Top 10 Celebrities Who Lived Double Lives
Celebrities are a lot like us. They have secrets, and sometimes they even have aspects of their lives that, for one reason of another, they keep hidden for years. But, in Hollywood, your secrets can only stay hidden for so long.
Joaquin Phoenix gained critical success for his role as rockabilly legend Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic Walk the Line. Phoenix shined as the “Man in Black,” even learning to play the guitar and mimic Cash’s dulcet vocals. In the process, Phoenix gained a reputation for his extreme commitment to character, to the point that his roles often spilled into the actor’s personal life.
In 2012, Phoenix again garnered praise for his role in The Master. In the film, Phoenix portrayed a war veteran lured into a cult by its charismatic leader, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. In preparation for the role, Phoenix drew from experience with a cult that he knew well—the one he lived with for many years.
As a child, Joaquin, along with his brother River, grew up in the controversial religious group called the Children of God. Phoenix’s family joined the group in the early 1970s and, during Joaquin’s formative years, traveled throughout South America with the church.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Phoenix explained his family’s infatuation with the group: “I think my parents thought they’d found a community that shared their ideals. Cults rarely advertise themselves as such.”
Ultimately, the family left the Children of God after becoming disenchanted, and Joaquin has put the whole experience behind him in pursuit of his prolific acting career.
Dolph Lundgren, a Swedish-born male model, made a name for himself, early, as a hypermasculine ’80s action star. With a black belt in karate, Lundgren began his career as a competitive martial artist while moonlighting as a club bouncer. It was at a club that Lundgren met, and began a relationship with, model-actress Grace Jones. His tryst with Jones would lead to a chance encounter with writer-director Sylvester Stallone and to Lundgren’s breakout role as Ivan Drago, the Soviet-bred antagonist of Rocky IV. The rest is Hollywood history, but acting marked a sharp turn away from Lundgren’s first career choice: chemical engineer.
Despite his macho persona onscreen, Lundgren possesses a genius-level intellect, and before he ever stepped foot in the ring with the “Italian Stallion,” Lundgren was a promising and sought-after academic star.
The actor excelled at science from an early age and was even offered a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lundgren describes the day he rode his motorcycle to meet with university staff: “The professors are waiting for the star student from Sweden and then they see me ride past outside all decked out in leather. They probably didn’t know what was going on.” Thankfully, Lundgren abandoned his career in academia, and we can all enjoy his talents in not one, but three installments of The Expendables.
Rock Hudson came to fame in the 1956 classic Giant, starring alongside heavyweights Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Hudson’s looks coupled with his boundless charm made him an instant celebrity.
Actors with Hudson’s talent rarely stay single long, and in 1955, Hudson married actress Phyllis Gates. However, unknown to Gates, the marriage was arranged by her employer and Hudson’s agent Henry Wilson. The coupling was meant to keep up appearances as Hudson, the man coveted by women around the world, was gay.
Predictably, Hudson and Gate’s marriage ended quickly, but due to societal pressure, Hudson would remain in the closet for several more decades. In 1984, Hudson defied years of suppression to publicize his sexuality, becoming one of the first openly gay stars in Hollywood and a model for generations to come.
A year later, Hudson also revealed his diagnosis with AIDS. Hudson used his image and fame to bring public attention to the disease and helped spread awareness of its dangers. Sadly, Hudson died in October 1985. He was 59. As one of the first openly gay men in Hollywood, and an early advocate for AIDS victims, Hudson’s legacy lives on to this day.
Barris came to prominence in the 1960s working as an assistant to Dick Clark. With a loan of $20,000, from his father-in-law, Barris was able to develop his first television show The Dating Game, which became a huge success. Later, Barris created The Gong Show, an instant classic, that showcased contestants performing wacky talents.
For most people, the life of a successful TV producer would be enough, but not for Barris. He liked to keep busy, and while working on various projects, the producer claimed to have been very busy operating covertly as a spy for the United States government.
In his 1984 autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Barris alleges to have been an assassin for the CIA during the ’60s and ’70s. While the claims of the book are dubious, and Barris offers no evidence to back them up, his story was interesting enough for George Clooney to make a movie out of it in 2002. Barris has gone on to write many more books, including Della: a Memoir of My Daughter, in which he recounts the tragic loss of his only daughter to drug abuse.
The CIA officially denies all of Barris’s claims about his time as a spy—but then they would, wouldn’t they?
Bruce Jenner was born in 1949 in Mt. Kisco, New York. In high school, Jenner proved to be a gifted athlete, lettering in football as well as basketball. He once took up water skiing as a hobby and went on to become the East Coast All-Over Champion in 1966, 1969, and 1971.
After high school, Jenner attended Graceland College on a football scholarship, but he was sidelined by a knee injury that left him limited to basketball and track.
In 1971, Jenner participated in his first decathlon, and by 1972, Jenner was competing in the decathlon at the Munich Olympics, where he finished 10th overall in the event. In 1976, Jenner won the gold in the Men’s Decathlon at the Montreal Olympics and was declared, by the media, to be the “world’s greatest athlete.” Jenner accomplished all of this while living with a deep personal secret that wouldn’t emerge for another 40 years.
In 2014, Jenner announced his divorce from his longtime wife, Kris Jenner. A year later Jenner shocked the world when he revealed that he had undergone gender reassignment surgery. At the age of 65, Caitlyn Jenner, introduced herself to the world. In 2015, ESPN awarded Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and to this day, Caitlyn is one of the most prominent public figures to come out as transgender.
Sam Hurd was once a talented college football star at Northern Illinois who was known not only for his skills on the field but also for his friendly personality and devout Christian faith. In 2006, Hurd’s hard work paid off when he signed a contract to play for his favorite childhood team, the Dallas Cowboys. Hurd was handed a chance at NFL fame, but Sam had other ambitions in mind.
It was a mere five years later, in 2011, that Hurd was arrested outside of a Chicago steakhouse. Like so many others in the NFL, this arrest was drug-related, but Hurd wasn’t interested in scoring a few ounces of weed on a Saturday night. No, he was busted while trying to purchase a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover cop.
Hurd, allegedly, told the officer that he wanted to purchase an additional 5–10 kilos of coke a week, as well as 1,000 pounds of marijuana. He planned to distribute the drugs throughout Chicago in an operation that would have given Walter White a run for his money. On top of this, Hurd told the cop he was already selling 4 kilos of coke per week.
As if these confessions weren’t proof enough of Hurd’s poor judgment, consider that, at the time of his arrest, he had just signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Bears reported to be worth $5 million. Rather than collect his massive paycheck, Hurd found himself in a courtroom in November 2013, where he was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison on the charge of drug trafficking. Let Hurd’s story be a lesson for all: Sometimes people can really screw up a good thing. Don’t believe it? Just google Aaron Hernandez sometime.
Coco Chanel, a legendary Parisian designer, was born in Saumur, France in 1883. By the age of 27, Chanel owned a successful clothing shop, and within a decade, she had launched her first perfume line and introduced the world to her “little black dress,” revolutionizing the fashion industry.
Unfortunately, by the 1930s, Chanel witnessed her native France invaded by Hitler’s army. Although France was quickly overwhelmed by the scourge of Nazis, many French citizens chose to resist the Germans at every turn. Chanel, however, was less than resistant. During the war, Chanel began dating a Nazi officer named Hans Gunther von Dincklage. This relationship might have been written off as a harmless, if not regretful, tryst, but renowned journalist Hal Vaughan claims otherwise.
In his book Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, Vaughan asserts that Chanel did not object to the Nazi occupation because she, herself, was an anti-Semite. Vaughan goes even further to claim that Chanel acted as a Nazi Intelligence operative. The journalist pens an intrigue-fueled story in which Chanel is portrayed as jet-setting across Europe, her Nazi boyfriend in tow, and acting as a celebrity ambassador for the Nazi regime.
After the war, Chanel absconded to Switzerland (not a suspicious move at all), but in later years, she was able to reestablish herself in France with the backing of the wealthy Wertheimer family. The Wertheimers still hold majority control the Chanel brand to this day but are reluctant to speak on Chanel’s wartime activities.
