Oh the Horror! The Hidden World of Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most admired and respected film directors of his era. This rotund director had a natural talent for captivating movie audiences with stories about everyday people getting caught up extraordinary circumstances. Through the art of film direction, he gave audiences countless hours of thrills, some chills and a bit of humor thrown in for good measure.

While Hitchcock films are endlessly dissected and talked about, facts about his personality, his relationships, behavior, and movie making experiences remain a mystery to many fans. One slide reveals the woman responsible for his long-term success. Want to know what bizarre gift he gave to six-year-old Melanie Griffith? Keep clicking to see that, too!

Little Alfie Was a Neurotic Mess

Source: Daily Hitchcock
Source: Daily Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock came into the world in 1899 as the youngest of three children. He was afraid of the Jesuit priests at his Catholic school, scared of the police, and terrified of being physically harmed, among other fears. Alfie, as he was often called, spent a lot of time hiding away in his room. Within the walls of his sanctuary, his imagination roamed freely.

He had never liked his body and admitted to being well aware that he was no prize in the looks department. His fears sometimes consumed him. The only plus side of his anguish is that boyhood fears, guilt, and repression became the fuel for his future career as an extraordinary storyteller.

Childhood Terror Turns into Movie Terror

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

As a boy, Alfie did something so bad in his father’s mind that it warranted having his son locked behind prison walls. The elder Hitchcock sent his son to the local prison. Upon arrival, he handed over a note from his father instructing a policeman to lock the boy up for a few minutes. The fear and humiliation of this one incident stayed with him for the rest of his life.

Hitchcock remembers being afraid he was going to spend his life in prison. He drew on his own fears as inspiration for countless scenes featuring emotional terror. He hated feeling terrified so much that the “Master of Suspense” refused to watch his own completed movies.

Married and Celibate?

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Source: The Hitchcock Zone
Source: The Hitchcock Zone

By all accounts, Alma Reville Hitchcock and Alfred Hitchcock had a close relationship. These two definitely fit into the “odd couple” category when it comes to marriages. While he craved Alma’s opinion about his movie ideas and scripts, he apparently didn’t crave her physically. After conceiving their daughter, Patricia, Hitchcock preferred having a celibate relationship with his wife. Alma stayed in the relationship, regardless of a lack of physical affection.

Raised a Catholic, Hitchcock was a bundle of emotional conflicts and repressed desires. Alma knew about his obsessions over blonde actresses cast in his films, but she had her own private reasons for turning a blind eye to his behavior.

Wife Alma Contributed Greatly to His Success

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Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

As a young girl, Alma Reville visited her father at the film studios where he worked. She too began working there as a tea girl. At 16, the resourceful young woman was promoted to editing cutter. She then started writing scripts and became an assistant director on some projects. These early studio jobs make her a female filmmaking pioneer.

She met Alfred Hitchcock when they both worked for the same movie company. Their decades-long collaboration began when he hired her as his assistant director. After marrying Alfred, she continued being a creative force behind his films. Some of her writing and editing work on his films is officially credited, but a lot isn’t, which was okay with her.

A Small Extra Part Ignites a Desire for Film Cameos

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Source: The Blonde at the Film
Source: The Blonde at the Film

Like many directors, Hitchcock learned early on how to improvise on the set. He was serving as an editor of one film, and there weren’t enough extras to do a scene. Hitchcock stepped into an extra role to fill the void. Although his back was to the camera, he totally enjoyed the experience and wanted to do it more. That’s when he decided to put himself into movies he worked on as much as possible.

Being a director, it was easy to do walk-on parts, and movie buffs often look forward to spotting him on screen. During his long career, Hitchcock made cameo appearances in 37 films.

His Dark Sense of Humor Ranged from Silly to Frightening

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Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

Hitchcock loved playing demeaning practical jokes on certain people. If he thought someone was too pompous and full of themselves, they became a target for his dark sense of humor. It didn’t matter if you were a famous actor, cameraman, or dinner guest, he enjoyed pranking people of all types.

