22 Absolutely Bonkers Things I've Learned About Old Hollywood Celebs That Made My Jaw Hit The Floor

1.Shirley Temple was so popular and talented that there was a conspiracy theory she was not a child at all, but an adult with dwarfism. In fact, she was investigated by the Vatican, who sent a priest to confirm she was in fact a child — which they were, apparently, able to do.

shirley holding an old mic
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2.Many celebrities from the '40s were actually spies during World War II, including Josephine Baker. She lived in Nazi-occupied France and would flirt with Nazi officials and get them tispy until they divulged military secrets, then write the secrets down on invisible ink and stash them in her underwear.

her headshot
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3.MLB Baseball player Moe Berg worked for the predecessor to the CIA (the Office of Strategic Services), and once traveled to Switzerland with orders to assasinate German scientiest Werner Heisenberg if he discovered the Germans might soon be able to develop an atomic bomb.

him bending down with his baseball mitt open and ready
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4.Famous chef Julia Child worked for the same organization before becoming famous, with her most notable job being to create "cakes" that were used as shark repellant.

her in a kitchen getting ready to cook a brick of meat
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5.And Cary Grant reportedly spied on people in Hollywood to find Nazi sympathizers, including the German-born Count Kurt von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow, who had married heiress Barbara Woolworth Hutton. Grant actually ended up marrying the heiress after she separated from her husband.

him and barbara
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6.Also during WWII, Audrey Hepburn (as a child) used to perform at secret concerts in the Netherlands to raise money for the Dutch resistance, risking discovery and punishment from Germans.

closeup of her
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7.Oh, and BTW, guess who was allegedly a Nazi informant? Coco Chanel. During World War II, Coco Chanel was named as a Nazi informant by friend Vera Bate (who herself confessed to being a German agent). The French government arrested Chanel, who had several ties with Nazi intelligence organization Abwehr and its members. Chanel was eventually released due to a lack of evidence and possible help from friend Winston Churchill. Chanel's Nazi ties remained hidden for decades, though her "fear and hatred for Jews" was allegedly "notorious."

she's sitting at a desk wearing a fur coat and hat
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8.Lucille Ball once claimed that she picked up Morse code during WWII through her lead teeth fillings. While driving home (and having previously experienced picking up music through her teeth), she began to hear a "de-de-de-de" sound. "As soon as it started fading, I stopped the car and then started backing up until it was coming in full strength. DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! I tell you, I got the hell out of there real quick. The next day I told the MGM Security Office about it, and they called the FBI or something, and sure enough, they found an underground Japanese radio station. It was somebody's gardener, but sure enough, they were spies," Ball recounted. The story sounds completely ridiculous, but it's possible it was true.

There is no record of Ball talking to the FBI, or Japanese spies being found in that area at that time, but there is evidence shrapnel in someone's body, at least, can pick up AM radio waves, which suggests lead tooth fillings could work the same way.

There is no record of Ball talking to the FBI, or Japanese spies being found in that area at that time, but there is evidence shrapnel in someone's body, at least, can pick up AM radio waves, which suggests lead tooth fillings could work the same way.

Archive Photos / Getty Images

9.Cary Grant tried LSD over a hundred times in the 1950s as a form of psychotherapy to deal with his childhood trauma. “After weeks of treatment came a day when I saw the light,” Grant said. “When I broke through, I felt an immeasurably beneficial cleansing of so many needless fears and guilts. I lost all the tension that I’d been crippling myself with. First I thought of all those wasted years. Second, I said, ‘Oh my God, the humanity. Please come in.’”

closeup of him
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10.Eartha Kitt reportedly once had a threesome with James Dean and Paul Newman. She's been quoted as having said, “Those two beauties transported me to heaven. I never knew that lovemaking could be so beautiful," though this quote is extremely difficult to confirm.

  Central Press / Getty Images, Hulton Archive / Getty Images, Art Zelin / Getty Images
Central Press / Getty Images, Hulton Archive / Getty Images, Art Zelin / Getty Images

11.In fact, there are quite a lot of scandalous sexual secrets from Old Hollywood that can't be 100% confirmed but are still fun to hear. For instance, there's speculation that Marlon Brando and James Dean had an S&M-based relationship.

the two with their castmates on set
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12.Ernest Hemingway once inspected F. Scott Fitzgerald's dick in the bathroom because Fitzgerald was worried it was too small after his wife Zelda complained about it. Hemingway assured him he was "perfectly fine,” telling Fitzgerald, "You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened. Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues and then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile."

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Bettmann / Bettmann Archive via Getty Images, Lloyd Arnold/Hulton Archive / Getty Images

13.In another example featuring a famous writer, James Joyce wrote some truly scandalous love letters to his wife Nora Barnacle, many of which extolled her farts. “You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I fucked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to fuck a farting woman when every fuck drives one out of her. I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have. It is sudden and dry and dirty like what a bold girl would let off in fun in a school dormitory at night. I hope Nora will let off no end of her farts in my face so that I may know their smell also.”

closeup of him in glasses and a hat
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14.Agatha Christie, possibly the most famous writer in the mystery genre, once created her own mystery when she disappeared in 1926 for 11 days — and the reason is still contested.

closeup of her in a long cardigan and hat
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After putting her daughter to bed, Christie (who was aware her husband was having an affair), drove off and her car was later found abandoned, hanging over the edge of a pit. She had left three letters behind, one to her brother-in-law claiming she had gone to a spa, another to her secretary with "scheduling details," and a third to her husband, who never revealed what the letter said. To find her, the police dredged a lake, brought in dogs, enlisted the help of over 10,000 people, and even looked to her novels for clues.

