20. Clara Bow and the football team

Clara Bow was the quintessential flapper icon and one of the first Hollywood sex symbols, and the most famous example of the football gangbang rumor — was there one in your high school, too? The original "It Girl" (the star of 1927's hit comedy It) was playful, emotive and endlessly flirtatious. She also had a really shitty life; as a child, she was raped by her father and her prostitute mother tried to kill her while she slept. The movie studios who profited off her charm got tired of her unreliability. She was eventually sent to a mental institution, where she suffered shock therapy and died of a heart attack at age sixty.

The gangbang story originated in Kenneth Anger's sordid expose Hollywood Babylon, and gossip-hungry fans were happy to believe the titillating anecdotes. The always helpful Snopes.com offers a different story about Bow and the football team, citing her more sober biographer, David Stenn. Stenn interviewed the USC Trojans alleged to have slept with Bow and concluded that "the quaint reality of these evenings hardly corresponds with the scurrilous rumors spread about them later." Stern writes that Bow invited the team to her house for occasional parties and went on a date with quarterback Morley Drury, but that according to Drury, "nothing happened." Given how Bow's life turned out, it's nice to see Drury defending her honor. They don't make football players like they used to. — PS

19. James Dean, human ashtray

The rumors swirling around James Dean were reaching a fever pitch when he fatally crashed his car; Dean didn't live long enough to confirm or deny them. As a result, he's rumored to have slept with pretty much every woman — and man — in Hollywood. One of the best bits of hearsay appears in Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon, in which he reveals James Dean's nickname, The Human Ashtray. Why? Some say it's because Dean liked to extinguish cigarettes on his arms, but Anger claims that the nickname comes from Dean's visits to gay BDSM clubs, where he'd ask men to extinguish their cigarettes on his bare chest. True or false, it's an intriguing image — and given Dean's love of extremes, a plausible one. — GW

18. Jennifer Lopez insured her ass

According to tabloids in London (The Sun) and New York (The New York Post) Jennifer Lopez insured her entire body for $1 billion in 1999. According to the Post, Lopez's breasts were valued at $100 million each; her buttocks and legs combined went for $300 million. Finer details overlooked, the rumor soon became that her ample derriere alone had been insured for $1 billion. "The billion-dollar booty" — it's just catchier. Lopez denied the claims, but not very fervently: "I don't know where they got [that story] from. When I heard the story I thought it was very funny." Interestingly enough, Lopez's ass is not the only celebrity body part that is rumored to be financially guarded. Dolly Parton's breasts, male stripper Frankie Jankman's penis and both Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart's voices join the ranks as well. — KG

17. Marilyn Manson, sitcom star

Did Marilyn Manson have a rib removed so he could auto-fellate? Did he play nerdy Paul Pfeiffer on late-'80s sitcom The Wonder Years? Could Paul give himself a blowjob? This much we know: Manson was not on The Wonder Years. Josh Saviano played Kevin's best friend, and the ex-actor is alive and working as an attorney in NYC. In 2001 Saviano told Star that he didn't mind being mistaken for the rocker. "What would you rather have, people thinking you're a dorky kid from The Wonder Years or a Satanic rock star?" Saviano did not address the fellatio rumors, but Manson did. In his autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell (ghostwritten by The Game author Neil Strauss), he remarks, "If I really got my ribs removed, I would have been busy sucking my own dick on The Wonder Years instead of chasing Winnie Cooper." — Sarah Harrison

16. John Lennon had an affair with Brian Epstein

According to Albert Goldman's book, The Lives of John Lennon, the Beatle had an affair with the band's manager and close friend, Brian Epstein, from 1963 until Epstein's death in 1967. Two other authors, Peter Shotten and Hunter Davies, claimed that Lennon and Epstein had sex but not a long-term relationship. Lennon denied the rumor, telling Playboy in 1980 "it was never consummated, but we had a pretty intense relationship." Lennon's ex-wife Cynthia also refuted the claim in her memoir, John, saying, "[Like] most lads at the time, [John] was horrified by the idea of homosexuality." — SH

15. Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo had an affair

Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo may be a match made in lesbian heaven — but not in '30s Hollywood. In fact, Garbo and Dietrich were known as bitter rivals during their respective careers. Is it possible that in the more liberal environment of Weimar Germany, the two young actresses had an affair? Could their later Hollywood "rivalry" have been a PR ploy to keep their past hidden? Or are the stories only wish fulfillment, bolstered by their fiercely guarded private lives and androgynous screen personas? Dietrich's daughter, Maria Riva, addressed the rumors in her 1994 biography. Though she denies an affair, with The Advocate shows that she, like the rest of us, has engaged in some speculation. — GW

14. Admission to Yale's secret society, Skull and Bones, involves various sexual humiliations

Some of the nation's most prominent politicians, including George W. Bush and his father, are members of Yale's secret society Skull and Bones. Bonesmen are sworn to secrecy, so no one knows what really goes on in the Tomb (the group's on-campus headquarters), but rumors about bizarre initiation rituals and connections with shady organizations like the Illuminati and the CIA and have circulated through word of mouth and in publications like Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times. According to these reports, to gain admission to the sect, our future president lay naked in a coffin while masturbating and reciting his sexual history, participated in nude mud-wrestling matches, jumped into a pile of shit, kissed a skull and received $15,000 upon becoming a member. Bonesmen give each other secret names; supposedly Bush Sr. received the title "Magog," awarded to the inductee with the most sexual experience. Bush Jr. was allowed to choose his own nickname, but didn't come up with one, so the elders christened him "Temporary." Given W's infamous facility with comedic handles ("Turd Blossom" for Karl Rove, etc), this seems unlikely. — SH

13. Hitler had one testicle

"Hitler — has only got one ball/ Göring — has two but they are small. . . " That's the classic doggerel verse, set to the "Colonel Bogey March." (MIDI here; thanks, Wikipedia). But what's the truth behind it? While historians generally agree that Hermann Göring's testicles were of average size, the notion that Hitler had but one testicle (or a shrunken testicle, or a retracted testicle, or one smooth blue testicle and one fuzzy green testicle) actually has some grounding in history. A Soviet autopsy report from 1945 written by one Dr. Faust Shkaravski, reports that "the left testicle could not be found. . . " Very interesting, but dubious. First of all, Hitler's body, of course, was burned, removing any kind of testicular evidence. More importantly, Soviet documents are not noted for their untouched authority. In 1945, the Soviets had plenty of reasons to discredit Hitler. As Ron Rosenbaum writes in his fascinating book, Explaining Hitler, "the lost testicle has become a repository for the hope that some singular solution — an explicatory single-bullet theory — exists somewhere to explain everything." — PS

12. Anna Wintour's broken heart belongs to the late Bob Marley

A funny thought, surely; the queen of high-strung hauteur pining away for perhaps the most relaxed musician of all time. In Front Row: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue's Editor-in-Chief, Jerry Oppenheimer claims that in the late '70s, when Marley was on tour in New York, Chris Blackwell of Island Records introduced the two, and Wintour "fell for" the Rastafarian. Wintour's rep gave no comment to "Page Six," but a friend reportedly told Oppenheimer that the editrix acted as if she'd "met God" and she "virtually disappeared for a week" while Marley was in town (presumably, she was back stage puffin' and lovin'.) "When Wintour finally resurfaced, she looked utterly worn out," Oppenheimer writes, "but [she] denied to friends she'd spent the week in Marley's bed." This doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd deny, even if you were Anna Wintour, but then, who can fathom her frosty heart? — CB

11. Jamie Lee Curtis is intersex

Jamie Lee Curtis was born with a penis! Jamie Lee Curtis was born with an extra chromosome! We remember hearing these lines on the playground before we had any idea who Jamie Lee Curtis was. Curtis has never discussed her genital status, so let's consult a more entertaining source: the CHUD.com message boards. Writes "Cheese Biscuit," "She has two XXs and a Y chromosome. She's all woman physically, but she can't have kids due to the genetic defect." (According to imdb.com, Curtis' two kids with Christopher Guest are adopted. Gosh, this is getting awfully personal.) Replies "Brian Ross," "Her facial features are rather manish [sic]." In conclusion, arguments are strong on both sides of this important issue; judge for yourself. Incidentally, we're grateful for a job that allows us to spend hours Googling "jamie lee curtis hermaphrodite." — PS

Commentarium (52 Comments)

Dec 14 06 - 12:49pm

In the 70s, when Alice Cooper was the big thing, many people thought that he was Jerry Mathers, or as most knew him, The Beaver from the TV show "Leave It To Beaver." Also his song "DEAD BABIES" from his KILLER album started riots in many cities and the song, about child abuse, was actually about how his baby sister died. And one more: If you listen to the song "Blue Turk" on the SCHOOL'S OUT album, you can hear a groupie give Alice a BJ. It was accidentally recorded but Alice said it fit the song and left it in.

