Stars may try to keep to themselves, but tabloid speculation and unfounded rumors have a way of painting an inaccurate portrait of these individuals in the public eye. More often then not, however, the truth always prevails — and it’s not what anyone expects.
These 20 celebrities don’t have much in common, but there’s one thing that unites them: there’s a fact about them that nearly everybody gets wrong. Not only will these unexpected facts completely change the way you look at some of your favorite stars, but they’ll also make you wonder what else Hollywood has been hiding all these years…
1. Jeremy Renner’s Old Job: Though the actor’s star has been rising since he took up the mantle of Hawkeye in Marvel’s cinematic universe, Jeremy Renner wasn’t always in show business — at least, not as an actor. Before he was fighting evil alongside Iron Man, Renner worked as a makeup artist and even did his own makeup for a number of his earlier films.
2. Rebel Wilson’s Inspiration: Whether it be from seeing another actor in an iconic role or simply deeming it to be their passion, most Hollywood stars were inspired by something when they began acting. For Rebel Wilson, a malaria-induced hallucination in which she was an Oscar-winning actress convinced her to break into show business.
3. Martha Stewart’s Past Life: Before she was the queen of homemaking, Martha Stewart was, wait for it, a model! In order to pay for college tuition, Stewart spent time modeling clothes and accessories for the luxury fashion brand, Chanel.
4. Kesha’s Smarts: Though her crude song lyrics and onstage antics have given her a reputation as a ditzy party girl, Kesha is actually one of the smartest people in Hollywood. The singer-songwriter scored a 1500 on her SAT and has an IQ of 140. Never judge a book by its cover!
5. Steve Buscemi’s Past: Most big-name actors may have made the leap into show business at a young age, but Steve Buscemi was on an entirely different career path before becoming a star. For four years, Buscemi served as an NYPD fireman and even returned to action in 2001 to aid in the 9/11 recovery effort.
6. Oprah Winfrey’s Mix-Up: There’s no denying Oprah’s place as one of the most influential women in the world. Even the name “Oprah” has become synonymous with success! Too bad that’s not her real name, though. See, Oprah’s birth name was actually “Orpah,” which, through years of mispronunciation, became “Oprah”.
7. Matthew McConaughey’s “Passion”: Sure, being a “foodie” is great, but Matthew McConaughey takes loving food to a whole new level. McConaughey has a self-described food fetish, one so overwhelming that he sometimes has to stop eating to prevent himself from becoming too aroused.
8. Johnny Depp’s Phobia: While it seems like there hasn’t been a role that he’s yet to refuse, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see Johnny Depp in a future adaptation of Stephen King’s It. The storied actor suffers from a phobia of clowns, or coulrophobia, which is strange for someone who basically played one in 2010’s Alice in Wonderland…
Alice in Wonderland
9. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Ancestry: From a genealogical standpoint, SJP’s performance as a 17th-century witch in Hocus Pocus might not have been much of a stretch. As it turns out, Parker’s tenth-great grandmother was condemned as a witch during the infamous Salem Witch Trials.
10. Jerry Springer’s Career: Before he was giving on-air paternity tests and breaking up televised slap fights, Springer was heavily involved in the Ohio political scene. After serving on the Cincinnati City Council, Springer was elected to a one-year term as mayor in 1977.
11. Rihanna’s Name: Cries of “Ri Ri” have echoed through arenas for years, but very few people know that “Rihanna” isn’t the pop princess’ real name. The singer was actually born Robyn Rihanna Fenty but began using her middle name shortly after she began writing music.
12. Elvis Presley’s Hair: When it comes to the King of Rock and Roll, you can’t talk about his signature looks without mentioning his legendary pompadour hairstyle and slicked black hair. On second thought, maybe you can, as Elvis was actually a natural blonde who began dying his hair black in high school!
13. Simon Cowell’s Beginnings: It’s hard to imagine everyone’s favorite unapologetic Englishman as anything less than an industry icon, but Cowell actually got his start as a set runner for legendary director Stanley Kubrick. In fact, Cowell’s first gig for Kubrick was polishing the axe used by Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Goff / The Shining
14. Sean Connery’s Looks: There’s suave, and then there’s Sean Connery suave, which was on full display during the Scotsman’s run as James Bond from 1962 to 1983. Hopefully his “Bond girls” didn’t tug too hard on his hair, however, as Connery wore a toupée in every single film.
