The old expression claims that it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. But if you have no luck finding love, always remember it could be worse. Much worse. Greek-tragedy worse. Don't complain we didn't warn you. 

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The Hollywood Actress And Her 13-Year-Old Stepson

Working her way up the movie star hierarchy, actress Gloria Grahame got a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and snagged an Oscar. More impressively, she delivered the only good acceptance speech in ninety years of Academy Awards, which by no coincidence happens to be the shortest one: 

Following an unsuccessful marriage, the actress hooked up with Nicholas Ray, a director who had brought her to widespread acclaim in the film In a Lonely Place. This marriage too was doomed. She had everything she could have wanted, but it wasn’t enough. The now world famous Grahame was in demand and in control of her own sexuality. Unfortunately she chose to exercise that impulse with her 13-year-old stepson. 

The truth came out (so says the legend), when Nic stumbled into their bedroom and found his son, Tony, locked in the loving embrace of his wife. Years later, and a few divorces under her belt, Grahame and her former stepson wed, in what had to be a bit of an awkward ceremony, even by Hollywood standards. Historians speculate she had been physically abused, suffered body issues which led to plastic surgery paralyzing her face, and in a twisted bid for revenge or comfort, she possibly sought out her stepson.

Sigmund Freud

Ferdinand Schmutzer

"Hey, don't look at me. I want no part in this shit." 

She spent the rest of her career doing low-budget horror movies after the incest taint destroyed her reputation. We doubt any monster she made was quite as disturbing as her private life. 

The Psychic Who Welcomed Homewreckers Into Her Own House

In the 1880s, Irish author Constance Wilde found herself cut off from many academic opportunities. Yet she did not embrace a lifestyle of idly sitting on her ass, talking gossip with the neighbors. She dove into spiritualism, learning Hebrew to conduct ancient rituals and study ancient texts, tossing herself in the paranormal Order of the Golden Dawn. Along with her husband, himself an egghead, she entertained the great minds of the Victorian era.

Constance Lloyd. Painting by Louis Desanges 1882

Louis William Desanges

With séances, bawdy poems. You know, the usual Victorian stuff. 

Constance Wilde's pursuit of divination and devotion to uncovering the secrets of the universe were fundamentally flawed. To put it more bluntly, she was too delusional to realize she was living a lie. All those dudes coming to her house weren’t there to check out her library of Eastern mysticism.

She might have been a clever woman, but she was so naïve, she didn't even realize her husband was gay. The procession of men who she had been warmly welcoming into her household were not merely witty houseguests but her husband's lovers. Constance Wilde was both blessed and cursed to be married to Oscar Wilde, the most famous and flamboyant homosexual of the time, a fact known to everyone in Britain but her evidently. 

Oscar Wilde

Hills & Saunders

She just thought he was a hipster.

Oscar would be charged and sentenced to a prison term under the notorious Section 11 of British legal code, penalizing homosexuality. Constance was left with a shattered life. Even more shocking, she loyally remained his staunchest defender, biggest fan, and confidante despite what he had done to her … and despite his possibly exposing her to syphilis he was rumored to have contracted from his habit of "rent boys." She changed her name, but she always loved the guy, his willing beard. One hopes she got a refund for those fortune telling courses though.

Oedipus In Ohio

People can search for decades and never find a person who truly understands them. At long last, Valerie Spruill found such a man, Percy. Because of an age gap, Percy died well before Valerie, but they had many happy years together as husband and wife.

Main street hudson ohio

Zvesoulis/Wiki Commons

If you think this all ends well, you missed the title of this section. 

Her quiet life in the suburbs of Akron, Ohio were not what they seemed, as she began to piece together. Soon she was stumbling onto a much larger puzzle that connected her to Percy in an unexpected way. A paternity test proved what she had feared. Valerie Spruill had always known her parents had abandoned her when she was young, and now it turned out that Percy was her long-lost biological father. No one in Percy's immediate family filled her in on their suspicions until Percy's passing, perhaps too terrified to tell the truth. 

