7 Stars With Wild Off Screen Lives
On screen, we're used to seeing beautiful people lead impossibly exciting lives -- but once the cameras stop rolling, those actors return to the same boring existence as everyone else (give or take a few Cadillacs). Well, some stars didn't get the memo. Here are the ones whose off-screen antics were even more unbelievable than anything in their movies:
The Bad Guy From Ghostbusters II Was Absolutely Terrifying
Ghostbusters II is one of the few movies out there in which the bad guy is technically a painting. In the film, the Ghostbusters use their essential equipment (we mean their penises, obviously) to fight an old painting possessed by the soul of a 16th-century tyrant named Vigo the Carpathian. This happy camper:
If you looked inside his mind, you'd see nothing but the YouTube comments
on the 2016 Ghostbusters trailer.
There are two things you should know about that painting: 1) It's not actually a painting; it's a photo made to look like one, and 2) this movie's casting people did their job a little too well, because the guy in that photo was even scarier than his character.
German actor Wilhelm von Homburg (born under the slightly less intimidating name of Norbert Grupe) first became famous as a sports figure in the '60s, when he was known as "The Beatle Boxer" due to his boyish good looks and scandalously long hair. Even back then, he was creepy as hell. In a 1969 interview, Homburg stopped answering the journalist's questions and just stared at him for minutes, with a faint smile that said "I am strangling you with your own intestines in my mind right now."
Homburg was also part of a wrestling tag team with his former-Nazi-soldier father ... which is kinda shocking, because this was after, according to his father, Homburg raped his stepmother. He was never arrested for that, but he did do five years in prison on charges related to drug dealing and prostitution. Hollywood is the land of opportunity, though, and Homburg's career was resuscitated in the '80s when he was cast as "German terrorist blown up by John McClane" in the first Die Hard. This led to parts in other movies, like Ghostbusters II, where Homburg's rough German accent was replaced with Max von Sydow's comparatively suave voice. They wanted to creep out the audience, not traumatize them.
By 2004, Homburg had drunk, snorted, and whored his showbiz money away, and he died destitute and alone. Hopefully there were no paintings in the general vicinity.
The Walking Dead Cast Rescue Children In Their Spare Time
When actress Laurie Holden's Walking Dead character, Andrea, was (OLD SPOILERS AHEAD) unexpectedly killed off at the end of Season 3, Holden suddenly found herself with some free time. And how do you top killing zombies in front of 10 million people every week? You start using your talents to take down their moral real-life equivalent: sex traffickers.
If you don't recognize her, just imagine what she'd look like after not bathing for two years.
Honestly, this would almost make less believable television than deceased people going for strolls. Operation Underground Railroad was put together by a former CIA agent who recruited what ABC News dubbed a "ragtag group of volunteers," including two CrossFit instructors from Utah, a door-to-door salesman, and Holden. Then they all went down to Colombia to do some sex-slave-liberating, as one does. Holden would don her disguise of a wig and glasses to distract the girls and traffickers while armed authorities surrounded them. At one point, she pretended to be an American visiting as part of a bachelor party, so she had to convince the slavers she was a cool "party girl" just there to have "a good time with the guys." Ladies: If your fiance's bachelor party involves sex slaves, you probably need to rethink that marriage. It doesn't matter how much you'll lose on the deposit.
Sadly, her role in Dumb And Dumber To WASN'T part of a sting operation
to stop the Farrellys from making more movies.
In the end, they rescued 55 girls, some as young as 12, as well as a major trafficker. And this wasn't even Holden's first time doing this: She was contacted specifically because she had been involved in similar stings in Cambodia and Vietnam. Her Walking Dead character routinely dispatched undead monsters, and she still wasn't as badass as the real-life version.
Lest you think she is the only cast member who kicks butt in their down time, the guy who played The Governor, David Morrissey, was on a U.N. boat rescuing Greek refugees ... who probably didn't have American cable; otherwise, why the hell would they get on a boat with that guy.
