When we think of the old Hollywood actors, it’s the lights, the glitz, and the glamor that comes to mind! The blonde bombshells and handsome leading men living an extravagant, amazing life of wealth and celebrity was the pinnacle of old Hollywood. However, that’s not really the truth of Hollywood, but rather a well-choreographed illusion, much like films themselves. In those days, it was the major studios that ruled Hollywood. They had control of every part of their stars’ lives. This included what they wore and even to whom they married.
But there’s much more to this sinister story. Join us as we take a look at some of the most outrageous abuses of Old Hollywood Actors Who Were Forced to Live a Lie and were victims of such mistreatment.
Lana Turner had an abortion without anesthesia
At the age of 17, Lana Turner entered the film business. Her performance as Cynthia in the 1938 movie, Love Finds Andy Hardy, captured the hearts of America. The bombshell quickly became known as the Sweater Girl for how well her curvaceous figure filled out a sweater. But Turner’s personal life managed to outweigh any drama on screen as the actress went through eight marriages.
In 1941 while she was doing a publicity tour in Hawaii, a Hollywood fixer made arrangements for Turner to have an abortion. The procedure reportedly took place in the actress’s hotel room, without any anesthesia. Turner’s mother was apparently responsible for covering the mouth of her daughter in order to muffle her cries. The abortion, cost $500, and the expense was deducted from Turner’s paycheck.
Rock Hudson was forced to hide his homosexuality by getting married
Rock Hudson was undeniably a Hollywood hunk and sex symbol. Due to this, a studio forced him to marry Phyllis Gates in 1955. This was all to hide the fact that the Hollywood star was gay. While insiders knew this, it was kept secret to preserve Hudson’s leading-man status. While it’s a sad fact to admit, but in those times, Hudson’s career as a dreamy romantic lead would be ruined if the news got out about his sexuality.
The marriage lasted a mere three years. Hudson was one of the first major celebrities to die from AIDS in 1985, and he came out publicly before his death.
A movie studio forced Judy Garland to have two abortions and take dangerous drugs
When a movie studio forces an actress to have an abortion, it is a shameful demand, but in the case of Judy Garland, it was also her mother that was involved. In 1939, Garland at only 17 years old, took the world by storm. She shot to stardom with her portrayal of Dorothy in the classic, The Wizard of Oz. A couple of years later, Garland married bandleader David Rose.
This did not go down well with MGM as she didn’t ask for their consent. They wanted their star to remain young in the eyes of movie-goers, but this wouldn’t be the case as long as she was acting like an adult. Garland became pregnant, and her mother worked with the studio to make arrangements for her daughter’s abortion. Garland once again became pregnant, and was forced to have an abortion for the second time.
Final Filming of The Wizard of Oz
The abortions, however, were not the only atrocious commands placed on the actress. By the time Garland finished filming The Wizard of Oz, she was already addicted to barbiturates and amphetamines. MGM’s disgraceful behavior included the studio reportedly running all of their child stars into the ground. The young stars were forced to shoot film after film without a break.
The teenage stars were given pep pills in order to keep them spunky and awake. When they couldn’t sleep, they were given barbiturates and sleeping pills. Garland was forced into this dangerous upper/downer cycle of pills. Additionally, the studio not only put the actress on an unsafe diet in order for her to lose her so-called chubbiness, but they also made her take dangerous drugs to lose weight. Garland died in 1969 at the age of 47 from an overdose of barbiturates.
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MGM’s penalty clauses led to Ava Gardner having an abortion
From 1951 to 1957 Ava Gardner was married to Frank Sinatra, he was her third husband. During their marriage Gardner was forced to have the abortion because of MGM’s penalty clauses against their star actresses having babies. Sinatra reportedly did not know about the procedure. Gardner explained the situation that if she had a baby, her salary would be cut off. She claimed that Sinatra was broke at the time and her future movies were going to take her all over the world. MGM arranged everything, including the travel. It was all kept very hush hush.
