#2. The 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.
#1. Oliver Stone's JFK Declares an Innocent Man Guilty of Helping Kill Kennedy
What You Saw in the Movie:
In Oliver Stone's film JFK, Kevin Costner plays District Attorney Jim Garrison, who, in 1966, comes across evidence that President Kennedy was actually murdered by some sort of CIA-backed anti-Cuban black ops group dissatisfied with the way he was handling the commies. At the center of this conspiracy is a guy named David Ferrie, who in a flashback scene is shown almost single-handedly planning the entire plot to kill JFK.
Played by Joe Pesci, with some help from Martin Scorsese's eyebrows.
Ferrie's main co-conspirator in all this is businessman Clay Shaw, and when they're not planning presidential assassinations, they like to blow off steam by hosting fabulous gay masquerades. If you don't feel like seeing Tommy Lee Jones' gold-painted nipples, look away now.
Thanks to this, Kevin Bacon is now only one degree removed from our next nightmare.
At one point, Ferrie comes to Garrison and admits to knowing Lee Harvey Oswald and being involved in the black ops group -- a few days later, he's found dead in his apartment, strongly hinting that he either killed himself or the CIA killed him and faked it as a suicide.
But in Real Life ...
The entire point of Stone's depiction of events is that it's impossible to tell which parts are fake. In real life, Garrison did indeed reopen the case on the JFK assassination, and he did in fact believe it was a conspiracy involving Ferrie, Shaw and black ops agents working to overthrow Castro (and bitter about JFK not helping them). In real life, the jury only needed about an hour to decide that the whole thing was bullshit. It had something to do with Garrison having no evidence for his theory whatsoever.
In fact, the only reason Ferrie was involved in the investigation at all was that he had years earlier served with Oswald in the Civil Air Patrol, and because a mental patient called Jack Martin told the FBI that Ferrie had used his hypnotist powers to mind control Oswald into killing Kennedy.
"Look into my eyebrows. You're falling asleep."
In the movie, Martin is played by Jack Lemmon, but for some reason they skip his mental history and wackier accusations. Meanwhile, Garrison himself wasn't entirely right in the head, apparently: At one point, he described the entire assassination plot as "a homosexual thrill-killing" and believed that Ferrie's motivation was that Kennedy was "virile" and "handsome." Ferrie, Shaw, Oswald, Jack Ruby -- in Garrison's mind, they were all part of some sort of gay role-playing president-killing cult.
Abraham Lincoln Papers
On second thought, that mustache looks suspiciously well groomed.
The movie takes Garrison's crazy conclusions and shows them as fact, complete with Ferrie confessing everything in private (he didn't) and flashing back to Ferrie and Shaw planning the assassination. In reality, there's no evidence whatsoever that Ferrie and Shaw knew each other, or that they belonged to a black ops group, or that they planned a presidential assassination, or even that they pranced around dressed like Mozart.
Clay Shaw was guilty of nothing more than being the creepiest-looking man in Washington.
OK, what about the suspicious suicide of Ferrie, which the movie insists was a hit job by the CIA? Well, Ferrie had been very sick, and the coroner ruled that his death was definitely due to natural causes.
To be fair, in real life Ferrie did have a disease that rendered him hairless, and he did wear a weird wig and fake eyebrows wherever he went. So Stone got that part right. Bravo!
For more real-life events muddied by bullshit, check out 6 Inspiring Rags to Riches Stories (That Are Bullshit) and 7 Bullshit Police Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies).