Rumors constantly surround our favorite celebrities. Hints, allegations, and “insider” accounts come and go, but urban legends? Those have a staying power and entertainment value that is to be cherished. Here are 15 of the weirdest, funniest, and most shocking celebrity urban legends you’re likely to come across.
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When Lady GaGa first emerged into stardom many music lovers became convinced by the urban legend that she was, in actuality, a transgender person. The rumor became so widespread that Barbara Walters would ask the singer point blank on 20/20, whether or not the rumor was true. GaGa, while recognizing the rumor, gave a resounding “No.”
Jamie Lee Curtis
Before Lady GaGa had the transgender tale, Jamie Lee Curtis was subject to the same urban legend. There are claims that Curtis was born intersexual, with parts not quite male or female. As such, her parents (Hollywood legends Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis) supposedly decided to give her the gender neutral name “Jamie Lee.” Despite having done several flesh-tone scenes throughout her career, many still prescribe to this myth. Curtis has declined to comment on the question throughout her career, the majority of which she spent as a sexual icon. Let’s just say this urban legend did not slow her down…
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With a mere glance it’s easy to tell former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has had some work done. In fact, that’s probably an understatement. Still, the urban legend that the actress had her ribs removed to shrink her waist is probably utterly false. Yet the rumor swirled around the actresses star power throughout the 1990s. In an interview with Star Magazine, Anderson addressed the rumor by stating simply “I have had no ribs removed… and no nose job.”
The American Idol Judge and singer is worth millions, but does she really think her body is worth a billion dollars? Back in the late 90s, The Star and The New York Post reported the actress had her body insured to the tune of a billion dollars. These claims would later morph into the urban legend that Lopez had just her derriere insured for the same amount. In a 1999 interview, Lopez would laugh off the rumor, saying “When I heard the story I thought it was very funny.”
There was a longstanding urban legend that The Guilt Trip star Barbra Streisand began her career in a cheapo adult film. When a tape allegedly surfaced a few years back it was debunked. Experts (and we use that term loosely) verified that the performer many claimed to be Streisand was, in fact, a lookalike named Tasha Voux. Streisand would later joke about watching the video in a Playboy interview, stating “… all you would be buyers, don’t waste your money.”
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It’s hard to let our musical heroes go. Even though Tupac Shakur has been dead for 16 years (gunned down in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting), urban legends persist that rapper faked his death. Much like the idea Elvis Presley is still among us, the “Tupac Lives” theory has become a major part of the rap star’s pop cultural mythology. This results in a news story trickling out of the tabloids every couple of years claiming they have irrefutable proof Tupac is alive, well, and enjoying his retirement. Even former producer and Death Row label exec Suge Knight has substantiated the conspiracy theory—in April he revealed in an interview that, though he paid $3 million to have Tupca's ashes cremated, the rapper's remains disappeared. “Nobody’s seen Tupac dead,” Knight reported.
During the height of his popularity in the late 90s/early 2000s, a rumor started going around suggesting that Marilyn Manson got his start in show business playing the geeky sidekick on The Wonder Years. Yes, Manson was purported by many Nick At Night loving goth kids to be none other than Paul Pfeiffer. Though it would explain a lot about Manson’s persona, the connection just isn’t there. Manson’s real name is Brian Warner, while Paul was played by Josh Saviano. It turns out the rumor was a variation on another urban legend that came about in the 1970s suggesting Manson’s glam rock successor, Alice Cooper, started out as The Beav on Leave It To Beaver (also not true).
Ever hear the one about Mr. Fred Rogers’ military records? Apparently before he was hosting a children’s show he was a Marine sharpshooter in Vietnam. Or so the urban legend would have you believe. In a backstory right out of Rambo, rumors of Fred Rogers’ staggering military kill count began swirling on the internet in 1994. After his death in 2003 the rumor made a major resurgence. However, given the fact the same story was attributed to Rogers’ child entertaining peer Captain Kangaroo, it’s probably safe to call it all a hoax.
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When KISS emerged in the early 1970s as pop cultural icons, so came the legend that the band’s bassist, Gene Simmons, had a cow’s tongue grafted to his own to elongate it. Medical analysis has long since dispelled the rumor—after all, you can’t elongate your tongue without elongating your mouth. Besides that medical technology probably wasn’t around in the early 70s. Simmons himself dispelled it in his own autobiography, reporting he was oblivious of it for the first thirteen years of his life before figuring out exactly how different it made him. Thus, a glam rock legend was born…
It’s a common fact that, in Hollywood, you want to avoid the wrath of Steven Spielberg. We know Megan Fox can testify to this fact, but what about Mel Gibson? Following Gibson's anti-semitic LAPD arrest that leaked in 2006, an open letter began circulating around the net supposedly addressed to the Lethal Weapon star. Even better, it claimed to be from the desk of Steven Spielberg. The letter took Gibson to task for his comments, called an apology devoid of meaning, and promised to make a violent film about the Crusades to vilify Christians the same way The Passion of Christ supposedly vilified Jews. Spielberg’s publicist would shoot the letter down promptly and deny Spielberg's involvement in it. To this day the true identity of the author remains a mystery.
Much like Tupac’s faked death, Walt Disney’s rumored attempt to freeze himself in suspended animation following his demise is a classic Hollywood legend. Stories of the Mickey Mouse creator’s experiments in cryogenic immortality stems from two books-- Robert Mosely’s Disney’s World and Marc Eliot’s Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince. Both books have been widely discredited for their lack of hard facts. Though cryonics hold the potential to preserve a body indefinitely (a project Simon Cowell is currently pursuing), it’s widely acknowledged that Disney’s body was cremated and scattered following his death.
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A relatively new entry on this list is the urban legend that, during her stint in the Church of Scientology, Katie Holmes was impregnated by the preserved DNA of none other than L. Ron Hubbard. Andrew Morton’s tell-all book Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography helped spread the legend, but offers no real proof to back up the claim. Cruise’s reps have called the book a smear job on both the actor and Scientology. Given the fact Morton directly compares the impregnation scenario to the film Rosemary’s Baby, that’s probably the understatement of the century.
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Did A Christmas Story star Peter Billingsley go on to become an ? That’s how the urban legend went for several years, giving new layers’ to the film’s obsession with Red Ryder BB guns and… well, you get it. It would be little Ralphie himself who would come forward and reveal that, no, he never got into the adult film business. Quite the opposite—he would go on to become one of the producers of Marvel’s Iron Man. His co-star, Scott Schwartz, who played Flick in the film, did in fact have a brief foray starring in smut videos. So the urban legend was true, just for the wrong kid…
It’s believed by many conspiracy theorists that Jim Morrison was a CIA spy sent to infiltrate 60s counterculture. I don’t remember that part in Oliver Stone’s The Doors(though it sounds like something the director would pursue). The idea is that Morrison, himself an army brat whose father was an Admiral, was secretly a puppet/hitman for the CIA, NSA, and Interpol, among other intelligence agencies. Some claim his death was ordered by the CIA while other say he faked it to continue his intelligence career in other avenues. This is just one of the conspiracy theories surrounding Morrison’s death and by far the most ridiculous.
Richard Gere’s career has been haunted by an urban legend that came about around the peak of the actor’s stardom. Said tale involves Richard Gere utilizing a gerbil for sexual purposes, only to be admitted to Los Angeles General Hospital to the animal removed from his you-know-where. This urban legend became so prevalent it would eventually be the basis for an entire South Park episode. Gere would later laugh of the rumor, telling an interviewer he refused to read tabloids because "Lots of crazy things came up about me at first, especially from the tabloids. There is an infamous 'Gere stuck a hamster up his bum' urban myth."