Sure, it might sound exciting to be famous, with all the moviemaking and lawmaking and parties on boats. But the real exciting parts of these people's lives are the stories you don't even hear ... except for when we tell them to you. Adventures starring such people as ...
1. Ric Flair
Before he was adopted by Dick and Kay Fliehr, the boy who'd grow up to be wrestler Ric Flair lived at an orphanage. Not because his parents died. Because he was a black market baby in an illegal scheme to coerce children out of parents or to even outright steal children.
2. Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway was put on trial and not for public drunkenness or starting a bar fight. He was accused of violating the Geneva Conventions during World War II by acting as an armed combatant while working as a journalist.
3. Louisa May Alcott
If you just assumed Little Women had to be autobiographical, you might be surprised to learn Alcott lived in a commune at age 10 -- one that forbade wool, cotton, and fertilizer but was majorly into child labor.
4. J. Robert Oppenheimer
Before his work on the atom bomb, Oppenheimer worked under physicist Patrick Blackett, and he didn't much care for the job. So he tried to kill his boss by injecting poison into an apple.
5. Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson owed more than $100,000 when he died. The reason? He spent so much on wine ($1 million a year, in modern dollars). He should have imported the stuff by the barrel considering how much he bought, but he insisted on bottles, sure merchants would pee in the barrels or something if given the chance.
6. Dustin Hoffman
7. Vin Diesel
In 2002, Vin Diesel pulled a family of four out of a car wreck, right before the car burst into flames.
8. Walt Disney
Disney worked for the Red Cross during World War I. His truck broke down during a snowstorm, and he spent three days with it while his partner sought help. Finally, he set out for town and safety, resulting in a court-martial for abandoning his post.
9. David Koch
David, the Koch brother who died in 2019, survived a plane crash in 1991. How serious was the crash? He was the only first-class passenger to make it out alive.
10. Julia Child
Julia Child was a spy with the OSS. Her documented accomplishments included inventing a shark repellant, and she received top security clearance for missions overseas.
11. Davy Crockett
Crockett usually opposed President Andrew Jackson. But when an assassin attacked the president, and Jackson's own men pulled him from fighting back, Davy Crockett disarmed and beat the gunman.
12. Steve Bannon
In the early '90s, Steve Bannon was put in charge of Biosphere 2, the project that sealed scientists in an enclosed environment. He ran it so poorly that one scientist broke in to let the others out, and she later successfully sued him.
13. Dog The Bounty Hunter
14. Nikola Tesla
Some of Tesla's lesser-known inventions involved human test subjects, like the time he wanted to test the effects of one machine's vibrations. The test subject was none other than Mark Twain, and he reported that the vibrations set loose his bowels.
15. Mark Twain
Speaking of Mark Twain, the man was in charge of his own militia during the Civil War. It didn't go well -- they all revolted and fled from his command.
16. Jamie Foxx
A drunk driver crashed near Jamie Foxx's home in 2016. Foxx pulled him out of the wreckage after first breaking the window and cutting the seat belt with a friend's help.
17. Richard Pryor
Pryor served three years in the Army, and he saw some combat ... combat exclusively against his own men. One time, he got jumped in the shower and fought back with a pipe. Another time, he was arrested after repeatedly stabbing a guy with his switchblade.
18. Isaac Newton
Aside from his science work, Newton worked at the British Mint, where his job involved dealing with the country's counterfeiting epidemic. Newton's solution: Executing counterfeiters by drawing and quartering them. He oversaw these executions personally.
19. Margot Kidder
Kidder had a manic episode in 1996. She was missing for four days and was finally found in a homeless guy's cardboard box.
20. Angela Lansbury
21. Steve McQueen
Several celebrities claim they were supposed to be in Tate's home the day the Manson family showed up for their murder spree. Among them was Steve McQueen, who said no to the dinner at the last minute when instead offered the opportunity to cheat on his wife.
22. John McCain
McCain famously got shot down over Hanoi. Less famously, he was in three other Navy jet crashes. One of them set off a chain reaction that killed 134 sailors.
23. Liev Schreiber
Live Schreiber's mother kidnapped him when he was a kid and brought him to a commune. She eventually won custody and had the little boy Liev climb drainpipes for her to rob safes.
24. Gaston Glock
Gaston Glock created Glock pistols, so we probably have a story for you about the time he defended himself with a gun, right? Nope. We have a story about how an assassin caught him unarmed when he was 70 years old, and Glock fought him off with his bare hands.
25. Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln held a seance while in the White House. He might not have taken their goal of contacting the dead so seriously, but Mary Todd sure did, even more so after Abe's own death.