One of his favorite lighthearted pranks was to put whoopie cushions on the chairs of dinner guests. Another time, he added food coloring to a sumptuous meal, turning all the food blue. On the darker side, some of his pranks were downright mean-spirited. He gave Tippi Hedren’s six-year-old daughter, Melanie, a doll that looked just like her mother. The doll was inside a mini coffin.

British Hitchcock Films Got Hollywood’s Attention

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Source: Vintage Hitchcock
Source: Vintage Hitchcock

Hitchcock always wanted to be noticed by Hollywood, but it took a while for him to appear on its talent radar. In England, he got his first taste of directing as an assistant director for the 1922 film Woman to Woman. Using skills he learned from working in partnership with German film studios, he directed The Pleasure Garden in 1925.

In the 1930s, Hitchcock focused on suspense thrillers and honed his style. Movies such as The Man Who Knew Too Much, Secret Agent, The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes earned him accolades, and he was seen as a leading British filmmaker. Some of these movies had modest success in America.

Hitchcock and Selznick Lock Horns over Rebecca

Source: The Hitchcock Zone
Source: The Hitchcock Zone

Alfred Hitchcock jumped at the chance to become a Hollywood movie director after being offered a deal by producer David O. Selznick. Rebecca was Hitchcock’s first movie of a seven-year contract. It was a tug-of-war between the two right from the start.

The producer and director had vastly different visions for the movie. Hitchcock’s screenplay took lots of liberties with the story, and Selznick hated the changes. The comedic parts had to go. They butted heads over filming styles. Selznick wanted lots of footage, but Hitchcock was economical, shooting only what he needed. The movie turned out okay, despite the disagreements.

His Experimental Film Bombed

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As the director of the film adaptation of Rope, Hitchcock wanted to do something different. This was his first Technicolor film, and he decided to try a creative experiment. Rope was filmed as if it were taking place in real time, which was a novel concept for movies at the time.

The movie plot revolves around two college friends who decide to murder a buddy and stuff his body into a chest. The two chums hold a dinner party, turning the chest into a macabre buffet table. Hitchcock shoots long takes to make scenes look continuous. Those long reels meant theater projectionists had to stop the show every 20 minutes to change reels. These interruptions made the movie unpopular with audiences.

That Rotund Profile Was Originally for Christmas Cards

Hitchcock may have disliked his body, but that never stopped him from using it for the sake of art. Each episode of his popular TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents opens with a silhouette featuring his famous rotund figure. The first image is a simple hand-drawn figure, and right after the show title, Hitchcock himself steps into the frame as a large shadow figure.

It turns out that the hand drawn image was conceived by Hitchcock many years before he ever came to Hollywood. Back in 1927, when he was a film crew assistant, Hitchcock created a similar caricature of his form for that year’s Christmas cards.

The Actress Who Wasn’t Icy

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It’s no secret that Hitch preferred actresses for leading roles in his film who perfectly captured that icy blonde persona. The female characters they portrayed kept their cool, regardless of what kind of intrigue was swirling around them.

Grace Kelly broke the mold when she was cast in leading lady roles in Hitchcock films. Her 1950 screen test caught his eye, and he cast Kelly in Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief. Hitchcock compared the classy actress to a volcano, fiery hot with a cool exterior. Kelly left Hollywood to be with the Prince of Monaco, and Hitchcock chose Vera Miles as his new leading lady.

Kim Novak Obsession: Art Imitates Life

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Kim Novak was at the height of her popularity as an actress when she was cast to play opposite Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. In the movie, Novak plays the plain shopgirl, Judy, and the sophisticated blonde, Madeleine. Stewart’s cop character, Scottie, is obsessed with Madeleine, forcing Judy to keep up the ruse of a false identity.

