 11 children.