Dec 14 06 - 12:53pm

Actually, Richard Gere did address this rumor directly, IIRC. I recall it was a Baba Wawa interview, and she basically asked him if there was any truth to a specific rumor floating around about him, and he said no. Baba then asks something along the lines of "Just to be clear, we're talking about something involving a gerbil." I have a very distinct memory of this interview question; I mean, how could you not.

Dec 14 06 - 12:53pm

Fun article, nice job. re: Richard Gere Sly Stallone has made statements (even MSNBC has the articles) about that rumour and how Gere supposedly blames him for it. Googling "Sly Stallone Gerbil" brings up enough information. Thought it'd be interesting to you. Best, Matthew

Dec 14 06 - 12:53pm

2Pac is still alive?

Dec 14 06 - 12:54pm

Great list but how could you not include Paul McCartney's "death"?

Dec 14 06 - 12:54pm

Do your homework. Andy Kaufman author of "If I Faked It"

Dec 14 06 - 12:54pm

Not sure how the death of paul mcartney isnt up there somewhere. all the clues from sgt peppers ,mmt , abbey road album covers . nener mind the lyrics of burying paul in strawberry fields.

Dec 14 06 - 12:54pm

It kept me reading. Good piece.

Dec 14 06 - 12:54pm

Barbara Walters referred to "salacious rumors" in a 1991 interview with Gere, who responded that he didn't care what people thought of him, saying "if I am a cow and someone says I'm a zebra, it doesn't make me a zebra." It's as close as anyone ever got to asking point blank, and of course started the subsequent rumor about him putting a cow and zebra up his ass.

Dec 15 06 - 1:08am

On number 27 of "The 40 Best Celebrity Rumors Ever" it states: "...account needs to be taken with a grain of salt (or maybe an entire shaker)."
This was said that his credibility should not be taken seriously. I got what you were trying to say. However, The saying "take it with a grain of salt" is used because one grain of salt is worth nothing. If you add to it (an entire shaker) you are actually adding value to it. In keeping with the saying you are then giving the guy some credibility. Therefore, this is an incorrect use of the saying.

Apr 21 11 - 5:46pm

never knew that. thanks for info.

Apr 25 11 - 5:43am

You have no idea what you're talking about. The grain of salt refers to the minute amount of salt that is (supposedly) helpful in swallowing food. Thus, the harder a story is to swallow (food being the metaphor), the more salt would be required.

Aug 17 11 - 11:27pm

Exactly. I was going to say the same thing.

Dec 14 06 - 7:09pm

what happened tp Paul is dead?

Dec 18 06 - 3:10pm

Richard Gere did address that rumor in an interview I think with barbara walters. He denied it and said that it was vicious and mean (the rumor, not the gerbil)

Dec 18 06 - 5:19pm

Where's the "Paul Is Dead" craze? Has to be top 10 at least, if not top 3!

Dec 18 06 - 6:36pm

How can your list of Celebrity Rumors not have the Paul McCartney is Dead rumor of 1969?

Dec 18 06 - 10:28pm

How on earth did the "Paul is dead" rumour not make the list?!

Jan 01 07 - 9:35pm

I believe Keanu had an affair with David. There are many reasons to believe that he has known David for years. Keanu's stepfather produced an award winnning TV film with Geffen's best friend(Sandy Gallin). Keanu's mother designed clothes for Dolly Parton who was managed by and business partners with this same best friend. Bill and Ted was produced by another friend of Geffens. Do you really believe a man who loves good looking young men would have ignored Keanu?

Do you think someone who followed the LA music scene the way Keanu did would never have been invited to a Geffen party? Geffen managed Nirvana and I know Keanu had met Kurt and Courtney and supposedly tried to befriend Kurt. Keanu's friend Josh worked for Gun's and Roses...they were ownned by Geffen. There are many connections...to believe David and Keanu had never met seems absurd.

