19 Super-Interesting Details In The Lives Of Old Hollywood Women

·8 min read

1.Hedy Lamarr invented the first elements of the technology that is the basis for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

Hedy Lamarr wearing a polka dot blouse while having her portrait taken

She said, "Improving things comes naturally to me."

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During World War II, she and George Antheil created a communication system that used radio wave "frequency hopping," successfully preventing interception when guiding torpedoes. Though the Navy did not use the system and Lamarr's genius essentially went unrecognized for many years, she later won multiple awards and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014, 14 years after her death.

Hedy Lamarr walking down the stairs during a movie production
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2.Katharine Hepburn walked around set in her underwear until the studio returned her pants to her.

Katharine Hepburn wearing flying goggles taking a portrait for a film
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RKO Radio Pictures did not want Hepburn to wear pants on their sets, because, you know, sexism and all that, so they actually hid her pants from her. Hepburn responded by walking around in her underwear until she got her pants back.

Katharine Hepburn on set looking away from the camera
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3.Hattie McDaniel became the first Black person to win an Oscar.

Hattie McDaniel sitting for a photo in front of the cbs microphone

Though this may not be an entirely unknown fact, it certainly isn't famous enough.

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In 1940, she won Best Supporting Actress for her work in Gone With the Wind. It was the 12th Academy Awards.

McDaniel posing with her Oscar
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4.Elizabeth Taylor literally saved Montgomery Clift's life after he was in a car accident.

Elizabeth Taylor taking a portrait wearing a green dress

Kevin McCarthy, who was driving in front of Clift and ran back to him directly after the accident, said that “[Clift's] face was torn away — a bloody pulp. I thought he was dead.” McCarthy ran to get help, which included Elizabeth Taylor.

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One version of the story states that when Taylor noticed Clift was choking on two of his teeth that had gotten lodged in his throat, she literally put her hand down his throat and pulled the teeth out.

Elizabeth Taylor sunbathing during a shoot

Rumor has it that afterward, Taylor told photographers who arrived that she knew all of them personally and that if they took one picture of Clift, she would ruin their careers. Though this has not been proven, there aren't any pictures of Montgomery Clift right after his accident.

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5.Angela Lansbury moved her family from California to Ireland in order to potentially save her children's lives.

Angela Lansbury taking a portrait wearing a fur coat
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Lansbury's daughter, Deirdre, became involved with the Manson family, and her son, Anthony, developed a heroin addiction. She believes moving back to Ireland saved her family.

Deirdre smiling while having her photo taken

Lansbury said, "We had lost our home; we had lost everything in fact. We were living on the west coast and my children were running into bad, bad habits with drugs. I had just closed in a show called Prettybelle, which wasn’t very good. So I said to Peter, my husband, ‘Let’s go home. Let’s go to Ireland.'" She believes moving back to Ireland saved her family.

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6.Legendary singer and actor Eartha Kitt once had a threesome with James Dean and Paul Newman.

Eartha Kitt having her photo taken
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Kitt said of the tryst, "White boys are so delicious."

Eartha Kitt smiling for a photo wearing a green sparkly one piece
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7.Shirley Temple was such a talented child that some people were sure she was actually an adult little person.

Shirley Temple holding a fbc mic smiling
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Father Silvio Massante was sent by the Vatican to confirm that, despite the popular rumor in Europe, Temple was a child.

Shirley Temple smiling while holding a glass of milk
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8.Marilyn Monroe sat next to Jane Fonda in Lee Strasberg's acting classes.

Marilyn Monroe posing for a photo
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Fonda said, "She and I would sit in the back of the room and she was... She'd have no makeup on and dark glasses and a scarf around her head, and looking very scared, and apparently was always too scared to ever get up and do anything. And I kind of felt that way too; I was too scared to get up and do anything."

Marilyn Monroe smiling while stepping into a car
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9.Greta Garbo said to friends that she would have killed Hitler and gotten away with it.

Greta Garbo posing for a photo while wearing all black
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Garbo got many letters from Hitler and invitations to see him in Germany (she was his favorite actress). But Garbo said to friends, "If the war hadn't started when it did, I would have gone, and I would have taken a gun out of my purse and shot him." According to Garbo, she would have gotten away with it because, "I'm the only person who would not have been searched."

