You Won't Believe These Old Hollywood Conspiracy Theories

Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
The phrase "Old Hollywood" usually calls up images of glamorous, Golden Age celebrities, wrapped in furs and dripping with diamonds, smoking cigarettes and popping champagne. That's not wrong. But it's not the whole story.

The early days of Hollywood were rife with scandal and intrigue. You think Kim leaking Taylor Swift's phone call with Kanye was shady? Add in a black stiletto to the back of the head, and you begin to approach the level of hatred between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.

Addiction, murder, jealousy, halitosis — these stars had it all, and they did it with style. Maybe that explains why so there are so many conspiracy theories about the early days of Hollywood — every ritzy shot has a seedy underbelly.

So, don a feather-trimmed silk robe, apply that red lipstick, and let's get to the bottom of some of the biggest celebrity mysteries of all time.

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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Marilyn Monroe was murdered.
Who killed Norma Jean? Take your pick. There is no shortage of conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Marilyn Monroe, who was found dead in her Los Angeles home on August 5, 1962.

Was it the CIA? The mafia? Did it have something to do with her relationship with President John F. Kennedy? Or her affair with his brother, Robert Kennedy? Did she know too much?

Or was it, as the autopsy suggested at the time, a lethal dose of chloral hydrate and Nembutal which caused an accidental overdose?



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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Elvis faked his own death.
Elvis Presley famously died on his bathroom floor at Graceland on August 16, 1977, leaving the world to mourn a man whose swaying hips and velvet voice had helped launch a cultural revolution. Opinions differ regarding his cause of death — overdose or heart attack? — but we can all agree that at 42, the "King of Rock 'n' Roll" was no more.

Or can we? Some still aren't convinced. Conspiracy buffs claim that Elvis could have staged his own death to combat flagging record sales. There have been an incalculable amount of reported Elvis sightings over the years — the most recent being a picture claiming to show the star visiting Graceland on what would have been his 82nd birthday.

And let's not forget that legendary Home Alone cameo.
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Photo: MGM/REX/Shutterstock.
A munchkin hanged himself on the Wizard of Oz set.
Guys, this one is dark.

Remember that part in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy skips merrily down the Yellow Brick Road with Scarecrow and Tin Man? Did you ever notice something off about the scene? Well, some fans claim to have spotted a dead munchkin hanging from one of the trees in the background.

In reality, it's far more likely that, as The Huffington Post points out, what looks like a hanging munchkin is actually a large stork flapping its wings.

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Photo: Walt Disney Pictures/REX/Shutterstock.
Mary Poppins is actually a Time Lord.
There are entire Reddit threads devoted to proving the link between everyone's favorite British nanny and Dr. Who.

Here's the gist: Mary's umbrella functions in a suspiciously similar way to a certain phone booth. Like the TARDIS, it allows her to travel instantly, and inconspicuously. Her carpet bag, which she carries with her at all times, seems to be under the same spell as Hermione's beaded purse in Harry Potter — it can hold more than it appears. And we haven't even covered her penchant for scarves and quirky hats.

Still not convinced? Check out this photo.
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEI/REX/Shutterstock.
Nicolas Cage is a vampire.
Okay, so Nicolas Cage doesn't exactly qualify as Old Hollywood, per se, but this theory implies living forever, so who knows?

In 2011, antiques dealer Jack Mord posted a picture to eBay of a man from Bristol, TN, taken around 1870. That man, Mord claimed, was none other than Nicolas Cage. Yes, that Nicolas Cage.

The almost identical resemblance between the actor and the man in the photo led Mord to believe that they were, in fact, the same person: a vampire who assumes a new identity every 75 years.

“Personally, I believe it’s him and that he is some sort of walking undead/vampire, et cetera, who quickens/reinvents himself once every 75 years or so,” he wrote in a post that has since been taken down. “150 years from now, he might be a politician, the leader of a cult, or a talk-show host.”

While the resemblance is striking, Cage has pointed out an obvious flaw in this theory: “There’s a photograph of me, and you can’t take pictures of vampires."
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Photo: ARALDO DI CROLLALANZA/REX/Shutterstock.
How did Jim Morrison die?
If you've ever taken a trip to the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, you've probably seen a crowd of people surrounding a pretty graffitied gravestone. There lies Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors and rock-star legend, who died of a heroin overdose in his Paris bathtub on July 3, 1971.

