I rounded up some of the wildest, wackiest, and truly unbelievable myths, conspiracy theories, and so-called facts about celebrities that I've seen circulating on the Internet and decided to debunk them once and for all.
Here's the truth behind 14 pop culture myths and conspiracy theories, from the claim that Miley Cyrus was a distraction to help Barack Obama pass laws, to the classic tale that Walt Disney's body was cryogenically frozen.
1.Rumors that Jennifer Lopez insured her body have been swirling for decades, with some reports dating all the way back to 1999! Several outlets reported that J.Lo took out a $1 billion insurance policy to protect her butt, legs, and boobs. Others claim she insured her bottom for a casual $27 million.
The truth? During a Carpool Karaoke segment on The Late Late Show With James Corden, Lopez denied that she insured any part of her body. “There is no such thing as that," she said, and even joked about why someone would need an insurance policy for a body part. “Something happens to it? It disappears? Somebody steals it?”
2.In 2014, Korn singer Jonathan Davis said that he believed Miley Cyrus, who was then in her Bangerz era, was told by the US government to act that way to distract the public so president Barack Obama could pass laws that would give him unprecedented levels of power. Davis went on The Alex Jones Show (which TBH, explains it all) and said that he believed the Obama administration was forcing celebrities to behave outlandishly so the public would focus on their antics instead of what was going on in politics.
“It really freaked me out when the whole Miley Cyrus thing was going on, and when that went down, Barack passed the new law that he can imprison anyone he wants and he doesn’t have to charge them," Davis said. "He can keep them as long as he wants.” Obviously, Obama didn't pass any law along those lines, and it's safe to say that she was just being Miley during her Bangerz tour.
3.If you grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, then you'd be shocked that people actually believe that such a sweet, gentle man was once a military sharpshooter with hundreds of tattoos and dozens of confirmed kills, but here we are! While it's unclear how the rumors that Mister Rogers served in the Vietnam War as a Navy SEAL or sniper began, the rumor gets even wilder. Remember how Mister Rogers wore sweaters in every episode? Some believe he had a tattoo for every confirmed kill on his arms, so the sweaters covered them up for his TV audience.
So, is there any truth to this? Fred Rogers was born in 1928, which means by the time the Vietnam War started, he was too old to serve. In 1948, Rogers did register for the draft while in college, but by 1950, he had changed his registration to reflect that he was not medically cleared to serve. While it's unclear why his registration changed, in later years, Rogers said that he was an incredibly sickly child and teen. He even failed the red-green colorblindness test, which made him ineligible to be a SEAL. Mister Rogers also used his show to promote peace and nonviolence, and he was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, which makes the idea that he served even more absurd.
As for those sweaters? They were supposedly hand-knitted by his mother, which honestly just makes me tear up a little bit. The US Army eventually debunked the entire story once and for all, calling it an urban legend.
4.In early 2016, a conspiracy theory that JonBenét Ramsey, the 6-year-old pageant star who was murdered in her Colorado home on Christmas Eve, was actually still alive and grew up to become Katy Perry, went viral. Those who believed in the theory said the death was staged by either the Illuminati or the Freemasons to both make money off of Ramsey's death and propel Perry to fame. In the videos, theorists compared everything from their eyebrows to their parents' appearances, and even cited some of Perry's lyrics as further proof that she is actually Ramsey.
When Ramsey was murdered in 1996, she was 6 years old, while Perry was 12 at the time. Although authorities still don't know who killed Ramsey, she was tragically murdered and definitely didn't grow up to become Katy Perry. Perry herself commented on the theory in 2017 while hosting the VMAs. In a pre-recorded bit, comedian Billy Eichner told Perry to "blink twice if you're actually JonBenét Ramsey." Perry denied the theory, telling Eichner it was completely false. The pair even got called out on social media for making a joke out of a child's death.
5.Despite rumors that the Gerber baby was modeled based on Old Hollywood celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, and Jane Seymour, it turns out the Gerber baby was actually just a regular old baby. In 1928, Gerber held a contest to find what would soon become the face of the company. Dorothy Hope Smith submitted a charcoal sketch of a baby and assured the company that if she won, she would create an oil painting of the child for Gerber to use. Instead, Gerber fell for the charcoal sketch, and by 1931, had officially trademarked the drawing and began using it on all of their branding materials.
So, who's the baby? Smith sketched her infant neighbor, Ann Turner Cook, for her winning entry. Cook, who grew up to become a novelist and English teacher, kept the fact that she was one of the world's most recognizable babies secret for decades. In 1978, Gerber finally revealed the baby's identity, in part to shut down the rampant rumors that it was actually a well-known celebrity. In fact, the company got so many letters insisting that the baby was modeled after Humphrey Bogart that Gerber had to keep hundreds of form letters denying the claim on hand.
