Hollywood's 50 All-Time Hottest Rumors

Nowhere else on Earth do people whisper as loudly as the do in Hollywood; here's some of the best examples of their brand of "hush-hush."


Gossip. Dish. Rumor. Innuendo. By any name, inside information, whether true or false, is Tinseltown's coin of the realm. So much so that Hollywood often seems like a giant breeding ground for juicy, salacious rumors--a platinum-trimmed, palm tree-lined, BMW-and-beeper-clogged petri dish crawling with multiplying colonies of open secrets. No wonder--name any other company town outside Washington, D.C. packed with as many outsized personalities or as much money, power and out-of-bounds behavior. Here's a look at 50 of the juiciest Hollywood rumors of all time. Some have the ring of truth, some sound like pure hooey. Some have names attached. Some are still "blind items." Go ahead and test your powers of belief.

1. The American Gigolo and the Rodent. Throw a stick in Hollywood and you'll hit somebody who swears they personally know someone who was working at the major L.A. medical center that night in the late '80s when heartthrob Richard Gere required the ER staff to remove a gerbil from where the sun don't shine. The outlandish rumor has attained urban-legend status and become a comic staple of movies, TV and stand-up routines, even though it was confirmed Gere was in India on the evening of the supposed "event."

2. The Godfather: The Prequel. When Marlon Brando was young and about to become a sex icon in A Streetcar Named Desire, he roomed with nerdy comic actor Wally Cox (TV's "Mr. Peepers"). According to rumors, they were more than roomies, and photos still circulating today allege to capture Brando orally pleasuring Cox, who, anatomically speaking, was certainly no "Mr. Peepers."

3. The Secret Wedding. Nobody ever saw an invitation, but that didn't keep rumors from flying for months that openly gay billionaire David Geffen had, after lavishing fab gifts on youngster Keanu Reeves, married him. This nutso hoax cropped up after Reeves played a druggy gay hustler in Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho if that helps you understand how false rumors get started.

4. Crème de la Crème. Of the many wacky tales to emanate from the set of that household name director's recent epic, here's our favorite: that Oscar-nominated actor wasn't fired for the usual "creative differences," but because he became so aroused in the midst of a sex scene that he ... well, let's just say he let his famous technique run amok.

5. House Party. It is a fact that in the '30s, screen sex gods Cary Grant (the romantic sophisticate) and Randolph Scott (the rugged, sexy outdoor star) shared a Santa Monica beach house. That bachelor pad arrangement sparked a rumor they were also longtime secret lovers. Publicity photos the two did at home seemed innocent in their day, when studio publicists got stars up to all kinds of photo ops, but today the shots are eyebrow raisers.

6. Super Mario. Mario Lanza's tenor voice made him a movie and recording giant in the '50s, and his over-the-top personality made him a great subject for dish. One story insists that when a mighty MGM producer rejected Lanza for a starring role, he drove to the producer's home and defecated on the front stairs.

7. The Ruthless Romancer. One of Hollywood's sex symbols is said to screw his coworkers, literally and figuratively, whenever it's advantageous to do so. Years ago he supposedly conducted a torrid romance with the female costar of the movie that made his name, and then coldly dumped her at the end of the picture. When he later landed a lead by seducing the male director (who'd promised the role to a lesser-known thesp), he quickly turned his attention to his hunky costar. At the wrap-party dinner for that film, he sat with his wife by his side and coldly ignored the guy.

8. Funny Girl. Porn fans once insisted that the large-nosed performer who appeared in a raunchy sex flick that first made the rounds in the 1970s was a young, hungry Barbra Streisand. Anyone who's viewed the grainy flick could tell you it wasn't Streisand, and Streisand's management long ago confirmed the tale was "totally fallacious."

9. The Wild Party. During a boozy party at San Francisco's Hotel St. Francis in 1921, obese comedy star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle raped 25-year-old starlet Virginia Rappe with a champagne bottle/a Coke bottle/a shard of ice, causing her death. Or did he crush her with his massive girth? So raged the rumors when the starlet died from a ruptured bladder. Arbuckle went through a trio of court trials that ended in his acquittal, but his career was extinguished and he died 12 years later a penniless drunkard.

10. Potty Training. In the '50s, this comedian was a king of TV comedy and a favorite in top nightclubs. Offstage, the family man is said to have paid working girls to relieve themselves on a glass-topped table while he lay underneath with his grateful face pressed to the glass.

11. Diva for a Day. It's an age-old scenario, but one case stands out because of the star involved. The gifted actress was not really a diva, but when, in the midst of her own dearly great performance in the now famous movie from the '80s, she began hearing of Oscar-talk about her costar, she was so threatened she quietly had that actress's performance cut down to size. The star won an Oscar; her costar, despite great reviews, didn't even get nominated.

12. Drop Kicked. When '20s MGM star William Haines suddenly dropped out of films it was rumored that much-feared MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer was responsible. The story goes that when Mayer commanded that Haines show up at a gala party sans his male partner, Haines told his employer the only way he'd do that was if Mayer didn't bring his wife. Haines was promptly dropped by MGM. Shunned by other studios, Haines's livelihood was revived by friends Joan Crawford and Carole Lombard, among others, who launched his successful interior-decorating career.

13. Nobody Wins. After the 1993 Oscars, many in Hollywood theorized that an off-in-the-stratosphere Jack Palance was merely repeating the last name on the alphabetical list of nominees instead of announcing the true winner when he called out Marisa Tomei as the Best Supporting Actress winner for My Cousin Vinny. That's how impossible it seemed that Tomei could have won over world-class fellow nominees Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave.

14. The Sweater Girl Unravels. The 1958 fatal stabbing of Johnny Stompanato, the gigolo lover of Lana Turner and the former bodyguard of gangster Mickey Cohen, sparked a firestorm of rumors. Although Turner's 14-year-old daughter Cheryl was exonerated after a lurid trial on the grounds of "justifiable homicide," rumors had it that Turner herself knifed the jealous and abusive thug.

15. Where's Poppa? When this A-list superstar and family man handpicked a young European beauty to costar with him, critics and audiences grooved to their screen chemistry. But when the actress emerged months later visibly pregnant, tongues wagged that the daddy was the good-looking star. If the rumor is true, it might explain why the actress never lets photographers snap a pic of the kid's face.

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