Heavy Metal frontman Alice Cooper always had a flair for the dramatic. Performing with his band of the same name, Cooper pioneered the art of Shock Rock, a stage performance that drew its style from the macabre and horror genres. He developed a stage-persona that capitalized on the band’s outlandish music, makeup, and behavior. In one of his more bizarre stunts, Cooper once threw a live chicken off stage, not knowing that the bird couldn’t fly. Cooper watched in horror as a rabid crowd tore the animal apart. With that stunt, Cooper may have cornered the market on shock, but few fans know his most shocking persona—that of a self-described “prodigal son.”
Cooper grew up in a strictly religious house, and both his father and grandfather preached the gospel as Evangelical pastors. After living for decades as a typical hard-drinking rock star, Cooper had a change of heart. The rock star finally saw the light, and for the past several years, he has lived as a devout Born-again Christian. Cooper hasn’t quit rocking, though, and he hasn’t completely abandoned his onstage antics, but now he views himself more as an actor playing a character when onstage. He has, however, removed the live poultry from his act.
Patty Hearst was born lucky. As the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst—think the 19th-century Rupert Murdoch—she was the heir to the fortune her family built through a media empire that thrives to this day. Yet, by the age of 19, it seemed that Hearst’s luck may have finally run out.
The world was shocked when, as a freshman at Berkeley University, Hearst was kidnapped from her dorm room by members of a homegrown terrorist group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. The urban terrorists abducted Hearst with the goal of extorting a ransom from Heart’s wealthy family. The plan may have worked too, but sometimes plans, and allegiances, can change.
Two months into her abduction, Hearst again shocked everyone by announcing her full-fledged allegiance to her captors via released audiotapes. Some believed that Hearst was pressured into supporting the group, but all myths were dispelled when Hearst was caught, on camera, taking part in a bank robbery along with the SLA. Hearst was also culpable in extorting an estimated $2 million from her father, during her abduction.
In 1975 Hearst was arrested by the FBI, convicted of bank robbery, and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Her sentence was subsequently commuted by President Jimmy Carter, and Hearst was released in 1979. Many have questioned Hearst’s actions during her abduction, and some have chalked up her behavior to Stockholm Syndrome, where a victim begins to identify with their captors overtime. Maybe Hearst, scared and young, was desperate to cope with her circumstances in any way possible. We may never know. As for her part, Hearst has remained tight-lipped about her time with the SLA.
Vin Diesel is known as a tough guy, and his roles in movies like The Fast and the Furious, Pitch Black, and xXx have done little to dispel that macho persona. But this tough guy might have the darkest secret of all. A secret so dark, so cloaked in mystery that Diesel has kept it locked away in the dungeon of his past for years. Until, during promotion for his movie The Last Witch Hunter, Diesel was forced to reveal his long-hidden truth.
Vin Diesel is . . . a closet Dungeons and Dragons player.
Actually, maybe not quite closeted. Diesel has given plenty of hints to his love for the role playing game throughout his career. Take, for instance, his role of Xander Cage in xXx. Diesel insisted that the character of Cage have the name “Melkor” tattooed on his chest. Melkor just so happens to be the name of Diesel’s real-life Dungeons and Dragons character.
Another nod to Diesel’s fandom came in 2004 when he wrote the foreword to 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons and Dragons. And then there was the time that Diesel posted a video, on his own YouTube channel, that featured him, and others, playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons that ended with Diesel declaring, “I just played a game of Dungeons and Dragons . . . and I had so much fun!”
Kerr lives in Texas, where he works as a high school English teacher by day and a freelance writer by night. He recently had his short story “Prospectors” published inHelios Quarterly.
10 Astonishing And Infamous Mermaid Sightings
Since the beginning of recorded history, legends have been born surrounding the elegant, beautiful, and sometimes treacherous mermaid. Their siren songs, beautiful looks, and ocean dwelling lifestyle has made the mermaid an enigma in the minds of people everywhere. Cultures across the world have their own versions of this magical being, from the ningyo of Japan to Ariel of Disney fame. A question does come to mind at the mention of mermaids: are they real?
