24 Compelling Facts About Your Favorite Classic Hollywood Movie Stars

Updated on October 14, 2019
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

Some of the world's most beloved and acclaimed movie stars shined during the Golden Age of Hollywood. With iconic names like Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and Judy Garland, this period in Tinseltown truly brought forth some of the biggest names in cinema history. Let's take a look at 24 compelling facts about your favorite classic Hollywood movie stars.


1. When Montgomery Clift was involved in a near fatal car crash, Elizabeth Taylor saved his life. When she came across the wreckage, Taylor entered the car through the back door, crawled to the front seat, and removed the two teeth from Clift's throat that threatened to choke him.

2. During World War II, Audrey Hepburn lived in Arnhem, Netherlands. She worked with the Dutch Underground, giving ballet performances to collect donations for the anti-Nazi effort and also as an occasional courier.

3. Before he became famous, Marlon Brando worked as a department store elevator operator; he ended up quitting after only four days due to his embarrassment of having to call out the lingerie floor.

4. Adolf Hitler esteemed Clark Gable above all other actors, and during the war offered a sizable reward to anyone who could capture and return Gable unscathed to him. The actor enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 to honor his late wife and flew combat missions over Germany.

5. Judy Garland is said to have had a powerful gift of retention. She could view a piece of music once and have the entire thing memorized.

6. Bette Davis was nominated for an Academy Award five years in a row, in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, and 1943. She shares the record for most consecutive nominations with Greer Garson.

Elizabeth Taylor & Montgomery Clift.
Elizabeth Taylor & Montgomery Clift. | Source
Marlon Brando.
Marlon Brando. | Source

7. The evaluation of Fred Astaire's first screen test was: "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little."

8. Cary Grant turned down the role of James Bond in Dr. No (1962), believing himself to be too old at the age of 58 to play the hero. The role instead went to Sean Connery.

9. Vivien Leigh beat out a whopping 1400 other actresses for her role as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind.

10. Marilyn Monroe appeared on the front cover of the first issue of Playboy in December 1953. Hugh Hefner used previous pictures originally taken of the star for a calendar, not the magazine itself.

11. Sophia Loren was was the first actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for a foreign-language performance; she earned the Oscar in 1962 for her role as Cesira in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women.

12. Just two hours before his fatal car accident in 1955, James Dean was issued a speeding ticket for going 10 miles over the speed limit. He was scheduled to appear in court two weeks later.

Marilyn Monroe on the cover of the first issue of Playboy, 1953.
Marilyn Monroe on the cover of the first issue of Playboy, 1953. | Source
Sophia Loren in Two Women (1962).
Sophia Loren in Two Women (1962). | Source
James Dean.
James Dean. | Source

13. John Wayne holds the record for the actor with the most leading roles: 142. In all but 11 films, he played the leading part.

14. Due to her 5'9" height, many of Ingrid Bergman's shorter co-stars, such as Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart, had to wear lifts in their shoes in order to avoid looking small next to her.

15. Hollywood It couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall starred in 4 films together during their 12-year relationship: To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948). Their marriage ended with Bogart's death in 1957.

16. Rita Hayworth accidentally broke two of Glenn Ford's teeth when she slapped him during a scene in Gilda (1946).

17. From the 1940s to the 1960s, Bing Crosby owned 15% of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, and his cameo in Angels in the Outfield (1951) was as part-owner of the team.

18. Tony Curtis broke a Hollywood taboo in the 1950s by insisting that an African-American actor, Sidney Poitier, have co-starring billing next to him in the movie The Defiant Ones (1958).

Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall.
Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall. | Source
Glenn Ford & Rita Hayworth.
Glenn Ford & Rita Hayworth. | Source

19. Natalie Wood had a deep fear of drowning, after having barely survived an accident when she was a little girl, filming The Green Promise (1949). Tragically, the talented actress would die from drowning in 1980.

20. The original script for The Towering Inferno (1974) called for Steve McQueen's character to have more dialect than Paul Newman's. McQueen insisted that the script be changed so that he and Newman would have the same number of lines. He believed his talent was superior to Newman's and wanted the critical criteria to be as equal as possible.

21. Grace Kelly was the first actress to ever be featured on a US postage stamp; she first appeared on one in 1993.

22. Unable to bear children, Jane Russell championed the passage of the Federal Orphan Adoption Amendment of 1953, which allowed children of servicemen born overseas to be placed for adoption in the US. Through her organization, World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), Russell placed 51,000 children with adoptive families.

23. Richard Burton once got into a contest with Robert F. Kennedy, whom he greatly admired, in which they tried to out-do the other by quoting William Shakespeare's sonnets. Both were word-perfect, although Burton won the contest by quoting one of the sonnets backwards.

24. In the late 1940s, 20th Century Fox insured Betty Grable's legs with Lloyds of London for quarter of a million dollars.

Natalie Wood.
Natalie Wood. | Source
Richard Burton.
Richard Burton. | Source
Betty Grable.
Betty Grable. | Source

© 2019 Rachel M Johnson


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    • Rachel M Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel M Johnson 

      8 months ago

      Thank you James, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 months ago from Chicago

      I really enjoyed your great article. It is fun and interesting and beautifully written. Thank you.


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