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    12 Shocking Events In Hollywood History That Actually Happened

    Hollywood is even wilder than you think.

    1. The first film to dramatize the story of the Titanic hit screens just 29 days after the ship went down — and starred an actor who survived the sinking.

    After vacationing in Italy, 22-year-old movie star Dorothy Gibson boarded the Titanic on April 10, 1912 to head home to New York. She was playing bridge when the ship hit the iceberg and was lucky to escape on the first lifeboat.

    Upon returning to New York, Dorothy’s employer, Éclair Film Company, immediately suggested making a movie. Dorothy co-wrote the script — which took the structure of her telling her parents and fiancé about what happened to her on the ship — and even wore the same clothes she’d worn on the ship while filming. The resulting film, Saved from the Titanic, ran only 10 minutes (this was typical at the time as theaters showed a lot of one-reel shorts) and mixed newsreel footage and stock images of icebergs with new footage filmed at a movie studio in New Jersey and on a docked ship in New York Harbor. The movie was a huge hit globally (although some criticized it as an exploitative cash grab).

    In the end, the film, like the Titanic itself, was doomed. In 1914, the only known prints of the film were lost in a studio fire.

    2. An 18-year-old screenwriting “wunderkind” signed a six-figure writing deal before it was discovered she was actually a 32-year-old actor masquerading as a teen.

    ABC

    From the late '80s through the mid '90s, an actor named Kimberlee Kramer appeared in a number of films and TV shows, like Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and Growing Pains. However, when she entered her thirties and acting roles became harder to get, she changed her name to Riley Weston and claimed she was born in 1979 instead of her actual birth year of 1966. A big difference, but she was able to pull it off thanks to her youthful appearance and diminutive size.

    It was as a writer and not an actor, though, that the "teenager" found success. She signed with the powerful UTA and was hired as a staff writer on the hit WB show Felicity. She was even given a small role on an episode of Felicity that she wrote. All came crashing down, though, when Entertainment Tonight, in preparing a segment on the teen phenom, discovered her true age. She soon was let go from Felicity.

    Kristi Kaylor, an executive who worked with Weston, told Variety she felt "conned," saying, “She told me she was 18. I thought she was this little genius. In negotiations, her attorney said, ‘Please don’t stand in the way of this poor 18-year-old’s career.’ She conned everybody.”

    3. When Paul Walker died in the middle of filming Furious 7, the production seemed doomed — until the filmmakers somehow figured out how to complete his part using old footage, his brothers as stand-ins, and groundbreaking CGI effects.

    NBC/Universal

    When Paul Walker, 40, died in a car accident on Nov. 30, 2013, it left The Fast and the Furious franchise without a key star in the middle of production on a sequel expected to make hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Despite the huge stakes, the studio suspended production and, while mourning Walker, left the film's future up in the air. Director James Wan told BuzzFeed, "I actually want to give credit to the studio for not jumping at that. Because they were just as shocked. They truly loved Paul. It hit everyone really hard. We truly did not talk about finishing the movie until Paul was buried and we had a memorial for him. It was in the following weeks that we started thinking if this was something that we could actually finish without him."

    The challenge of finishing a film of this size without its star was incredibly daunting, but the ingenuity of Wan and his team made it possible. First, they poured over every bit of footage (including outtakes) that they had of Walker from all of the films. They then used the footage to create a bible of Walker's facial expressions in different situations that the visual effects artists could reference when creating CGI of Walker.

    They also hired Walker's two brothers as stand-ins to many scenes (with Walker's face often digitally superimposed over theirs) and to do some line readings. In some instances, a line would be half said by Paul and half said by one of his brothers. The screenwriters also rewrote the ending to complete Walker's story arc so the franchise could continue without him.

    All in all, the film was delayed a year and the budget ballooned by tens of millions of dollars, but it was worth it, as Furious 7 acted as a fine tribute to Walker and became the most successful film in the franchise, grossing upwards of $1.5 billion.

    Read about more actors who died while filming movies — and how the movies got finished — here.