26. George Orwell
While Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War, a sniper got him in the neck. Somehow, things then got worse: Right after leaving the hospital, he was declared a spy and was hunted down by Stalin's forces.
27. Jack Kirby
28. Gene Roddenberry
Roddenberry was in three separate plane crashes. One of them killed 15 people, including both pilots, and yet Roddenberry pulled fellow passengers out of the wreckage.
29. Terry Crews
When Crews' original dreams of working in Hollywood (as a special effects artist) didn't work, he got a job as Ice Cube's personal security guard. This scored him a role in an Ice Cube comedy and then a bunch of other comedy roles after that.
30. Joseph Hooker
No, we aren't going to tell you about this guy's adventures as a Civil War general. We'll tell you what he did next: He opened brothels right across from the White House.
31. Pablo Picasso
Picasso was implicated in the 1911 theft of The Mona Lisa. He wasn't guilty ... but he was guilty of a different theft of a different work from the Louvre from around the same time.
32. Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel spied for the Nazis and even worked for them in a public capacity, trying to broker peace with the UK. Her more private activities involved having sex with numerous Nazis and posing nude for a pro-Hitler comic.
33. Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester was born while her mother was in prison. Her father was also in prison. Grandpa too, and her aunt, who became the first woman to make the most-wanted-fugitives list.
34. Stevie Wonder
35. Ashton Kutcher
On his way to the Grammys in 2001, Kutcher stopped at his date's home to pick her up, but she didn't answer the door. He peeked inside and thought he saw wine spilled on the floor. A serial killer had actually murdered her.
36. Charlie Chaplin
Chaplin's mother was probably a prostitute and was definitely committed to an asylum for syphilitic insanity. Before the age of 12, Charlie worked as a newsboy, a toymaker, and a "doctor's boy" (whatever that meant).
37. Gene Hackman
Hackman was 81 years old when a pickup truck slammed into him while he was biking. Later that year, he slapped a homeless man, for reasons that made sense to him at the time.
38. Paul Simon
In 1985, a group of South African radicals decided to assassinate Paul Simon. This wasn't an idle threat (they went on to blow up the office of someone promoting his concert), but they held back because they were talked down by Steve Van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.
T.I. has intervened in multiple suicide attempts. The higher-profile one was that of Scott Stapp, from Creed. Another time, it was a stranger about to jump off a roof.
40. John Steinbeck
Steinbeck might not seem like the writer you'd most expect to spy for the US against Communists, but in the '50s, he did just that, traveling in the Mediterranean and reporting to the CIA.
41. George Takei
42. Sally Field
A plane with Sally Field and her family lost control on the runway in 1988. It ran into two separate planes without coming to a stop.
43. Stan Lee
Stan Lee was arrested during his time in the Army for using his screwdriver to break into the mailroom. The charge was mail tampering, but he only wanted to get his own mail, so he would finish his comics on time.
45. Gloria Steinem
The US had a little-known pro-government youth organization, created as a deliberate counterpart to the Hitler Youth. During the Cold War, the CIA recruited Gloria Steinem to be part of it and to argue on their behalf.
46. Mick Jagger
After a security deal with them went bad, The Rolling Stones decided never again to hire the Hells Angels. So the Hells Angels decided to kill Mick Jagger. The plan failed when a storm overturned their boat.
47. Jesse Ventura
Also onetime guard to the Stones: Jesse Ventura. This was before he wrestled but after he'd trained as a SEAL.
44. Roald Dahl
Dahl was part of a team during World War II tasked with befriending or spying on influential people to make them support the war effort. Seduction was a big part of this: Wrote an exhausted Dahl to a superior, "That goddamn woman has absolutely screwed me from one end of the room to the other for three goddam nights."
48. Leonardo da Vinci
49. Johnny Rotten
In 1988, a bomb brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing everyone aboard. Johnny Rotten was supposed to be aboard. So was Kim Cattrall.
50. Evel Knievel
As though being a stuntman wasn't cool enough, Evel Knievel used to be a professional burglar. His specialty involved cutting a hole in the roof then lowering himself using a rope.
51. Don King
King used to run illegal gambling dens all over Cleveland. Then in 1966, he beat a guy to death for failing to pay his debts. Really: He went to prison and everything. That wasn't even the first guy he killed, but an earlier killing was ruled self-defense.
52. Jack Kerouac
Kerouac worked as a construction worker, building the Pentagon. He brought whiskey or gin with him every day.
53. Phil Rudd
Rudd drummed for AC/DC for a stretch in the '70s and '80s, then came back for two decades. Then he hired someone to kill his personal assistant.
54. Arnon Milchan
Arnon Milchan produced such films as Pretty Woman and Fight Club. He was also secretly a spy and an arms dealer.
55. Nicolas Cage