The movie’s main focus is on the destructive nature of obsession, and in real life, Novak was dealing with the director’s obsession with her. She remembers Hitchcock being totally fixated on her makeup, hair, and clothing. His behavior mirrored that of Stewart’s character Scottie, who couldn’t let go of his fantasy woman.

He Blamed Jimmy Stewart for the Movie’s Flop

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Lanky and likable actor Jimmy Stewart played leading man roles in four Hitchcock films: Rope, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo. Already an established Hollywood star by this stage in his career, Stewart was a middle-aged man, and his leading ladies were quite a bit younger.

Vertigo is now considered one of Hitchcock’s greatest films, but it proved to be a big bore to 1950s film audiences. Hitchcock felt the movie failed due to Stewart’s older guy looks. Stewart was supposed to play the lead part in North by Northwest but lost out to the younger looking Cary Grant. Ironically, Stewart was four years younger than Grant.

He Risked Losing His Home to Make Psycho

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Source: HRC Cultural Compass
Source: HRC Cultural Compass

By the late early 1950s, Hitchcock had quite a string of impressive and successful films under his belt. He was now a Hollywood brand who commanded attention, just like many of the big stars he worked with. Yet, when he had an idea for a suspense thriller about a wayward woman who checks into a mysterious hotel while on the run, his studio, Paramount, told him to take a hike.

That’s right. Paramount refused to put up the funds for Psycho. Not wanting to give up, Hitchcock financed the film with an $800,000 loan using his home as collateral. This turned out to be good for him because he kept total creative control, which meant no censoring of objectionable scenes.

Showers Became Too Scary for Janet Leigh

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Source: Dread Central
Source: Dread Central

In the movie Psycho, when Janet Leigh steps into the shower and begins soaping up under the streaming water, her character has no idea what’s about to happen. The actress did know what was coming, but claims she wasn’t bothered by the violent scene as she was shooting it. That’s not so unusual because movie scenes are often shot in several takes. Besides, Anthony Perkins wasn’t even around for that scene.

Her nonchalant attitude about it lasted until the moment she watched it play out on the big screen. Leigh was stricken by how vulnerable she was, naked and without any means of defense. Afterward, it’s reported that she never took a shower again. We assume that means she only took baths?

Late Moviegoers Were Banned

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Source: Cool Ass Cinema
Source: Cool Ass Cinema

Hitchcock was determined that his new shock thriller, Psycho, wasn’t going to have run-of-the-mill marketing. He wanted the youthful movie going audience who enjoyed movies such as The Fly to flock to his film, so he came up with an ingenious marketing strategy to create demand.

Every movie theater showing Psycho was given strict orders by Hitchcock to not let anyone in after the movie started. Theater manager’s received cardboard cutout posters featuring Hitchcock that reinforced this warning. No one arriving late got in, regardless of excuses. Managers went along with this marketing ploy, which added to the sense of excitement about the film.

Hitchcock Started a New Genre

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Source: New Now Next
Source: New Now Next

Before Psycho came out, Hollywood violence was glossed over, and films didn’t show the gory stuff. That all changed after Hollywood realized that movie fans were okay with seeing the realistic violence that could be gory and shocking.

The shower scene depicting the brutal murder of a woman remains one of the most shockingly violent scenes in cinema. Everything is normal for Marion until that moment when she’s attacked by someone unseen. The fact that it’s shot in black and white doesn’t make it any less disturbing; audiences are glued to the screen for the entire 45-seconds of gore. And that’s how the slasher movie was born.

Hitchcock Was Banned from Disneyland

Source: Rebloggy
Source: Rebloggy

Disneyland in Anaheim, California was just five years old when the movie Psycho shocked the world. Inspired by an idea he had while out with his two young daughters, Walt’s Disneyland quickly became a fun family destination and was associated with good values and old-fashioned wholesomeness.