headline that reads, hounds search for novelist
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She was eventually found at a spa, like she had told her brother-in-law — except according to her husband, she no longer remembered who she was or recognized him. She had checked in under his mistress' name. In the only time Christie ever spoke of it, she admitted to considering driving into the pit her car was found by, and hitting her head — this, accompanied by the trauma of her husband cheating and her mother dying, led to memory loss. Still, people have continued to speculate it was all a publicity stunt.

newspaper headline stating agatha was found alive
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15.Steve McQueen came very close to being killed by the Manson family along with Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Steven Parent. He had been invited to Tate's house that night, and the only reason he didn't go, according to his then-wife Neile Adams, was that he “ran into a chickie and decided to go off with her instead."

headlines stating sharon tate had been murdered
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According to a biography of McQueen, he had been having an affair with a blonde woman at the time, and even invited her to come to Tate's with him. However, she said "she had a better idea for just the two of them." McQueen, unlike Tate,* was on a list of targets for the Manson family. His death was planned to look like a suicide.

Tate and her friends weren't specifically targeted, according to prosecutors — she just happened to live in the house once owned by music producer Terry Melcher, who had rejected proposals to make a record with Manson.

16.Speaking of serial killer Charles Manson — he was friendly with a number of big players in Hollywood, including Dennis Wilson and Mike Love, the co-founders of the Beach Boys. In fact, Manson and his friends actually moved into Wilson's house. Wilson later allegedly told Love that he'd seen Manson murder a Black man (though this is contested), causing Wilson to break off the friendship.

men performing on stage
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17.Marilyn Monroe's last known words were to actor Peter Lawford, who was a brother-in-law to Robert and John F. Kennedy, as he had married their sister, Pat Kennedy. He stated she ended the call with, "Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to Jack, and say goodbye to yourself, because you’re a nice guy." The Jack in reference was then-President JFK.

  George Rinhart / Corbis via Getty Images
George Rinhart / Corbis via Getty Images

This is noteworthy because there were longstanding rumors of an affair between JFK and Monroe, as well as Robert F. Kennedy and Monroe. There are also rumors that Robert F. Kennedy visited her that night, though this was denied by the Kennedys. Her housekeeper, Eunice Murray, who was there all day and night and was the one to find her dead, later claimed Robert had visited and they'd fought.

the brothers leaning in to whisper during a meeting
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When Murray found Marilyn dead around 3:30 a.m., she was reportedly holding her phone, and then-LA chief of detectives Thad Brown reportedly claimed she was found with a crumpled-up piece of paper with the number for the White House on it.

her room with a small table, chairs, and a telephone
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Besides her connections to the Kennedys, there were other suspicious details around Monroe's death. Murray initially called Monroe's psychiatrist, Dr. Greenson, who called the doctor who had prescribed the pills, Dr. Engelberg, before calling the police. The police did not arrive for close to an hour after Murray first saw Monroe's body. Lawford later claimed that he'd heard about her death at 1:30 a.m. The wife of Monroe’s press relations manager Arthur Jacobs also later claimed that her husband had received the call that Marilyn was dead at 10:30.

front page news that marilyn was found dead
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18.Natalie Wood, who starred in a number of films including West Side Story, Rebel Without a Cause, and Gypsy, also died under extremely mysterious circumstances. The 43-year-old was with her husband Robert Wagner on his boat on a weekend vacation from filming Brainstorm when she drowned. According to Wagner himself (though he initially denied this), he and Wood argued, and then he went to bed without her. The next morning, her body was found a mile away.

closeup of the two
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Wood had been drinking, and it's possible her death was an accident, but she was found with bruises that could mean she was attacked. Nearby witnesses had heard a woman scream. The captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, allegedly drunkenly confessed to Wood's sister years later that he'd seen Wagner push Wood, who then fell overboard, and that Wagner refused to rescue her...though this is unconfirmed.

Wagner has denied he had anything to do with Wood's death.

Wagner has denied he had anything to do with Wood's death.

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But I mention this one specifically for a wild Hollywood fact that not many people seem to know — Christopher Walken, Wood's Brainstorm costar, had also been on the boat that night. He had reportedly also argued with Wagner, and Wagner was (according to Davern) angry Natalie had invited him.

their wedding photo

19.One of the wildest Hollywood secrets involves Loretta Young and Clark Gable. For years, there were rumors Young's adopted daughter Judy was actually her biological daughter, conceived with Clake Gable. The rumors wouldn't be proven true until Young admitted to them in her posthumous memoirs. It turned out Young had conducted an elaborate cover-up to make it seem like she had adopted the child. Loretta even reportedly had Judy's ears pinned back in an operation because they so resembled Gable's.

the two about to kiss on film

20.Finally, we'll end with a few last examples featuring Errol Flynn, because the man had a wild life and allegedly did some wild things. First of all, he wrote in his autobiography that he once had a job castrating young sheep with his teeth.

closeup of him
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21.Second, Flynn once apparently showed up on the doorstep of Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, angry about something she had written about him, and began masturbating. "I began laughing, and continued laughing until he finished with a dramatic flourish all over my doorstep," Hopper reportedly told Paul Newman. "I'll say one thing for Errol. He's the only man I know who can ejaculate in front of a fully dressed woman who's laughing derisively during the entire process."

  Bettmann / Bettmann Archive via Getty Images
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

22.And finally, David Niven claims that Flynn once brought him along to view “the best-looking girls in L.A.”...which, as it turned out, meant parking by Hollywood High to watch the girls get out of school. He then allegedly told a police officer who questioned why they were there that he was "enjoying the scenery."

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

What shocking old Hollywood facts do you know? Let us know in the comments!