Old-Timey Icons With WTF Habits

These a-list icons had a-hole tendencies.
Old-Timey Icons With WTF Habits

Look, we're not children. We know that some old-timey celebrities weren't all bubblegum and smiles; they were mean and they were nasty and they were dicks. As it turns out, though, some old-timey icons were douchebags in ways we would never, ever suspect.

Charlie Chaplin Was a Sex-Obsessed Lunatic With a Thing for Teenage Girls

The appeal of Charlie Chaplin's comedy was the warm beating heart the man put on display -- whether he was imitating dancing with some bread rolls ...

... caught in the cogs of a gigantic corporate machine ...

... or decrying the dehumanizing nature of fascism ...

However, a bit lower than that heart, was a warm throbbing erection.

See, Chaplin was a sex-obsessed lunatic who, by his own admission, had slept with close to 2,000 women during his lifetime. Whether that's Hollywood accounting or not is uncertain, but what's clear is that his sex performances got just as rave reviews as his cinematic ones. He allegedly was "hung like a horse" and a "human sex machine" that could bang it out six times in one night, which beats our current high score of one-and-1/3.

Chaplin had fun with it too. His party trick wasn't anything to do with canes or mustaches -- it was imitating how the "leading ladies of the day" might sound while orgasming (something he probably had intimate knowledge of). Likewise, while at a weekend-long orgy, he painted his "little tramp" with iodine -- which he habitually did in order to prevent syphilis (Spoiler: It doesn't) -- and chased the party's girls around the house "with his bright red bone."

Of course, there was a darker side to Chaplin too. Namely, his thing for teenage girls. This included his first wife, 16-year-old Mildred Harris -- whom he married in a panic following a pregnancy scare. His second wife, 16-year-old Lillita MacMurray -- whom Chaplin first became interested in when she was 12-years-old ... but held back on, on account of the fear that he'd seem like a predator (which he totally was). And although his third wife, Paulette Goddard, was 22-years-old when they met and married, he made shit weird again in 1943, when he started palling around with 17-year-old Oona O'Neill ... whom he then married only a month after she turned 18. Which in modern times, is known as pulling a Drake.

Thomas Edison Gave Prospective Employees a Mind-Bogglingly Difficult Exam

In order to weed the ranks, these days most big tech companies make their job applicants take grueling tests or subject them to insane lines of questioning -- Google being the most famous example. At least the Men in Black let you meet aliens.

This isn't some new-age approach to recruitment, however. It's been around for decades and was pioneered by asshole/genius/asshole a second time (because it really can't be stated enough) Thomas Edison, who loved to stretch the limits of job applicants intelligence almost as much as he loved to stretch the limitations of intellectual property laws.

Edison didn't trust universities to sufficiently train graduates to do a job, so he got about this by designing a 146 question-long pre-employment test that potential employees would have to take while at Edison's offices. The only problem? It wasn't a test of industry knowledge or anything remotely related to the job. It was a 100+ question-long trivia quiz, which asked applicants to answer inane questions like "Of what kind of wood are kerosene barrels made?" and "What is the highest rise of tide on the North American Coast?" and "What is the price of 12 grains of gold?" You know your test has gotten out of hand when we're complaining about the applications of obscure trivia facts.

When the test was leaked to the public by the New York Times in 1921, they described it as "a test of a man's memory and store of miscellaneous information, rather than of his knowledge, reasoning power or intelligence." Soon enough, it became trend du jour to try Edison's Bullshit Quiz, a number of whom included Albert Einstein (who failed) and Edison's own son, Theodore -- which is ironic considering that Edison's whole deal was that he thought college-educated kids were dummies.

After the leak, Edison was forced to change the test, but regardless, he defended it by saying that he only wanted to employ people who had a broad depth of knowledge because in his view, every mistake his employees made cost him $5,000. Which is $4960 more than the current price of 12 grains of gold.