Hitchcock wanted to make a film about a blind man who has his sight restored after receiving donor eyes from a dead man. One scene takes place at Disneyland, and Hitchcock asked for permission to shoot at the popular theme park. Unfortunately, Walt Disney had seen Psycho and was thoroughly disgusted by the movie. He refused to let Hitchcock anywhere near his beloved park with a film camera.

Leading Lady Obsessions Leads to Real Bird Attack

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As much as Alfred Hitchcock is known for his movies and TV series, he’s also known for his obsessions with several leading ladies who starred in his films. After actress Tippi Hedren accepted a leading role in The Birds, she became the object of the director’s strong obsession.

First, Hitchcock isolated her from her castmates. He then stalked her, and at one point attempted to forcibly kiss her. Hedren refused his amorous advances. While shooting a scene that involved a vicious bird attack, Hedren had live birds tossed at her face for five tortuous days until she suffered a breakdown. Was it revenge for rejecting him? Perhaps.

A Lost Holocaust Film

The year was 1945, and WWII had just come to an end. Alfred Hitchcock flew from Hollywood to Germany to make a chilling documentary about Nazi death camps. He and members of the British movie crew managed to shoot six reels of footage. They depicted horrifying images of starved and desperate people. The documentary was never completed, and the footage was forgotten by time.

For almost 30 years those reels sat in a vault until they were discovered in 1985. Director, Sidney Bernstein stated that Hitchcock served as an adviser on the film, and refused to accept payment for his services. A documentary called Night Will Fall was made about the story behind the unfinished film.

Superman George Reeves Died Under Suspicious Circumstances

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Hulton Archive/Courtesy of Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Courtesy of Getty Images

The Adventures of Superman star George Reeves died of a gunshot wound on June 16, 1959. The general consensus is that the actor took his own life because he suffered from depression, which was partially caused by his struggle to find work following the end of his series.

However, some believe MGM vice president and fixer Eddie Mannix had Reeves killed because the star was having an affair with his wife, Toni Mannix. Another theory is that Reeve’s death was the result of an accidental shooting. Toni died in 1983 and allegedly confessed to a priest that she was the reason why Reeves was killed.

Walt Disney Played Host To A Nazi Filmmaker

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ullstein bild via Getty Images
ullstein bild via Getty Images

Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl visited Hollywood in 1938. One of Riefenstahl’s most famous films was 1935’s Triumph of The Will, a Nazi propaganda film that was popular among the Third Reich. She came to the United States following Kristallnacht, which allowed the German military to ransack and demolish Jewish homes, hospitals and schools.

Walt Disney was hospitable towards Riefenstahl during her trip and took her on a three-hour tour of the Disney lot. He gave her a sneak peek of some sketches for the upcoming film Fantasia and showed her a screening of Olympia, a documentary about the 1936 Olympics.

Loretta Young Hid Her Pregnancy & Passed Off Her Biological Daughter As Adopted

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20th Century Fox/Courtesy of Getty Images
20th Century Fox/Courtesy of Getty Images

While filming The Call of the Wild, Loretta Young, 22, got pregnant by Clark Gable, 34, who was married. It’s been suggested that the affair was not consensual. Young, her sisters, and mother hid the pregnancy, put the child in an orphanage, and then less than two years later adopted little Judith.

Many in Hollywood knew the truth, and when Judith was 31 she confronted her mother, who admitted it privately. She never talked about it publicly until 1999 after a biography about her life was published. That’s when Young admitted Judith was her biological child and that Gable was the father.

MGM Pressured Judy Garland To Starve Herself & Take Diet Pills

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

Like many young actresses, Judy Garland struggled with self-image while growing up and working in Hollywood. Unfortunately, she was the victim of bullying and harassment by MGM executives, who told her to lose weight. When she was just 14 years old, she was compared to a “little fat pig with pigtails.”

