9 Vintage Hollywood Scandals That First Showed Tinseltown’s Ugly Side

Published May 11, 2021
Updated November 22, 2021

From abortions to murder, these Hollywood scandals prove that Tinseltown has had issues since the Silent Age.

Today, the world is well aware of Hollywood’s dark side. Fame comes with a seedy underbelly. But though Hollywood scandals may seem like a modern phenomenon, they’ve existed ever since the first director called, “Action!”

Hollywood Scandals

Getty ImagesOne of the biggest Hollywood scandals of all time was the murder of mobster Johnny Stompanato, who was the boyfriend of Lana Turner. 1958.

These vintage Hollywood scandals prove that Tinsleton has always been a dark place behind its bright lights.

Hollywood Scandals: Charlie Chaplin’s Obsession With Young Girls

Sexually abusing and exploiting young women is nothing new in Hollywood scandals — and the biggest star of the silent era proves that.

Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance

Wikimedia CommonsChaplin’s first high profile romance involved his 19-year-old co-star Edna Purviance. 1916.

After becoming a worldwide icon early on in his life, comedy genius Charlie Chaplin developed a reputation for pursuing women. He boasted of his conquests relentlessly and claimed that he had slept with more than 2,000 women over the course of his life.

He wasn’t out looking for love either. When asked in an interview to describe his ideal woman, Chaplin replied – “I am not exactly in love with her, but she is entirely in love with me.”

What Chaplin didn’t explicitly say then was that his ideal women were younger than him. When Chaplin was 25, he entered his first high-profile romance with his 19-year-old co-star Edna Purviance.

Four years later, when he was 29, Chaplin met the 16-year-old child actress Mildred Harris. Completely infatuated with her, Chaplin relentlessly sent her flowers and waited for her outside the studio where she worked. The two soon became lovers, got married, lost a child, and got divorced.

Charlie Chaplin with Lita Greay

Getty ImagesCharlie Chaplin with his second wife, Lita Grey and their son Charles Junior on board the SS City of Los Angeles. November 1926.

Shortly after the divorce, Chaplin took up with the 15-year-old child actress, Lita Grey. He had actually first met her three years previously when she was just 12 years old and had apparently been obsessed with her ever since.

Lita soon became pregnant. Chaplin knew by then that he did not love her, but he feared the legal implications of having had intercourse with a minor and thus the two got married. They divorced only a few years later.

Chaplin wasn’t single for long, though – he soon fell for another young actress. Her name was Paulette Goddard, and she had told Chaplin that she was 17 years old (she was actually 22).

The pair went on holidays to Asia where Chaplin later claimed they got married — although no records of the marriage exist. Apparently tired of Chaplin’s controlling behavior, Paulette left him in 1940.

Charlie Chapin and Oona O'Neil

Wikimedia CommonsChaplin was 54 years old when he married his last wife, Oona O’Neill, who was 18 years old at the time. 1944.

By then, Chaplin was 51 years old, and it seemed like his romantic life was all but over. However, at the age of 54 Chaplin met 18-year-old Oona O’Neill, daughter of American playwright Eugene O’Neill. 

The two got married, had eight children together, and lived happily ever after. Chaplin seemed to have finally found his true love, even if she was 36 years younger than him.

Laura Martisiute
Laura is a freelance writer based in Tramore, Ireland. In her spare time, she likes to explore secret beaches, pet cats, and read.