In Hollywood, false rumors about movies and actors are as common as actors working part time as baristas and waiters. Pretty much everyone has heard some obviously untrue myths involving their favorite stars and filmmakers, such as Walt Disney’s body being cryogenically frozen and kept underground at Disneyland.
Although these types of tall tales are rarely believed by anyone other than your crazy neighbor– who’s probably hiding in a bunker expecting the end of the world at any moment– there are many other movie myths that have gone untested and have quickly been accepted into public belief, despite the fact that they don’t contain an ounce of truth.
Whether you’ve heard these rumors in entertainment news or even during a reputable college film lecture, there are a few Hollywood myths out there that you’ve never doubted.
Here are the 15 Completely Untrue Hollywood Myths You Probably Believe.
15. Jared Leto sent used condoms to his cast members on Suicide Squad as a prank
Since the superhero antihero film Suicide Squad came out in 2016, the public has heard some pretty discomforting stories about the extremes that Jared Leto went to in order to get inside the unhinged mind of the iconic Joker.
Many different news sites have printed shocking headlines talking about some of his wild antics and pranks, including the time he sent a live rat to Margot Robbie’s trailer. However, the story that caused the most controversy involved Leto sending used condoms to other cast members.
Although this upset many audience members to the point of wanting to boycott the film, it actually isn’t entirely true. Suicide Squad’s director David Ayer explained that, while Leto did put condoms in the other actors’ trailers, they most definitely were not used.
14. Singin’ in the Rain used milk in its rain so it would show up better on film
If you’ve ever taken part in a film trivia contest or experienced a movie studio tour, there’s a very high chance that you’ve heard the fun tidbit of information about milk being added to the water used for rain scenes in classic black-and-white films like Singin’ in the Rain.
According to this theory, the white of the milk allowed raindrops to show more clearly on the screen. Although this fun fact has been repeated countless times, including in reputable sources like IMDb, it’s actually completely untrue.
In reality, the Singin’ in the Rain crew had to backlight the rain so that the drops would catch the light for each number— a time-consuming process that Gene Kelly said was extremely difficult for the director of photography Hal Rossen. So, while there weren’t any puddles of spoiled milk to clean up, shooting the iconic scenes of Singin’ in the Rain was still no easy task.
13. Mr. Rogers was a Vietnam War sniper with a shady past
For years, beloved children’s television host Fred Rogers from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood has been the subject of a variety of rumors about his surprising past.
Whether it was because his onscreen presence just seemed too wholesome to be true, or that his show featured characters with suspiciously sinister names like “Mr. McFeely,” rumors began to circulate and gain prominence about the life that Mr. Rogers lived before settling into the limelight.
One common myth said that he was a bitter former Vietnam sniper with a checkered and violent past involving crime and dishonorable discharge from the military. Another theory explained that his arms were filled with profane tattoos that only his paternal sweaters could hide.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), these entertaining stories of the secret, scandalous life of Mr. Rogers are false. Rogers never served in the military, and would have been too old to be drafted during the Vietnam War. Rogers also had no tattoos and solely wore long-sleeves as a stylistic choice.
12. Angelina Jolie wore a vial of Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck for years
Before her time as a treasured member of American royalty as part of “Brangelina,” the Oscar nominated Angelina Jolie was married to fellow actor Billy Bob Thornton.
According to common public belief, during their marriage Jolie wore a vial of blood drained from Thorntown around her neck as a necklace wherever she went. While this fact was thrown around to show how edgy and strange Jolie was, the reality is a lot more tame.
Because the couple was about to part ways to shoot separate movies, Jolie brought home a kit of clear lockets, which each included an empty space for a picture to be put in. Jolie and Thornton both made small cuts in their fingers to smear a little blood on these locket necklaces.
“From that [the public thought that] we were wearing quart jars of blood around our necks, and we were vampires and we lived in a dungeon,” said Thorntown in a speech at Loyola Marymount University.
11. The scene in The Crow in which Brandon Lee was accidentally killed was left in the film
The Crow is a highly controversial film from 1993, which is entirely warranted since one of its stars, Brandon Lee, was fatally wounded during the making of the film and passed away before it was released.
While shooting a scene in which Lee’s character, Eric Draven, was supposed to be attacked by street thugs, Lee was hit in the side by a fragment of a dummy bullet that was lodged in the barrel of the shooter’s gun along with the blanks that were supposed to fire.
Some sources say that the footage was destroyed without being developed after Lee’s death, while others believe that the footage was used in the police’s investigation of the negligence of the crew. Despite these two theories, the public instead ran with the rumor that the film kept the scenes of Lee dying for shock value and to drive ticket sales.
In reality, the Draven death scene was completely reshot, with the character dying via a flying knife rather than a bullet. The performance was done by Lee’s double and his face was digitally added in post-production.
10. Heath Ledger was found after overdosing in the Olsen twins’ apartment
Shortly after finishing his Oscar-winning performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, the world was shocked to hear that Heath Ledger had suddenly passed away from a drug overdose.
Since the public had already heard stories about intense habits that Ledger had used to get into character– and because so many people knew very little about the events leading up to his death– rumors began to swirl about what really happened to Heath that night.
These rumors culminated into the popular theory that Ledger had been doing recreational drugs with the Olsen twins at one of their apartments when he overdosed. In reality, Ledger was found in his own apartment, without a suicide note, after overdosing from a fatal combination of prescription drugs.
9. Jamie Lee Curtis was born a hermaphrodite
Another outrageous rumor that has been surprisingly widely spread and accepted by fans of film is that famous actress Jamie Lee Curtis is a hermaphrodite: a person born with both female and male genitalia.
Although it doesn’t stem from any convincing evidence, the rumor has traveled far and wide, even reportedly being used by college professors in gender studies classes about intersexual people.
Since this myth isn’t based in much reality, it’s difficult to even track down where the rumor began. Some claim that the rumor started when people became suspicious of Curtis’s name being Jamie Lee, a name that could belong to a boy or a girl. In reality, Jamie Lee’s mother Janet Leigh named her before she was even born.
8. Richard Gere went to the emergency room to remove a gerbil from his rectum
Although this is probably the most bizarre myth to ever grace the pages of Hollywood tabloids, it is still a rumor that refuses to die, however irrational it may be. According to the tall tale, actor Richard Gere was forced to go to the hospital after putting a gerbil up his butt for sexual pleasure.
Although this odd practice– that you probably never wanted to hear about– does indeed have a name (gerbil-stuffing), it is unknown to be an actual sexual practice that exists outside of weird forums on the Internet.
In addition, the physics behind a real gerbil being inserted into and removed from someone’s colon is far from possible in the real world. This rumor is believed to have been started by a prankster, who had previously spread a rumor through a fake press release that Gere had abused a gerbil.
7. Starlet Jayne Mansfield was decapitated in a car crash
Jayne Mansfield was a renowned actress and singer in the 1950s, with the sex appeal of Marilyn Monroe and the talent to win her a Golden Globe. In one of Hollywood’s most well-remembered tragedies, she and her boyfriend were killed in a car accident involving her kids as they drove along a back road to New Orleans.
Unable to see in the fog, their driver slammed into a truck and slid under it, causing the deaths of the three people in the front seat, while Mansfield’s kids in the back were spared. A picture of the wreck was released in Kenneth Anger’s 1975 Hollywood Babylon, showing the wrecked car and an object which, at first glance, appeared to be human hair next to the car.
Discounting the idea that it was a wig or some other object, the public latched onto the idea that Mansfield was beheaded in the crash. While Mansfield did die from a crushing blow to the head, the graphic idea that her head was completely detached is not true.
6. The hoverboards from Back to the Future II were real
The fact that anyone could still believe that the iconic hoverboards from Back to the Future II were functioning flying machines in our current day is far from likely, but back in 1989, this was an actual controversy.
Likely because movie audiences of the ‘80s were less skeptical of visual effects (and because the hoverboards just looked so fun to ride), teens left the theater with the firm belief that the hoverboards simply had to be real.