6.A conspiracy theory that the original Avril Lavigne disappeared in 2003 and was replaced with a lookalike named Melissa has long circulated on the Internet, dating all the way back to 2011. The theory, which appears to have begun on a Brazilian fan page, states that Lavigne, who supposedly struggled with fame in the beginning of her career, used to occasionally use a body double named Melissa Vandella for certain events and appearances. According to the theory, Lavigne reportedly died by suicide after struggling with depression following the death of her grandfather, so her record label forced Melissa to step in so they could continue capitalizing on Lavigne's fanbase.
Believers cite evidence like changes in Lavigne's physical appearance and sense of style as proof that at some point, Avril disappeared, paving the way for Melissa to take her place. Fans also say her music contains subliminal messaging that the original Avril is gone, with lyrics like "Don't leave me hangin'/In a city so dead/Held up so high/On such a breakable thread." A pivot in Lavigne's music following the 2014 release of "Hello Kitty," a Harajuku-inspired song, only added to the speculation, with diehard fans insisting that the Avril they knew and love would never release music that strayed so far from her rock roots. To make the story even stranger, Avril apparently appeared to have the name "Melissa" written on her hand in photos from a promotional photo shoot, but the photos have seemingly been scrubbed from the internet.
Avril has denied the theory several times. She first discussed it in a 2017 Facebook Live, during which she said people were bored and just needed something to talk about. During a 2019 Entertainment Weekly interview, she said she was "flabbergasted" that people actually believed the conspiracy. Most recently, she joked in a TikTok that fans frequently comment "Are you the real Avril?" on all of her posts on Instagram.
7.For some reason, Beyoncé and Jay-Z have become the subject of countless conspiracies, from the absurd claim that Beyoncé faked her pregnancy, to a theory that Beyoncé is actually an Italian woman, to the idea that Beyoncé is actually Solange's mom, not her sister. But perhaps the most bizarre is the idea that the CIA enlisted Beyoncé to write and record her 2016 album Lemonade in order to incite a race war in the United States.
Conspiracy theorists said that Beyoncé had been approached by the US government to promote "urban terrorism" through her music, citing political messages in her Super Bowl performance and "Hold Up" music video as evidence. They claim that her lyrics are designed to inspire young people to fight against the police and other establishments. The theory in part originated from a long-standing belief that Beyoncé and Jay-Z are members of the Illuminati, using their songs and music videos to spread secret messages. There's obviously no truth to this one, and Beyoncé herself has even poked fun at the idea that she is involved in the Illuminati, singing "Y'all haters corny with that Illuminati mess" in her song "Formation."
8.For years, people have claimed that Stevie Wonder is not actually blind, with celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal, Lionel Richie, and Donald Glover adding fuel to the fire when it comes to the theory. Wonder was born six weeks premature and supposedly lost his sight soon after his birth due to a condition that causes retinas to detach. Despite the fact that the public has always known Wonder to be blind, rumors that the singer has been faking it all along continue to be prevalent.
Theorists cite his love of attending basketball games, an instance where he supposedly said he would love to work for TMZ as a paparazzi, and his vocal desire to be on Dancing with the Stars as sure signs that the singer is not really blind. Others point to the time when Wonder caught a falling microphone during a performance as a clear indicator that something's fishy. In reality, these instances can likely be explained by either heightened sound and depth perception, or the fact that Wonder just likes to stir the pot and is poking fun at the rumors. To further add to the speculation, Wonder told TMZ in 2017 that he was going to reveal the truth about his sight sometime later that year, but no revelation ever surfaced.
9.You've probably heard the dozens of different conspiracy theories about the moon landing, but have you heard the one that Stanley Kubrick, who directed movies like The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, used his film skills to help stage the moon landing? In 1968, just a year before the moon landing, Kubrick directed 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was then regarded as one of the best depictions of outer space in film history.
As claims that the moon landing was faked began circulating, some pointed to Kubrick's cinematic feat and insisted that he helped NASA and the US government fake the moon landing in order to win the space race against the Soviet Union. In reality, Kubrick had enlisted aerospace engineers and astronomical artists to help him make 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the movie looked so realistic thanks to their expertise, not because Kubrick knew so much about space.