Gracefully, Spruill has reached out to others who have found themselves in a similar situation. The phenomenon is alarmingly common, especially among siblings. As mathematically improbable as this seems, it is well documented. Most people aren't attracted to their own family members (this is known as the Westermarck Effect), but when family members are separated, they lose the natural disgust of inbreeding. 

If there's a takeaway, it's that you should consider getting tested before sleeping with someone. We don’t mean an STD test. We mean a DNA test. 

The Humiliating Divorce To End All Humiliating Divorces

Frances and Harold Mountain’s love affair ended in 1999. The situation being irreconcilable, they agreed to throw in the towel, ending their marriage of years somewhat amicably. 

Take note of the word "somewhat." Under the standard procedures of divorce proceedings, the American couple divided up their assets. Nothing special. However, one particular item, or items, caught the world's attention. Taking center stage was the Mountains' Beanie Baby collection. 

For you younger readers out there, parents were once forced to choose between the mortgage and little Codey's Christmas list for the plush toy brand. A guy even got killed over a "Beanie Baby debt." We wish we were making this up. The resale price for these things in the late nineties was disgustingly high.

1st Lt. Ed McMichael, Company A, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, passes out Beanie Babies to children in Sadr City, Iraq, May 19, 2005.

Craig Zentkovich

All of these children became millionaires. 

The scene in this Las Vegas courtroom is the '90s perfectly summed up and captures the true spirit of divorce court in one depressing snapshot. The divorce hearing made national headlines. Laughter arose from those in the court as adults tensely separated overpriced stuffed animals as if they were Rembrandt paintings, each participant nudging their favorites into their pile on a linoleum floor with a tense look on their face. Court records did specify which party obtained custody of the Ren and Stimpy VHS collection or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer playset. 

That collection (once estimated to be worth as much as $5,000) is now seriously devalued after the speculators' bubble popped. Those same Beanie Babies are probably being used as a dog’s chew toy as we speak. If you were ever unsure of the value of a pre-nup, this incident ought to remove any lingering qualms.

The Lady Who Dumped Her Husband For Hitler

It's normal for matrimony to terminate due to political or ideological bickering, especially in today’s climate. But this one takes the cake.

Thea von Harbou, one of the greatest screenwriters of her time, shared a love of cinema with her husband. The duo created some of the most influential and daring films of the silent era, such as Metropolis, Spione, the Dr. Mabuse series, and M. Husband Fritz Lang directed while his wife penned the scripts. If you've ever seen a Christopher Nolan film or a James Bond movie, this is where they stole all their ideas from, excluding the blaring horn sound effect. You can thank Hans Zimmer for that.

Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou in their Berlin flat, 1923 or 1924

Waldemar Titzenthaler

Bwaaaaaa

What could go wrong? Well, it was 1930s Germany and Ms. Harbou was more interested in another man. You could say she found his mustache irresistible. 

That betrayal stung that much harder because Lang was technically a "halbjude" (half Jewish), and under the rules stipulated by German law, he could have lost everything and eventually been gassed. In a bizarre twist, after Harbou divorced him and joined the Nazis, not only was Lang not targeted by the Nazis, he was offered the prime gig as the head film propagandist for the Third Reich. He politely declined Joseph Goebbels' offer and got the hell out of Dodge. His artistic partner, muse, and lover stayed home, and made several productions under the Nazified German film industry. Hardly shocking considering it's been theorized that Harbou subtly inserted pro-fascist messages in some of her husband’s movies. 

Lang survived the horrors unfolding in Europe. His career was never the same, but it chugged along in Hollywood. His ex-wife wound up cleaning up garbage at war’s end, a pariah. She largely escaped any major backlash though, her creativity coming in handy when she needed to explain the lipstick-smeared Hitler portrait in her bedroom. 

Hitler portrait

Rijksmuseum

"How did this get in here?"

Top image: Clarence Bull

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