Pressured into being thin, Garland starved herself and started popping diet pills, largely under the influence of producer and MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer. By age 18, she was smoking 80 cigarettes a day and sustaining herself on black coffee and a regular regimen of diet pills. Until her death, she battled drug addiction and an eating disorder.

Ingrid Bergman’s Affair With Director Roberto Rossellini Rocked Hollywood

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Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Casablanca star Ingrid Bergman was an American movie staple when she was caught up in a scandal that rocked Hollywood. A married woman, she had an affair with married Italian director Roberto Rossellini on the set of Stromboli in 1949. Bergman got pregnant, the couple left their spouses, and they had a child together before tying the knot in 1950.

Fans were disgusted by the affair, and Bergman took solace in Europe for many years to avoid the criticism. But time heals old wounds and in 1956 she won her second Academy Award for Anastasia. She split with Rossellini the following year after he had an affair with another woman.

The Three Stooges Creator Died Following A Nightclub Fight

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Clarence Sinclair Bull/Getty Images
Clarence Sinclair Bull/Getty Images

Vaudeville performer, comedian, and actor Ted Healy is most known for creating the Three Stooges, even though he was a successful performer in Hollywood in his own right. Healy integrated the Stooges in a comedy act in the late ’20s, but by 1934 he and the Stooges had gone their separate ways.

In December 1937, Healy, who had a penchant for imbibing, was celebrating the birth of his son when he got into an altercation outside a nightclub in Hollywood. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but three other men were involved. The official cause was chronic alcoholism, but circumstances suggest the fight contributed to his death.

Lana Turner’s Daughter Killed Turner’s Gangster Boyfriend

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Eric Carpenter/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images
Eric Carpenter/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

Pin-up and actress Lana Turner was one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) biggest stars. She had a reputation as a femme fatale and appeared in films such as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In 1958, the star’s 14-year-old daughter Cheryl Crane killed Lana’s boyfriend, mobster Johnny Stompanato, at their home.

Crane claimed the stabbing was self-defense and that she was simply protecting her mother from Stompanato’s aggression. The jury deemed it a justifiable homicide after deliberating for less than five hours. Some believe Lana actually killed Stompanato and had her daughter take the blame. Other rumors surfaced that Cheryl was in love with Stompanato.

Several Stunt Pilots Died On The Set Of Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels

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Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images
Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

Howard Hughes produced the epic aviation war film Hell’s Angels over the course of three years from 1927-1930. At the time, it cost $2.8 million to make and starred Ben Lyon, James Hall, and Jean Harlow. During production, three stunt pilots and one mechanic were killed.

Pilot Al Johnson crashed after hitting wires while landing his plane. Pilot C. K. Phillips crashed while delivering a plane to a shooting location. Australian pilot Rupert Syme Macalister also died, as did mechanic Phil Jones, who didn’t bail out before a crash scene. Proving how dangerous production was, Hughes nearly died after he filled in for a stunt pilot.

Three Of Charlie Chaplin’s Wives Were Just Teenagers When He Married Them

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Imagno/Getty Images
Imagno/Getty Images

Charlie Chaplin, known for his silent era films and on-screen persona “The Tramp,” had a career that spanned 75 years. During that time, he wed a total of four times. Three of his wives were still teenagers when they tied the knot. He was 29 when he married his first wife, Mildred Harris, who was just 16.

They split two years later, and then Chaplin, then 35, married Lolita McMurry, 16. They had to tie the knot in Mexico because California had a law against marrying someone so young. Three years later they divorced, and Chaplin married Pauline Levy, 20. Six years later they split, and Chaplin married his last wife, Oona O’Neill, who was 18 at the time.

Ladies Man Clark Gable Allegedly Slept With Men To Get Ahead

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Bettmann contributor Getty Images
Bettmann contributor Getty Images

During the ’30s and ’40s, Clarke Gable was considered The King Of Hollywood. He starred in films such as Gone With the Wind, Mutiny on the Bounty, and It Happened One Night. He also married five times and had relationships with women such as Grace Kelly, Joan Crawford, and Lana Turner.