For centuries, people from all walks of life have claimed to see this myth in the flesh. Are they real sightings? Are they tricks of the light and the eye? Are people feigning mermaid discoveries for the attention and publicity? It seems history has not answered any of those questions, as sightings are still occurring to this day. Is the mermaid a legend, or is her powerful song still pulling people into her mythical realm?
10The Mermaid of Kiryat Yam
In 2009, mermaid fever swept through the Israeli town of Kiryat Yam as a mermaid was making appearances at dusk, often performing tricks for locals and tourists alike. People in the town were claiming to see a being that was part young woman and part fish. The first local to have seen the mermaid claims that she was sunbathing, and as he and his friends approached her, she bounded from the sand and disappeared into the waves. They were all shocked to discover that the sunbathing woman had no legs, but a tail instead.
This one sighting was not an isolated event; as word spread about the mermaid, hundreds of people came forward claiming they had seen the Kiryat Yam mermaid. The Kiryat Yam mermaid has become so popular, that the town council has offered a one million dollar reward for any evidence that this mysterious creature exists. So far, only passing glances have been noted, and no one is a million dollars richer.
9Columbus and Caribbean Mermaids
Christopher Columbus is famously known for his encounters with mermaids on his voyages near Hispaniola. Columbus wrote in his ship’s log that he and the crew encountered three mermaids whilst in the water around the island of Hispaniola. Columbus documents that the mermaids were cavorting in the water, and when the ship drew near, the three mermaids rose out of the water.
To Columbus’s dismay, the mermaids were not as beautiful as depicted in the stories of yore. Columbus thought the mermaids to be quite undesirable and mannish. Today, it is believed that Columbus and his waterlogged crewwere actually seeing a group of manatees. Questions arise, however: would a seasoned captain like Columbus truly mistake the chubby sea cow for a woman, no matter her appearance?
In 2012, constructions crews in Zimbabwe were scared away from their work on the Gokwe and Osbourne dams by an irate mermaid. Referred to as themamba muntu by the locals, the mermaids were harassing workers as they attempted to complete construction on the dams. The local workers, raised in an area of folklore and myth, believed the appearance of the mamba muntu to be a bad omen and refused to finish construction on the dam.
The local council, in an attempt to pursue the continued construction of the dams, hired white workers to finish the job; this was an attempt to hire persons not engulfed in the legend and popularity of the mamba muntu sightings. However, these workers fled the construction site as well, and they vowed never to return due to the rage and harassment of the Zimbabwe river mermaid.
In an attempt to placate the irritated mermaids, local council members and chieftains decided to perform ritual rites and cleansings to allow for further development of the dams. The natural and supernatural are often of the same realm in the country of Zimbabwe; mermaids, or just illusions of the brain and eye?
7The Orang Ikan
During 1943, World War II was still raging on; the war, however, did not stop the appearance of one of the most well-documented mermaid sightings. On the Kei Islands of Indonesia, Japanese soldiers had set up a surveillance team. During the time there, several members of the surveillance team reported seeing a small humanoid figure in the water with spines on its neck and head and a mouth like a carp. The mermaid figure was often seen playing in lagoons and near the beach shores of the Kei Islands. The Japanese soldiers were bewildered by what they were seeing, but after speaking to the natives, they learned that the mystical mermaid-like creature was actually a known entity called the orang ikan or “human fish.”
As sightings continued, a sergeant with the group, Mr. Taro Horiba, was invited by the indigenous people of the island to see what they had caught in their fishing nets. Upon arrival at the village, he entered the chieftain’s home to find one of these creatures splayed out on the floor. Horiba described a small body with red-brown hair, spines along the neck, a humanoid face with a lipless, fish-like mouth full of needle sharp teeth. Mr. Horiba was confused and shocked by what he saw and urged zoologists to investigate after the war. No one believed any of his stories of mermaids in the Kei Islands. Did Mr. Horiba see a true mermaid or was this a simple misidentification?
6Active Pass Mermaid
In 1967, British Colombia became a hub of mermaid excitement when a mermaid was spotted lounging on the shore of Mayne Island. Ferry riders that evening saw a blonde woman sitting on the beach shore, she was topless, had long blonde hair, and the tail of a porpoise. Some witnesses became very upset as they believed they saw the mermaid eating a salmon, raw, on the beach that day.