Van Sant and River had attended charity and political affairs with David Geffen but you don't think Keanu would have? Two well known and well respected gossips had reported the Geffen and Keanu rumor...they certainly meant no harm. I'm sure they just thought Keanu was out. George Christy ended up apologizing and saying it was the worse day of his life...why would you suppose he said that? Geffen is a very powerful man. Both of those gossips retired about a year after their reporting.

Mar 11 11 - 11:28am

This is dumb. "Do you really believe a man who loves good looking young men would have ignored Keanu"...so every good looking young man is sure to sleep with a man? You are ignorant, dumb and need a life.

Jan 05 07 - 5:10pm

What about the rumor that "Paul is dead!" Just before the release of the Beatles' White Album (or was it Abbey Road?) there was a whole deal on whether or not Paul McCartney had been killed in a car accident. They even did TV specials about it.

Jan 05 07 - 8:37pm

what about how Mr. Rogers was supposedly an ex navy seal.
And that he wore the sweaters to hide his tatoos on his arms

Jan 06 07 - 9:50am

Rumor 37 is great. But the Web site you link to has been suspended.

Jan 07 07 - 1:56pm

Celebrity rumors about many small and large penises? While Nerve stirs the punchbowl with a larger one on loan from an undertaker, why not discuss the complementary vessels ascribed to some female notables such as Catherine the Great who advertised widely for the largest penis in Russia?

Jan 15 07 - 4:31pm

You missed two:

1. The baby Aretha Franklin had when she was 17 was supposedly the result of sex with her father, a minister, after her mother died.
2. Tammy Tyrrell was killed by Berry Gordy's people or by the man's wife when she wouldn't leave a certain married singer alone.

Jan 21 07 - 3:05am

I was directed to your website via a friend and was browsing around casually when I came across your article regarding Tom, Katie and Suri Cruise. I find it very interesting that you list the following just below your comment box:

We are ardently committed to free expression, but we do expect Nerve visitors and contributors to interact respectfully and responsibly. Blatant expressions of bigotry, sexism or hatred may be constitutionally protected on the street corner, but they're not cool here.

And yet take barbed jabs at the subject of Scientology in your article. I find it amusing that whilst it is not politically correct to slam Catholicism or be a religiuos bigot you find it to be acceptible to another's religion. One of which you obviously know nothing about.

Thank you for my first and last visit to your ignorant website.

May 05 11 - 8:55pm
Faithful of Xenu!

It's crazy that there's scientologists roaming the web looking for any trace of info that they can drum up lawsuits for. You people are messed up.

Aug 17 11 - 11:30pm

I know right? They don't give a good goddamn who gets picked on till it's them. Isaac Hayes was on South Park for years, sat cheerfully through every parody of everything. Then they jabbed at Scientology, fair and equally like everyone else, and he quit. >_>

Aug 15 07 - 12:43am

I guess it's a long shot, but I would really love to see that image of Jagger and Bowie together in a bigger size! It's beautiful!



Aug 21 07 - 2:17am

don't compare Catholicism to Scientology...one was created and promoted by a drug addicted pederast..and the other...well. good read though.

Jan 08 08 - 3:18pm

What about David Soul the necrophiliac? Hutch sang "Don't give up on us Baby." Maybe she had already given up.......

Mar 30 08 - 4:27am

Marilyn Monroe never had an affair with JFK, it was his brother that she had an affair with. She was murdered because Bobby divulged privileged information to her and she scheduled an interview to expose everything. A few days before the interview, she was silenced with the help of her psychiatrist and housekeeper.

Sep 27 08 - 8:14am

"Paul is dead?"

Oct 12 08 - 3:10am

The Mick Jagger/David Bowie thing was first mentioned on Howard Stern, not Joan Rivers. Stern comments on his 1990 Channel 9 series how, after getting the info out of Angie, the story is picked up by the media, gets huge, and gradually it changes so that it was a Joan Rivers interview instead. The kind of thing that this article's all about, essentially.