From Russia with Love
15. Charlize Theron’s “Audition”: Not many aspiring movie stars expect to be discovered in line at the bank, but that’s exactly what happened for Charlize Theron. As Theron berated a bank teller for not cashing a check, a talent agent, who admired her passion, handed her his card and kickstarted her career.
16. James Franco’s Education: It’s no secret that James Franco is one of Hollywood’s most controversial personalities, yet you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that works – and studies – as hard as he does. Franco attended UCLA, Columbia, NYU, Brooklyn College, and Yale and even teaches alongside his filmmaking pursuits.
17. Dolph Lundgren’s Brain: A man known more for his brawn than his brain, Dolph Lundgren is actually a certified genius. Lundgren holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology, has an IQ of 160, and even received a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT.
18. Halle Berry’s Inspiration: Many people may not know that Halle Berry’s given name was Maria Halle Berry, which was legally changed when she was five. Not surprising enough for you? Well, the name “Halle” was actually taken from Halle’s Department Store, a local landmark in Berry’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Amazon / Wikipedia
19. Nicole Kidman’s Trauma: We’ve seen that even Hollywood’s biggest stars aren’t immune to phobias, and Nicole Kidman is no exception. After a traumatizing childhood experience with a rather threatening butterfly, the Academy Award-winning actress now suffers from lepidopterophobia, or a fear of butterflies.
20. Katy Perry’s Hobby: Known for topping the charts with hit after catchy hit, Perry made headlines for a different reason when she revealed that she actually collects hair from her fellow celebrities. In fact, Perry once kept the locks of both Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus in her purse.
21. Though she was one of Hollywood’s biggest actresses, Marilyn Monroe often found it difficult to memorize her lines. In one instance, it took her more than 60 tries to nail the line, “It’s me, sugar,” from Some Like It Hot. And that isn’t the only interesting thing about Ms. Monroe…
Despite being a huge star, Marilyn Monroe was typically underpaid for her work. She was paid about $100,000 for her unfinished performance in Something’s Got To Give, while Elizabeth Taylor was paid $1 million for her role in Cleopatra around the same time.
That being said, just four days before she was found dead, she signed a two-picture deal with Fox that would have been worth $1 million. It would have been the biggest payday of her career.
The white baby grand piano that Marilyn had in her home when she was found dead was eventually auctioned off in 1999 for $662,500. Singer Mariah Carey was the bidder.
During the filming of The Prince and The Showgirl, Marilyn’s weight fluctuated wildly. So much so, in fact, that her costume designer, Beatrice Dawson, had to make several copies of the same dress in different sizes. “I have two ulcers from this film,” Dawson said, “and they’re both monogrammed MM.”
Marilyn used a hormone cream to whiten her skin. A side effect was that it caused her to grow blonde peach fuzz on her face. She actually liked the fuzz, however, believing it gave her face a soft glow on screen.
When she died in 1962, Marilyn had an estate valued at $1.6 million. She gave most of it to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, and another large portion to Dr. Marianne Kris, her psychoanalyst. She also left a trust fund to her mother that offered about $5,000 per year.
Ahead of her time in many ways, Marilyn was an early convert to yoga. She even took lessons from Swedish-Russian Bollywood film star Indra Devi, who also taught Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson.
Marilyn was a big fan of being naked. She was notorious for walking around wardrobe mistresses, hairdressers, and make-up artists in the nude, as well as leaving the house with nothing under the mink coat Joe DiMaggio bought her.
Though she had made a sizable chunk of cash throughout her career, Marilyn only ever owned one home: the one at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood, California—which is where she was found dead.
Just before her death in 1962, Marilyn was in the process of reading two books: Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and Leo Rosten’s Captain Newman MD, which was based on the life of Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Ralph Greenson.
Marilyn was known for being fairly athletic, too. Before her life in Hollywood, she studied weightlifting and even once went tandem surfing with her then-boyfriend Tommy Zahn, during which she balanced on his shoulders.
Marilyn Monroe’s death was ruled a “probable suicide.” However, toxicology reports were only ever done on her liver. When the other organs were requested by the deputy coroner, he was told they’d already been destroyed.
There were many conspiracy theories surrounding Marilyn’s death. One of the more popular ones is that she was murdered in order to prevent her from going public about her supposed affairs with President John F. Kennedy.