After the sighting by the ferry passengers, the mermaid was seen one more time the following week. As the locals got swept up by the spotting of this mysterious mermaid, the town locals began to seek any information relating to her. The town newspaper, The Colonist, put up at $25,000 reward for the mermaid. Arrangements were even made for the mermaid to have room and board once she was found and successfully acclimated into the town setting. Although many believe that this entire mermaid sighting was a charade, there were still many who believed that what they saw was real. Is the Mayne Island mermaid a myth and or a well-played tourism ploy?
In 2008, waves were being made in South Africa as a legendary mermaid called the Kaaiman was making a splash in the news. A group of friends were camping near a river when they heard loud splashing and loud banging noises. Upon further investigation, the group came upon a woman in the water. The woman appeared to be pale white, with long black hair. Her skin had an opalescence that made her seem as if she was nearly glowing. The most shocking feature was seen when the woman turned to the group—she had piercing red eyes.
A woman ran to investigate the claims that the Kaaiman had been seen. She noted that the mermaid made a sorrowful cry, like a woman crying. After a moment of chaos with the group, the mermaid disappeared into the murky water. People of South Africa are leery of the Kaaiman, as she is known for pulling people under and trapping them beneath the depths with the objects in which you most desire. A distressed swimmer or a legendary mermaid? The people of South Africa are still questioning if they saw a legend in the flesh.
Scotland has countless mysteries and legends, with mermaids taking a place in their folklore. However, in 1830, a mermaid was apparently seen andsubsequently killed by the people of Benbecula. While cutting seaweed near the shore one day, a woman claimed to have a seen a miniature woman swimming in the water. Surprised by her discovery, she called many people over to view the water dweller. As men began to rush at her in the water, she quickly swam out of their reach. Some boys in the group threw stones at the scared mermaid, one actually striking her in the back. A few days later, the corpse of the mermaid supposedly washed up on the shore. Like many of the other claims of mermaids, this one was small, with pale white skin and had the tail of a fish without scales.
After the body of the deceased mermaid had been found, the sheriff of the town thought it was only fitting that the mermaid have a proper burial. A coffin was made and the body was wrapped in a shroud. The mermaid’s coffin was then buried above the shoreline where she was found. Although the tale of the mermaid’s grave has withstood the test of time, no one is certain where the body was buried; no markers or signs have denoted where she may lie. So what did the people Benbecula see that day? Did they actually make the horrible mistake of killing a legend?
3The New Zealand Mermaid
New Zealand found itself swept up in mermaid legends when, in 2014, a crew of fisherman claimed to have found the remains of a mermaid on the South Island . The fishermen were concerned they had discovered the body of a possible murder victim. However, upon closer inspection by local authorities, it was evident that the skeleton was not entirely human.
The body resembled that of a human-like creature that was shown to have aquatic features. The discovery ran rampant with everyone in New Zealand learning about the aquatic humanoid found on the South Island. Since the authorities were unsure what to make of the find, the University of Auckland was brought in to explain what the fisherman had found. Can mermaids be added to the already odd assortment of wildlife found in the land of New Zealand?
2Bering Sea Mermaids
Henry Hudson was exploring the cold northern waters off Norway in the year 1608. Written in his journal, he describes a day when he had a strange encounter with a group of mermaids. The mermaid, Hudson claimed, saw his crew and proceeded to call up more of her mermaid sisters. He described the women as being as big as the men in his crew, with very white skin and long dark hair. Making his way down their bodies, Hudson discovered the tail which he described like that of a dolphin, but with the spotting of a mackerel. Hudson seemed thrilled with his discovery of mermaids.
Like many of the sailors of the time, people often assume that it is possible that sailors on the high seas were mistaking animals, often manatees, as these nautical beauties. Hudson’s case is strange because, sailing in the Bering Sea near Norway, there are no manatees. Naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, in his mid-1800s work The Romance of Natural History, believes there is no way that Hudson was mistaking an animal for this mermaid. He believes seasoned sailors such as Hudson would be able to identify animals in that location easily. Gosse believes Hudson either made this entire story up or Hudson saw something truly unique to the realm of science. Are their mermaids living in the cold arctic waters? Or was this just a wild sailor’s tale?
