Peg Entwistle Peg Entwistle jumped to her death from the letter 'H' in Hollywood has always been a highly sexed town full of attractive young people with plenty of money or needing plenty of money.
The idea of hitting it big in Hollywood has always been a powerful draw, and young innocents from all over America and the world flocked to the West Coast from onwards. Once there starstruck young hopefuls fell prey to established actors, agents, directors and producers who promised a big break in exchange for their souls or bodies. Tragedy was often the result and the situation was ripe for scandal.
Hollywood needed a huge publicity machine and the studios created stars whose public image was completely different to their real selves. Innocent young virgins were actually fast-living sex kittens with a taste for drugs and alcohol. Lovable family men were known for their sexual conquests and more than one hero who made the ladies swoon secretly found young men more to his liking.
There is a tendency in all of us to look at the past through rose coloured spectacles so its easy to think of Hollywood scandal in terms of modern stars like Michael Jackson or Hugh Grant. However the glittering facade of the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood contained enough juicy scandals of its own. Rape, adultery, alchohlism, drug addiction ,murder and suicide, as in the tragic case of failed actress Peg Entwistle pictured above right , all featured heavily in the supposed innocent days of early Hollywood.
Over the decades, the names and faces have changed, but the habits and hungers have always been around. Here are some of the main scandals. Clara Bow Clara Bow was known as the 'It Girl' and was the screen's first megastar international sex symbol.
She was the first actress who visibly flaunted her sex appeal and, in turn, became the most talked-about resident of Hollywood. Idolized by Louise Brooks in the 20s, Marilyn Monroe in the 50s, and Madonna in the 80s, Clara was an icon of sexual freedom for women everywhere. Her acting ability has been overshadowed by the scandalous stories which followed her. Most have been generally dismissed as urban legends, but Clara did give rumormongers grist for the mill.
She scandalized image-conscious Hollywood peers by being successfully sued for alienation of affections by the wife of a doctor. In , Bow herself sued a former secretary for embezzlement and, in retaliation, the secretary shocked the press with stories of Bow's USC goings on and, the same year, a newspaper ran a series of articles reporting how Bow frequently behaved inappropriately in her private life. She suffered her first nervous breakdown at age 26, and Paramount, the studio that had made a fortune on Bow, dropped the star in The indifference of the studio added to Clara's difficult mental state already fragile from the publicity surrounding the scandals.
This combined with the mental scars caused by her abusive family background she had been raped by her father and left Clara mentally unstable and incapacitated for the later years of her life.
She died in solitude in Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle Police Mugshot Virginia Rappe Roscoe Arbuckle was a gifted comedian who, during the silent film era, was considered second only to Chaplin in his talent.
Tragedy struck on Labor Day, with the arrest and trial of Roscoe on manslaughter charges. Roscoe's roommate had thrown a party in their suite which was crashed by a disreputable starlet named Virginia Rappe who fell seriously ill and died a few days later.
The papers, led by the Hearst group, made this incident Hollywood's first truly major scandal. These factually unsupported charges caused an incredibly hostile environment for holding a fair trial, despite overwhelming evidence pointing to Arbuckle's innocence. Two hung juries resulted. The third jury saw sense and aquiitted Arbuckle in only six minutes.
But Roscoe's career was finished as the papers printed unfounded story after story about his supposed guilt, causing a public outcry of moral outrage. On June 30, , hours after completing his sixth Warner's short and signing to make a feature-length film, Arbuckle died of a heart attack.
He was only It was Hollywood's first major scandal and, tragically, the real scandal was in the injustice done to a talented and wholly innocent man. Joan Crawford During her long career Crawford was continually plagued by whispered salacious rumours about her financially strapped early career as a starlet in the s when she danced naked in short arcade peep shows films.
When she had achieved initial fame and was still in her twenties, she made gossip column headlines by partying till all hours at the legendary Coconut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, where the vodka flowed plentifully her way and helped her win over dance contests. Scandal continued to follow her throughout her highly successful career. There were stories about the star's legendary relationship with Clark Gable, her countless love affairs, her marriages - three of them to gay men - and her obsession with, and voracious appetite for, rough sex.
Even at the peak of her career rumours continued to surface about how her loathed mother forced Crawford to work as a prostitute, make blue movies and sleep her way to the top. Bette Davis who had a legendary career-long feud with Crawford, also believed that Joan used sex to advance her career. Most of Crawford's leading men had succumbed to her sexual magnetism and she counted several female stars, including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Stanwyck and later Marilyn Monroe, among her lovers.
It was rumoured that Crawford would have liked to add Bette to her conquests but was rebuffed by the heterosexual Davis. In Mommie Dearest, published in , the year after Crawford's death, and written by her adopted daughter, Christina Crawford, she was portrayed as a tyrranical, egotistical domestic monster, and this, tragically, is part of the reputation which remains today. It is a bitter irony that today Joan Crawford is remembered as much for the vitriolic 'Mommie Dearest' and for the scandals of her early years, as for her 18 year reign as the box-office 'Queen of MGM'.