The circumstances surrounding Marilyn’s death did seem slightly fishy, however. Supposedly, there was no sign of alcohol nearby—and some claim she showed signs of having been injected with a needle.
Actress Veronica Hamel and then-husband Michael Irving purchased Marilyn’s home in 1972—10 years after Marilyn’s death—and claimed that they had discovered a number of FBI wiretaps inside the home.
All that being said, the Los Angeles District County Attorney decided to reopen the case in 1982. He did not, however, find any evidence to support the conspiracy theories, and the case was again closed.
Marilyn believed that she was the descendant of President James Monroe. This, however, was not supported by any evidence that anyone could discover, so it was likely untrue.
Many believe that Marilyn’s second husband, author Arthur Miller, wrote the play After The Fall about their marriage. The character of Maggie is believed to be based on her.
The identity of Marilyn’s father was never fully determined. Both she and her mother believed him to be C. Stanley Gifford, but Edward Mortensen, who was married to her mother when she was born, was the father listed on her birth certificate.
Marilyn was a big fan of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, going so far as to call him her hero. “I used to read everything I could find about him,” she claimed in her ghostwritten autobiography.
She also had a slight fixation with her costar in The Misfits, Clark Gable, whom she saw as a father figure. When he passed away, she claimed to have cried for two days straight.
When Ella Fitzgerald was banned from performing in 1950s Los Angeles, Marilyn worked to get her a gig. She eventually convinced a venue to host her as long as Marilyn sat in the front row for each show.
Marilyn was a big fan of dogs. The last dog she owned was a Maltese terrier given to her by the one and only Frank Sinatra, whom she named Maf (short for “Mafia Honey”).
In 1950, her agent, Johnny Hyde, paid for her to have a couple of plastic surgeries. First was a tip rhinoplasty, which reshaped the cartilage on the end of her nose, and the second was a chin implant.
Before becoming famous, Marilyn married James Dougherty when she was just 16 years old. He later became a detective with the LAPD, and was forbidden by his second wife from seeing any of her films.
The dress that she wore during the famous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” performance for President Kennedy was sold in 1999 for about $1.03 million.
Surprising to some, Marilyn Monroe had an open-casket funeral. She had to be laid to rest while wearing a blonde wig, though, because her head had been partially shaved when the county had conducted the autopsy. (This is an image of a sculpture made to recreate the coffin’s appearance.)
At the time of her death, Marilyn Monroe was thought to be making plans to remarry Joe DiMaggio. He had gotten help for his alcoholism, and the two seemed to be planning to give it another go.
After becoming Marilyn’s acting coach during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, Paula Strasberg was paid $25,000, which was more than some of the featured actors.
Though she was typecast as an unintelligent blonde, Marilyn was known to have been a shrewd businesswoman and was very intelligent. One rumor suggested she had a higher IQ than Albert Einstein, though no direct evidence exists to support this.
Following the institutionalization of her mother, Gladys, Marilyn was eventually placed with 11 different foster parents. She spent almost a year in the Children’s Aid Society Orphanage in Los Angeles.
Marilyn’s name appeared as Norma Jeane Mortensen on her birth certificate. Her first stage name idea was Jean Adair, and she didn’t settle on “Marilyn Monroe” until 1956.
Playboy founder and millionaire Hugh Hefner actually owns the burial vault next to Marilyn’s. He purchased it for about $63,000 all the way back in 1992.
Hugh Hefner wasn’t the only one who was interested in spending eternity next to Marilyn. Elsie Poncher, the widow of the man buried above Marilyn’s vault, sold her husband’s space for $4.5 million.
Though she never had any of her own, Marilyn was known for loving children. She developed close relationships with her step-children, and always yearned for a baby of her own.
Perhaps confirming the rumors that she and Joe DiMaggio were planning to remarry, the baseball legend sent roses to her burial vault three times a week for 20 years.
While filming the movie Let’s Make Love, Marilyn was a constant no-show for her scenes. So much so that she added 28 days to the shooting schedule and cost the producers an extra $1 million in production costs.
Marilyn’s career actually started by accident. She was noticed by photographer David Conover while she was working on an assembly line at Radioplane, a munitions factory.
Not only did Marilyn’s famous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress eventually go on to sell for the big bucks, but it was also so tight that it had to be sewn right onto her body!