Comedy legend Bill Cosby has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 55 women through the course of his career. Despite the seriousness and sheer number of allegations against him, there are still an alarming number of stars who have stayed in his corner.
Cosby’s onscreen son defended him on
Conversations with Maria Menounos . “The media has really helped make it such a big circus, and there are so many things that are thrown into the pot that things get really muddy, and there are so many levels to what’s going on that people are led to believe one thing when it’s not as black or white as people think it may be,” he said. “If you really look…what we’re told is 50 women are accusing him of rape. That’s not true. Fifty women have not said that. So you have to break down the numbers of, okay—because some of the women are saying, ‘Well he talked to me inappropriately. He grabbed my wrist, you know, too long.’… If you really look at it and break it down, it’s like, no, 50 women are not saying, ‘He raped me.'”
Cosby’s onscreen wife, Phylicia Rashad, was furious at the media frenzy surrounding the funnyman. “We are really missing what is wrong here, which is, this is the United States of America,” she fumed to ABC News. “I know it’s changing, but it’s still the United States of America and there are tenets that we live by. There is the Constitution of the United States, which ensures innocence until proof of guilt, and that has not happened. But what has happened is declaration in the media of guilt, without proof. And a legacy is being destroyed because of it. It’s being obliterated.”
Kanye West is no stranger to Twitter rants about nearly everything. He tossed in his own two cents, writing, “BILL COSBY INNOCENT!!!!!” Ah, Yeezy. Too enthusiastic to even bother with verbs.
CNN reporter Don Lemon didn’t exactly defend Cosby, but he sure cast his own shadow of doubt on the alleged victims with his interviews. “I know some of you…lied to him…You know, there are ways not to perform…if you didn’t want to do it.” The concepts of “rape” and “sexual assault” as a whole seemed to escape him.
Rapper Azealia Banks tweeted her defense of Cosby, saying it was part of a larger conspiracy against African Americans. “A black man in office is scary to white folk, and they will try and do any and everything to remind us that they are in control,” she wrote. “From police murders, to Macklemore and Igloo Australia…They are even trying to tear down our father figure Bill Cosby.”
Whoopi Goldberg griped on The View, “Save your texts; save your nasty comments. I don’t care. I say this because this is my opinion, and in America, still, I know it’s a shock, but you are still innocent until proven guilty…He has not been proven a rapist.”
When the portly conservative talking head heard about the rape allegations against Cosby, Rush Limbaugh ranted on his radio show, “What did Bill Cosby ever do to tick off some producer at CNN? Or some reporter? Or some assignment? What happened here?” Sure. Because this is all a conspiracy of the “liberal media,” right?
When talking about the Cosby allegations on
The View , former Cosby Show star Raven-Symoné explained that she was on the fence about what to believe. “I don’t really like to discuss [this] because he is the reason I am on this panel in the first place,” she said. “He gave me my first job. But at the same time, you need proof, and then I’ll be able to give my judgment here or there.”
Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo Green, who pleaded guilty to slipping ecstasy in a woman’s drink in 2014, told TMZ that he sympathized with Cosby. “It doesn’t seem fair, but you can’t defend yourself in that capacity, you know what I’m sayin’? You just have to let facts be facts, and so on and so forth—none of this seems fair. It’s just unfortunate because he’s so beloved to so many people.”
Keshia Knight Pulliam
Keshia Knight Pulliam, who starred as Rudy Huxtable, is reluctant to imagine her onscreen pops could do something so egregious. “Ultimately, they’re just that, allegations,” she told The Grio . “You know, it’s very much been played out in the court of public opinion. But we’re still in America, where ultimately you’re innocent until proven guilty. I wasn’t there. That’s just not the man I know. That’s not who I experienced. So I can’t speak to it.”
Singer Jill Scott leapt to Cosby’s defense on Twitter when the allegations first made headlines, writing, “I’m respecting a man who has done more for the image of brown people than almost anyone ever, Fat Albert to the Huxtables.” However, the chanteuse changed her tune after Cosby’s deposition was released, tweeting, “About Bill Cosby. Sadly his own testimony offers PROOF of terrible deeds, which is ALL I have ever required to believe
Comedy legend Bill Cosby has been accused of sexually assaulting more than 55 women through the course of his career. Despite the seriousness and sheer number of allegations against him, there are still an alarming number of stars who have stayed in his corner.
Cardi B and Offset make up one of rap music’s most famous couples. Their romance moved at lightning speed after they were spotted on their very first date at the 2017 Super Bowl . By October 2017, Cardi B (real name Belcalis Almanzar) and Offset (real name Kiari Cephus) got engaged after the
Migos rapper popped the question on stage at Philadelphia’s Power 99 Powerhouse concert. With a massive eight-carat diamond sparkler on her ring finger, she told
Time magazine, “I’m excited because I feel like I’m locked in. He’s locked in. That I don’t gotta worry about ‘hmm, is he f***ing somebody else?'” Well, perhaps she spoke too soon…
But cheating allegations are just one of the many things that have shrouded this couple’s romance, as well as Cardi B’s admission that Offset makes most of the major decisions concerning their relationship and her rap career.
We can’t help but raise our eyebrows as we learn even more about this hip-hop power couple’s union. Here are a few of the strange things about Cardi B and Offset’s relationship.
They’re engaged, but wedding planning isn’t on his radar
Although he proposed to her on stage in October 2017, Offset didn’t appear to be in a huge rush to walk down the aisle to seal the deal. We’re sure he’s utterly in love with her, but, when he was asked by Rolling Stone if he and Cardi B were working on their wedding plans, he responded, “We ain’t, we ain’t planning it right now.” Say what?!
“We chilling. We don’t got time for that right now,” he continued. When asked why the planning had stalled out, he refused to give an answer. Instead, he simply said, “It ain’t no gig. It ain’t no f***ing game, you know what I’m saying? It ain’t no game. It’s my life.” Um, okay.
So what gives? The whole point of getting engaged is to make a mutual promise to eventually tie the knot. And it’s not like they’re short on cash. They could easily hire wedding planners who could orchestrate the festivities.
But considering the timing of his proposal, we have an inkling that he may have given her the engagement ring as some sort of peace offering. You’ll have to keep reading to find out more, but, for now, we’ll move on to how strange it is that Offset is pumping the brakes on their wedding while Cardi B is ready to kick things off…
She wants an extravagant wedding
While attending the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in January 2018, Cardi B showed up on the red carpet wearing a custom creation by designer Mohammed Ashi . The rapper looked like a stunning princess in the voluminous white gown that could’ve doubled as a wedding dress. Speaking of weddings, her upcoming nuptials were a topic of discussion that night. The “Bartier Cardi” lyricist caught up with People magazine and was asked about the big day. “It’s gonna be extravagant. You know, we’re both rappers,” she said. “We’re both artists, so it has to be a very extravagant wedding.”
Her beau had already told Rolling Stone magazine that they were just “chilling” instead of ironing out the wedding details, and his future bride confirmed his sentiment. “We are taking our time to plan it, because we really just don’t have the time … If we was to have at least one month, three weeks off, it would be easier. But we don’t have it,” she said.
Let’s recap: Offset completely put the kibosh on any talks of wedding planning, but, judging by Cardi B’s response, it sounds like she’s at least willing to put in the time and effort to bring her dream wedding into fruition. Could he holding her back from making it happen?
She name-drops him
Cardi B and Offset are more than just significant others. They’re music partners as well, having appeared on various tracks together, including their debut collaboration, “Lick .” And when Offset isn’t featured on a Cardi B track, he never seems too far away … because Cardi B always manages to give him a shoutout in her lyrics.
On the Migos track ” Motorsport,” which also features Nicki Minaj, Cardi B raps, “I get up, set off / I turn Offset on/ I told him the other day/ Man, we should sell that porn.” And on “Bartier Cardi ,” featuring rapper 21 Savage, she raps on the chorus, “Cardi got rich, they upset / Cardi put the p***y on Offset.” No one makes a raunchy public declaration of love quite like Cardi B!
While some don’t see anything wrong with her professing her adoration for her man through her music, others are annoyed by the frequent references and name-drops in her tunes. In an effort to address the criticism, she posted a special message to all of her naysayers. “If I wanna put my man name on all my songs [so f***ing] what!!” she wrote on
Twitter. “I’m going to mention his name even in my prayers b***h! S**t when I’m about to die last word out of my mouth is OFFSET.” Well, alrighty then.
Those cheating allegations
Offset’s phone was reportedly hacked, and one of his personal videos leaked in December 2018, showing a man who looked a lot like him lying in bed with a woman who definitely wasn’t Cardi B. It was later determined that the video was filmed in September of that same year, just one month before he proposed to Cardi B with a huge engagement ring. So, we have to wonder… could her ring just be an “I’m so sorry, please forgive me” gift?
It’s clear Cardi B isn’t going to let a little bit of philandering come between her and the love of her life. Though her fans have encouraged her to walk away from the relationship, the rapper has refused, once tweeting , “I still put the p***y” on Offset,” and commenting on
Instagram, “No it’s not right for a n***a to cheat … But what you want me to do? Go f**k me another n***a? Start all over again and get cheated on again? This s**t happens to everyone. People handle they relationship different soo.”
In another since-deleted tweet posted on Jan. 9, 2018 (via Us Weekly), the rapper wrote, “Why is it a problem that i want to take my time with a decision on my relationship?” This led many to believe she was actually contemplating ending things with Offset once and for all. But days later, it appeared that he had won her over again by getting a “Cardi B” tattoo on his neck .
She’s ‘no angel’ either
Could it be that Cardi B has been willing to give Offset chance after chance because she has also gotten a little bit of side action during their relationship? That appears to be the case, according to an in-depth interview the “Bodak Yellow” MC gave to Cosmopolitan magazine. “It’s not right, what he f***ing did,” she said in reference to his alleged cheating, “but people don’t know what I did, ’cause I ain’t no angel.”
She also wanted the world to know that she wasn’t staying with Offset because she’s desperate. “It’s like everybody is coming down my neck like, ‘Why are you not leaving him? You have low self-esteem.’ I don’t have low self-esteem … I know I look good. I know I’m rich, I know I’m talented. I know I could get any man I want — any basketball player, football player. But I want to work out my s**t with my man, and I don’t got to explain why,” she said.
Considering the alleged cheating, Cardi B and Offset may have struggled to keep their relationship moving in a positive direction. In an interview with GQ , Cardi B revealed, “For a long time … we was in love with each other but we didn’t really trust in each other.” Love without trust? How does that work exactly?
Well, according to the rapper, it was a “competition” between them of “who’s gonna hit each other up first .” She also cited outsiders who put a strain on their romance. “People used to put things in my head: ‘He gonna leave you. He be f***ing with mad b*****s.’ People used to put things in his head: ‘Cardi, she’s a dog. Don’t trust her.’ We never really trusted each other because I always feel like he could get any girl he wants — what makes me think he’s gonna want me? I think he felt the same way,” she said.
When asked if the trust was non-existent up until their October 2017 engagement, Cardi B seemingly confirmed as much. “It was just too much playing games. He would look for me; sometimes he would take a jet to me. And it was just like, ‘Let’s stop playing. We really love each other. I’m scared to lose you, and you scared to lose me,'” she said.
She ‘barely’ spends time with him in Atlanta
Aside from having two bustling rap careers that keep them apart from one another, Cardi B and her main man are in the midst of a long-distance romance. She hails from the Bronx, while he’s a resident of Atlanta. Considering they got engaged and made a commitment to make their relationship work by any means necessary, one of them had to make the move so that their romance could flourish. That person turned out to be Cardi B.
In her GQ interview, she stated, “[Offset]’s never comfortable in New York. He loves down south. He told me to move in with him, in Atlanta. I stayed in his house a couple of times, but it’s so hard to live there.”
Instead of possibly purchasing a home together in a city where they both felt comfortable, Cardi B said, “[Offset] decided, though, that we’re going to build a house in Atlanta, and that’s the house that we’re gonna raise our kids in. But my job is in New York, always, so I can barely spend time in Atlanta.” Wait a second. Offset decided? So what is Cardi B — chopped liver?
If you think her rapper beau is taking the reins of their relationship, you may be right…
He makes decisions for her
Cardi B values Offset’s opinion, but some may say he has a little too much influence on her life. “I’m very indecisive, and that’s a very bad trait that I have,” she told GQ. “It’s so bad. And then I always feel like I need — like I need somebody to tell me something. He’s always screaming at me for that, like, ‘You don’t need this. You know who the f**k you are. Oh, my God, you’re so annoying!'”
His hysterics over her lack of independence trickles down into her career, as well. “I’m afraid to do my own decisions. I call him a lot,” she said before admitting that she asks him questions, such as, “Do you like this song? Do I sound good in this song? Do I sound corny?”
Putting so much stock into one person’s opinion can’t be a good thing. Even if these two eventually get married and drive off into the sunset together, it would still benefit Cardi B to have a little bit of autonomy in her life, no?
Every relationship has its own ups and downs, but sometimes couples face super tough moments that can threaten to rip them apart. In October 2017, Cardi B and Offset put their relationship turmoil on front street in the form of a very public squabble, and it all went down on social media.
Fans were freaking out because it appeared that the couple had officially thrown in the towel and had broken up after Cardi B posted a picture of herself with the caption, “Single,” (via The Shade Room).
After a bit of back and forth between the two of them, it appeared that they had finally kissed and made up. Cardi B attempted to explain their brief breakup in a series of tweets, one of which read, “Reasons why me and Offset got into it … I think he stoled [ sic ] my purple blanket but it wasn’t him so I’m still looking for the suspect,” she wrote.
He denied she was pregnant
Rumors had been swirling for months that Cardi B and Offset were expanding their family and had a baby on the way. In February 2018,
TMZ caught up with Offset, and the father of three (from previous relationships) vehemently denied the rumors. Cardi B herself even denied the pregnancy that same month after fans began to speculate. “No b***h I’m just getting fat. Let me [get] fat in peace,” she told one of her Instagram followers (via
Two months later, the rapper gave a riveting performance on Saturday Night Live and showed up in a figure-hugging dress that put her baby bump on full display. After the show aired, she posted to her Twitter account, “I started winning when the whole world was doubting on me! think imma lose with my little baby counting on me?” Offset followed her lead by posting a picture of the twosome on his Twitter with the caption, “Cardi and I look forward to our next chapter together.”
We’re happy for them, as well, but we’re puzzled as to why they kept the baby news hush-hush for so long.
Did she have any input on their baby’s name?
After finally sharing her baby news with the world, Cardi B showed up to The Ellen DeGeneres Show to talk about her life, her career, and motherhood, of course. DeGeneres was naturally curious about what the rappers would name their bundle of joy. “My dude named the baby,” Cardi B told the talk show host. “I really like the name. I’m gonna let him say the name since he named the baby.”
Now that we’re aware that Cardi B doesn’t mind leaving the decision-making in Offset’s hands, it’s not too shocking that she didn’t have much input on their baby’s name either.
So, not only does she run her business decisions by Offset, but he was the one who determined where they would build their family home and what they’d name their unborn child. This may all sound super weird to us, but, if it works for Cardi B and Offset, who are we to judge
Breaking Amish makes some big promises. “In a world where ‘plain’ is considered a compliment, TLC will pull back the curtains to reveal the strict traditions of the Amish/Mennonite religion and lifestyle as cameras follow five people who have chosen to leave it behind and explore the world outside of their community,” TLC states in their description of the series. Sound like a voiceover for a movie trailer, doesn’t it? Makes sense, given that movies are also fake.
While TLC wants audiences to believe that
Breaking Amish documents people as they “trade horse and buggy with taxi cabs,” saying goodbye to their communities in favor of traveling to New York City, the reality is entirely different. It turns out the cast and storylines are not as genuine as they appear. From secret marriages and manipulative producers to sexy photoshoots and drug arrests, let’s dive into the untold truth of
Breaking Amish .
The Amish community disputes the show’s stories
An ex-Amish blogger, known as X Amish Atheist, was responsible for first drawing attention to the show’s manipulation of the truth after watching the first season of
Breaking Amish and allegedly recognizing cast member Jeremiah Raber. He alleged to have met Raber years before the series aired, and he claimed that Raber had been divorced before and that he drove a nice SUV. According to the blogger, Raber had left the Amish community when he was 18 years old, though he was in his 30s when he appeared on the show (via Jezebel ). So, did he keep his SUV in the barn? These are the burning questions we need answered.
But apparently Raber isn’t the only one who led a not-very-Amish life before appearing on the series.The Facebook page Breaking Amish the Truth remains dedicated to exposing the show’s alleged lies and those who aren’t as devout as they seem.
They drank and used technology before the show
While the cast may like to say they’d never taken a sip of alcohol or giggled like teenagers at their first house party before the show, it turns out a lot of them may not have been so sincere. According to Us Weekly, Abe Schmucker was arrested for public intoxication in 2008, and Kate Stoltzfus (now known as Kate Stoltz) got popped with a DUI right before joining the show in 2012 (that’s her mugshot above).
As if that weren’t enough, The National Enquirer reported that Schmucker and Rebecca Byler were living in a camper behind another couple’s home for several months in 2010 — where they had allegedly used modern appliances. Byler was said to have worn a bikini while Schmucker drank alcohol.
Raber’s ex-wife, Naomi Stutzman, also spoke up about the show’s alleged lies, telling Star , “I had to laugh when [Raber] claimed he’s never owned a cell phone. He’s had one for as long as I’ve known him.” She added that he loves Guns N’ Roses, Eminem, and strip clubs and that he was “always known as the guy with the coolest cars.”
One star stripped for the camera
It appears the bright lights of the big city proved irresistible for one Breaking Amish star. Barely a year after it hit airwaves, star Kate Stoltz made the pages of
Maxim with a racy photoshoot. “Before I had even signed a contract with a modeling agency, I did a test shoot to see if I could photograph well,” she told the magazine per
Us Weekly , “and the first outfit they put me in was a bathing suit! I have to admit it was a little intimidating, but now I enjoy doing it.”
Instead of Instagram, modeling agencies might want to scout Amish communities for the next big thing, because, according to Stoltz, the majority of Amish women maintain toned physiques for the simple fact that “they work hard.” Stoltz explained, “They also eat healthy, since they grow their own food,” adding, “That’s one big thing I missed about home, being able to garden and take care of plants.” We can see Amish fitness boot camps popping up in Los Angeles any minute now.
The Amish don’t always ‘shun’ family
For purely dramatic effect, TLC would like audiences to think that Breaking Amish “will unveil the disenchantment of family members who are forced to shun their own children, siblings and grandchildren as they decide to explore a world beyond the limitations of their simple upbringing.” However, as a simple Internet search reveals, that isn’t exactly true.
Apparently, young people temporarily leaving the community and returning home is relatively commonplace . Naomi Stutzman told CBS 21 (per Jezebel ) that she indeed wasn’t shunned when she left the church, and neither was ex-husband Raber, who was apparently “spoiled rotten” and given two cars when he left the Amish. She also claimed that his parents helped him out with rent whenever he needed it. Even Kate Stoltz was welcomed home after her DUI.
While we can appreciate TLC ‘s attempt to mislead audiences by raising the stakes for their cast members, they need to remember that viewers are pretty adept at using Google.
Kate Stoltz created a whole new career
Not content with just posing in Maxim, Kate Stoltz took the sewing skills she learned during her time in the Amish community to the Fashion Institute of Technology. She parlayed her degree into a fashion label, Kate Stoltz New York. Stoltz showed off her designs during 2018’s New York Fashion Week, and here is the press release (via
“Since becoming the breakout star of TLC’s Breaking Amish , Kate left the reality TV world behind to pursue her true passion: a career in design. After graduating from FIT and securing a coveted position in Product Design at Jason Wu, Kate decided to once again break out on her own, fulfilling a lifelong dream of building her own label from the ground up. Kate started crafting highly-sought after micro destination collections, and is now thrilled to bring her first full collection to the forefront after 5 years of living and working in NYC.”
However, when asked if Breaking Amish was fake, she wasn’t as verbose. “I really can’t [say]. I’m sorry,” she told InTouch. Way to flame those conspiracy theories, Kate.
TLC allegedly pays to keep the truth quiet
Jeremiah Raber’s ex-wife and mother of three of his children, Naomi Stutzman, is a fellow defector from the Amish community. Per
Jezebel, Stutzman filed for divorce in 2011, citing “gross neglect of duty” and “extreme cruelty.” She also had Raber arrested for domestic violence in 2005 (via the Daily Mail).
In an off-camera interview with CBS 21 in 2012, Stutzman claimed that Raber owes her $20,000 in child support payments and that, because TLC paid a portion of this, she assumes they knew about his past. Stutzman also said TLC offered her “whatever she wanted” to keep her quiet about Raber’s history. TLC has vehemently denied this claim (via HuffPost ). But, whether or not the network has paid anyone for their silence, it’s pretty clear the powers that be wouldn’t want these rumors spreading, as the entire premise of the show — which enjoyed one of the network’s most-watched premieres with about 3 million viewers — depends on the content living up to the “fish out of water” premise.
Another domestic violence arrest
In 2017, Breaking Amish: Return to Amish star Jeremiah Raber was arrested after assaulting his wife Carmela. According to
Radar Online , she told police that he had made “several threats to cause [her] harm,” and she showed officers “several large bruises on her legs and arms” allegedly left by her husband. In the police report, she reportedly stated that Raber had hit her “on a daily basis.”
Raber soon fired back, claiming to have “evidence to prove his innocence.” In an exclusive statement made to Radar Online, he said, “As of now I have nothing really to say other then the real truth will come out in the end,” adding, “This is not a one-way street. It goes both ways and I have the evidence to prove it and it will be released soon enough.” At the time of this writing, Raber has yet to reveal his “evidence.”
Six months after the aforementioned domestic violence arrest, Raber went on a Facebook rant that’s since been deleted, accusing his estranged wife (now going by Carmela Mendez) of stealing the $160,000 the couple earned from selling their home. “We sold the property, cashed the check this morning, she put it in her purse, and when I got out to go pay electric bill she took off,” he said, as reported by InTouch.
Claiming Mendez was addicted to pain medication and would take “a lot of sleeping pills” and drink “tons of energy drinks every day,” Raber insisted she was the abuser — not him. “Have I screwed up in my life, our marriage? Absolutely. You guys never heard the s*** she did,” he continued. “She laid hands on me when I didn’t raise one hand. She spread lies about me; I’m no longer holding back. I did not throw that coffee on her. A little bit splashed on her, that was it, but yet I get taken to jail.”
Concluding his rant, Raber declared that he was “done with her,” but couldn’t answer when a fan asked if he would take her back. “[D]o I still love her? Absolutely I do, but I can only take so much,” he responded. “She had her chance to make things right; I’ve been trying to call her, she refused to answer. I was told that Carmela was after my money, and that was correct, that was so correct.”
Sabrina Burkholder found herself on the wrong side of the law
Sabrina Burkholder’s struggles with drug addiction were included as plot points in the show, but, off camera, they turned into trouble with the law. Burkholder was arrested back in May 2017 for “driving an unregistered vehicle, using drug paraphernalia, and possessing an uncontrolled substance.” Since the drug charges were only misdemeanors, Burkholder was only sentenced to community service, not to mention ordered to pay court fees and fines. She was released from jail the next day. Her luck ran out not even two months later, as she was arrested again in August 2017 for what Starcasm believes was a “parole violation from her previous drug conviction.”
“It is our understanding that Sabrina had an arrest warrant issued for her a little over a month after being released, but she managed to avoid police for weeks,” the pop culture site detailed. “In addition to her criminal issues, Sabrina was also recently taken to court over unpaid rent. On August 3, a judge ruled in favor of her former landlord and ordered Sabrina to pay $1,800 in unpaid rent plus court fees.”
Some cast members have been married before
When Abe Schmucker and Rebecca Byler appeared on the first season of Breaking Amish, they claimed they didn’t know each other well, despite being from the same Amish community. They were later pictured with a baby on the Breaking Amish the Truth Facebook page. Schmucker and Byler
vehemently denied having a kid together, but, according to Bustle in February 2014, Schmucker was confirmed to be the father after Byler, who was previously married and divorced, posted paternity test results on her Facebook page.
Cast member Sabrina High was also married in a secular ceremony in 2009, showing up on another reality TV show , National Geographic’s Amish at the Altar, in 2010. High claimed the ceremony adhered to Mennonite standards and didn’t involve drinking or dancing (which is unfortunate, since most of us can agree those are the two best parts of any wedding).
Return to Amish was just as fake
TLC’s Return to Amish featured a lot of the original cast members from the first season — and it presented a “reality” just as allegedly warped. While many TV show producers manipulate what’s on screen, TLC allegedly took it a step further. Stoltz, for instance, tweeted that she cried on the show because “producers keep us in a room for hours and ask the same questions over and over — they’re relentless. If we don’t give them the answer they want, they keep us in there until we cry or give them the answer they want” (via Us Weekly ).
Not only did producers allegedly control
Breaking Amish storylines and feed the media false stories to back them up, but Stoltz also claimed they lied about one of the cast members undergoing chemotherapy for bone cancer. She tweeted, “Chapel [Schmucker-Peace] was NOT doing chemo when the show was filmed. She was in remission and had us all fooled into thinking she was very sick.” Stoltz said that Peace, who has a known history of drug use, was instead pretending in order to cover up a heroin addiction.
Hugh Hefner, the founder of the iconic, if controversial, Playboy magazine, died Sept. 27, 2017 of natural causes at his famed Playboy Mansion . He was 91 years old. In light of the sad news, we’re taking a look back at the life of a man who would go on to challenge the world’s views and opinions about sex and stir up an intense amount of controversy, all while wearing fancy silk pajamas.
Here now is a look at the untold truth of Hugh Hefner.
He hated the repression of post-World War II America
Speaking to The Telegraph in 2009, Hefner revealed that the idea for Playboy magazine was influenced in part by America’s gradual shift back to a conservative culture at the end of World War II.
“I looked back on the roaring Twenties, with its jazz, Great Gatsby and the pre-Code films as a party I had somehow managed to miss,” he told the magazine. “After World War Two, I expected something similar; a return to the period after the first war, but when the skirt lengths went down instead of up I knew we were in big trouble. It turned out to be a very conservative, serious period — socially, sexually and politically.”
“I just thought there was another way of living a life,” he continued. “Under all the conservatism and the repression there was this yearning for something different. That’s the reason the magazine was successful, why people embraced it from the very outset.”
Hefner, who was born in 1926 to conservative parents to whom he referred as being “very repressed,” also said his time working as a promotional copywriter for Esquire helped shape his soon-to-be iconic magazine. “Esquire was always for older guys, but … it was very much devoted to male bonding and outdoor adventure,” Hefner told CNN. “And I wanted to read a magazine that was a little more sophisticated and was focused really on the romantic connection between the sexes from a male point of view.”
He didn’t think Playboy was a sex magazine
For all of the, um, exposés that Playboy published over the years, Hefner insisted that sex was never the main focus of his beloved magazine.
“Let’s get this straight,” Hefner told The Telegraph in 2009. “Playboy was not a sex magazine, as far as I was concerned. Sex was simply part of the total package; I was trying to bring sex into the fold of a healthy lifestyle. When Penthouse and Hustler came along they confused what I was trying to do. Before they arrived, we were perceived as a sophisticated men’s magazine.”
Indeed, as sociologist and author Todd Giltin explained (via the New York Times ), Playboy, which published its first issue in December 1959, tapped into a certain male lifestyle of the era. “It’s part of an ensemble James Bond movies, John F. Kennedy, swinging,” he said, “the guy who is young, vigorous, indifferent to the bonds of social responsibility.”
He claimed he came close to dating Gloria Steinem
Playboy would go onto become reviled among certain groups, particularly among feminists such as Gloria Steinem, who famously went undercover at Hefner’s Playboy Club in New York City and later wrote about her experience for Show magazine .
But if Hefner is to be believed, their contentious relationship almost became something else. “Gloria and I go back a long ways,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011, “but it’s more personal than you probably know. She worked as girl Friday for Harvey Kurtzman, who created Mad magazine, and he said, ‘You gotta meet this girl, she’s just like you: She can make a guy jump through hoops.’ We actually exchanged phone calls and came very close to dating.”
Incidentally, Hefner also mentioned that criticisms from feminists cut deeper than most. “Being attacked by right-wing Christians did not bother me,” he said. “Being attacked by liberal feminists did.”
He lost his virginity when he was 22
Although his name became synonymous with women and sex, Hugh Hefner was actually a bit of a late bloomer. According to The New York Times , he did not masturbate until he was 18 years old, and did not actually lose his virginity until he was 22. According to the
Times, Hefner “wielded fierce resentment against his era’s sexual strictures, which he said had choked off his own youth.”
He said his first time was with the woman who would become his first wife, Millie Williams, with whom he engaged in “two years of foreplay” before sealing the deal, according to The Sun . In that same interview with The Sun , Hefner revealed he was saving himself because, at the time, he was serving in the army while his wife was studying in college.
Maybe he feels like he missed out on something in his youth, but the guy apparently made up for lost time because he supposedly went on to bed more than 1,000 women, but who’s counting? “How could I possibly know? Over a thousand, I’m sure,” Hefner told Esquire (via The Huffington Post) when asked about his number. “There were chunks of my life when I was married, and when I was married I never cheated. But I made up for it when I wasn’t married. You have to keep your hand in.”
He was devastated by his first wife’s affair
Sadly for Hefner, losing his V-card came with “devastating” consequences that would last a lifetime.
“I had literally saved myself for my wife, but after we had sex she told me that she’d had an affair,” Hefner revealed (via The Sun ). “That was the most devastating moment in my life.” The infidelity reportedly occurred while the couple was still engaged. “My wife was more sexually experienced than I was. After that, I always felt in a sense that the other guy was in bed with us, too.”
Speaking to The New York Times in 2001, Hefner, who divorced Williams in 1959, alleged that his second wife, Kimberley Conrad, also cheated on him prior to their split in 1998. The behavior that followed was “overcompensation,” Hefner admitted to the
Times, laughing at the number of women he simultaneously dated and his attempts to keep them from dating anyone else.
His third marriage almost didn’t happen
Hefner’s third trip down the aisle proved to be more tumultuous than the others.
In June 2011, just five days before he was set to marry 24-year-old Playmate Crystal Harris , Hefner confirmed on Twitter that the wedding had been called off, claiming, “Crystal has had a change of heart.” Harris would later confirm as much in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, although she also claimed the decision had been “mutual.”
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of the drama. In July that year, Harris went on Howard Stern’s radio show, during which she alleged that she only had sex with Hefner once during their relationship and that it lasted “like two seconds.” “Then I was just over it,” she said, according to People. “I was like, ‘Ahhh.’ I was over it. I just like, walked away. I’m not turned on by Hef, sorry.”
Hefner denied Harris’ claims , later telling The Hollywood Reporter that they had sex ” once a week. ” “We had sex with her and a girlfriend,” he revealed. “We had sex the first night that we met, with another girl, and it was such a nice relationship that I kept them both over for a weekend.”
And yet, miraculously, Harris confirmed in June 2012 that they had reconciled and were back together . They married on New Year’s Eve that year , reportedly after signing an “ironclad prenup.” Ah, romance!
He viewed himself as a pioneer
In a 1992 interview with The New York Times , Hefner revealed that, out of all his accomplishments at the time, he was most proud of the way he “changed attitudes toward sex,” he said. “That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.”
After his death, CNN called him “a cultural icon” who “championed a more libertine view of sexuality that went against the puritanical elements of the times” and turned his brand “into a forum for sexual freedom and progressive politics, advocating for civil rights and free speech.”
“He waited till the world caught up with him,” said comedian Bill Baher (via CNN ) when Hefner received the Friars Club lifetime achievement award in 1998.
He’s buried next to Marilyn Monroe
According to TMZ, Hefner is buried in the crypt next to Marilyn Monroe’s at the Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles, Calif., which he purchased for $75,000 in 1992.
Monroe, of course, was featured on the cover of the very first issue of Playboy after Hefner
found an old nude photo of Monroe and purchased it for $500 .
“Jay Leno suggested that if I was going to spend that kind of money, I should actually be on top of her,” Hefner later said, according to the New York Daily News . “But to me there’s something rather poetic in the fact that we’ll be buried in the same place. And that cemetery also has other meanings and connections for me. Friends like Buddy Rich and Mel Torme are buried there. So is Dorothy Stratten.”
We’re not so sure his eternal resting spot is quite so poetic to Monroe, considering he
reportedly didn’t get her permission to her photo in his magazine.
He was investigated by the FBI
According to The Hollywood Reporter , the Federal Bureau of Investigations began investigating Hefner in 1972 after suspecting him of “covering up the use of illegal narcotics” in his Playboy Mansion. The FBI reportedly tried to get to Hefner through his secretary, Bobbie Arnstein, who committed suicide in 1975, after getting arrested on drug charges the year prior.
At the time of her suicide, Hefner accused the FBI of conducting a “a politically motivated anti‐Playboy witch hunt,” according to
The New York Times . Arnstein had been sentenced to 15 years, but was free pending an appeal when she died. In a letter found after her death, Arnstein called her former boss “a staunchly upright, rigorously moral man — and I know him well and he, has never been involved in the criminal activity which is being attributed to him now,” the Times reported.
The FBI never did get any solid dirt on Hef.
He blamed Peter Bogdanovich for his stroke
In 1985, Hugh Hefner was hit with another bout of bad luck when he suffered a mild stroke. He blamed the stroke on the 1984 book The Killing of the Unicorn by Peter Bogdanovich, which covered the murder of former Playmate Dorothy Stratten by her estranged husband.
“[My stroke] resulted from stress developed over the last year in reaction to the pathological book written by Peter Bogdanovich,” Hefner said in a statement, adding that his recovery was “total and something of a miracle.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bogdanovich scoffed at Hefner’s words. “Confronting Hugh Hefner with the reality of his life and in particular what he and his magazine do to women apparently is something he can’t face,” Bogdanovich said in his own statement to the
Chicago Tribune . “I’m sorry if making him face it had something to do with making him sick.”
“I feel a lot worse for the human cost paid by all the women who don’t issue press releases. It would be a real miracle if his life would change to benefit women,” he added.
He never wanted to grow up
Given the lavish lifestyle that he led, it should surprise no one that Hugh Hefner liked to live his life with a boyish heart.
“I’m never going to grow up,” he told CNN in 2009. “Staying young is what it is all about for me. Holding on to the boy and, um, long ago I decided that age really didn’t matter and as long as the ladies … feel the same way, that’s fine with me.”
He echoed similar sentiments in his 1992 interview with The New York Times . “I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world,” he said. “The boy in me who wanted to live a wonderful life and be famous like a movie star got his 15 minutes, which turned out to be 40 years. Like the Great Gatsby, my view of my life was very much as an adolescent boy. The child in me was always the best of who I am. I’ve never let go of that.”
Astronauts are heroes not just to millions of school children, but to millions of adults, too, many of whom grew up watching the first Moon walk, the evolution of the space shuttle, and Elon Musk’s explode-y things that he likes to call rocket ships. And as with all beloved occupations, there are rumors that become myths, myths that become legends, and a whole bunch of other things that people just make up because humans will believe almost anything.
The space program has been at the forefront of technological innovation for decades, so when you hear something about a fantastic new project or idea or discovery, it’s hard not to believe it at face value. And even some of the less fantastic ideas can seem plausible, because, you know, it’s NASA, and NASA has made some pretty implausible things actually happen. So the truth is we kind of all need a bit of a reality check when it comes to astronaut stuff because we wouldn’t be able to die as complete humans without knowing the truth about the whole pooping-in-space thing, and some other questions of significantly lesser importance.
Astronaut ice cream was a thing
So you know that horrible freeze-dried ice cream that you pretended was awesome because it was the ice cream of the astronauts, and if you let on to the world just how awful you actually thought it was, people might think you were unpatriotic or unsupportive of the space program or not astronaut material, or whatever other unspoken reason you might have had for pretending something that tastes horrible is actually delicious? Well great news, you can stop pretending now because astronaut ice cream was never a thing.
According to C-Net , the curator of the National Air and Space Museum says that so-called astronaut ice cream never actually went to space. The company that manufactures it just told us that it did, probably because that was the only way they could convince anyone to eat the stuff. And we know this is true because Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham said it was. “They don’t know their ass, obviously,”
Cunningham told Vox. “We never had any of that.” We’re not actually sure which “theys” don’t know their own collective asses, but we’ll definitely take his word for it.