Goldfinger Was A Nazi (Who Secretly Saved A Jewish Family)
Gert Frobe was a German actor who appeared in over 100 films but was most famous for starring as the titular character in the James Bond film Goldfinger. And thanks to the 1960s version of a clickbait headline, none of his films were available to watch in Israel -- unjustly, it turns out.
And that's why Israel isn't as afraid of getting dick-lasered as the rest of the world is.
A year after his turn as the Bond villain, when Frobe was talking about his experiences during World War II with the Daily Mail, they quoted him as saying, "Naturally, I was a Nazi." However, this wasn't the real story (and if they had wanted to be totally accurate they would have added "just like the Daily Mail's owner was"). We know you might find this shocking, considering what a pinnacle of journalistic excellence they were and continue to be. But Frobe had been a Nazi in the sense that a lot of people in Germany had been Nazis: They kind of had to join the party. In fact, as far as Nazis went, he was closer to Oskar Schindler than to Hermann Goering.
When his "quote" made headlines around the world and led to his films being banned in Israel, Frobe explained that what had actually happened was that he had managed to save two Jewish people during the war. And it isn't just his word we have. The film ban was lifted only after a man named Mario Blumenau told Israel's embassy in Vienna that his and his mother's lives had been saved when Frobe hid them from the Nazis. And so the misunderstanding was cleared up, though perhaps Frobe could have prevented the whole thing by not dressing up as a Nazi for every other movie.
If you don't wanna be mistaken for evil, maybe cool it with the monocles.
The Tough Guy From Die Hard Was A Beloved Dancer Who Defected To The U.S.
Still traumatized from the Ghostbusters II entry above? Well, here's pretty much the exact opposite. Alexander Godunov was the unkillable henchman from the first Die Hard, Karl, the one that somehow survives being hanged by the neck, exploded, and thrown off a 34-story building.
"The deaths sorta balanced each other out."
But, believe it or not, Godunov was once the biggest dancer at the world famous Bolshoi Ballet. He won gold in the International Ballet Competition in 1973 and had fans outside the ballet world, where his ubermensch blonde good looks got him roles in popular films. There was only one problem: He still lived in the USSR and yearned to be in a place that didn't completely blow.
"Yippie croise, motherfucker."
So, when the Bolshoi Ballet was touring the United States, Godunov saw a chance to slip away. This was incredibly difficult, since the Soviets knew this was a possibility (see above: blowing); as a result, they watched all their ballet dancers like hawks. Still, he managed it and contacted American authorities, asking for political asylum. As soon as the KGB realized he was gone, they put his wife, Lyudmila Vlasova, on a plane and tried to fly her back to Moscow, but U.S. security forces got there first. In the end, it took three days, President Carter, the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and assurances from Vlasova that she really did love Communism more than her husband before her plane was allowed to take off.
Godunov went on to join the American Ballet Theatre and have parts in many Hollywood films ... as well as having a movie made about him, Flight 222. Suck on that, Reginald VelJohnson.
Jimmy Stewart Smuggled A "Yeti Finger" Into England
Back in the day, the United Kingdom wanted to have all the things. For a long time they had the biggest guns, so they got away with it, but by the 1950s their empire had fallen and they couldn't just take whatever artifacts they wanted from other cultures anymore. That's when they had to start being sneaky about it. And that, ironically, involved getting help from the most American of actors:
After Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course.
In 1958, the explorer Peter Byrne was climbing all over the Himalayas looking for a Yeti, but he settled for just a hand when he heard that the Pangboche temple had one. So Byrne went to check out this supposed Yeti hand, and the monks very nicely (and very stupidly, it turns out) let him see it. Apparently, it looked convincingly Yeti-ish enough for Byrne, so he asked if he could take it back to the U.K. with him for further scientific analysis. The monks turned him down, though, since they believed bad things would happen to the temple if it was ever removed. Spoilers: Bad things happened anyway.
Back in England, Byrne met with a professor and his American sponsor, who talked him into going back to get the hand -- in other words, straight-up steal that shit. After returning to the temple and getting the Sherpa guarding it really drunk, Byrne switched out one of the fingers with one he had brought with him. Now he just had to get it out of the country. Fortunately, his sponsor happened to know someone who was vacationing in India at the time: George Bailey himself, Jimmy Stewart. His wife hid it in her lingerie case, since they figured that was the least likely to be searched by customs (and apparently people needed whole suitcases of underwear to take on trips back then). Of course, when they landed that was the one piece of luggage missing. It was found and returned a few days later, still unsearched, because the properly English official said he would "never open a lady's lingerie case."
