10+ Peculiar Things Old Hollywood Stars Were Forced to Do That We Find Crazy Today

Old Hollywood is known for its glitz and glamour, and that’s almost because of its shining stars. It is undeniable that they contributed to the development of the Entertainment industry. For example, some powerful and talented actors could help guarantee to finance and push a movie.
And it seems that these famous people who got millions of dollars each month were enjoying an opulent lifestyle but they actually were controlled by companies. There were strict contracts that they had to do to become rich and famous. Some weren’t even able to decide what to wear, how to look, or how to behave. Sadly, this pressure sometimes ended up in tragedy.
We've completed a list of crazy rules that old Hollywood Stars were forced to do. Let's follow together!

#1 The actors’ life was fully controlled

The actors’ life was fully controlledSource: © Gone with the Wind / MGM

Actors had to portray characters that were offered by their studios. If an actor turned it down, they could be suspended from work for a certain period of time, without the possibility to work elsewhere. Olivia de Havilland, who portrayed Melanie Hamilton in “Gone With the Wind”, was a case in point. She was against the studio system. As a result, studios had to conclude contracts with actors for no longer than 7 years.
Studios assigned assistants who would spy on every step of actors’ patrons and create detailed reports on their behavior.

#2 Working toward the ideal image through limitations

Old Hollywood Stars Were Forced to DoSource: East News, © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (work for hire) / Photoplay, May 1942 (page 55) / Wikimedia Commons, © Public Domain Mark 1.0

Marilyn Monroe’s curves were always in the spotlight. To make sure she looked great, she placed marbles in her bras.
Actress Katharine Hepburn preferred pants over skirts but it didn’t make her studio pleased. In this way, costume designers tried to persuade her to wear a skirt but she appeared in her underwear on the set and refused to cover herself until her jeans were returned.
In many contracts, weight gain was also forbidden.

#3 Studio bosses didn’t care about the health of their actors

Old Hollywood Stars Were Forced to DoSource: © Gone with the Wind / MGM

Sometimes, actors were forced to lice on the film set. For instance, Vivien Leigh had to work 16 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 125 days during filming “Gone with the Wind”.
If an actor was the main reason leading to the filming delays, their paycheck was reduced. Once Judy Garland called in ill during a shoot, and she ended up owing the studio $100,000.

#4 Insults were part of the profession

Old Hollywood Stars Were Forced to DoSource: © The Lady Is Willing / Columbia Pictures and co-producers, © The Wizard of Oz / MGM

Judy Garland underwent a strict diet. The studio bosses were really worried about extra weight on the diminutive star and referred to her as a “fat little pig with pigtails”.
In 1938, a few actresses, including Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, and Joan Crawford was called “box office poison” when they starred in movie flops.

#5 Maternity wasn’t good for an actress’s image

Maternity wasn’t good for an actress’s imageSource: © Studio Publicity / Wikimedia Commons, © Public Domain Mark 1.0

Pregnancy was seen to ruin stars’ acting careers. As a result, some actresses had to “adopt “their own children. When Loretta Young got pregnant, the studio workers helped her hide from view and arranged for her to “adopt” her own child.

#6 Children had to work on par with adults

Children had to work on par with adultsSource: © The Wizard of Oz / MGM

Many might not know that in the Golden Age of Hollywood, children had to  work on par with their adult colleagues. Young Judy Garland worked 6 days per week, sometimes 18-hour shifts of constant singing and dancing. When finishing a movie, she would immediately start working on another.

#7 The actors had to behave in a modest manner during filming

Old Hollywood Stars Were Forced to DoSource: © Gone with the Wind / MGM

“The Hays Code” was this self-imposed industry set of guidelines for all the motion pictures that were released between 1934 and 1968. It was applied in Hollywood. It prohibited passionate kissing on screen. Even there was a strict role that a kiss could not last longer than 3 seconds.
Moreover, married couples forcibly slept in separate beds on the set.

#8 The personal lives of the actors were under constant scrutiny

Old Hollywood Stars Were Forced to DoSource: Courtesy Everett Collection / East News  

Elizabeth Taylor shared that the film studio absolutely controlled every aspect of her life, especially her personal relationships. MGM management specially arranged a meeting between her (16 years old) and soccer player Glenn Davis. They were engaged for one month but never got married.
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