Feb 23 11 - 10:15am

I heard the Jagger/Bowie rumor YEARS before Howard Stern came along. I believe it was in the late 70s, but may have been early 80s, when this one started floating around. I have no idea where it originated, though.

Apr 25 11 - 5:35am

It happened on the Joan Rivers show when Howard was on there. He had finished his segment but came out again when Angie was on and goaded her into revealing some juicy gossip about Bowie, and that was the item she revealed.

Sep 15 12 - 12:05pm

Absolutely on the Rivers' show. I saw that episode first run. Stern took over the interview.

Nov 13 08 - 6:18am

How can you possibly have a ?Best Celebrity Rumours Ever" and not have the Rock Hudson-Jim Nabors "marriage" on the list, let alone in the top 3? This was THE Urban Rmour in the early 70's at playgrounds and at parties..

Feb 18 09 - 6:08pm

You missed the rumor that Jim Nabors was secretly married to Rock Hudson!

Jul 11 09 - 2:38am

I worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1992 and actually was in charge of the balloting process and was like the rest of the team - locked away in a room doing the ballots for several weeks.
I can assure you with 100% accuracy that Marissa Tomei won the award.
The ironic part was that she barely squeeked by to get the nomination....she just got it.. However - she did win the award fair and square -- so you can put that one to rest.

Jan 22 10 - 4:47pm

Here's a short about Catherine the Great that deals with this very issue....


Jan 24 10 - 7:35pm

the story about the private parts is a total waste of time. How low do you have to sink to get more print.

Oct 12 10 - 5:42pm

Simon Cowell gay?? Why this is hardly mentioned anymore is unbelievable to me!!
He always has beards and after they split up, they stay working for his company?? C'mon! Who keeps even one ex around when they get a new girl. Never mind 2 or 3 ex's still working closely with you!
Plus all the tabloid stories about his visits to lapdancing clubs and late night sex trysts with pics of girls leaving his front door, with his head popping out the door! Its so convoluted he's gotta be gay. And thats before you take into account his dress sense, way he talks, his hair and his male grooming.

Dec 06 10 - 11:38am
Alive and Well

Jm Morison is alive and well living with Writer/Actor Ryan Dior in the UK

Apr 10 11 - 2:40am

Well, this is very interesting indeed. Would love to read a little more of this. Good post. Thanks for the heads-up.

Apr 18 11 - 11:35pm

Several people here mention the Paul is Dead Rumor circa 1969-70. I definitely think you should include it. I was 14 at the time and I can tell you that the intensity of the rumor, the sheer buzz power, was off the charts feverish for exactly one week.

Someone here says that Robert Kennedy had Marilyn Monroe killed. This is absurd. The Kennedys had lots of enemies, as powerful reformers always do. The rumors about RFK having Marilyn off'ed may very well have been started by right-wing FBI and CIA people who HATED the Kennedys. J. Edgar Hoover comes to mind.

You're right about Hoover and dresses - he was WAY too much of a control freak to ever do that. I think he was essentially asexual. His love was bureaucratic power, the power to repress and to say "no," a different kind of power from what the Kennedys wanted.

The best short profile of Bobby that I've read recently is here:


Jun 07 11 - 12:52am
alexis Garcia

Bobby Kennedy was seen by a patrol officer in LA the night Marilyn died. Bobby's people had him in Vegas

Jun 03 11 - 4:45pm

I now Lou Christie has a big schlong, everyone in Rock and Roll knows he's blessed with a big fat italian penis. check out some of his pictures from the 60s Ask Dick Clark about it.

Jul 07 11 - 6:13pm

I lived in england years ago and knew his band. He was known for his large schlong, they called him Big Lou. Yes Lou Christie has big balls too and always wore a jock strap on stage too. Ladies were lined up to take there turn , just to see it.

Dec 31 11 - 3:27am

My ex-roomate's sister worked in the emergency room of the LA hospital when Gere came in to get the gerbil taken out in the middle of the night. Thats pretty close.

Jan 06 12 - 6:29pm
Big C

Why did the gerbal fail it's drivers liscence..........…..………It couldnt get out of gere.

Jun 24 12 - 3:13pm

Sorry but some rumors didn't get the list, and it's like crazy they didn't

like Madonna and HIV/ hepatitis C rumor, abortion etc.
2Pac faked his own death