Greta Garbo sitting on a boat looking out into the ocean or lake
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10.Rita Moreno did not expect to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, so when she did, all she said in her acceptance speech was, "I can't believe it! Good Lord! I leave you with that."

Rita Moreno taking a photo with her hand against her face
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Moreno thought that Judy Garland would win for Judgment at Nuremberg, but Moreno won for West Side Story, making her the first Latina actress to win an Oscar.

Rita Moreno jumping in the air smiling
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11.Julie Andrews was chucked into the grass many times by the helicopter used to film the hilltop scene in The Sound of Music.

Julie Andrews singing in The Sound of Music hilltop scene
Robert Wise Productions / Twentieth Century Fox

Andrews has said, "Every time the helicopter had finished, it went around me, but the downdraft from the jet engines just flung me into the grass. And, so, we did this about six or seven times, and I was spitting dirt and hay and things like that."

Julie Andrews snapping her fingers for a photo
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12.Debbie Reynolds "had Cary Grant call [her daughter, Carrie Fisher]" about Fisher's LSD use.

Debbie Reynolds singing near the mic
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According to Fisher, "There was a thing where my mother got worried about me 'cause she thought I was doing too much LSD. I was doing the right amount... So, when she got worried though, she did what any normal parent would do, concerned parent: She called Cary Grant." Grant had done LSD under doctor's supervision, Fisher said.

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds in 1983
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13.Bette Davis and Lucille Ball went to drama school together.

Bette Davis looking away for a photo
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Ball said, "I was a tongue-tied teenager spellbound by the school's star — Bette Davis."

Lucille Ball appearing intentionally startled while posing for a photoshoot
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14.Also, Lucille Ball was told by acting teachers that she should "give up" because she wasn't talented enough to succeed.

Ball performing on I Love Lucy in the famous Vitameatavegamin scene
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Obviously, Lucille Ball did more than succeed. Here she is, president of Desilu Productions Inc., at an annual stockholder meeting for her company. Ball was the first woman to be CEO a major production company.

Lucille Ball sitting down reading
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15.And Lucille Ball sent flowers to her mentee Carol Burnett on Burnett's birthday every year.

Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball on The Carol Burnett Show
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Ball happened to die on Burnett's birthday in 1989. Burnett's flowers arrived in the afternoon with a note that said, "Happy birthday, kid."

Ball and Burnett posing together
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16.Marlene Dietrich was openly bisexual, and she allegedly slept with Anna May Wong, Claudette Colbert, Greta Garbo, and other famous actresses.

Marlene Dietrich posing for a photo wearing a midnight blue outfit
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Dietrich referred to the woman she slept with as her "Sewing Circle."

Marlene Dietrich walking with a group of people around her
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17.Lana Turner's abusive boyfriend was killed by her teenage daughter, and her daughter never went to trial because it was deemed a "justifiable homicide."

Lana Turner posing for a photo against an orange background
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Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane, said, "I went upstairs to do a book report and mother came in and said, 'I'm going to ask John to leave. I don't want you to come downstairs but if you hear us arguing that's what it's about.'" When Crane heard John Stompanato Jr. threaten to disfigure Turner and destroy her family, "I ran down the stairs into the kitchen. I don't know what I was looking for but I found a knife. I ran back upstairs, the door burst open and mother was there looking at me and John was coming toward me. I stepped through the door and he literally ran into the knife."

Lana Turner with her young daughter

Crane also said, "You want to protect your mother, I was the only one there and I had to do something."

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18.Dorothy Dandridge was the first Black woman nominated for Best Actress. The ceremony took place in 1955.

Dorothy Dandridge posing for a photo while starring in the mirror
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Dandridge was nominated for Carmen Jones. Here she is posing in front of a Carmen Jones poster at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.

Dorothy Dandridge posing for a life size billboard near her
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19.And Audrey Hepburn could have died of starvation during World War II, but she survived the German invasion of Holland by eating tulip bulbs and nettles, and filling her stomach with water.

Audrey Hepburn with one hand holding the cup while the other is waving out
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Hepburn's son, Luca Dotti, said, "She had jaundice and edema. She suffered from anemia the rest of her life, possibly as a consequence."

Audrey Hepburn posing for a portrait

Dotti also said, "Hepburn was the same age as Anne Frank and [later] said: 'That was the girl who didn't make it and I did.' Her voice would crack, and her eyes would fill with tears."

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