Galileo Was An Annoying Dante's Inferno Fanboy

Inferno, the first part of Dante's 14th-century epic, The Divine Comedy, follows the characters of Dante and Virgil as they travel to the center of the 'Inferno', aka Hell. In doing so, they pass through the nine circles of Hell -- Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, Treachery -- in a journey which ends with them climbing up Satan's genitals and into the light of an Easter Sunday morning. It's pretty much Lord of the Rings, but somehow with less religious iconography.

Without video games, podcasts, or porn to amuse people, analyzing this poem was a major hobby among old-timey nerds, who spent hours upon hours of serious amounts of research mapping out the landscape and layout of the 'Inferno'. But as tends to happen in nerd communities, one obnoxious little jag rose to the top of the pile with his critiques and plothole nitpickery know-it-all: Galileo Galilei.

Yes, that Galileo.

Old-Timey Icons With WTF Habits
National Maritime Museum
He probably enjoyed reading about punished heretics a lot more before the Catholic Church decided to drop that little title on him, too.

In 1588, Galileo was such a name among Infernoids (as they called themselves. Probably.) that was he invited to deliver a lecture series on TDC. During his presentations, Dante recounted his own specific theories about the layout of the Inferno, including the width and thickness of its roof, as well tore apart competing theories for being straight-up mathematically impossible. "Using complex geometrical analysis," writes Chris Wright, "he attacked a leading scholar's version pointing out that his description of the infernal architecture -- such as the massive cylinders descending to the center of the Earth -- would, in real life, collapse under their own weight."

He then presumably ended these lectures by asking the audience to smash that subscribe button, donate to his Patreon, and check out his merch store at Sinemasins.parchment.it.

There was a method to Dante's cockheaded madness, though. He wasn't being a prig for prig's sake, he was demonstrating that science can enhance art -- something which we're a big fan of, too -- and additionally, argues physics professor Mark Peterson, was unwittingly laying the groundwork for what would become the field of theoretical physics. It can even be said that Galileo got his start in physics off of the back of his research into the true mathematical properties of the Inferno, which were such a work of science-art that he landed a job as a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Pisa.

Charles Darwin Ate Every Animal He Discovered

In 1831, Charles Darwin set sail aboard the HMS Beagle on a voyage to South America -- as well as Australasia and South Africa. The voyage lasted five years, during which time Darwin spent the expedition developing what would become known outside Texas and Louisiana as the theory of evolution.

In doing this, Darwin studied countless species of plants and animals in building his theory that species evolved along different pathways in different places as part of natural selection. The other major discovery that Darwin made was that, regardless of evolutionary differences, every animal he discovered was fucking delicious.

Old-Timey Icons With WTF Habits
Putneymark/Wikimedia Commons
As may be apparent from one of his lesser-known finches, Geospiza Needsmustardus.

While studying at Cambridge University, Darwin was a member of the 'Glutton Club' -- a group dedicated to the purpose of eating one of everything "birds and beasts which were before unknown to the human palate." Aboard the Beagle, which was possibly the only thing he didn't eat, Darwin continued this proud tradition and munched on everything from puma, iguana, armadillo, even a small rodent-type creature known as an 'agouti' -- which he described as "the very best meat I ever tasted" (although it's thought he might've actually eaten a guinea pig). However, of all the animals he dined on, his clear favorite was tortoise. He and the ship's crew dined on 48 of them during their voyage, and they were so seemingly finger-licking good that he returned home without a single specimen for research. In fact, he loved tortoises so much that he even drank the contents of one's bladder -- which he described as "quite limpid" and "very slightly bitter."

His appetite for bird was ravenous enough that, while romping through Patagonia, Darwin set himself the task of trying to catch a rare species of ostrich-like bird known as a 'lesser rhea' for transport and study back home ... Except, one of the ship's crew shot one and Darwin -- completely forgetting about his mission -- cooked it and started to chow down. He eventually came to his senses and ordered everyone to stop eating whatever was left -- which included the head, neck, legs, one wing, and some stray feathers -- and packaged the rest for home. Which means that Darwin also unwittingly discovered the doggy bag.

You can find more from Adam on Twitter! He also has a newsletter about depressing history facts. (It's not as sad it sounds, promise.)

Top Image: Wiki Commons

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?