At just 27 years old, the singer became a member of the notorious 27 Club, which consists of musicians who never made it past that fateful age — other members include Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Amy Winehouse.

But much like with Elvis Presley's demise, fans can't agree about how he died, or even if he ever died at all. Fellow '60s flower child Marianne Faithfull claims her then-boyfriend and drug dealer Jean de Breteuil was the one who gave Morrison the dose that killed him. Former New York Times journalist Sam Berrnett, on the other hand, claims in his book The End: Jim Morrison that the "Light My Fire" singer actually overdosed in a bathroom stall at the Rock 'n' Roll Circus Club in Paris.

Conspiracy theorists go as far as to speculate over whether the singer might have faked his death to avoid the trials and tribulations of fame.

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Photo: Anonymous/AP/REX/Shutterstock.
Who killed William Desmond Taylor?
Even 95 years after his death on February 1, 1922, the murder of actor and director William Desmond Taylor remains an official cold case.

The killing was big news at the time, made even more salacious by the fact that Taylor had a secret past life. According to a New York Times article from 1922, Taylor's real name was actually William Cunningham Dean-Tanner, a man who had left his wife and child and disappeared without a trace from New York in 1908.

Over the course of the investigation, more than a dozen people were named as suspects and questioned by the police, including ingenue actresses Mabel Normand and Mary Miles Minter.

The mystery surrounding the murder has since gained a cult following. For a full breakdown of the events and the suspects, click over to Taylorology, a magazine founded in 1985 which aims to analyze every aspect of the crime.


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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Paul is dead.
This urban legend — which you probably heard at a sleepover when you were 10 — claims that Paul McCartney, bass player for The Beatles, former mop-top, and music legend, has actually been dead for years.

The rumor started just around the time the band released Abbey Road, which showed the Fab Four crossing the street in what appears to be a funeral procession. John Lennon, first, is dressed in white — as if to represent a religious man. Ringo, others claim, looks like an undertaker. Why is Paul barefoot? And is it me, or does George look like he might be wearing work clothes — to bury someone, perhaps?

There are literally entire websites devoted to breaking down every clue about Paul's supposed demise, but I'll leave you with this one: Try playing The White Album backwards.
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Photo: SNAP/REX/Shutterstock.
James Dead didn't really die in that car crash.
Sensing a pattern here?James Dean's death at the age of 24 remains one of the most tragic events in Hollywood history. The actor died in a car accident on September 30, 1955 when his Porsche 550 Spyder was hit almost head-on by 23-year-old Donald Turnupseed, but conspiracy theorists have built a pretty convincing case for why Dean could have faked his own death.

Conspiracy theorists seized upon evidence from a reconstruction of the accident that suggested the damage had been too light for a high-speed crash, and would not have killed the driver. They suggested Dean faked his own death.

Other accounts of the event claim that Dean wasn't even the driver, but rather was sitting in the passenger seat.

The actor's most iconic movie, Rebel Without a Cause, was released a month after his death, cementing his status as a Hollywood icon.


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Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
Clark Gable had really stinky breath.
This isn't so much a theory, so much as a fun fact. If you, like me, were mesmerized by the chemistry between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara, just know that it wasn't so explosive IRL.

Apparently, due to a gum infection in 1933, the Hollywood heartthrob had to have most of his teeth removed. The dentures he had to wear as a result gave him severe halitosis, a.k.a. bad breath. It got so bad that Vivien Leigh reportedly complained about the smell on the set of Gone With the Wind.
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Photo: SNAP/REX/Shutterstock.
The real reason forJoan Crawford and Bette Davis' feud.
This legendary rivalry is about to be become a Ryan Murphy series starring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon — but what caused their lifelong hatred?

The two only starred in one movie together, the 1962 classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, about two sisters, one of whom holds the other captive. (Apparently, Davis might have gotten a little overenthusiastic when filming scenes in which she was supposed to hurt Crawford.)

Some speculate that the rivalry was due to a love dispute. In 2008, a Daily Mail reporter claimed that Davis had confessed to him that the reason she hated Crawford so much was because the actress stole the love of her life from her. Others believe that Crawford was sexually attracted to Davis, and resented her unrequited affection. As Michael Musto put it in his explainer of the feud for Out: "Haven’t you ever hated someone so much you sort of wanted to fuck them?"
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