1The Deerness Mermaid
Scotland appears to have its fair share of mermaid sightings throughout history. Beginning in 1890, Newark Bay became the location of multiple mermaid sightings. Many people thought the talk of mermaids was justhearsay and rumor, however, many people began sharing their tales of what they termed the Deerness mermaid. However, this mermaid was not the beauty of past legends. People described a seven-foot long humanoid, with pale white skin and black hair. The locals described her crawling onto rocks using her arms and sliding back into the waves. The few glances of her that people got were at a distance; the Deerness mermaid was apparently quite wary and stayed far from the beach shore. However, the Deerness mermaid only stayed in the bay for a few summers and then silently disappeared back into the murky depths. Mermaid or whale? Fact or fiction? For the people of Newark Bay, the legend lives on.
Library tech, grad student, and nerd girl extraordinaire. Love animals, science, and all things weird.
Mohave rattlesnakes and Merriam kangaroo rats are currently embroiled in an evolutionary arms race, pitting wily predator against fast-acting prey. Dramatic high-speed video shows how quick and creative snakes need to be to launch an attack—and how rodents still manage to evade capture.
Surprisingly, very little is known about rattlesnake attacks. But new technological advances in high-speed cameras are making it possible to capture three-dimensional videos of these lightning-fast strikes in the wild. A team led by University of California-Riverside biologist Timothy Higham used such a setup to film Mohave rattlesnakes in action, allowing them to understand the factors that determine the success or failure of an attack or an escape. Their findings now appear in the latest edition of the journal Science Reports.
According to Higham, the team gathered footage of the rattlesnake strikes under infrared lighting in New Mexico in 2015. “The results are quite interesting in that strikes are very rapid and highly variable,” Higham said in a statement. “The snakes also appear to miss quite dramatically—either because the snake simply misses or the kangaroo rat moves out of the way in time.”
Watching the high-speed video (filmed at 500 frames per second), Higham’s team noticed that the snakes performed better and struck faster in the wild than in laboratory conditions. Horrifyingly, maximum velocities achieved during strikes ranged between 4.2 to 4.8 meters per second. For an animal that’s crouched motionless in a coil, that’s an insane amount of speed. It’s cool to watch, but for prey animals, that doesn’t leave them much time to react.
Not content to stick with speed as the lone tactic, the snakes were also observed to mix up the style of their attacks. Strikes occurred from a wide swath of distances, ranging from 1.8 to 7.9 inches (4.6 to 20 cm). When the snakes failed to capture their prey, it was either because the kangaroo rats made an evasive maneuver, or because of the snakes’ poor strike accuracy.
The performance of the kangaroo rats was equally impressive—their average response time to an attack was a mere 61.5 milliseconds (by comparison, the average reaction time for humans is about 215 milliseconds). In conjunction with their quick reflexes, the kangaroo rats amplified their jumping power during an attack via something called “elastic energy storage.”
“Elastic energy storage is when the muscle stretches a tendon and then relaxes, allowing the tendon to recoil like an elastic band being released from the stretched position,” Higham explained. “It’s equivalent to a sling shot—you can pull the sling shot slowly and it can be released very quickly. The kangaroo rat is likely using the tendons in its lower leg—similar to our Achilles tendon—to store energy and release it quickly, allowing it to jump quickly and evade the strike.”
Looking ahead, the researchers are hoping to observe other species of rattlesnake and kangaroo rat to explore any differences among the species. Until then, you can marvel—or wince—at the ferocity of these horrifying rattlesnake attacks.
Magic is mostly just how good you are with your hands. Here are three really easy magic tricks that you can pull with just a pen: making it disappear, making it appear out of nowhere, and making it look super small. Oscar Owenbreaks down the techniques for each and they only involve super quick finger movements. The alternate angle reveals how easy it is.
Of course, it takes a lot more practice to make it look as fluid as Owen, but with a little bit of time and some finger exercises, you might even fool yourself into believing in magic.