Jean Harlow was forbidden from getting married
Known for being one of the original blonde bombshells, Jean Harlow signed a morality clause with MGM that forbade her to marry actor William Powell. The reasoning behind this being the belief that a woman is much sexier to the common man if she remains single. Join us as we take a look at some of the most outrageous abuses of Old Hollywood Actors Who Were Forced to Live a Lie.
Loretta Young hid her pregnancy and adopted her own daughter
Loretta Young, a child star who became an Academy Award-winning actress, was one of the few Hollywood stars who refused to have an abortion. While filming Call of the Wild in 1935, she fell in love with Hollywood star Clark Gable. Young claimed that Gable pressured her and she eventually slipped, but only once. That one slip led to Young getting pregnant, but Gable was a married man. Young covered up the pregnancy by claiming to have a mysterious illness. She had the baby in secret and then staged an adoption. Now that’s how you play the system!
Louis B. Mayer Purposefully Ruined John Gilbert’s Career
Co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, also known as MGM, Louis B. Mayer had a great eye for talent. He was a huge part of making MGM one of the biggest movie studios of old Hollywood. One of his skills that he utilised for this was that he was totally ruthless. During silent cinema’s transition to sound, Mayer had decided to dump actor John Gilbert. He believed Gilbert was too expensive and the two often clashed.
So what did Mayer do to make sure that Gilbert did not make the transition to talkies? He planted stories in fan magazines claiming that the actor’s high-pitched voice was causing distress on the movie lot. Mayer even went as far as to cast Gilbert in several films that he knew were complete bombs. With bad press followed by poor reviews, Gilbert walked away from MGM in 1933. He is now considered one of the most popular actors to never make the transition from silent cinema to talkies. Join us as we take a look at some of the most outrageous abuses of Old Hollywood Actors Who Were Forced to Live a Lie.
Dorothy Dandridge was forced by the studio to have an abortion
Labeled by many as the Black Marilyn Monroe, the beautiful Dorothy Dandridge became a star in the 1954 movie Carmen Jones. Dandridge became close with Otto Preminger, the director of the film and their relationship became sexual. This resulted in Dandridge becoming pregnant. But Preminger refused to leave his wife in order to marry his pregnant mistress.
The studio demanded that Dandridge get an abortion as they wanted her to remain a sex symbol. On top of this was the controversy that she was mixed race and Preminger was white. Miscegenation laws in 1955 were still in existence in several states, this made it illegal for mixed race couples to marry. Join us as we take a look at some of the most outrageous abuses of Old Hollywood Actors Who Were Forced to Live a Lie.
Clara Bow had a nervous breakdown so Paramount fired her
Clara Bow was silent cinema’s hottest sex symbol. She was at the forefront of public gossip with tales of her wild sexual adventures, including a threesome with Mexican prostitutes, a slew of engagements, and the rumor she slept with the whole starting lineup of the 1927 USC Trojan football team. With such wild escapades under her belt, Bow was a tireless worker. From 1922 to 1933, she made fifty eight films. But in typical Hollywood fashion, they were not keen on the bad reputation that Bow created. After suffering a nervous breakdown, Paramount seized the opportunity and fired her.
She made her final film at the age of 28. After this, Bow married and had two children. But a long family history of mental illness, including her mother trying to slit Bow’s throat one time, finally caught up with the actress. In 1944, Bow attempted suicide, which led to her in a psychiatric hospital. She wrote years later, “A sex symbol is a heavy load to carry when one is tired, hurt, and bewildered.”
Bette Davis had an abortion for the biggest role in her career
It was no secret that actresses were forced to have abortions to save their careers in Hollywood. Veteran actress Bette Davis came to terms with the deal and knew that if she had the child she was pregnant with in 1934, her career would be permanently damaged. Davis admitted that she would have missed the biggest role in her life if she didn’t have the abortion.
Looking back, it seems that Davis was right. She landed the part of Mildred in the 1934 movie Of Human Bondage, and was rewarded with her first of eleven Academy Award nominations. The following year she won the Oscar for her role in Dangerous and again in 1939 for Jezebel.
Which story on how the old Hollywood actors were treated did you find the most shocking? Do you think Hollywood studios should be held accountable for the abuse they committed in the past?
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