Skip To Content

    17 Shocking Urban Legends About Famous Movies — And Whether They Were True

    These are the stories people have whispered about for years.

    As long as there have been movies, there have been people telling urban legends about them. Some of these have caught on more than others, to the point where millions of people believe them to be 100% true and won't hear otherwise.

    Here are some of the most infamous, fascinating, and tragic urban legends in film history:

    1. URBAN LEGEND: Three Men and a Baby was filmed at a home that was haunted by a boy who died there years before, and his specter can clearly be seen in the background of a scene.

    Ted Danson watches a woman hold a baby as a supposed ghost is seen in the corner

    But what about the boy in the window? If he wasn't a ghost, what was he? Well, it turns out it was a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson's actor character, Jack. In fact, the cutout can be seen later in the film.

    Ted Danson stands by his cutout

    2. URBAN LEGEND: A mischievous extra on the set of 1985's Teen Wolf, starring Michael J. Fox, pulled out his penis during the filming of the film's final scene, and it made its way into the released film, unnoticed.

    Someone has their pants unbuttoned in the scene

    But is that what really happened? A closer look at the moment indicates...nope. The extra appears to be a woman, not a man, and visible beyond her unbuttoned pants is the white of underwear, not a private part.

    A closer shot reveals the supposed flasher to be a woman

    3. URBAN LEGEND: Disney animators secretly slipped hidden sexual messages into their films, and The Lion King featured an especially brazen example: the word "SEX" written out in the sky above Simba.

    "Sex" is sort of visible written in stars in the sky

    4. URBAN LEGEND: A disgruntled Disney animator tasked with drawing the VHS cover of The Little Mermaid drew an erect penis in the background, and Disney never noticed — and released it nationwide.

    The cover with the alleged penis drawn in the background

    Snopes talked to the artist, who told them he was working long hours trying to complete the cover art just a few months before the home video's release. As a result, he rushed through the background detail at "about 4 in the morning" and unintentionally drew a spire that kind of — OK, totally — looks like a penis.

    A close up of the supposed penis in the background

    5. URBAN LEGEND: A heartbroken actor portraying one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz hanged himself on set, and — horrifyingly — he can be seen hanging in the distance as Dorothy and her friends head down the yellow brick road.

    Something appears to be hanging in the background of a scene

    But was it really a cast member who'd died by suicide? Thankfully, no. Screen Rant dug into this rumor and explained that the image in the distance was actually the silhouette of a large bird, like an emu or crane. The production, it turns out, had borrowed a bunch of birds from the Los Angeles Zoo and let them roam about the indoor set to make it look more authentically outdoorsy.

    A closer view of something that appears to be hanging in the background of a scene

    6. URBAN LEGEND: A man can be seen jumping off a bridge to his death in the background of a scene in the 1995 Leonardo DiCaprio film The Basketball Diaries.

    Here's a closer look at the falling figure.

    A figure falls off a bridge

    7. URBAN LEGEND: The hoverboard used by Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II was real, and the only reason hoverboards were not sold to the general public was that parents' groups pressured toy companies to keep the dangerous toys unreleased.

    The bullies chase Marty on hoverboards

    So, what went on here? Was this pure wish fulfillment on the part of kids? As it turns out, no! Kids could be forgiven for believing it was true because this urban legend was started by none other than the director of the Back to the Future films, Robert Zemeckis!

    View this video on YouTube

    A TV special promoting the release of Part II (seen above and, yes, hosted by Leslie Nielsen of Naked Gun fame) featured a part (about 25 minutes in) where Zemeckis talks about the hoverboard technology and says, "They’ve been around for years. It’s just that parents' groups have not let toy manufacturers make them, but we got our hands on some and we put them in the movie.” 

    Zemeckis delivered the line with a sly smile that indicated he was kidding, but most kids wouldn't pick up on that subtlety...and didn't.  

    8. URBAN LEGEND: Back to the Future II correctly predicted not only that major league baseball would add a team in Miami but also that the newly formed Miami team would win the World Series in 1997.

    In Back to the Future Part II, a hologram of Miami with a gator mascot is seen

    9. URBAN LEGEND: The filmmakers of 2019's Cats originally intended to make the cats look as lifelike as possible — going so far as to give them realistic, CGI cat buttholes — but later scrapped the idea and edited them all out.

    Taylor Swift as a cat in the film

    10. URBAN LEGEND: An online rumor blew up that dozens of Cats' crew members somehow died during the two years the film was in production.

    A tweet asking why so many died during production

    11. URBAN LEGEND: In the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger, actor Shirley Eaton — who famously appeared covered from head to toe in gold paint — died shortly after completing the scene as a result of "skin suffocation" caused by the paint.

    Bond touches the bikini-clad, gold-covered body of Shirley Eaton

    I could explain in great detail all the ways this one is false, but it's probably easier just to show you this:

    12. URBAN LEGEND: The NASA moon landing never actually happened — it was filmed on a soundstage and passed off as the real thing — and legendary film director Stanley Kubrick was the man America hired to film this trickery. Kubrick later hinted at his participation by having the character Danny Torrance wear an Apollo spacecraft sweater in The Shining.

    Danny walks down the iconic hallway in The Shining wearing a NASA spaceship sweater

    13. URBAN LEGEND: The Poltergeist film series about a family stalked by ghosts made a mistake by dramatizing these supernatural events, and as a result, everyone involved in the productions was cursed, leading to a number of untimely deaths.

    The family in the film stare at something in horror

    14. URBAN LEGEND: One of the first films ever screened publicly, 1896's The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, consisted entirely of footage of a train arriving at a station. The viewers at that screening — unaccustomed to watching moving images — were so frightened by the image of a train headed their way that they all screamed and stampeded out of the room.

    A black-and-white image of a train pulling into a station circa 1895

    15. URBAN LEGEND: In Singin' in the Rain, the production crew added milk to the water used to simulate rain so that it'd be easier to see onscreen.

    Gene Kelly dances in the rain in the film

    Check out how noticeable the rain is in this GIF of Gene Kelly. The rain looks almost white...which gave birth to the rumor it was partially milk.

    16. URBAN LEGEND: In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, people started to draw comparisons between real life and the 2007 Will Smith film I Am Legend, which they said was set in 2021 and was about people turned into zombies after taking a failed vaccine.

    Will Smith walks through a desolate New York

    17. URBAN LEGEND: Lisa Ann Walter — who played Chessy in The Parent Trap — went on to have identical twins of her own and gave birth to them Oct. 11, the very day Annie and Hallie were born in the film.

    This fantastical claim took off on TikTok, but — surprise! — it's actually totally true! The film's screenplay confirms that Hallie and Annie were born Oct. 11, and Walter posted this birthday tribute to her twins, Simon and Spencer, on the same date!

    What urban myths about movies have you heard? Let us know in the comments!