You need serious qualifications to become an astronaut
Hollywood has told us in no uncertain terms that you have to have the right stuff to become an astronaut. An advanced university degree, 20/20 vision, a mind like a steel trap, and guts like the bear who chewed his own leg off to get out of the steel trap — these are the prerequisites for allowing NASA to put you in a tiny capsule atop more than a half million gallons of highly combustible fuel and then send you hurtling into space where let’s face it, you may or may not die.
But according to NASA, you don’t need to be uber-qualified to become an astronaut anymore. If you have a bachelor’s degree and some relevant experience in a field like engineering, physical science, mathematics, or biological science and you can pass the physical, you can become an astronaut. If you don’t have 20/20 vision that’s okay, just as long as you have it surgically corrected. There’s also no age restriction, no military experience required, and you don’t have to be a pilot.
Now, it’s not that we think NASA is maybe getting a little desperate to recruit new astronauts — surely there’s no shortage of people who want to leave the comfort and security of Earth in a high-powered, potentially explosive vehicle. But doesn’t it seem a little strange that the minimum qualifications are actually less than what you need to teach biology at your local community college? Just saying.
Where did we put the Earth again?
Now that NASA has put a man on the moon, it seems logical that a manned visit to our closest planetary neighbor would be next on our to-do list. That’s what Elon Musk has been fussing about for all these years, and he’s a billionaire so he must be an expert. But
LiveScience says there’s one small problem with that plan that no one has really done a good job of addressing — on a long voyage to Mars, astronauts’ brains would fry like eggs on a hot sidewalk.
In 2016, President Obama wrote that one of America’s goals should be “sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth,” which is a line he probably stole from Kennedy except he just replaced “Moon” with “Mars.” But anyway, going to Mars is the dream of all the Elon Musk and Matt Damon fans in America, and most people think it’s a given that it will one day happen. But then there’s the whole “Space Brain” thing. It sounds kind of cute, like “senior moment” or “momnesia,” but it actually refers to the significant and permanent brain damage caused by long-term exposure to solar and cosmic radiation. In other words, astronauts might make it to Mars, but they’re likely to end up with an astronaut version of dementia, so they’d probably forget how to get home again. Tin foil hats, maybe?
Everyone wants to believe the USA was the first country to send earthlings to the Moon, except for people who don’t live in the U.S. because non-Americans mostly don’t give a crap one way or another. So it may or may not pain you to hear that America was not, in fact, the first nation to send earthlings to the moon. That honor belongs to the Soviet Union.
Now you’ll notice that we said “earthlings,” which is a category that includes humans but is not exclusively human. According to NASA , the first beings to travel to the Moon were actually turtles. Well, turtles, wine flies, mealworms, bacteria, plants, and seeds, but let’s face it we only really care about the turtles. And the turtles didn’t land on the Moon or anything, they just went there, flew around it, and returned to Earth.
The turtles were in remarkably good health after their journey, having lost only about 10 percent of their body weight with no loss of appetite or vigor. They were probably dissected afterward, but at least they had a nice trip. And after that happened, America went “Crap, we really can’t let the Soviet Union send people to the Moon, too,” so at the very least those space turtles made the ultimate sacrifice so we could stick it to the Russians. Because you know, one-upmanship is the mother of invention.
NASA has solved for space poop
The number one question people ask astronauts is not “What is it like to be weightless?” or “How does it feel to look down on our planet from 200 miles above the Earth?” Nope, Americans are way classier than that. One of the most common questions about life in space is this one: “How do you go?”
One story that did not make the history books alongside “one small step for a man” and that line Obama totally stole from Kennedy is the one about the floating turd inside the Apollo 10 command module, which astronauts had to contain with a napkin. Yes, space waste has always been a challenge for NASA, and after more than 50 years of space travel they haven’t completely solved the problem. According to Space.com , modern space toilets require astronauts to use a camera to strategically line their butts up with a suction device, and if they’re just a little off they might actually wreck a $19 million toilet. But there’s hope for the future — some scientists think space poop might help solve the space brain problem. Would you like to hear the most brilliant idea of all time? Lining the walls of Mars-bound spacecraft with astronaut poop, which will help shield its occupants from cosmic radiation. Also, it will guarantee that hostile aliens won’t come within two or three light-years of a human spacecraft, so really the awesomeness of this idea just cannot be overstated.
Space is perfectly safe
If you forget for a moment about space brain and escaping astronaut poop, there’s some evidence that being in space for extended periods of is bad for you in other ways. According to Science Alert, your 20/20 eyesight (whether naturally or via laser surgery with that lid speculum thing wrenching your eyelids open) might actually vanish after long periods of time in space. Up to 80 percent of all astronauts — who have to have 20/20 vision when they leave Earth — will come back from space nearsighted.
One theory says that when you’re on Earth, the water in your body is affected by gravity, but when you’re in space it rises to the top of your body, which also happens to be where the important things like your brain and your eyeballs are. As many as 2 liters of fluid end up in your head, and all that fluid pushes on the backs of your eyeballs, which can permanently mess up your vision.
Oh and you might also wind up a couple inches taller (at least temporarily), so if you look good in glasses and you’re sick of not being able to see over the backs of people’s heads at the movies, then a career as an astronaut might be for you — just so long as you don’t mind the muscle loss. And the whole camera-assisted pooping thing.
The Great Wall of Lies
The myth that you can see the Great Wall of China from space is one of the more stubborn cosmic untruths.
According to The Register, first there was the often-repeated claim that astronauts could see the Great Wall of China from the surface of the Moon, which is more than 200,000 miles from Earth . “Definitely not,” Neil Armstrong said so many times that he was probably almost as sick of talking about it as he was sick of answering questions about space toilets.
It’s not really visible from orbit, either. Astronaut William Pogue, who incidentally wrote a book called How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space , said he could see the Great Wall from Skylab (300 miles above the Earth) with binoculars, but that really doesn’t count. Space Shuttle astronauts, who were 180 miles above the Earth, said the Great Wall was “almost invisible” because it is only 20 feet wide and is just about the same color as the natural materials surrounding it. So while it does seem rather whimsical to imagine that a structure that embodied technology and human achievement 500 years ago can be seen from a structure that embodies technology and human achievement today, it’s just not true. In fact most man-made objects that are “visible from space” are really only visible with some optical assistance, unless you count entire cities at night. That’s not quite as whimsical as The Great Wall of China, but we’ll take it.
The million dollar space pen
If you were a space-loving kid in the ’70s, you not only got blocks of disgusting freeze-dried ice cream in your Christmas stocking, you probably also got a space pen, which was extra super cool because NASA spent millions of dollars developing it and you could use it to write upside-down. Almost no one on Earth has ever had to do that, but that’s not the point.
It’s also not true that NASA spent millions of dollars to develop the space pen. In fact NASA says it didn’t spend any money at all — rather, a guy named Paul C. Fisher spent $1 million of his own money to design a pen that would work in zero gravity, underwater, and at temperatures between -50° F and 400° F because humans often like to crawl into their ovens and write poetry while the cornbread is baking.
At first astronauts used mechanical pencils, but the problem with pencils is that lead breaks , and little pieces of pencil lead flying around in zero gravity is bad for the equipment, and it’s also bad for the equipment when astronauts throw their pencils because the stupid lead keeps breaking. So in 1967, NASA agreed to buy 400 of Paul Fisher’s pens for $6 each, which meant Fisher had to sell $997,600 worth of space pens before he could break even, hence the stupid things ending up in your Christmas stocking along with that disgusting astronaut ice cream.
These boots were made for Moon walking
One of the silliest astronaut myths is the one that has astronauts floating off the surface of the Moon but for their super-heavy space boots. The source of this myth seems to be some confusion about gravity, or the lack thereof in outer space — astronauts float around in the space station, so there’s no gravity in space. Which means astronauts had to wear heavy boots in order to not float around when they were on the Moon.
So that’s ridiculous on a couple of levels, the first being this one: If the Moon had no gravity, it really wouldn’t matter how heavy your boots were, you’d still float away. And second, floating in the air is not like floating in water — extra weight doesn’t make you sink. And third, that’s just dumb.
According to physicist Stephanie Chasteen , people get this wrong because they use their own world experiences to make assumptions about why things happen the way they do in space. Most of us are familiar with the concept of buoyancy — if light things float in water and heavy things sink, then floating in space must be governed by similar forces. In fact, what is true is that the Moon does have gravity, it’s just not as powerful as the Earth’s gravity. So the astronauts didn’t float away because they were held to the surface by gravity, and it had nothing to do with their footwear.
Bodies in space
When you were a kid, space was all about heroism and patriotism and Tang — no one ever told you about the mortal peril. That’s because space disasters are only supposed to happen to Sandra Bullock and Matt Damon, not to real-life astronauts.
But when you stop to think about it, which you should never do, but if you did, you’d probably realize just how stupidly dangerous the whole space travel thing actually is. If modern technology can’t even figure out how to build an explosion-proof cellphone battery, how could it possibly figure out how to build an explosion-proof rocket? And now that you’re thinking about that, you’re probably also thinking about all the astronauts who went into space and never came back. Hence all the rumors about human corpses still floating around out there somewhere.
It’s a horrible thought, but it simply isn’t true. According to Space.com , humans have died in space only one time in the history of manned space travel. (This doesn’t count the astronauts on space shuttles that exploded during liftoff because they technically weren’t in space.) In 1971, three homeward-bound Russian cosmonauts somehow managed to make a “textbook-perfect” landing even though they were all dead. Evidently the trio died after a ventilation valve ruptured, which exposed them to the vacuum of space. But thanks to the automatic re-entry program, their bodies arrived home intact and space is still blissfully free of floating human corpses.
So let’s say you’re aboard the Apollo spacecraft and a floating turd is headed your way. Do you chase it around with a napkin, or do you hide under a chair until one of your fellow astronauts catches it with a napkin, or do you just throw your hands up and swallow your suicide pill? It’s certainly one of the most important questions of our time, but it has one fundamental flaw — astronauts do not carry and never have carried suicide pills. So escape from the floating turd will not be forthcoming.
According to RealClear Science , this rumor was probably perpetuated by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, who is mostly famous for saying the words “billions and billions” over and over again but also liked to insist that astronauts have cyanide pills on hand, just in case. Astronauts beg to differ. “I never heard of such a thing in the eleven years I spent as an astronaut and NASA executive,” countered Jim Lovell in 1975. In fact, a funny thing about that — if you’re going to commit suicide anyway, you might as well just expose yourself to the vacuum of space, which contrary to popular belief does not actually suck your eyeballs out of your head but rapidly puts you into a “blissful” state of unconsciousness and then kills you within a couple of minutes. Cyanide, on the other hand, is less pleasant and takes twice as long, so it’s really a no-brainer.
The Grateful Dead was one of the most popular jam bands of the late 20th century. While they never quite reached the stratospheric levels of fame of other insanely popular rock acts like the Rolling Stones, it never really mattered.
Their devoted legions of “Deadhead” fans kept them on the road for decades, and countless T-shirts, stickers, posters, and other ephemera made the band widely successful from a financial standpoint. The band’s iconic lightning bolt skull logo and multicolored dancing bears have forever entrenched themselves in rock history and countless dorm room walls. The Grateful Dead has even spawned Funko dolls, onesies, and “Cherry Garcia” — Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tribute to the band’s late, great frontman Jerry Garcia that’s become one of its most popular flavors.
But the Grateful Dead’s transformation from Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, a fairly obscure band based in Palo Alto, California, in the early ’60s, to one of the most beloved touring acts in the world was definitely a “long, strange trip.” It was also one beset by a series of unfortunate incidents, controversies, and the tragic deaths of several of its key members.
Jerry Garcia had a difficult childhood
The Grateful Dead’s music has often been described as “mellow,” but front man Jerry Garcia’s earlier years were the exact opposite. During a family vacation when Garcia was 5 years old, he decided to help his older brother chop wood. He was holding a piece of wood when the ax severed a large chunk of the middle finger on his right hand.