10.There are countless claims that various celebrities, from Lady Gaga to Lil Wayne, are part of the Illuminati, but when it comes to Eminem, the story gets even stranger. According to one very wild internet theory, the Illuminati actually killed Eminem in 2006 after the rapper refused to join them, then replaced him with a lookalike that would be easier to control. Believers point to a change in the rapper's appearance, plus a shift in the tone of his lyrics around 2006, as evidence that the real Slim Shady was long gone, giving way for his replacement to rise. Some even believe that the rapper's replacement is a robot and point to what appeared to be a momentary glitch during a 2013 interview as further proof.
The theory gained traction in 2019 after Tom MacDonald released a song called "Cloned Rappers," which includes lyrics mentioning the Illuminati taking bone samples of rappers to use for cloning purposes and even namedrops Eminem. Others point to times when Eminem has praised Jay-Z, who theorists say is the leader of the Illuminati, as proof that the rapper is under the group's control. There is no concrete evidence to support any of these claims.
11.If your childhood was anything like mine, then you probably first heard the rumor that Walt Disney's body was cryogenically frozen and kept at Disneyland while on the playground as an impressionable young kid. So, how did the story get started? Walt Disney's health began declining in November 1966, when doctors discovered spots on his lung during a hospital visit. Disney was in and out of the hospital for the next six weeks until he died on Dec. 15, 1966.
Following his death, rumors that Disney had arranged for his body to be frozen in liquid nitrogen and secretly stored under the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction began to swirl. Believers thought that Disney's body would be thawed once science advanced enough to cure his ailments, thus bringing him back to life and allowing him to resume his animation empire.
The rumor began in 1967, just a few weeks after Disney's death. A reporter for a tabloid called the National Spotlite claimed he disguised himself as an orderly, snuck into Disney's hospital room, and saw him suspended in a cryogenic chamber. The rumors continued for decades as biographers began mentioning the tale in their books. While Disney was a proclaimed sci-fi lover who could potentially have known a thing or two about cryogenics, several of his family members have debunked the theory once and for all.
12.While you might have heard the story that Mama Cass, the singer from the Mamas and the Papas, died after choking on a ham sandwich, it's straight-up false. In the late 1960s, Cass decided she wanted to leave the band and pursue a solo career. After years of struggling, she told friends she finally felt like she was building the career she wanted in the summer of 1974. Cass tragically died on July 29, 1974. Reports that Cass had choked to death on a ham sandwich began to circulate, while in reality, Cass died after having a heart attack.
The singer had long struggled with her weight, and during her comeback, she had embarked on a crash diet. While she lost over 100 pounds from the diet, she also suffered from long-term damage to her throat and stomach, and she frequently fainted. Her cause of death was heart failure, due in part to both damage sustained from the diet and obesity. While it's unclear how the ham sandwich rumor originated, Cass's autopsy does not note any blockage caused by food. In later years, Cass's daughter, who was 7 at the time of her mother's death, said how hurtful the sandwich rumor truly was. "One last slap against the fat lady," she told the Guardian. "People seem to think it’s funny. What’s so darn funny?”
13.In Goldfinger, the 1964 James Bond movie, Jill Masterson, played by Shirley Eaton, dies after her boss paints her entire body gold after she threatens to expose his criminal dealings. In the movie, her death is explained as asphyxiation, with the paint preventing her skin from getting any oxygen for a sustained period of time. Soon after the movie premiered, it was rumored that Eaton died while filming the scene, with the claims intensifying as she appeared to drop completely from the public eye once the film was released.
In reality, Eaton didn't die, but instead retired from acting soon after the film was released in order to spend more time with her family. So, will you really die of asphyxiation from painting your body? Probably not, although entirely covering your skin in paint might lead to some pretty severe health consequences like heatstroke. While filming the movie, Eaton's body wasn't fully covered in the metallic paint. A six-inch patch on her stomach was left unpainted, and health officials were on set to ensure nothing went awry during filming.
14.Rumors that Marilyn Monroe had an IQ of 168 have long appeared in various places on the internet, but there is no evidence to prove that the star had ever even taken an IQ test. The modern version of IQ tests for adults weren't rolled out until 1955, when Monroe was 30 years old. They were primarily used as screening methods for those in the military or who worked in education. While it's technically possible that she could have been given an IQ test, several historians say there is no reason to believe that she had taken one, much less gotten a genius-level score.
Despite the fact that the IQ score is probably false, Marilyn, who hated the way she was frequently typecast as a "dumb blonde," was likely pretty intelligent. Although she didn't have any formal education, she was an avid reader, with over 400 books, including first editions of titles like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, among her possessions when she died in 1962.
Do any other celebrity myths, rumors, and conspiracy theories that are so ridiculous, they have to be false come to mind? Share them in the comments!