15 Unbelievable Things Old Hollywood Stars Had To Do That Make No Sense Today

When we think of celebrities, we think about a glamorous life filled with privileges that we can only wish to have. However, this wasn’t the case with classic Hollywood celebrities back in the day. There are things old Hollywood stars had to do that just make no sense in the modern days.
Some of these rules sound ridiculous and a lot of them are just straight-up immoral. They make being a movie star a lot less glamorous and a lot more tiresome. These crazy things old Hollywood stars had to do could be summed up by a quote from the co-founder of MGM, Louis B: “A star is made, created; carefully and cold-bloodedly built up from nothing.”

1. The Actors’ Life Was Fully Controlled

things old Hollywood stars had to doSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

Studios fully controlled the lives of their actors. To keep the actors in line, they assigned assistants to look after them as if they were helpless babies. The real purpose of these assistants was to supervise and spied on every step of their clients and report them in detail to the studios later on.

2. They Couldn't Work With Other Studios While on a Contract

things old Hollywood stars had to doSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

Once the star signs their name on the contract, the studio pretty much owns them. They could not work for any other studio while their contract still on. However, studios could loan their talents to other studios. Elizabeth Taylor once instigated loans from her studio MGM to have the chance to work on more complex films, including Giant, A Place in the Sun, and Suddenly, Last Summer.

3. They Had to Be Willing to Change Their Names

things old Hollywood stars had to doSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

The studios would also pick out suitable stage names for their stars and the stars would have to change their names. Many iconic Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Judy Garland are examples of this rule. MGM even held a contest to find a name for Lucille LeSueur. In the end, she had to change her name to Joan Crawford.

4. The Personal Lives of the Actors Were Under Constant Scrutiny

things old Hollywood stars had to doSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

As we said before, the studios pretty much control their actors’ lives. Not only in acting, but in every other aspect too. They would have their movie stars follow so-called moral clauses, which were a set of things that they should avoid to protect their and the studio’s image. Elizabeth Taylor claimed that the film studio controlled almost every aspect of her life, even her weddings.
When she was about to get married to Conrad Nicky Hilton, MGM took over the wedding arrangements to make it a media event. The event was good publicity for Taylor’s upcoming film at the time, Father of the Bride.

5. Studio Bosses Didn’t Care About the Health of the Actors

things old Hollywood stars had to doSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

Actors weren’t allowed to be sick. They would be punished if they took sick leave or vacation during filming. If the shooting process got delayed for any reason, the actor’s paycheck would have to suffer. Once Judy Garland called in ill during a shoot, and she ended up owing the studio $100,000.

6. Actors Get Insulted Regularly

things old Hollywood stars had to doSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

And if you’re a superstar back then, don’t expect people on the set to sing your praises all the time. The cold hard truth is that old Hollywood stars are insulted quite regularly. As if strictly controlling her diet wasn’t enough, Judy Garland’s studio bosses made sure their actress wouldn’t dare to put on a few extra weights by referring to her as a “fat little pig with pigtails.”
Columbia Studios mogul Harry Cohn once said that Carole Lombard’s hair was too white and that she looked like a call girl. The actress did have a pretty fiery comeback to his insult though.

7. Maternity Wasn’t Good for an Actress’s Image

things old Hollywood stars had to doSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

An unplanned pregnancy could make the whole shooting process slow down and create a scandal, so studios were really against their actresses having babies. Plus, having a body of a pregnant woman can ruin the image of the most desired woman for an actress. When Loretta Young got pregnant, the studio workers helped her hide from view and arranged for her to “adopt” her own child.

8. Children Had to Work Like Adults

things old Hollywood stars had to doSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

This is one of the most immoral things old Hollywood stars had to do. Child actors back then had to work just as hard as adult actors. They were given no special care whatsoever. Young Judy Garland worked 6 days per week, sometimes 18-hour shifts of constant singing and dancing. Shirley Temple also exposed the dark side of the industry in her biography, writing “Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble.”

9. Actors Couldn't Refuse Parts

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Actors couldn’t say no to roles that were given to them by their studio. Any refusal of resistance will be punished by work suspension. Olivia de Havilland, who portrayed Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind, was the first to beat the studio system. Her trial changed the history of Hollywood. After that, studios had to conclude contracts with actors for no longer than 7 years.

10. Appearance Was Everything

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Appearance is very important now, but it was everything to an actress back then. Actresses must always be ready to be photographed. Their contracts all had weight maintenance rules in them. Studios would place their actresses on strict diets if they gained weight. Marlene Dietrich followed a diet of broth, cottage cheese, and toast dictated by her studio.

11. Women Wearing Pants Was Frowned Upon

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Wearing pants used to be a big no-no for female stars. Katharine Hepburn once famously rejected her studio's guidelines on dress code. Someone in the costume department at RKO Radio Pictures took her pants away, so the actress decided to walk around the set in her underwear and refused to put on any clothes.

12. Their Love Lives Were Often Arranged

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Because of the perfect image that they had to uphold, a lot of stars couldn’t marry the people they loved. Gay relationships were a big no back then, so gay stars like Rock Hudson had to marry someone of the opposite sex to hide their orientations. People called these unions lavender marriages.

13. Women Had to Maintain Slim Figures

Women Had to Maintain Slim FiguresSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

Aside from strict diets, actresses and female celebrities also had to exercise often to maintain their physiques. Marilyn Monroe was one of the first actresses to regularly lift weights. However, things could go way too far, like how they treat poor young Judy Garland. They forced-fed and encouraged her to smoke cigarettes to curb her appetite.

14. On-screen Kisses Couldn’t Last Longer Than 3 Seconds

On-screen Kisses Couldn’t Last Longer Than 3 SecondsSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

The Hays Code prohibited passionate kissing on the screen to make sure everything stayed modest. So to keep it professional, no onscreen kiss could last longer than 3 seconds to avoid anything looking too lustful.
The rule went even further than that, making sure that married couples in the movies had to sleep in separate beds. The women in the love scenes at all times had to have “at least one foot on the floor.”

15. They Had To Basically Live On The Set

They Had To Basically Live On The SetSource: Courtesy of Everett Collection

Actors worked long and hard on set. So hard that their lives mostly happened on the movie set actually. Similar to Judy Garland, Vivien Leigh also had to work 16 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 125 days.
What is your opinion about these things old Hollywood stars had to do? We think they are completely bonkers. Speaking of crazy facts that happen behind the scenes, check out these stories about million-dollar roles shared by the actors who played them.
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