However, according to author David Brett of the book “Clark Gable: Tormented Star,” the actor used to sleep with men in order to advance his career. There is no proof that Gable used his sex appeal to land roles early on, but it isn’t uncommon (even today) for that type of thing to happen in Hollywood.

Jerry Lee Lewis’ Third Wife Was His Cousin And Just 13 Years Old

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Bettmann/Contributor Getty Images
Bettmann/Contributor Getty Images

In 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis, then 22, known for his hit song “Great Ball of Fire,” wed for the third time. His wife was 13-year-old Myra Gale Brown. What made the underage romance even more scandalous was that the pair were cousins. During a 1958 tour of the UK, the press got wind of the news, and he was forced to cancel his remaining gigs.

Lee’s relationship with his underage cousin essentially ended his career. Radio stations stopped playing his music, and he went from commanding $10,000 a gig to just $250. He and Myra had two children before divorcing in 1970. Lewis still performs today.

Joan Crawford Allegedly Made Adult Films

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George Hurrell/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images
George Hurrell/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

Academy Award winner Joan Crawford starred in films such as Mildred Pierce and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? At one point, she was one of Hollywood’s most famous stars and one of the highest-paid women in the country. But like many aspiring actresses, she struggled early on in her career.

When Crawford was a teenager, she allegedly made some adult films in order to pay the bills. MGM reportedly hired a fixer to make sure the truth was never made public. There’s no proof that she made these films, but her first husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr. once confirmed that it was true.

Fatty Arbuckle’s Reputation Was Tainted After A Party

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Bettmann/Contributor Getty Images
Bettmann/Contributor Getty Images

In 1921, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was was arrested and put on trial for manslaughter. During a party thrown by Arbuckle, a starlet named Virginia Rappe got sick, and she died four days later. The papers reported that Arbuckle abused Rappe and was responsible for her death.

While there was an incredible amount of evidence proving Arbuckle was innocent, the rumors and media reports made it difficult to hold a fair trial. There were two hung juries before he was acquitted during a third trial. Still, his career suffered because he was found guilty in the press. He made a comeback but died in 1933 at age 46 from a heart attack.

Rock Hudson Kept His Preference For Men Under Wraps

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Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images

Rock Hudson was the epitome of the Hollywood heartthrob during the Golden Age. He appeared in films such as Magnificent Obsession, All That Heaven Allows and Giant. He married a woman named Phyllis Gates to prevent rumors that he was secretly attracted to men.

While the public didn’t know about Hudson’s personal life, many in Hollywood knew the truth, and co-stars such as Mia Farrow and Elizabeth Taylor supported his lifestyle. Hudson never came out but had several relationships with men and unfortunately was one of the first major celebrities to be diagnosed with AIDS. He died in 1985 at age 59.

Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Hid Their Relationship

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn began their romantic entanglement in 1941 while making Woman of the Year. He was married at the time and stayed married during their entire 26-year affair. It finally ended after Tracy died in 1967. MGM execs were complicit in keeping the affair hidden from both his wife and the public.

Most people in Hollywood knew the truth, but no one talked about it. Tracy and his wife eventually became estranged, but they never divorced. Tracy once said, “I can get a divorce whenever I want to, but my wife and Kate like things just as they are.”

Eddie Fisher Left His Wife To Marry Her Best Friend

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

During the early ’50s, Eddie Fisher hosted a TV show and was one of the country’s most popular singers. While he was married to Debbie Reynolds (with whom he had two children, including Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher), he had an affair with his wife’s best friend, Elizabeth Taylor.

After Taylor’s husband Mike Todd died in a plane crash, Fisher swooped in to console her. Before long, it evolved into a full-blown affair, which went public. Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959. They were divorced by 1964 after the actress had an affair with Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton.