    4. A glamorous young movie star stunned Hollywood by leaving it all behind to become a nun.

    Paramount, Ethan Miller / Getty Images

    Dolores Hart burst onto the movie scene at 19 years old in 1957, when she played Elvis Presley’s love interest — and shared a kiss with him — in the hit Loving You. From there, she established herself as a glamorous leading lady, starring in nine more features, including the cult classic Where the Boys Are. She seemed destined for a long career as a movie star, but in 1960, while portraying St. Clare in the religion-themed film Francis of Assisi, she met Pope John XXIII. When she told him she was playing Clare in the film, he said, "No, you are Clare!" This played a role in leading her to her true vocation.

    So, in 1964, the 24-year-old broke off an engagement, left acting behind, and traveled to the Abbey of Regina Laudis monastery in Connecticut to become a nun. She still lives there today, although she did return to Hollywood to attend the Academy Awards in 2012. That year, God Is the Bigger Elvis, a documentary about her life, was nominated for an Academy Award.

    You can read about more huge stars who quit Hollywood and started totally different lives here.

    5. So many cast members of the Poltergeist films died that rumors spread that the production was cursed.

    Universal

    Poltergeist, about a family who discovers their home is haunted by angry ghosts, was a hit in 1982 and spawned two sequels. Sadly, a number of cast members — including two very young ones — died during the period this trilogy was made.

    Just five months after the release of the first film, 22-year-old Dominique Dunne, who played the family’s teenage daughter, was tragically murdered by an abusive boyfriend.

    Then, only a few months after the release of Poltergeist II, 60-year-old Julian Beck, who played Kane in the film, died. His co-star in the film, Will Sampson, 53, died less than 18 months later.

    Finally, after filming was completed on Poltergeist III, 12-year-old Heather O’Rourke, who played the family’s youngest daughter, Carol Anne, unexpectedly died of cardiac arrest caused by a bowel defect.

    Because of these high-profile deaths, and the films' focus on supernatural entities who mean to do harm to the living, the idea the production was cursed spread far and wide in the ‘80s, often with embellishments. For example, as Snopes points out, one version of the rumor claimed that Oliver Robbins, who played the family’s other child, also died. He, however, is still alive and working in the business.

    6. A young actor jumped off the Hollywood sign to her death after a movie studio declined to renew her contract and much of her film debut ended up on the cutting room floor.

    en.wikipedia.org, Getty Images

    Peg Entwistle was a successful Broadway actor who came to Hollywood in 1932 to try to make it on the big screen. She soon was signed by RKO Studios and made her film debut in the thriller Thirteen Women. Unfortunately, much of her performance was cut from the final film, and, adding insult to injury, RKO declined to renew her contract. So, on the night of Sept. 16, 1932, Peg left her uncle’s home, climbed to the top of Hollywood sign, and leapt to her death.

    Peg’s story has become Hollywood legend — a perfect embodiment of the disappointment and struggle so many who have come to Hollywood have experienced. But according to the biography Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign Suicide, she had endured career disappointments before and it's unlikely she killed herself over these recent ones in Hollywood. The reasons for her suicide were more complex and hinted at in her suicide note found at the scene: “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”

    7. LL Cool J and Jamie Foxx had such a massive fight on set that police were called and one crew member though Jamie had "snapped his neck."

    Warner Bros.

    Oliver Stone's 1999 NFL football drama Any Given Sunday was a testosterone-filled project, so perhaps it's no surprise that co-stars LL Cool J and Jamie Foxx went at it one day.

    LL and Foxx were filming a scene where their football player characters were arguing on the sidelines next to their coach, played by Al Pacino. This scripted argument soon turned real, with Foxx slapping LL, and the legendary Pacino tried in vain to break up the fight between the much younger men.

    Cinematographer Sal Totino recounted to the Ringer in their oral history of the film that LL threw a "fucking massive punch that hits Jamie in the face. Jamie goes back and hits the push bar on the techno-crane. I thought he snapped his neck. Jamie pops up, full-blown fight going on. Punches are flying everywhere."

    Six-foot-five co-star Andrew Bryniarski added, "Oliver (the director) grabbed my arm and said, 'Andrew go do something!' I’m like, 'Fuck.' So I tackled LL Cool J, pinned him to his stomach."

    Things got so bad that Foxx called the police, though no charges were pressed. LL and Foxx get along better today, and sang together at a 2015 tribute concert to Stevie Wonder.

    Read about more violent fights on set here.

    8. In 1992, the chairman of Paramount Pictures spent a whopping $2.5 million on a film treatment that was a mere two pages long.