After being asked if these flying skateboards really worked over and over during interviews, director Robert Zemeckis leaned into the myth, saying “It’s a real hover-board. It flies. Michael [J. Fox] just practiced a lot.” He later claimed jokingly that hoverboards had been around for years, but toy companies were simply pressured to keep them off the market because they were dangerous.
Although the scenes were actually filmed with optical illusions, deceiving close-ups, and blue screens, America’s teenage audience of the ’80s continued to beg their parents to buy them a hoverboard so they could soar like Marty McFly.
5. The MGM lion killed several people after shooting the logo
If you’ve seen any classic film, you’ve probably seen the iconic MGM logo of a roaring lion which its head peaking through a circle. If you’re familiar with movie lore, you may have also heard a myth or two about the MGM lion going rogue and killing people in the studio.
According to one urban legend, two bank robbers stumbled into a MGM warehouse after stashing their loot in a nearby warehouse. Annoyed by this distraction, the lion mauled one of them while the other narrowly escaped. Another myth says that the first MGM lion, Slats, killed its trainer and two assistants while shooting the roaring scene.
Both myths have since been proven false. In reality, none of the several lions used for the MGM logo have ever mauled anyone on set, and if they have, MGM has been doing a stellar job keeping these brutal lion-maulings out of the news.
4. The Amityville Horror is based on a true story
The phrase “based on true events” at the beginning of horror movies has come to mean relatively nothing in our day and age. It seems that, if a film tells the vague story of a group of humans living on Earth, moviemakers will claim that it is a true story, regardless of how loose the connection may be.
However, many people to this day still believe that the classic 1979 film The Amityville Horror is based on a true story of demon possession and familial murder. The film is based on a book released in 1977 by the same name, which chronicles the alleged events of a bloody night in a small town.
While the vague storyline of the film is true, the supernatural aspects were all conjured up to sell book rights and movie tickets. Yes, there was an Amityville family shot in their sleep by their son Butch Defeo, and there was also a couple who moved into the house after the murder, but the rest of the events were completely fabricated.
3. Marilyn Manson played Kevin Arnold’s sidekick in The Wonder Years
Over the years, controversial rocker Marilyn Manson has unsurprisingly accumulated a variety of outlandish and bizarre rumors. However, perhaps the most shocking rumor of all is that he played the character of Kevin’s geeky sidekick on the television show The Wonder Years.
Although this myth has been gradually accepted by the public for the most part, it is not at all true, and the character was actually played by actor Josh Saviano. While the rumor is completely false, Manson surprisingly isn’t even the first rocker to have been accused of playing a character on a beloved children’s television show before he became a musician.
2. Luke Skywalker’s Wampa attack in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was created to explain his injuries
Many big Star Wars fans have heard and parroted the trivia fact that the Wampa attack that takes place on the ice planet of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back was actually written into the script when production began. They believe that this was done in order to explain the broken nose and facial injuries that actor Mark Hamill suffered from during a car accident before shooting.
It is true that Hamill did have to undergo plastic surgery to build up his nose and fix his cheekbone after being involved in the serious car accident, but it is not true that this scene was written in for this reason exclusively. In fact, George Lucas stated in the DVD commentary for Empire that the scene had been written before the crash.
1. Audiences ran out of the theater screaming when they saw film footage for the first time of a train
If you’re a film buff or you’ve taken pretty much any media history class, you’ve probably heard the legend about the audience that was frightening of seeing a movie for the first time. In the movie, the audience witnessed footage of a train pulling into a station and were so panicked by the illusion that they ran out of the viewing room in a frenzy.
While it makes for a good story and professors often point to it as the power of the visual media, this myth, unfortunately, doesn’t have a lot of evidence to stand on. For starters, the screening of “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station” was not the first showing of a film in history, much less at that specific theater, in which at least 10 other short films had already premiered.
Secondly, film historians have been unable to find any firsthand accounts of the event that mentioned any panic whatsoever. In reality, this rumor was probably spread as a PR device to attract attention to the film, which apparently paid off in the long run, since we’re still spreading this rumor hundreds of years later.
Can you think of any other Hollywood myths that most people still believe? Tell us about them in the comment section!
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