Jean Harlow Hooked Up With Clark Gable & Was Blamed For One Husband’s Death

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Clarence Sinclair Bull/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images
Clarence Sinclair Bull/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

Jean Harlow was one of MGM’s leading ladies and the definition of a blonde bombshell. Her films included Hell’s Angels, Red Dust and Dinner at Eight. She was criticized for hanging out with mobsters such as Bugsy Siegel and had an affair with Clark Gable during her marriage to an MGM producer named Paul Bern.

Bern allegedly took his own life two months after the wedding, but some suggested Harlow orchestrated his death. Shortly afterward she married cinematographer Harold Rosson for publicity reasons but divorced him eight months later. She then got engaged to actor William Powell, but she died of renal failure in 1937 at age 26 before they tied the knot.

The Motive Behind Thelma Todd’s Death Was Never Determined

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John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Thelma Todd, dubbed “The Ice Cream Blonde,” starred in the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business and Horse Feathers as well as films alongside Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. She died at the top of her career in 1935 at the age of 30 in suspicious circumstances.

Todd was found slumped over her steering wheel, and the death was ruled first suicide and then accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. However, evidence at the scene suggested otherwise, and gangster Lucky Luciano was a suspect in her death at one point, as was her boyfriend.

There Was A Brothel On The Sunset Strip

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H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

A woman named Lee Francis owned a very famous brothel in California during the 1930s. The Hacienda Arms Apartments on the Sunset Strip was popular among actors such as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Errol Flynn. Authorities were paid off to ignore the goings on in the building.

After Francis was arrested, other women took over the business, including Brenda Allen, who was Hollywood’s number-one madame in the ’40s. She was arrested in 1948, but what made the incident even more scandalous was police Sergeant Elmer Jackson was her co-conspirator and lover who helped her run the business.

The Actor Who Played Alfalfa Passed Away Young

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In the mid-1930s Carl Switzer played Alfalfa, one of the most popular characters from the Little Rascals. When he left the show in 1940, he struggled to find other acting gigs because he was typecast. He became an alcoholic and in 1959 died in an incident involving a $50 debt.

The man who shot him, Moses Stiltz, claimed self-defense and was acquitted. Yet, there were suggestions that he intentionally killed Switzer. Stiltz’s stepson reportedly claimed that Switzer was murdered, yet the stepson was never called to testify at the trial. The day Switzer died, so did director Cecil B. DeMille so the actor’s passing went largely unnoticed.

The Studios Pressured Actresses To Have Abortions

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Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

During this time, Hollywood studios didn’t want their lead actresses to marry, let alone get pregnant. They believed it would make them less desirable and have damaging effects on films’ popularity.

The studios also had far more control over actors’ lives than they do now and pressured many lead actresses to have abortions after they became pregnant. Reportedly, Judy Garland, Jeanette McDonald, Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Joan Crawford, and Dorthy Dandridge all had abortions under the direction of the studios.

Frank Sinatra Left His Wife For Ava Gardner

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Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

In 1951, Frank Sinatra was highly desired by women everywhere, including top actresses. Although he was married to his wife Nancy, Sinatra was carrying on an affair with actress Ava Gardner. People were not happy when news broke that he was leaving his wife to marry Gardner.

Their marriage was a rocky one, and it tarnished Sinatra’s reputation. The couple split in 1953 and officially divorced in 1957. Afterward, Sinatra’s image became tied to being a womanizer.

James Dean Was Also Interested In Men

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

James Dean’s life was cut short at 24 years old and the world was deprived of learning more about the talented actor. Women swooned over him, and young men wanted to be him. Although he had a short engagement to Pier Angeli, behind the scenes, many believed that Dean was gay.

Several male friends of Dean’s later confessed to having “experimented” with the actor but without going into detail. The Gay Times Readers’ Awards later named Dean “The greatest male gay icon of all time”.