Anyway, that's why England still has a Yeti finger in the basement of some museum ... which turned out to be human, because of course it fucking did.
"Also, it's not a finger."
Cary Grant's Childhood Was A Goddamn Horror Movie
It's honestly pretty shocking that Cary Grant managed to survive his childhood, let alone turn out to be a relatively normal and successful person. His family life was horrible; his father was an alcoholic and his mother suffered from depression. His mother punished him for every tiny thing, and by all accounts Grant kind of hated her (the fact that she had actually named him "Archibald" probably didn't help).
She loved that couch more than him. Exhibit A: She didn't name it Archibald.
So you would think that 10-year-old Archie would have been happy when he came home one day and his dad told him that his mother had gone on a vacation to the beach. According to his ex-wife, however, Grant was crushed and wondered what he had done wrong not to be invited to go with her -- because cotton candy and seashells are totally worth spending time with your sad, angry mom. Then, three months later, his dad said that his mom had died while she was away. It was tragic, but at least Archie had one parent still, right? Yeah, for a couple months ... until his dad started a new family that apparently didn't have room for him.
Somehow Grant managed to survive the rest of his childhood. And then, right when he was getting his break in films, his dad called him up to say, "Surprise! Your mom isn't really dead. I put her in a mental institution and lied to you about it for 20 years."
"Also, His Girl Friday sucks. Well, that was nice, talk in 20 more."
But Grant didn't escape completely unaffected. When his marriage to his fourth wife was falling apart in the late 1960s, he thought a great way to save the marriage would be to drop acid together. Which, sure, is definitely a better choice than secretly locking her away for two decades, but it's not exactly couples counseling. Shockingly, they divorced anyway.
Related: Cary Grant Took LSD (100 Times)
Liz Taylor Ran An Illegal AIDS Drug Ring
Even though her career was mostly behind her, actress Elizabeth Taylor still had plenty to keep her occupied in the early 1990s: She was busy marrying her boy-toy seventh husband and probably spent a lot of time polishing her two Oscars.
However, Taylor decided what she really wanted to be was the combination Robin Hood/Harriet Tubman/El Chapo of the AIDS movement.
Taylor first became an outspoken AIDS advocate when the disease killed her good friend Rock Hudson in 1985. At the time, members of the Reagan administration literally laughed about the disease in press conferences. If the government wasn't going to do anything, the actress decided she would. She called out President Bush Sr., saying he probably didn't even know how to spell AIDS. Within a few years, Taylor wasn't just speaking about the AIDS epidemic; she was running an illegal drug ring out of her Bel Air mansion. She personally developed an underground network to acquire an experimental HIV drug and allowed people who were infected to use her home as a safehouse. This was back when people wouldn't touch an AIDS victim with a 10-foot pole, and she was letting them crash on her couch.
Above: Wilma's mom in the Flintstones movie, showing actual presidents how it's done.
Despite the fact that, as Taylor herself pointed out, there would be no Hollywood without gay people, even that "liberal" town stuck its fingers in its ears, closed its eyes, and yelled, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU," when Taylor came calling. Famous people refused to show up to her AIDS benefits. Her business managers told her the cause would ruin her. She even received death threats, because nothing says "insecure about my penis size" like intimidating a 60-year-old lady trying to help people with a terminal illness.
Deep inside us all -- behind our political leanings, moral codes, and private biases -- there is a cause so colossally stupid that we surprise ourselves with how much we care. Whether it's toilet paper position, fedoras on men, or Oxford commas, we each harbor a preference so powerful that we can't help but proselytize about it to the world. In the next live episode of the Cracked podcast, guest host Soren Bowie is joined by Cody Johnston, Michael Swaim, and comedian Annie Lederman to discuss the most trivial things we will argue about until the day we die. Get your tickets here!
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