Years later, though, the injury allegedly improved his ability to play the guitar and he often showed off the
damaged digit to his fans as a sort of salute. A fan also tried to sell the alleged finger on Craigslist to attend a 2015 reunion show, but it was quickly ruled a hoax by Ultimate Classic Rock (and everyone else who came across it, no doubt).
That winter, Garcia’s father tragically drowned during a fishing trip, and he and his brother were sent to live with their maternal grandparents for the next five years. Eager to see the world, he decided to enlist in the Army at the age of 17 in April 1960. It didn’t pan out. Garcia made it all the way through basic training at Fort Ord in California, but he was given the boot that December. According to his official website , it was due to his “lack of suitability to the military lifestyle.”
One of the band’s first drummers was a holy man who stole from them
Like many other rock bands, managers caused the Grateful Dead plenty of headaches over the years. Lenny Hart was arguably the most aggravating of them all. His son Mickey played in the band in the late ’60s, eventually becoming their longtime percussionist.
By all accounts, Hart was a weird guy. He had a side gig as a preacher and often insisted that people call him “reverend.” He also served as the Dead’s manager, which wound up being a mistake. According to Rolling Stone, Hart filled the role for around a year and a half between 1968 and 1969. During that time, he embezzled something like $150,000 and hid it in a series of bank accounts and shell companies scattered across California. Then he disappeared with all the cash during a trip to Los Angeles with Garcia.
A warrant was put out for Hart’s arrest, and the law finally caught up with him in 1971. According to a
Rolling Stone clipping from the Grateful Dead’s official archives, he was found “baptizing Jesus freaks” in San Diego. They managed to get back $63,000 of the lost cash, and Hart died of natural causes in 1975. The incident also inspired “He’s Gone,” a tune about the not-so good reverend’s wicked ways .
Busted down in New Orleans … and a few other places
The Grateful Dead had a fair number of run-ins with the law back in the ’60s and ’70s. They lived in a boarding house in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district during the fabled Summer of Love in 1967, as drummer Bill Kreutzmann recalled in a 2015 article for the San Francisco Chronicle . That era in the band’s history was riddled with countless incidents, both delightful and madcapped. Merry Prankster Ken Kesey had to crash his psychedelic bus after the brakes gave out, and he chose a chapter of the Hells Angels as his landing pad.
Guitarist Bob Weir landed in hot water with the police for tossing water balloons off the roof, but things took an uglier turn when the house was raided that October. Local narcotic officers found a pound of marijuana and hash inside. The incident landed on the cover of The Chronicle and both Weir and founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan were arrested.
A few years later, the band ran into trouble in New Orleans during a drug raid that, according to Ultimate Classic Rock, didn’t really surprise anyone. Garcia received a tip that the police were en route. Nineteen members of the band’s touring party were arrested and the incident was immortalized in the song “Truckin’.” Garcia was nabbed again for drug possession during a traffic stop in New Jersey in 1973.
By the time they got to Woodstock, they’d smoked half a million bongs
The 1969 Woodstock festival is known for a series of iconic performances that have stood the test of time. The Grateful Dead’s set wasn’t one of them. One of the reasons is the band was incredibly high by the time they took the stage. But their love of intoxicants was only the first in a series of mishaps that led to them playing lousy.
As noted on Woodstock Story , a website devoted to recounting all the festival’s various incarnations over the decades, the 1969 event’s infamous rainstorms had turned the stage into a literal deathtrap around the time the Dead were originally scheduled to perform on its second night. They were finally given the “all-clear” around 10:30 p.m. after a delay of several hours and being assured by the stage crew they wouldn’t be electrocuted.
By then, they were pretty far gone on LSD (and who knows what else), according to John Fogerty, the former Creedence Clearwater Revival front man who recalled the incident during an interview in 2015. Recordings of the set reveal long breaks between the band’s songs, lots of drug-fueled banter, and overall confusion that led to a sloppy, 50-minute performance of a single song. The Dead managed to get through five tracks before their amps overloaded during “Turn on Your Love Light” and they finally called it quits for the night.
Pigpen goes on to the great gig in the sky
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was the first member of the Grateful Dead to pass away. During the band’s early days, he was considered its heart and soul. McKernan was the first of the Dead’s founding members to suggest they form a band, and his life-long infatuation with rhythm and blues fueled their early tunes. As for his
nickname, which was inspired by the messy Peanuts character, it was due to his “funky approach to life and sanitation,” according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
While the rest of the players explored their inner consciousnesses with the help of LSD in the late ’60s, McKernan opted to stick with alcohol — lots and lots of it. As the band’s sound took a psychedelic turn, his role was continually reduced. Meanwhile, his alcoholism increased and his doctor told him to stop touring with the Dead in 1970 to fight his addiction.
McKernan returned to the band in late 1971 and managed to stick around through their 1972 European tour. Then his health took a turn for the worse. His final appearance with the Dead was during their performance at the Hollywood Bowl in June 1972. A year later, at just 27, he tragically died of internal hemorrhaging and his landlady discovered his corpse in his apartment in Corte Madera, California. He’d been dead for two days, according to Rolling Stone.
They never quite hit it big
The Grateful Dead were undeniably popular, but they never enjoyed what you might call “mainstream success.” The closest thing they ever came to a chart-topper was “Touch of Grey,” a track they recorded in the mid-1980s. It made it as far as No. 9 on the Billboard charts. “Truckin,” their second most successful song, only got as far as No. 64. The next two in line: “Uncle John’s Band” (No. 69) followed by “Sugar Magnolia” at a lowly No. 91.
Rock radio was never too kind to them, either. These songs received fairly steady airtime following their releases, according to Billboard , but there was about a 16-year gap between 1972 and 1987 when the Dead’s music was largely ignored on both the AM and FM dials.
Their albums didn’t fare much better. The only one to make into the Top 10 on Billboard’s album charts was the one that featured “Touch of Grey,” 1987’s In the Dark. It hit No. 6. However, in 2017, two of the Dead’s live albums debuted at No. 10 and No. 15 respectively.
The powers-that-be at the Grammy Awards were never big fans, either, but the Dead won an honorary Hall of Fame Award in 1999 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Not that any of this had a huge impact on their overall record sales. As of 2014, they’d sold over 35 million of them, according to the New York Times .
The troubled times of Donna Jean Godchaux and her husband Keith
Keyboardist Keith Godchaux joined the band with his wife, singer Donna Jean Godchaux, in late 1971 following a fortuitous encounter with Garcia at San Francisco’s Keystone Club. Donna Jean had served as a studio vocalist prior to that and had performed with the likes of Elvis Presley, Dionne Warwick, and Neil Diamond.
Godchaux was sometimes chided for her off-key vocals during her shows with the Grateful Dead, which she later blamed on inebriation and poor stage acoustics many years later in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone. She and Keith fared much better during the band’s studio sessions. They can be heard on Wake of the Flood and Terrapin Station, three of their most popular ’70s albums.
But their time with the band took a nasty turn toward the end of the decade. The couple began bickering heavily as lots of touring and drug use took their toll. As she told Rolling Stone : “Keith and I, we were wasted. We were exhausted. And the band was exhausted with us.” There were allegations of marital abuse as Keith’s drug use increased, and they were both booted in 1979.
The couple managed to quickly bounce back. They formed a new act called the Heart of Gold Band and even managed to cut a record. Despite their reversal of fortune, Keith tragically died in a car accident on July 23, 1980.
Jerry Garcia fell into a coma and forgot how to play guitar
Garcia struggled with three heavy addictions throughout his adult life: smoking, drugs, and overeating. This destructive trio began to get the better of him in the mid-’80s. In July 1986, an abscessed tooth resulted in an infection. Normally, this wouldn’t pose a huge health risk, but Garcia waited to have it treated and it later caused him to fall into a diabetic coma, according to the LA Times.
As recounted on his official website, Garcia was in the coma for five days. When he regained consciousness, he’d lost the ability to play the guitar. Relearning all of his old songs and solos definitely took some time, but one of his longtime collaborators, keyboardist Merl Saunders, was willing to step in and coach him. Saunders helped him regain not only his musical skills, but his strength and confidence as well. With Saunders’ help, Garcia slowly but steadily recovered. Amazingly enough, the band was back to performing live by December 15, 1986, five months after he emerged from the coma.
And then another keyboardist died
After keyboardist Keith Godchaux departed in 1979, the rather impressively bearded Brent Mydland joined the Grateful Dead. Prior to that, he’d done time in Bob Weir’s solo band and had recorded an album with Silver, a country-rock band based in Los Angeles.
Mydland proved to be an asset throughout the ’80s, and not just for his skills on the keys. He was also a deft songwriter and wrote several tunes for the Dead throughout the decade that appeared on their studio albums. He penned a large portion of what would become their final studio effort, 1990’s Go to Heaven, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. Mydland also managed to perform in several other bands throughout the ’80s including Go Ahead, a short-lived side project with members of Santana.
He returned to his home in Lafayette, California, in July 1990 following the completion of the band’s summer tour. He died there at the all-too-young age of 37, according to the New York Times . The culprit: a lethal dose of heroin and speed, making him the third member of the band to die following a series of personal struggles with alcohol and drugs.
And then Jerry Garcia himself died
After surviving his diabetic coma in 1986, Garcia seemed like he was on the road to recovery and ready to finally kick his old bad habits. Back in the ’60s, his regular usage of LSD earned him the nickname “Captain Trips” and he later developed a nasty heroin habit.
All of that was reportedly behind him as he welcomed a newborn baby daughter, his fourth and youngest child, in December of 1987. He even took up scuba diving in the late ’80s as part of an apparent commitment to clean living. Then, according to his official website , he fell ill in August 1992 due to exhaustion, forcing the band to cancel an upcoming fall tour.
As the New York Times explained, his struggles to lose weight and finally quit smoking continued in the years that followed. After ongoing battles with his various addictions, Garcia checked into Serenity Knolls, a drug treatment facility in Forest Knolls, California. He never checked out and sadly died a little over a week after his 53rd birthday while in his sleep on August 9, 1995.
They got criticized for a rainbow and their final concerts, too
Surviving members of the band gathered for a series of farewell concerts in 2015 that were dubbed “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead.” While they did only five shows in Chicago and Santa Clara, the band made over $52 million in revenue … and a few waves in the process.
The concerts were legendary, some people said, for either their guest appearances, which included Phish’s Trey Anastasio and singer/pianist Bruce Hornsby, and the high ticket prices. According to Time , many tickets, initially priced between a fairly reasonable $60 and $200, were quickly snatched up by scalpers. Some tried to sell them online for thousands, with one ambitious seller asking an astronomical $116,000 for a three-day pass. In the days leading up to the shows, however, the prices for tickets on the secondary market dropped dramatically.
By then, though, bad press and ill-tempered fans had roundly criticized the shows. Rolling Stone went so far to call the whole shebang a “50th anniversary hullabaloo [that] has been a rock & roll cash grab to rival any that have come before, on every level.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, Billboard and others even managed to critique a rainbow that majestically appeared over the crowd during the first show in Santa Clara. A rumor went around claiming that it was simulated and had cost $50,000 to slap up in the sky during a 17-minute version of “Viola Lee Blues.” We may never know.
Human beings are an ever-evolving species. Once, we carried spears and created fantastic works of art on the walls of French caves. Today, we carry smartphones and trip over things because we don’t ever look where we’re going. Yes, the human species gets better and better all the time.
Since the Industrial Revolution, things have changed at such a blindingly fast pace that we sometimes forget just how weird the world used to be. (Because it’s not at all weird anymore, right?) Things that were once commonplace seem strange or even bizarre today, although it’s probably also true that humans who lived 100 years ago would think the things we do are pretty strange and bizarre. Sadly, we don’t have any way to actually show an early 20th-century person a YouTube video of someone eating a Tide Pod. But we can at least enjoy our own bemusement at the strange and bizarre habits of our recent ancestors, mostly because it’s okay to make fun of people who have been dead for decades.
It was a hard knock life
What would literature be without the lowly orphan, consigned to a sad life of scrubbing floors with toothbrushes and sharing a bedroom with 25 similarly unfortunate children, only to be occasionally saved by kindly millionaires and giants who are bad at pronouncing things? Orphanages are so ubiquitous in children’s stories that sometimes kids grow up surprised that they aren’t really a thing anymore, at least not in the Little Orphan Annie sense of the word.