Filmmaker John Huston’s Alleged Hit And Run Led To Him Fleeing Hollywood

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Ernst Haas/Ernst Haas/Getty Images
Ernst Haas/Ernst Haas/Getty Images

Legendary filmmaker John Huston was responsible for some of the greatest films of the era, including The African Queen and The Maltese Falcon. But before he grew to legendary status, an incident led him to flee Hollywood.

Allegedly, Huston accidentally struck a woman, a dancer named Tosca Roulien, with his car. She died from her injuries, and Huston appeared in court for the crime. After being absolved of blame for her death, he fled Hollywood and spent five years in Europe before returning. Supposedly, he was so haunted by the incident that he couldn’t bear to be in Hollywood. Others believe that it was leading man Clark Gable who was behind the wheel that night and paid off Huston to take the blame.

The Truth About Lavender Marriages

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PA Images via Getty Images
PA Images via Getty Images

During the times of Old Hollywood, the LBGTQ community was not openly accepted. Gay actors hid their sexuality for fear of ruining their careers. In order to keep their authentic personal lives out of the public eye, many figures of the film industry took part in what they called “lavender marriages.”

Gay actors and actresses agreed to to marry a person of the opposite sex in order to dismiss any rumors of their sexuality. Rumored lavender marriages included Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova, Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine, and Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor.

Alfred Hitchcock Allegedly Sabotaged Tippi Hedren’s Career

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Anthony Calvacca/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images
Anthony Calvacca/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images

Creator of The Birds, director Alfred Hitchcock had a dark side to him that was known behind the scenes in Hollywood. He reportedly became obsessed with model and lead actress Tippi Hedren– harassing her on set, stalking her behind the scenes, and whispering unwanted advances in her ear.

Hedren consistently shut him down and avoided the famous director. While he gave her high praise in front of the cameras and reporters, behind the scenes, Hitchcock allegedly attempted to sabotage her career.

Elvis Presley Preferred Underage Girls

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Getty Images
Getty Images

Elvis Presley is known as one of the biggest heartthrobs in the history of American pop culture. However, behind the scenes, Presley was insecure, especially when it came to dating. Reportedly, the rock and roll icon preferred to only date girls that were much younger them him, so he wouldn’t feel ashamed of his lack of experience.

Supposedly, he requested that his managers find girls who were 16 years old or younger as dating prospects. He famously met Priscilla when she was only 14 years old, and she described him as “awkward, embarrassed” like the boy-next-door.

Action Star Wallace Reid Died From Addiction

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LMPC via Getty Images
LMPC via Getty Images

Wallace Reid was known as one of the greatest action film stars from 1910 until his death in 1922. In 1919, during the filming of The Valley of the Giant, Reid suffered a head injury in a train accident. The studio wanted him to keep filming, and he was given morphine for the pain.

With a straining work schedule and no rest, Reid quickly became addicted to the treatment and his life spiraled out of control. Without any rehabilitation, Reid suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 31. Reid’s widow never remarried and dedicated her life to educating people on the dangers of addiction.

Marlon Brando’s Revenge On Frank Sinatra

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ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images
ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

While filming the 1955 musical Guys and Dolls, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando did not get along. It was mostly due to Sinatra ripping on Brando’s style of acting. He taunted him with the nickname “Mumbles” and made the actor’s job incredibly frustrating.

Brando decided to get back at Sinatra while filming a scene that required Sinatra to eat cheesecake. Take after take, Brando intentionally flubbed his lines, causing the crew to run through it again. Meanwhile, Sinatra was being forced to eat more and more cheesecake, becoming increasingly mad.

Raft Was Really A Gangster

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Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

George Raft was the go-to actor for gangster movies. He was your guy if a producer needed someone for those types of films, but there was a reason for that.

The thing is, he was a gangster in real life! He kept close contact with Owney Madden and Bugsy Siegel, with Siegel even helping him get into the film industry! When thugs pull strings for you to make it big time, you’ve got ties deeper than you should want.