10 Darkest Hollywood Secrets



10 Darkest Hollywood Secrets

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
Behind all the glitz and glamour are some truly horrifying details about tinseltown. For this list, we'll be pulling back the curtain on some of Hollywood's shadiest back-door deals and darkest, hidden-in-plain-sight tales of bad behavior. Our countdown includes The Presence of Organized Crime, Treatment of Animals, The Casting Couch, and more!

Top 10 Darkest Secrets in Hollywood

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest Secrets in Hollywood.

For this list, we’ll be pulling back the curtain on some of Hollywood’s shadiest back-door deals and darkest, hidden-in-plain-sight tales of bad behavior.

Did any of these secrets shock you? Let us know in the comments.

#10: The Presence of Organized Crime

There’s a wealth of weird ‘n’ wild stories behind the glitz and glamor of old school Hollywood. Over the years, rumors have circulated about the connections between some A-listers and organized crime. The Trocadero (aka the Troc) was a famous spot on the Sunset Strip. Celebrities, along with studio heads, would rub elbows with notorious gangsters like Mickey Cohen. And the Mob’s presence in Hollywood stuck around after the Golden Age, with reported shady ties to film productions right into the 1970s. For example, films like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” were released by Bryanston Pictures, a company linked to a Mafia crime family.

#9: Diversity Issues

In an older, even less diverse Hollywood, it wasn’t uncommon for a white actor to portray an Asian, Black, or indigenous character. This was the old school practice of excluding minorities from major, leading roles...and even smaller roles, for that matter. But in 2015, #OscarsSoWhite shed light on the decades-long lack of diversity in Hollywood. Since then, some major Hollywood productions have made it a priority to be more inclusive and diverse in their casting. While the level of quality for minority roles has shifted over the years, offering a plethora of better parts with more meaningful dialogue, Hollywood still has far to go.

#8: Adult Origins

Fun fact: There are more connections with mainstream Hollywood and the adult industry than you might think. Some major players, such as Sylvester Stallone, Wes Craven, and “Men in Black” director Barry Sonnenfeld, cut their teeth in the genre. It was also commonplace for many behind the camera to work interchangeably between the two worlds, sometimes using pseudonyms. For example, cinematographer Joao Fernandes used names like “Harry Flecks” for his adult film work. But he went under his real name for mainstream movies like “Children of the Corn,” “Invasion U.S.A.,” and “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.”

#7: The Toll of Being a Child Star

It can take a lifetime for some actors to achieve international notoriety and respect. But for others, success finds them at an early age. But are they emotionally equipped to handle all that comes with being a child star? Most would say “no.” There are too many tragic cautionary tales about how early fame can be a pitfall for child stars without a strong support system. The temptation of drug use, and the presence of malevolent adults can lurk around every corner. Growing up in front of the camera can make the already difficult period of puberty that much more challenging. Thankfully, there are examples like Drew Barrymore who have made it out the other end. But sadly, not everyone has been so lucky.

#6: Not Paying Writers Enough

It seems so simple: pay the writer. We’re paraphrasing sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison, who commented on the issue in the 2008 documentary, “Dreams with Sharp Teeth.” He laments the plight of writers whose work is devalued, and who have to scratch, claw, and scream to get paid what their work is worth by the Hollywood system. It’s been so bad in the past that Hollywood screenwriters have gone on strike. Other examples of dissatisfaction include “Passion of the Christ” screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald suing director Mel Gibson and his production company, claiming fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. But it isn’t just writers. There continues to be a significant wage gap between male and female actors for the same work.

#5: Treatment of Animals

Just like humans, animal actors are deserving of protection and safety while on set. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been this way in Hollywood. There have been animal abuse controversies as recently as 2017, with allegations against the production of “A Dog’s Purpose” - though it was later reported that the video in question was edited. Regardless, the legacy of mistreatment tragically goes back much farther. Productions like 1925’s “Ben-Hur” and many old school westerns featured horrifying horse falls. And the horror classic “Friday the 13th” actually killed a snake on camera. It’s a controversial history of very real sacrifice, all for the sake of cinema.

#4: The Pressure for the Perfect Weight

The movie industry is a visual medium, and that presents an intense set of challenges for everyone who chooses to live a life in front of the camera. Unfortunately, the pressure of appearance can be all-consuming, especially for those just entering the business seeking to make their mark. This pressure is unfairly slanted at female actors who have to contend with societal standards of beauty. There are also unrealistic expectations placed upon them by casting directors, agents, and producers. As a result, many performers have struggled with eating disorders, damaging their health and bodies in order to look good for a movie or on the red carpet. It’s a discussion that’s all too often swept under the rug.

#3: Substances on Set

The movie making process is a collaborative process, requiring the collective effort of so many people to bring it all together. And oftentimes, the jobs of all these people may hinge upon the performance or name recognition of a single celebrity. That’s a lot of pressure for even the healthiest person, but what about for someone struggling with substance issues? Hollywood has been guilty of feeding the addictions of some of its brightest stars, including comedy legend John Belushi. His 1980 hit “The Blues Brothers” reportedly had the price of cocaine built into its budget. It’s the sort of “truth stranger than fiction” tale that could only be rumored in Hollywood.

#2: Fixers

It may seem like an impossible task in today’s hyper-connected world, but there was once a time where Hollywood stars were able to keep their secrets, well, secret. And if they couldn’t? Well, that was where a “fixer” would come in. The life of Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix served as partial inspiration for the 2016 Cohen Brothers film, “Hail, Caesar!” Mannix would do just about anything to protect his clients’ public reputations. His role at MGM involved everything from consorting with organized crime, destroying evidence, and hiding (or otherwise “fixing”) unplanned pregnancies. Today, some celebrities like Mark Wahlberg may seek pardoning for their dark or violent pasts. But in old Hollywood, scandals just needed to disappear.

#1: The Casting Couch

Harvey Weinstein’s reprehensible crimes were exposed, but the actual history of the “Casting Couch” predates the disgraced former Miramax founder by many, many years. How far back exactly? So far back that one of the first stag films from 1924 uses it as a plot device. The late 2010s gave rise to the Me Too Movement. #MeToo encouraged victims, overwhelmingly but not exclusively female, to speak out against the twisted practices of too many in the industry exploiting those searching for an opportunity. And although the “casting couch” euphemism is abhorrent (and the actual act is illegal), its legacy in the Hollywood system might never truly go away.