Joan Crawford soaked her eyes in boric acid every week so they’d “sparkle” on camera.
Joan Crawford was so concerned with maintaining her beauty that she had her back teeth removed to help accentuate her cheekbones.
Crawford also soaked her eyes in boric acid every week to make them “sparkle” on camera.
When child actors misbehaved on the set, they were occasionally sent to “the black box,” where they were forced to sit on an actual block of ice as punishment.
In Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, live birds were tied to Tippi Hedren and also thrown at her during the filming of the iconic attic scene.
Gene Kelly insulted Debbie Reynolds’ dancing so much while filming Singin’ in the Rain that one time, she hid from everyone under a piano, crying.
And Audrey Hepburn felt pressured to maintain her signature “doe-eyed” look, which was achieved by the painstaking separation of each eyelash with a safety pin.
Jackie Cooper couldn’t make himself cry while filming a particular scene in Skippy, so the director threatened to have Cooper’s dog killed if he couldn’t produce tears.
And Margaret O’Brien’s mother would get her to cry on command while filming the sad scenes in Meet Me in St. Louis by telling her that her rival actor on the MGM lot was a better crier than she was.
Morality clauses were added to studio contracts that made female actors get abortions and stay unmarried, in order to “prevent stars from destroying their value through scandal.”
These morality clauses also forced gay and lesbian actors into sham marriages in order to help hide their sexual identities.
In the ’20s and ’30s, movie sets actually used asbestos to give off the illusion of snow; it was also used later on for other purposes. Some actors, including Steve McQueen, got very sick later in life from asbestos-related conditions.
The Conquerer was filmed extremely close to nuclear testing grounds, but the government said it would be safe to shoot there. Years later, many of the cast and crew developed some type of cancer from radiation exposure.
In The Wizard of Oz, the green makeup used for Margaret Hamilton’s costume as the Wicked Witch of the West was so toxic that she was put on a strict liquid diet while filming.
And Buddy Ebsen was the original Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, but the aluminum dust from the makeup nearly killed him, so he was replaced by Jack Haley.
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were pitted against each other so severely that filming What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was unbearable for everyone involved. Davis even kicked Crawford so hard during one scene that she needed stitches.
And Crawford retaliated by putting weights in her own pockets before shooting a scene in which Davis had to carry the character’s body. This caused Davis to strain her back.
Silent-film star Harold Lloyd was doing a publicity shoot for Haunted Spooks when a prop bomb (which turned out to be a real bomb) went off, instantly removing his thumb and index finger.
Hattie McDaniel was the first black person to be nominated for an Oscar, but in 1940 the hotel that hosted the awards had a strict “no black people” policy. Gone With the Wind‘s producer had to call in a special favor just so McDaniel could enter the building, but they still made her sit in the back.
And Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney were consistently forced to take “pep pills” and sleeping pills so they could work 72 hours straight and then crash for a few hours before filming more scenes.
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