3The Murderous Evil Boxer in Cinderella Man Wasn't Either of Those Things
What You Saw in the Movie:
In Cinderella Man (directed by Ron Howard), Russell Crowe plays real-life boxer James Braddock, nicknamed "The Cinderella Man" because he rises from poverty in the middle of the Great Depression and becomes the heavyweight champion of the world (and not because of his controversial glass slipper fetish).
We're on to you, Crowe.
However, in order to claim the title, Braddock must face this movie's Ivan Drago, the ruthless Max Baer, who likes to brag about having killed two boxers. One died in the ring, and the other a few weeks after their fight (apparently Baer's punch was so fast that it broke the time barrier and hit him in the future). In one scene, Baer arrogantly warns Braddock that he could be next, then tells his wife, "You are far too pretty to be a widow" and "Maybe I could comfort you after he's gone."
"And by comfort you, I mean kill you, too, of course."
Even the fight's promoter takes Braddock aside and warns him about Baer's murderous fists, since he doesn't want a death on his conscience, but the hero decides to go ahead with the match anyway, and not only survives, but wins.
But in Real Life ...
The real Max Baer did kill one boxer in the ring, Frankie Campbell, but it was entirely accidental, and it haunted him his whole life. He sat by Campbell's bedside while he was in the hospital and broke down and cried when they pronounced him dead. Baer even raised money for Campbell's family and helped pay for his children's education. So either he was really, really humble and just didn't feel like mentioning any of that in the movie, or Ron Howard is full of shit.
In his last moments, the boxer wrote a message in blood over the canvas. It said, "Yep, he's full of shit."
Baer was a popular celebrity who was known and loved for his cheerful personality (and for wearing a star of David on his trunks while punching Hitler's favorite boxer). If anything, the accident made him less arrogant: After Campbell died, Baer started having nightmares and even lost a few fights because he was too afraid of hurting the other guys.
Also, his son played Jethro in The Beverly Hillbillies. So he must have been a good guy.
Oh, and as for the other boxer, who died some weeks after facing Baer, that was technically true. Ernie Schaaf was the guy, and oh, by the way, he happened to have both meningitis and the flu at the time, and even his family admitted that Baer couldn't possibly have had anything to do with that unless he had figured out a way to cover his gloves in diseases.
Obviously, Baer would have never threatened another boxer or bragged about having killed a guy as shown in the movie. Those scenes and the one with the promoter are completely made up, presumably because the filmmakers wanted to add some tension to the story. Otherwise it would just be a boring-ass movie about some boxer who rose from poverty, and who the hell would watch that?
2The Girlfriend in Ed Wood Wasn't a Shrill Harpy
What You Saw in the Movie:
In the 1994 film Ed Wood, Tim Burton's loving tribute to the worst director of all time, Sarah Jessica Parker plays Dolores Fuller, the unsupportive girlfriend who leaves Wood (Johnny Depp) because of his strange friendships and habit of wearing women's clothing. Also, the whole "being the worst director of all time" thing.
"But honey, at least I change the lead actors, and the music isn't always by the same guy!"
The film follows Wood's misadventures trying to make it in the film industry despite the entire world being against him (because, again, he has no talent), but through it all, the director retains his positive attitude -- Dolores dumping him for petty reasons is one of the few things that actually wipes that smile off his face and makes him question his vocation. He's better off, though, because eventually he finds a woman who isn't an opportunistic, judgmental shrew, and presumably they live happily ever after.
But in Real Life ...
Unlike what's shown in the movie, the real Dolores Fuller says Wood's cross-dressing didn't bother her -- the real reason she left him was because he "woke up drunk." Ed Wood was "an alcoholic throughout his adult life," even while making the "classics" shown in Burton's biopic.
That's ... probably the least surprising fact in Cracked history.
Even Bela Lugosi, depicted in the film as a sad drug addict, lived to the age of 72: Wood drank himself to death at 54, leaving his wife destitute. Meanwhile, Fuller went on to have a more successful career as a songwriter, penning a dozen songs for Elvis, so she probably made the right call there. His being the transvestite director of the worst films ever made may have had a role in their breakup, but it's not like she didn't try to be supportive: In the movie, Dolores has to be convinced to appear in Wood's Glen or Glenda, but in real life, she not only acted in the film but helped raise money, scout locations and pick the wardrobe for Wood's character (some of which was her own).
And unlike the Johnny Depp/Sarah Jessica Parker version, he didn't make a hotter woman than her.
Apparently, Parker didn't even bother to talk to Fuller before playing her: They only met at a press party for the movie, where Parker called her "the worst actress in the history of film" to her face. Fuller wasn't exactly Meryl Streep, but still, you'd think the star of Hocus Pocus and Sex and the City 2 would be in no position to judge.