Jean Harlow The phrase 'blonde bombshell' was actually coined for Jean Harlow, although she became more famously known as 'The Platinum Blonde'. Harlow's enormous popularity and "vamp" image were in distinct contrast to her personal life, which was marred by disappointment, scandal, tragedy, and, ultimately, her sudden death from renal failure at age Her personal life was perennially the stuff of tabloid gossip, including the suicide of her second husband, producer Paul Bern, her relationships with gangsters, nude photos at the age of 17, problems with a greedy stepfather, and a reported abortion of a child fathered by William Powell.
She was the first movie actress to appear on the cover of Life magazine May, On screen, she caused such a sensation with her easy sensuality that it led the Hays Office, the official Hollywood censors, to decree that adultery could not go unpunished, in response to her role in Red-Headed Woman. Harlow was first touched by a public scandal that she brought on herself by openly socialising with high profile gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Abner Zwillman. In , already an established star under contract to MGM, she married MGM producer Paul Bern in what may have been a joint effort by both star and studio to clean up her act.
The marriage proved to be a sexual disaster due to Bern's impotence and Harlow threw herself into a torrid affair with her frequent co-star Clark Gable. Just two months after the wedding, Bern was found naked and dead of a gunshot wound in their Beverly Hills home.
MGM did its best to downplay the scandal, but Hollywood and the whole entertainment world was consumed with it. Bern's mysterious death was officially ruled a suicide but for a time the press openly speculated that Harlow had connived at the murder of her husband. Nevertheless she survived the adverse publicity and after agreeing to the studio's plan for an arranged marriage to cinematographer Harold Rosson her fame soared to greater heights. She even found love with debonair leading man William Powell.
But Powell, freshly divorced from another firecracker blonde, Carole Lombard, refused to marry her. Five years after Bern's death, Harlow, who had recently been named as a co-defendant in divorce proceedings launched by the wife of boxing champion Max Baer, died suddenly and shockingly of renal failure in She was only She was a gifted actress, appearing in such successful films as "Dr.
But, as always with Hollywood, it was Lana's tumultuous private life which generated the most attention. She was married 8 times twice to Steve Crane and battled alcoholism throughout her life. In , her name was in the headlines in the worst possible way, when her then teenaged daughter Cheryl stabbed to death Lana's abusive boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, a small-time hoodlum who had made a successful living as a gigolo.
Stompananto was very jealous and possessive of Turner and severely beat her on many occasions. Turner attempted to end their relationship several times, but he always persuaded her not to do so. Fearing her mother's life was in danger, Turner's year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Stompanato in the stomach, killing him.
The case quickly became a media sensation. It was later deemed a justifiable homicide at a coroner's inquest, at which Turner provided dramatic testimony. Some observers have said her testimony that day was the acting performance of her life. There have been endless rumors since that Turner was the actual killer.
Her daughter supposedly took the blame because she was a minor and would face minimal judicial punishment under the circumstances. However, there is insufficient evidence to prove such claims. Today Cheryl is a successful businesswoman.
She recently helped produce a Lana Turner retrospective on cable television. Lana Turner's career, which hit a plateau before Johnny's death, was rejuvenated in She went on to make many more movies and starred on television in "Falcon Crest.
The "Sweater Girl" proved to be a strong and capable survivor. Thomas Ince Thomas Ince has largely been forgotten now but he was an ambitious producer and director, and one of the early pioneers of silent films.
He teamed up with D. In he died, supposedly of a heart attack, but in decidedly mysterious circumstances, during a birthday party in his honour aboard the yacht Oneida, belonging to William Hearst, the newspaper magnate. Ince and Hearst were in the middle of tense business negotiations and Chaplin was said to be romantically interested in Davies a rumor of which Hearst was painfully aware so the atmosphere aboard the yacht was not calm.
Prohibition was in full swing but bootleg liquor was available on board Hearst's yacht and large quantities of it were consumed. He really wanted Chaplin. As the story goes, Hearst suspected that Davies and Chaplin were secretly lovers. In order to keep tabs on the two, he invited them both on board The Oneida. Supposedly, he found the couple in a compromising clinch and went for his gun. Davies' screams awakened Ince who rushed to the scene. A scuffle ensued, followed by a gunshot and Ince took the bullet for Chaplin.
An even more colorful account of the shooting came from Marion Davies' secretary, Abigail Kinsolving, who claimed that Ince raped her that weekend on board the yacht. Of course, things became even more interesting when, several months later, the unmarried Kinsolving delivered a baby, and died shortly after, in a mysterious car accident near the Hearst ranch. Two bodyguards, employed by Hearst, found her body, along with a suspicious looking suicide note.
Her baby, a girl, was conveniently sent to an orphanage supported by Marion Davies. Charles Chaplin always denied even being on board the yacht. Published reports cited "acute indigestion" as the cause of death, but rumors began circulating immediately to the effect that Ince had been the victim of foul play.
The fact that the body was cremated without an autopsy and no inquest was ever held only fuelled speculation about what "really" happened aboard the Oneida on November 15, , speculation which continues to this day. Although well known in her day, she is now remembered for the manner and mystery of her death rather than for her achievements in life. Todd arrived in Hollywood in and over the next 9 years she made seventy films, mostly as a foil for comics such as Harry Langdon and Charley Chase, as well as six with Laurel and Hardy.
Her lively and flirtatious on-screen personality was more than matched by her riotous private life.