The first American orphanage was established in 1729, after a massacre took out most of the adults in a Mississippi settlement. Before that, kids who lost their parents went to live with relatives, were apprenticed to tradesmen, or ended up begging on city streets.
According to Virginia Commonwealth University , the American practice of stuffing kids into orphanages (even though many of them weren’t even orphans, but the children of poor, single mothers) didn’t really start to come into question until the 1920s, when most states implemented “mother’s pensions.” That gave poor mothers the financial ability to care for their own children rather than placing them in institutionalized care. Orphanages started to phase out in the early 20th century, although they do still exist in another form — today they’re called ” group homes.” You won’t find kids dressed in rags with shaved heads scrubbing the floors with toothbrushes in any of these modern facilities, though, and probably not too many kindly millionaires or inarticulate giants, either. Annie ( 1999 ) – ” It’s the Hard -Knock Life ”
The world’s creepiest family photos
Imagine a world in which you can’t just whip out your smartphone every time your kid does something adorable. Up until the early 20th century , cameras were only available to wealthy families and then later, with the advent of the Kodak Brownie, to the middle class. People in lower classes didn’t have photographs of their loved ones, which meant when someone died suddenly there probably wasn’t any pictorial evidence of that person’s existence. So the bereaved would go “Crap, better get that portrait done,” and hire a photographer. And because most families didn’t want a photograph of a dead person who actually looks dead, the photographer would do his best to make that person look as lifelike as possible. Sometimes the effort was successful; other times it was just downright creepy.
Photographers had all kinds of tricks, like propping the person into a standing position with specially designed support systems, or painting eyes or rosy cheeks onto the photograph. Some families didn’t even bother to pretend — images of the deceased lying in coffins were common, too.
The practice of post-mortem photography persisted until the mid-20th century, when New York History says standards of living started to improve and it became a lot less common for people to die suddenly, before they could be remembered in a photograph. And not long after that we started to think that photographing a corpse outside a crime scene was kind of weird, so you know, better times. m Photography of the Victorian Era | History
Homes for disobedient wives and other crazy people
Today insane asylums mostly exist as ruined buildings that no one wants to turn into something practical, maybe because of the whole terrifyingly haunted thing that always happens to ruined buildings that once kept people imprisoned in a life of filth and horror. On the flipside, former insane asylums now enjoy high status as places of pilgrimage for photographers, so there’s that.
America mostly stopped putting people into insane asylums around the same time it stopped putting little kids into orphanages, so hooray for progress. According to the American Psychological Association , though, In the early 20th century mentally ill people were sort of universally assumed to be dangerous, so if you were verifiably “insane” (you know, like if you were a woman and you thought maybe your husband didn’t know everything), you were sent to the insane asylum where you got to live out the remainder of your days in deplorable conditions because it was way easier than divorce.
Not everyone who went to an insane asylum was a woman whose husband couldn’t be bothered to divorce her — some genuinely mentally ill people were placed there, too, but the places were really more like holes to die in than places where the mentally ill could be rehabilitated and returned to their families. Happily, that started to change with the advent of psychotherapy and with just the general realization that it’s not nice to put people in insane asylums.
Because all the wars weren’t violent enough
Let’s just be clear up front — some really messed up people still like bloodsports. Dog fighting, cock fighting, bull fighting, and fox hunting are still practiced by people who like to say they’re upholding a long and glorious tradition but are really just sadistic creeps.
That said, most of us would find it strange to see bloodsports in public places because they’ve been mostly outlawed and also because the vast majority of people don’t enjoy watching animals rip each other to pieces. So modern connoisseurs have their bloodsport parties in hiding so actual humans won’t find out who they are and where they live.
A century ago, though, bloodsports were still totally cool. Now, by then enthusiasts were at least civilized enough to no longer practice “goose pulling” or “fox tossing” anymore, and mainly just stuck with less elaborate and horrible ways of killing animals for the amusement of sadistic people. We probably don’t have to describe these sports, really, other than to say that cockfighting roosters usually had razor blades taped to their feet , and foxes usually got dismembered by hounds at the end of the hunt.
Now no one will argue that people like to watch violence, but someone really ought to tell bloodsports fans that HBO violence is just as good, and anyone who doesn’t think so has clearly never experienced the joy of watching Jon Snow beat the crap out of Ramsay Bolton.
Right or wrong, we live in a world where baby girls wear pink and baby boys wear blue because the consequences of being called a boy when you are really a girl or a girl when you are really a boy are just too horrible to comprehend, or something.
A hundred years ago that seems to have mattered a lot less, which is kind of surprising given how uptight people were in the early 20th century compared to the way we are now. It was common, and maybe even fashionable for boys to wear dresses, sometimes up to around the age of 8.
Why, oh why, would people willingly do this to their little boys? According to The Vintage News , no one thought it was weird. And it served a practical purpose — when you’re potty training, it’s just easier if you’re always wearing a dress. Back in the Renaissance this actually made a lot of sense because the fastenings on mens’ breeches and trousers were ridiculously complicated, way too complicated for most kids to figure out.
By the late 20th century, people mostly just put boys in dresses because that’s what you did. After World War I, the practice seems to have mostly died out, but people still put baby boys in dresses for a few decades after that, though you’ll rarely see any photographic evidence, perhaps because men who wore dresses as babies put those pictures in the fire when no one was looking. Practice: When Boys Used to Wear Dresses
When tanks had hooves
The idea of soldiers riding into battle almost seems quaint in our modern world of tanks and Humvees, but 100 years ago, the cavalry was still alive and well. In fact during World War I the cavalry was still used for reconnaissance and security by the British , French, and Germans. In the East it was used rather more traditionally — Russia alone executed at least 400 cavalry charges on the Eastern Front. But cavalry charges were less effective in the West, and as technology started to produce more reliable tanks and other mechanized vehicles, the cavalry was phased out.
Then something happened that no one really expected — the U.S. ended up in Afghanistan and discovered there are some places you just can’t take a tank.
According to USA Today, the U.S. Marine Corps is bringing back mounted warfare — not for cavalry charges but for special forces, who often need to move quietly through difficult terrain, which is next to impossible with Humvees.
Not to be deterred, the Pentagon is sinking $62 million into designing a robotic mule, so if you ever needed an example of overspending in the U.S. military, there it is. Imagine how many actual mules $62 million could buy. Of course, if you’re planning on being in Afghanistan for another century, maybe the cost balances out. Maybe they should put that question to a bunch of kindergarteners before they decide to commit actual money to the robot cavalry.
When ugly was illegal
This sounds like the plot of post-apocalyptic fiction but sadly, it’s actually pre-apocalyptic non-fiction. One hundred years ago, in many big cities in the United States, it was illegal to be ugly.
Let’s take Chicago as an example. According to the
Chicago Tribune , in 1881, Alderman James Peevey decided he’d had enough of the eyeball-assaulting horrors of other people’s misfortune, so he introduced an ordinance to ban people who were “diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed, so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object” from the streets of Chicago, where they might make people uncomfortable. If you were deemed too ugly to be in public, you had to pay a fine of $1 to $50 (which was a decent sum in those days) or go to the poorhouse, which was kind of like an insane asylum for poor people.
After World War I, when veterans returned home with missing limbs and other disfiguring battle scars, public opinion toward the disabled started to change, but ugly laws remained on the books and their enforcement continued up until the 1950s. Chicago’s ugly law wasn’t officially dropped until 1974.
Now we’d love to say we’re way more enlightened today but fat-shaming is still a thing, so collective enlightenment is perhaps still forthcoming. But at least fat-shaming isn’t written into law.
Trick or turkey
Before there was Halloween there was Thanksgiving. No, really. People used to dress up in costumes, run around the city streets making noise, and go to costume parties. On Thanksgiving.
According to NPR , the tradition was so well loved that in 1897 the LA Times reported that Thanksgiving was “the busiest time of the year for manufacturers of and dealers in masks and false faces.” And if that isn’t enough to make your head spin, costumed kids would also march in troops around their neighborhoods and ask adults “Anything for Thanksgiving?” And then the adults would give them candy. Oh-kay.
The custom bothered a lot of people. In fact, New York’s school superintendent, who was almost certainly related to the guy who came up with the whole ugly law thing, complained that the tradition seemed designed to mostly just “annoy adults” and was incompatible with “modernity.” Anyway, it might surprise you to hear that this particular Thanksgiving tradition is sort of still around, only now you mostly only see elaborate Thanksgiving costumes in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Kids really didn’t want to give up the whole candy-getting thing, though, and by the 1930s the practice of going door to door in search of treats became a Halloween tradition, although it was mostly an organized event meant to curtail Halloween vandalism and violence — hence the expression “trick or treat.” ful , and Forgotten Tradition of Thanksgiving.
When cigarettes cured asthma
As it turns out, Doctor Oz wasn’t actually the first bona-fide doctor to give terrible medical advice — 100 years ago it was not only common for doctors to dismiss the risks of smoking, but sometimes they would also appear in tobacco advertising saying things like, cigarettes provide ” temporary relief of paroxysms of asthma .” Now these ads often featured very doctorly-looking faces and declared such nonsense as ” 20,679 physicians agree” that cigarettes are awesome and ” an eminent scientist writes” that cigarettes are no worse for you than a glass of water. However, the doctors and eminent scientists would usually remain conspicuously unnamed.
The reason cigarette companies did this is pretty insidious — by the early 20th century, most people were kind of catching on to the whole cigarettes-might-be-bad-for-you thing, which is what consumers will naturally will do when they notice that a product seems to be associated with people dying. What’s even sadder, of course, is that those doctor-endorsed cigarette ads persisted well into the ’60s, when the surgeon general finally said, “Hey, guess what, you’ve all been right all along, smoking is bad for you.” Well, duh.
Have you ever wondered how people got to work on time before smartphones? Well, once upon a time there were alarm clocks, which were these little devices that you put next to your bed that would wake you up with a horribly shrill noise that was mostly responsible for the subsequent invention the nine-minute snooze, followed by the invention of having to buy a new alarm clock because you threw yours across the room nine times too many.
Before alarm clocks were invented, people still had to get up in the morning. Some people practiced the art of “over-drinking ,” or drinking so much water before bed that you’d wake up early because you had to pee. Ingenious, really.
There were also other more precise methods of making sure you got up in the morning, just in case your bladder wasn’t terribly reliable. According to the BBC, in the U.K. and Ireland there was actually a profession called “knocker upper,” which does not describe the sort of work that your modern gutter-mind thinks it describes.
A knocker upper was a person who went around the neighborhood with a long stick tapping on people’s windows, and then presumably had to duck to avoid all the bricks thrown by people who just wanted nine more minutes. Oddly the practice didn’t completely die out until the 1970s, probably because a tap on the window was really a much nicer way to wake up than that awful shriek from your alarm clock. knocker upper footage and song
Early 20th-century PowerPoint
So before there were smartphones there were television sets, and before there were television sets there were movie screens, and before that cavemen just stared at their own reflections in still ponds because human beings absolutely must have screens to stare at or there’s no way they could possibly get on with the business of survival.
In between all of that somewhere was the “magic lantern show,” which was an early form of screen
entertainment that preceded the movie theater by a couple hundred years and persisted well into the 20th century. According to the Boston Globe, the technology was simple — an artist would paint an image on a piece of glass, and then the image would be projected onto a screen, much like a PowerPoint presentation except it was meant to not actually put entire audiences to sleep. In later years magic lantern shows were most popular with secret societies — in one estimate the Masons alone had monthly magic lantern audiences of around 6 million people.
Unsurprisingly, as movies got more popular, magic lantern shows got less popular, until one day people finally said to themselves, “Why am I falling asleep in these boring magic lantern theaters when I can fall asleep in a movie theater instead?” And then magic lantern shows went the way of the Palm Pilot, leaving us all to hope that PowerPoint presentations will one day follow. agic Lantern Show at the Foundling Museum
Every actor has their time. No matter how brightly they burned during their lifetimes, each star will one day get that awkward call when their agent says “Sorry, famous human, but you’re simply too darn old, or too darn bald (or, in the case of present-day Billy Zane, too darn old
and bald) to play a believable third grader these days.” Just ask any forgotten heartthrob of yesteryear, or any female actor who made the foolish career decision to continue aging past 35. Hollywood’s a tough, tough industry for the non-eternally-youthful and/or the follically challenged.
At least, that’s usually the case. But sometimes, an actor comes along who is so well known, so in demand, or just so in possession of a good agent, that they continue to play the young buck even when their prime is just a distant speck in the rearview mirror. While such roles are probably good for the actors’ wallets, they’re less good for audiences who don’t want to spend the entire movie cringing in embarrassment.
Steve McQueen’s 27-year-old teenager (The Blob)
1958 sci-fi horror The Blob posed an important philosophical question: What if a giant red blob invaded Earth, and the only thing that could stop it was Steve McQueen with a fire extinguisher? An innovative B-movie, The Blob stood out from the pack of other 1950s alien invader films by showing a monster that, for once, wasn’t just some hopeless extra in a hopeless rubber mask. But it wasn’t just innovative in its monster choices. Its casting was also notably offbeat. When tasked with picking the actor who would play teenager Steve Andrews, the producers plumped for 27-year-old Steve McQueen (via Den of Geek ).
At the time, Steve McQueen wasn’t yet a Hollywood legend, so you might be thinking this was a young, fresh-faced Steve McQueen who could convincingly look 18. Not so. Take a peek at The Blob’s trailer, and it’s clear you’re watching Mr. The Great Escape himself smoldering his way through a film he’s clearly too old for. Pre-fame Steve McQueen has the same intense gaze, same powerful square jaw, and same manly sex appeal as post-fame Steve McQueen, which is roughly a billion times more manly sex appeal than any actual 18-year-old living in 1950s Pittsburgh. As such, it can feel like you’re watching two movies at once. One is about a rampaging killer blob, and the other is about a fully grown man trying to sneak undetected into a local high school. Hard to say which is creepier.
Colin Farrell’s Alexander is the same age as his mother (Alexander)
Alexander the Great was just 16 when he claimed his first major military victory, and barely 20 when he took the throne and embarked on his campaigns of conquest (via History). That’s young, but probably not young enough to cast a 29-year-old actor as Alexander’s mother in the biopic of his life. Yet that’s exactly what Oliver Stone did in 2004 when he handed the role of Olympias to Angelina Jolie. This might have just about worked if he had then cast a charismatic 18-year-old as Alexander, but that’s not what he did. He cast Colin Farrell, then 28.
Yup. Alexander was played by a guy one year younger than the woman playing his mother.
As this old review attests, even back in the heady days of 2004, people thought this was some screwy casting. While Farrell was certainly young looking, he wasn’t as youthful as all that, and Jolie was hardly a shriveled old crone. (In his review, Roger Ebert complained she seemed too “young and sexy” for Olympias.) Had they been brother and sister, or even nephew and aunt, it could have worked. As son and mother, though, they were as believable as any 28-year-old man posing as a 29-year-old woman’s son can be (in other words, not at all). Luckily for Oliver Stone, his film was such a gripping masterpiece that no one questioned the casting … heh, no, it was awful.
Charles Bronson’s geriatric vigilante (Death Wish V)
Do you sometimes feel like action heroes are getting older? You’re lucky you weren’t binge-watching revenge flicks in the early 1990s. That was the era when Charles Bronson was slogging his way through the back end of the ultra-violent Death Wish catalog, still gunning down street trash and routinely seeing his loved ones murdered even as the social paranoia of the ’70s gave way to the techno-phobia of the ’90s. When the first
Death Wish hit theaters in 1974, Bronson was already past 50. By the time he filmed the ambiguously titled
Death Wish V: The Face of Death , he was a geriatric 72 years old.
Look, nobody supports ageism, but there has to be a point where you hang up your oversized gun and accept that it’s time for a younger vigilante to start doling out justice. Death Wish just about worked as the story of a liberal, pacifist architect who discovers, late in life, the simple joys of vigilante killing. The first couple sequels just about worked as shameless cash grabs. By the time
Death Wish V lurched onto screens, absolutely nothing worked at all.
AV Club’s retrospective notes that paunchy old Bronson is “scarcely credible as a remorseless angel of death.”
Variety stuck the knife in further in its original review by stating Bronson looked “mighty tired.” If Bronson read these reviews, they didn’t deter him. The veteran actor was still trying to play a badass at 77 in Family of Cops 3 .
Shirley Henderson’s 36-year-old teenager (Harry Potter)
Don’t recognize the name Shirley Henderson? You’ll still know her most famous role. In the Harry Potter series, Henderson played Moaning Myrtle, the dead Hogwarts student who haunts the girls’ toilet and occasionally helps the boy wizard in his adventures. In the books, Myrtle is supposed to be 14, but the film adaptations left her age ambiguous. That’s probably for the best. At the time Henderson was cast in 2002’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, she was 36.
Weird as this casting decision was, it’s the implications that make it truly creepy. From the moment we first meet her, Myrtle has a thing for Harry. The whole “dead girl who has been conscious for the last 60-plus years flirts with a live boy whose parents weren’t even born when she died” thing would be strange enough even if Myrtle was played by an actual 14-year-old. But when she’s played by a fully grown woman and Harry is played by a Daniel Radcliffe still waiting for puberty’s crushing wave to sweep him away, it gets more than a little icky. “More than a little” in this case means “like watching elderly James Mason creep over teenagers in
Henderson has her own theory as to why she was cast. Talking to The Telegraph , she said of Myrtle, “She’s a multifaceted character; lots of mood swings and simmering emotions. Maybe that’s why they chose an adult rather than an actual 14-year-old.”
Roger Moore’s aging James Bond (A View to a Kill)
Forget Daniel Craig, Roger Moore is James Bond . The suave Englishman played 007 for an incredible seven films, beating out even original Bond Sean Connery in the longevity stakes. Unfortunately movies, especially big, wacky movies like Bond flicks, take many, many years to produce. By the time Moore picked up his license to kill for the seventh time, 12 years had elapsed since his introduction in Live and Let Die. In the interim, his Bond had morphed from “plausible older gentleman spy” to “your dad suffering a midlife crisis” (via Den of Geek).
The problem goes beyond merely seeing a Bond pushing 60 still doing stuff like dangling from a helicopter and fighting atop the Golden Gate Bridge. The James Bond formula requires its lead to be dashing and heroic, but also to flirt with and seduce impossibly nubile young women. That can be off-putting even when Bond is the same age as his co-stars. When Bond is old enough to be not just their dad, but their dad’s older brother, it veers into territory that’s somewhere between sad and creepy.
Still, to his credit, Moore apparently only took the part in
A View to a Kill to help publicize his charity work with UNICEF. That certainly makes the whole venture seem less depressing.
Alan Ruck’s 29-year-old teenager (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)
Movies are a weird business. In 1996, Alan Ruck was playing Stuart Bondek on Spin City , a middle-aged professional guy working in the New York mayor’s office. Just a decade earlier, in 1986, he’d been playing neurotic teenager Cameron Frye in the classic John Hughes teen flick Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Clearly there’s a bigger time difference between high school kid and middle-aged man than just 10 years, so he must’ve been miscast for one of those roles. Since you’ve read this far, you can probably guess which one it was.
As a profile in his local paper reveals, Ruck was 29 when he was cast as Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, an age which, to the average high schooler, appears so old it’s basically time to cash your pension. It could have been even worse. According to The Telegraph, John Candy, then 36, auditioned to play Cameron. If an unknown, fresh-faced Ruck was still old enough to seem miscast, image what an in-his-prime 30-something John Candy would have seemed like. For a quick comparison, the now-disgraced actor who played Principal Rooney was only four years older than Candy.
Luckily, this was one case where the movie was so good that nobody seemed to care Ruck was way older than Cameron should have been. It probably helped that Matthew Broderick, at 23, was also really too old to play Ferris.
William Shatner’s geriatric Captain Kirk (Star Trek V)
Captain Kirk has a lot in common with James Bond. They’re both daring action heroes, they both star in unending franchises, and they both always get the girl. But while James Bond handed the mantle over to another actor only a decade after his series began, Captain Kirk kept William Shatner firmly in the role until Chris Pine finally wrestled it from him in 2009. That’s a span of 43 years. By the time the original series and four films had elapsed, Kirk had gone from “young William Shatner hiding his paunch” to “old William Shatner incapable of hiding his rampaging dad-gut.” Which brings us to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. As EW’s retrospective notes, it’s basically a film about a bunch of old men trying to pretend aging doesn’t happen.
Star Trek V isn’t the last film to star Shatner as Kirk. But
Star Trek VI is a somber film about a dying empire that thematically works with an older cast, and Star Trek: Generations tackled the idea of an aging Kirk head on (before — spoiler alert! — killing him in the least satisfying manner imaginable). Star Trek V was the last film in which Shatner and the gang tried to relive the glory days of the series, complete with dramatic stunts, fistfights, and, umm, Uhura doing a comedy striptease. The results can quickly be summed up with the simple double negative: “not unembarrassing.”
Jimmy Stewart’s 47-year-old 25-year-old (The Spirit of St. Louis)
When the subject of your biopic is a Nazi-sympathizing anti-Semite , it probably helps the box office to cast a likable actor in the role. In 1956, there was no actor in the whole of America as likable as Jimmy Stewart. The movie star turned war hero was the nation’s older brother, the sort of twinkly-eyed charmer who could take a guy obsessed with racial purity (as Charles Lindbergh pretty much was) and turn him into an everyman hero. So there are plenty of good reasons why Billy Wilder might have wanted to cast Stewart in his film The Spirit of St. Louis, about Charles Lindbergh and his transatlantic flight. There’s also a very good reason why Stewart shouldn’t have taken the role, even aside from the whole Nazi-sympathizing thing. He was nearly twice as old as Lindbergh was on his historical flight.
Film blog Movie Mania Madness does a good job of summing up the weirdness of seeing a man about to enter his fifth decade playing someone barely out of college. Although Stewart always had a boyish charm that made him seem younger than his years, no amount of makeup could reverse over two decades of serious living and onscreen pouting. To be fair to Wilder, he didn’t even try. He just had his prop department stick Stewart in a ridiculous blond wig and called it quits, which may be why the age lines on Stewart’s face look like canyons in closeups.
Whoopi Goldberg’s 29-year-old teenager (The Color Purple)
Without the role of Celie in The Color Purple , we wouldn’t have Whoopi Goldberg. The part of a strong-willed, abused black woman growing up in the Deep South won Goldberg a Golden Globe, and proved that pre- Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg was capable of helming films not involving giant sharks, adorable aliens, or wisecracking archaeologists. To call The Color Purple a success would be an understatement, but there was one section where the realism Spielberg and Goldberg were striving for kinda broke down. When she filmed the early scenes featuring Celie as a 14-year-old, Goldberg was nearly 30 (via Biography ).
The Color Purple is a movie that takes place over decades and decades. While Spielberg could have cast a different actress to play young Celie, he evidently decided to keep Goldberg’s performance intact for the entire film. As a result, you have a fully grown woman trying to convince the audience that she’s barely reached puberty, a trick Goldberg pulls off better than you’re probably expecting, but also nowhere near well enough to make viewers forget the chasm of empty years stretching between actress and character.
Incidentally, this Hollywood habit of casting adults as teenagers is something that’s been bugging teen psychologists for years. Speaking to Teen Vogue, Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., said the sight of movie teens with grown-up bodies can increase insecurities in actual teenagers. Bad news for any teens into Whoopi Goldberg epics about race relations in America.
Adult Julie Harris as a 12-year-old tomboy (The Member of the Wedding)
Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding is a touching novel about a 12-year-old girl’s dreams being slowly crushed by the suffocating inanity of the adult world. Fred Zinnemann’s movie adaptation of the same name is a bizarro nightmare about an adult woman trying to pass herself off to an unobservant family as their prepubescent daughter. Played by 24-year-old Academy Award-nominated actress Julie Harris, the character Frankie Adams looks less like an actual 12-year-old and more like a woman responding to a quarter-life crisis by trying to relive her glory days as a wayward tween (via The Guardian).
Harris was offered the part due to her work in the role on Broadway, for which she’d won the kind of praise most 20-something actors would kill for. But it’s one thing for a grown woman to play a child’s role in the theater, where suspension of disbelief is part and parcel of the whole package. It’s another for her to play that same role on camera, where audiences are used to seeing children played by actual children (at least, if they’ve been watching films not featured in this article). Seeing everyone react to a grown woman with, not to put too fine a point on it, a grown woman’s body as if she’s barely out of elementary school ticks so many “creepy” boxes you could probably reboot it as a horror franchise.