    Lucy Nicholson / Getty Images, Paramount

    Sherry Lansing had just ascended to the top spot at Paramount when she made a splash by paying Joe Eszterhas (pictured above) the huge sum of money for just two pieces of paper. The story becomes less shocking when you learn that Eszterhas was the world’s most famous screenwriter in the ‘90s, earning $26 million for the scripts he sold during the decade.

    Eszterhas turned the two-page treatment into a feature-length erotic thriller titled Jade, which was released in 1995 starring David Caruso and Linda Fiorentino. Jade didn’t fair nearly as well as Eszterhas’ previous erotic thriller, Basic Instinct. It was a major bomb, grossing barely 1/5th of its budget. Amusingly, despite the huge payday for the treatment, Jade earned Eszterhas a Worst Screenplay nomination at the Golden Raspberry Awards.

    9. Film star Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed on set when a disoriented stunt pilot crashed a helicopter into them.

    Warner Bros.

    In 1982, Warner Bros. had high hopes for their big-screen remake of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone. The plan was to tell four separate stories — each directed by a different director — and they'd landed top directors Steven Spielberg and John Landis to helm two of them.

    Landis's segment was about a racist white man played by 61-year-old Vic Morrow, who gets zapped through history into the lives of persecuted people of color. He finds himself being hunted by Nazis in Germany, chased by the Klan in the South, and then fleeing US soldiers in Vietnam.

    Horrifically, while shooting the Vietnam segment on the last day of production, Morrow and two child actors, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, died when a stunt helicopter pilot, disoriented by pyrotechnics, crashed atop the actors.

    Despite the horrific tragedy, a decision was made to finish the film and put it out as a big summer release. To do this, Landis excised the scene involving the helicopter. This made the Vietnamese part of the story shorter but still functional.

    While it was later found the production ignored child labor laws, Landis and other members of the production team were acquitted of manslaughter charges. The families of the victims later settled lawsuits against the studio and filmmakers for an undisclosed amount.

    10. A Chinese billionaire spent $140 million making a 3D action-adventure fantasy film, but things went so poorly it was never released.

    Jiang Prod.

    Empires of the Deep — a vanity project of Chinese billionaire Jon Jiang about a human and mermaid who fall in love — was originally conceived in 2006 as the first film in a trilogy that would also launch an animated series, video game, and even Chinese theme park...but things didn't go so smoothly. At all.

    The screenplay went through 40 drafts and 10 screenwriters, actors (like Sharon Stone and Monica Bellucci) signed on and then ran for the hills, directors came and went, and the movie spent years mired in post-production hell. It's now 2020 and — other than an uninspiring trailer released in 2010 — there are no signs it is any closer to a release than it was 10 years ago.

    Read more wild stories about movies that started filming but never came out here.

    11. When sexual assault allegations were made against Kevin Spacey just six weeks before All the Money in the World was scheduled to be released, the filmmakers recast his role and meticulously reshot every scene he appeared in — and only had to push the release date by three days.

    Sony

    Director Ridley Scott quickly brought on 88-year-old Christopher Plummer to play the key role of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty in the reshoots, which were filmed from Nov. 21–Nov. 29 and cost a whopping $10 million (or 25% of the original budget). Amazingly, all of the locations they needed to return to (and all of the film's other actors) were available for reshoots. Only one shot — originally filmed in the desert of Jordan — had to be re-created with green screen.

    Ironically, the film, which was supposed to be a big contender at the 2018 Academy Awards, only managed to nab one nomination for...you guessed it...Christopher Plummer.

    Read more surprising stories of celebrities getting cut out of famous films here.

    12. Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut, had the longest continuous film shoot on record, lasting 400 days — or more than five times longer than the average Hollywood production.

    Warner Bros.

    Kubrick was infamous for his long film shoots, so the film's stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, arrived in England prepared to film the movie for six months. In the end, though, they were there 15 long months. What took so long? Kubrick's perfectionism combined with his tendency to shoot take after take. Even a simple scene of Cruise walking through a door was filmed 95 times. Vinessa Shaw, who had a small role that was expected to take two weeks to film, was on set for two months. The production went on so long that Harvey Keitel eventually left the film, replaced by Sydney Pollack.

    Kubrick continued his methodical ways in post-production and took almost a year to deliver a first cut of the film. Sadly, Kubrick died six days later, leaving his film almost, but not totally, finished.

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