Hollywood Scandals That Would Not Be Scandals Today
Necking at the Theater
Maureen O’Hara of Miracle on 34th Street fame found herself the talk of the tabloids in 1953 when a gossip magazine called Confidential ran a story about her “necking” someone while watching a movie at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The magazine even claimed O’Hara and her mystery guy were kicked out for getting a little too handsy. (Now that’s just cute!)
O’Hara was not pleased about these rumors and took the magazine to court, producing her passport, which showed she wasn’t even in the country when the incident apparently took place. For whatever reason, jurors couldn’t decide on this one, and a hung jury was declared.
Luckily, her career seemed to rebound from this miniature scandal!
Using the Word Sex in a Title
In 1926, sex symbol Mae West, whose face was featured on The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, wrote and starred in a play called Sex, which featured absolutely no nudity or sex, but, because it was 1926, was still cause for much hubbub. West was even arrested by police once backstage and sentenced to jail for ten days due to “corrupting the morals of youth.” The real scandal should probably have been about her marrying someone when she was 17, but this seems to have been a pattern during Golden Age of Hollywood. (See previous list of scandals!)
In 1958, Robert Mitchum was arrested and sentenced to a year in jail for smoking a joint! It got knocked down to two months and he served all of it on a prison farm milking cows, which is kind of awesome?
The All-Around Weirdness of the Barbie Doll Inventor
Before the Tom Clancy books and the Prime Video adaptation starring John Krasinski, there was another famous Jack Ryan. Missile designer and (possible*) inventor of the barbie doll as well as several other toy products during his time at Mattel, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s sixth husband Jack Ryan was apparently quite the oddball; a notorious cheater as well as a swinger, he would often force his wives to diet or get plastic surgery so that they looked more like the doll he innovated.
Ryan now is more known for his lavish and unusual lifestyle than his genius-level IQ. Zsa Zsa Gabor and several of his former lovers (of which he is said to have hundreds) claimed that he would often host orgies at his house, which was renovated to look like a castle, complete with a sex dungeon. The story seems to be that Mattel’s cofounders were so appalled by Ryan’s lifestyle and treatment of women they denied his role in the doll’s invention. Following a court battle between Mattel and Ryan, Ryan suffered a debilitating stroke in 1989, then killed himself in 1991.
*SIDE NOTE: While there’s still some debate over who actually invented the barbie doll, as Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel, also claims to have invented this popular toy; at minimum Ryan helped design it, based on the German doll, Bild-Lilli, as well as his own fantasies of the female form.
In 1984, Vanessa Williams, the first African-American woman to win, was stripped of her Miss America crown after some racy photos were published in Penthouse. (She explained at the time that the photographer had told her only her silhouette would be visible.) These days, this would barely make it to the news!
Before celebrities began spending their free time scrolling newsfeeds and getting into arguments on Twitter, they used to be the ones creating the news headlines in the 20th century.