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We’re all guilty of making split-second decisions that we later come to regret. When you’re in the business of show, those moments can be potentially career-ending. Scandal is nothing new in Hollywood, but if you’re an actor and your private transgressions happen to go public, you better be prepared to look for a new line of work. While some disgraced stars manage to claw their way back into the limelight from seemingly impossible positions, for most, retiring from the public eye with whatever dignity remains intact is the only optio
A former Soviet labor camp is now partially flooded, like an island in the middle of a lake.
There’s a lot to think about before you dive the sunken ruins of a prison, especially during winter. But the Finnish urban explorers Tanja Palmunen and Kimmo Parhiala thrive on such logistics. Known together as Abandoned Nordic, for the past two and a half years they’ve been traveling across Northern Europe to find and photograph abandoned manor houses, car lots, casinos, churches, and, in this case, an underwater prison, often in the dead of winter.
At Estonia’s Rummu Prison, situated in the middle of a submerged quarry, depth is less of an issue than temperature. “The Rummu lake is a shallow lake, and the average dive depth is around 6 to 10 meters. This means that we can stay down longer without worrying about decompression sickness,” says Parhiala. The greater risk is from diving during the icy winter months. “Northern European winter drops the water temperature to around 3 to 4 degrees Celsius. In these temperatures, we use a drysuit. Still, after a while, our bodies can’t cope with the cold water and we start to feel cold, really cold.”
Another factor is visibility, and at Rummu, there’s a lot to see. The prison—originally known as Murru—was established in the late 1930s, although the first prison cell wasn’t constructed until 1949. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be in the middle of a lake: the location was at a limestone quarry, where inmates were forced to work. Following the collapse of the USSR, the entire sire was abandoned. Groundwater, which was previously pumped into a nearby town and used in local farms, soon flooded the quarry, creating a partially submerged island of crumbling brick walls.
For their dive, the visibility was good, but Palmunen and Parhiala found the water to be what you might expect from an Estonian winter. “The cold shivered my lips when we began our descent toward the underwater parts of the main building,” recalls Parhiala. Diving into submerged buildings in a shallow lake was particularly tricky for the photographer. “You have to adjust the camera settings and keep your focus on your buoyancy, so you don’t touch the bottom and screw up the visibility, and also that you don’t ascend to the surface.”
Above the water, the walls from the main building are visible. But underneath is a vastly different view. “Next to the main buildings, a diver can visit other buildings, which are completely immersed,” says Parhiala. “These large buildings with many rooms are covered in green moss and debris. In addition, a diver can visit the old underwater walls with lamps still intact. It is an odd sensation to imagine the inmates figuring out if they could climb over the walls. Now, we can just hover over them without any resistance.”
During their dive, the Abandoned Nordic team moved slowly through the prison, pausing for photographs and to consider the site’s history. “Bars in the windows reminded us about the history of the place. Like many other abandoned buildings in Estonia, this one was made out of cheap gray bricks which were laying around everywhere on the bottom. Inside this weird underwater building, we watched our exhale bubbles hit the ceiling and enjoyed a break from the sensation of ordinary gravity.”
AO has a selection of images from Abandoned Nordic’s dive; you can see more of their work on their Instagram.
If you read any of the headlines in the spring of 2018, you probably had one question: Exactly how were two of the stars of
Smallville, Allison Mack and Kristin Kreuk, lured into a cult that’s been accused of everything from sex trafficking to the branding of women? To answer that, we need to take several giant steps back, and first look at the parent organization allegedly responsible, NXIVM.
NXIVM (pronounced “nexium”) is a so-called self help organization that’s been compared to Scientology on account of its rigid hierarchy. Members are ranked and assigned colored sashes, according to a 2012 Albany Times Union investigation. Meanwhile, its New Age ideology teaches the need for “ethical people” to control “much of the world’s money” in order for “human existence to survive.” The founder of NXIVM is Keith Raniere, a self-styled guru who renamed himself “The Vanguard,” and who also allegedly used his powerful position within the cult to coerce female members into sexual relationships.
Raniere created other organizations within NXIVM, including the “exclusive sorority” Dominus Obsequious Sororium, or DOS, which former NXIVM member Frank Parlato (via The Daily Mail ) claims was co-founded by Allison Mack. It’s within the dark inner workings of DOS that this story truly broke open, particularly after Raniere was taken into custody in Mexico while Mack helplessly looked on as her guru was nabbed for suspicion of “sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor.” Since then, news outlets — and law enforcement organizations — began tracking both Mack and Kreuk’s involvement, as well as the sordid details of DOS.
Here’s what we found out about how the former Smallville stars were lured into a cult.
Kristin Kreuk’s involvement
After Raniere’s arrest, the spotlight immediately fell on the famous people who’d gotten wrapped up in his cult. The most notable name on that list has to be Kristin Kreuk, who played Lana Lang, the love interest of a teenage Clark Kent on the CW drama, Smallville .
According to Parlato (via The New York Post), Kreuk got involved with NXIVM in the mid-2000s, and it was her involvement that allegedly attracted co-star Allison Mack. “Allison was used, as was Kristin, as a lure to bring in other women because of their celebrity status,’ Parlato also told The Post. This timeline, as far as Mack’s involvement, was seemingly corroborated by a December 2017 20/20 report in which NXIVM
whistleblower Sarah Edmondson claimed that Mack joined in 2008.
Mack would allgedly go on to become an important figure in the organization (more on that in a moment), while Kreuk claims to have had minimal involvement.
Kreuk’s exit and denial of wrongdoing
Parlato — who claims he left NXIVM after one year of employment there and is currently involved in lawsuits with the group — told The New York Post that Kreuk was part of the NXIVM’s “inner circle,” and that she only left in 2012 after reports surfaced alleging Raniere’s sexual misconduct with minors.
Kreuk disputes this claim in a note she
tweeted which read, in part, “The accusations that I was in the ‘inner circle’ or recruited women as ‘sex slaves’ are blatantly false. During my time, I never experienced any illegal or nefarious activity. I am horrified and disgusted by what has come out about DOS.”
Kreuk also says in the note that she initially joined the self-help program to help with her “previous shyness,” and that she now regrets having anything to do with the organization. “I am deeply disturbed and embarrassed to have been associated with NXIVM,” she writes. “I hope that the investigation leads to justice for all those affected.”
For Mack, however, it seems to be a whole different story.
Allison Mack dove deep
Sarah Edmondson told 20/20 that soon after Mack joined NXIVM, she “became a favorite of management,” thanks to her “huge following and lots of fans.” Her quick advancement in the organization led to her assuming leadership positions in several sub-groups, including the supposed female empowerment movement, Jness, and the infamous DOS, according to Parlato.
Publicly, Mack has advertised her involvement with Jness, both on her YouTube channel, and on her website . “When I found Jness, I saw that my struggles as a woman came from a lack of understanding,” Mack writes, adding, “Many years later, the curriculum continues to guide me through the maze of my inner world shining light on the dark corners of my psychodynamic revealing confusions and insecurities that have hindered the expression of the authentic, empowered woman I have always sought to embody.” Okay.
Mack (and Kreuk, incidentally) also promoted an a capella singing group, which may have
had ties to Raniere. But Mack’s public involvement with NXIVM doesn’t stop there.
Mack’s devotion is real
On the autobiography page of Mack’s personal website, the former Smallville star doesn’t attempt to hide her devotion to Raniere. She writes, “Over the course of several years, Mr. Raniere mentored Allison in her study of acting and music. As such, she has developed a deep connection to the nature of humanity as it relates to acting as an art form, and a tool for personal evolution.”
Together, Mack and Raniere created another NXIVM offshoot, called The Source, which Mack describes as “a private arts academy” that “provides a unique toolset and innovative exercises to increase one’s mastery of the art of compassion, utilizing the disciplines of acting and expression.”
Mack’s feelings about the teachings of Raniere, particularly in terms of The Source, were laid bare in a 2017 video in which she listens to Raniere’s thoughts on “authenticity” and the desire to “breakthrough a type of existential isolation.” Mack is literally brought to tears as Raniere speaks, and it becomes clear just how intertwined her life has become with Raniere’s rhetoric. However, according to Parlato, there is a much darker side to all of this life-affirmation and self-empowerment. The Authentic Human
What exactly is DOS?
Parlato also alleges that DOS doubles as an acronym for “dominant over submission,” and that its members are coerced by Mack and Raniere using the collection of “collateral” (like compromising photos) to allow themselves to be branded with the pair’s initials. DOS members are also allegedly made to take “The Vow,” which promises “lifetime slavery to Mr. Raniere and Miss Mack.” Pretty big leap from feminist studies, a capella singing, and acting classes there, right? But wait — it gets worse.
“The ‘cream’ of Jness women are invited to join DOS, and the ‘cream’ of DOS women are invited to join Mr. Raniere’s harem [subject to his approval],” Parlato claims. Ugh.
In 2017, Mack allegedly assumed the leadership role for DOS, which involved her traveling the globe to ” recruit young woman [ sic ] to join” the various groups within NXIVM. Not surprisingly, however, Mack has never publicly acknowledged having anything to do with DOS, nor has she been convicted of any criminal wrongdoing, as of this writing. Which brings us to…
The Feds nabbed Raniere
As we previously mentioned, this whole thing kicked off with Raniere’s arrest on March 26, 2018 at a luxury resort in Mexico. According to the FBI , he was extradited and would be charged in Texas the following day for “sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy.” At no point in the FBI’s report is a co-conspirator named, however some of Parlato’s more sensational allegations, as well as those of women who have come forward to accuse Raniere of identical crimes, seem to have at least sparked probable cause for a federal investigation.
“As alleged in the complaint, Keith Raniere created a secret society of women whom he had sex with and branded with his initials, coercing them with the threat of releasing their highly personal information and taking their assets,” United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said while announcing the charges.
The complaint also described Raniere’s organization as an “unorthodox pyramid scheme,” in which “slaves were expected to recruit slaves of their own (thus becoming masters themselves), who in turn owed service not only to their own masters but also to masters above them in the DOS pyramid.”
At that point, it didn’t seem like the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office had any interest in Mack, even though she was apparently witness to Raniere’s arrest.
Mack was present at Raniere’s arrest
Thanks to cell phone footage obtained by — who else? — Frank Parlato, Mack was exposed to the world as being present when the Mexican authorities dragged the guru away. TMZ ran the story along with Parlato’s footage (embedded above), and wrote that Mack “is believed to be second-in-command to Raniere.”
Parlato also published the video footage on
Art Voice , along with the identities of three other women who were supposedly present, and who, as Parlato phrased it, “gather to chase after the car that arrested Keith Raniere.” (The women can be heard on the video saying, “We’re going to follow.”) This story was then picked up by The Daily Mail , who cited an unnamed local Mexican “authority” who claims the women then engaged in a high-speed car chase with police.
The Feds later arrested Allison Mack
Allison Mack wasn’t arrested at the same time as Raniere, but it was apparently only a matter of time before she too was nabbed by federal authorities.
On April 20, 2018, Mack was arrested on some serious (and seriously troubling) charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy. In a statement explaining the indictment (via The Hollywood Reporter), Richard P. Donoghue of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said Mack “recruited women to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere. The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor, to the defendants’ benefit.” So yeah, Mack got hit with the same charges levied at Raniere upon his arrest. Moreover, the five-page indictment (via Vice ) explained that the organization’s M.O. was allegedly to coerce women into sex acts by “means of serious harm or threats of serious harm.”
It would seem that the FBI is looking to build a case and take down Raniere, Mack, and their associates. “We ask that anyone who might have been a victim to reach out to us with information that may further our investigation,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney.
So, to circle back around to the original question: How did these Smallville stars get lured into a cult? The same way anyone with a garage full of unsold vitamins or a phobia of public speaking could have been duped. Only it seems this crew had darker motivations, which Kreuk apparently sensed, and to which Mack perhaps fell victim to, and possibly even fostered. Regardless of why the famous folk got involved, the real story here is the victims, for whom hopefully justice will be served.