April 12, 2024 | Sarah Ng

9 Unsolved Hollywood Mysteries


It's All Hush-Hush In Hollywood

Over the years, Hollywood actors have found themselves in the headlines due to their mysterious fates—some of them so horrifying, they're unforgettable.

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Thelma Todd 

Thelma Todd was a blonde bombshell from the Golden Age who lost her life at the tragically young age of 29. 

Photo of actress Thelma Todd in blackRKO, Wikimedia Commons

Found In Her Car

On December 16, 1935, the actress was found in her car—a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. It seemed like an accident or as though she'd taken her own life, but her close friends raised red flags.

Thelma Todd in whiteHarold Dean Carsey, Wikimedia Commons

She Had No Motive

You see, according to those closest to her, Thelma Todd didn't struggle with her mental health or have any motivation to hurt herself. They described her as a generally happy person. But that wasn't all.

Thelma Todd, Film Actress in fur coatUniversity of Washington, Wikimedia Commons

It Seemed Tied To Her Affair

Todd's body had been discovered in another actress's garage—Jewel Carmen's. Even crazier? Todd had been sleeping with Carmen's husband, who was the director Roland West. 

That said, many important questions went unanswered, and the whole incident was considered an accident.

Jewel Carmen portrait in white dressAlbert Witzel, Wikimedia Commons

Marilyn Monroe

The tragic demise of Marilyn Monroe continues to fascinate modern generations—and this has a lot to do with the conspiracy theories about that fateful night of August 4, 1962.

Marilyn Monroe in bathrobemfrissen, Flickr

She Was Self-Destructive

Monroe undoubtedly had many demons and self-destructive behaviors; she'd always struggled with addiction and her mental health. According to reports, the famous blonde bombshell fatally overdosed on barbiturates. But not everyone believes this.

Marilyn Monroe, Photoplay - 1953Studio publicity still, Wikimedia Commons

Some Suspect Foul Play

Some argue that Marilyn Monroe was the victim of foul play—and that she'd been taken out because of her connections to JFK and Robert Kennedy. Rumors of her affair with JFK abounded in Hollywood, and her famous rendition of "Happy Birthday" for the President in April 1962 has gone down in history.

The mystery surrounding Monroe's death has become an essential part of her legacy.

President John F. Kennedy in suitU.S. Embassy New Delhi, Flickr

Jean Spangler

Whatever happened to Jean Spangler? Well, we still don't know. Over 70 years ago, the actress mysteriously disappeared on October 7, 1949. She was last seen at a grocery store.

 Jean Elizabeth Spangler, television actressBettmann, Getty Images

She Left Behind A Note

After Spangler vanished, her purse was found—and it contained a puzzling note. It mentioned someone named "Kirk," as well as the actress's plans to see a doctor. Many assumed this "Kirk" was Kirk Douglas, who she'd recently worked with on a film.

Jean Spangler with her daughter, Christine.Bettmann, Getty Images

Her Case Is Still Open

According to the popular conspiracy theory, Jean Spangler had planned to see a doctor to end a pregnancy. Others think that Spangler had been linked to mobsters through her workplace. Today, she is still a missing person and her case remains open.

actress portraying Jean SpanglerE!, E! Mysteries & Scandals, Jean Spangler (2000)

Virginia Rappe And Fatty Arbuckle

The scandal surrounding Virginia Rappe and Fatty Arbuckle was both puzzling and tragic. On September 5, 1921, Fatty Arbuckle hosted a party in hotel suite—and the actress Virginia Rappe was an attendee. It would end in horror.

Virginia Rappe in blackLibrary of Congress, Wikimedia Commons

A Shocking Allegation

Another attendee at the party, Bambina Maude Delmont, claimed that Fatty Arbuckle had forced himself on Virginia Rappe during the party. Allegedly, this terrible encounter led to Rappe's demise just four days later when she succumbed to a ruptured blader and secondary peritonitis.

Virginia Rappe funeralInternet Archive Book Images, Wikimedia Commons

Guilty In The Eyes Of The Public

The scandal that erupted threw Fatty Arbuckle into the spotlight—and though he was acquitted of all charges, his career never really recovered. The public still saw him as a guilty man.

Roscoe Arbuckle in suitUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

William Desmond Taylor

On February 2, 1922, the silent film director William Desmond Taylor was found deceased in his Los Angeles bungalow. But there was already trouble afoot.

William Desmond Taylor 1917 in suitAlbert Witzel, Wikimedia Commons

The Crowd Destroyed The Evidence

Once Taylor's body had been found, a curious crowd contaminated any evidence before the authorities had even arrived. Weirder still, somebody came forward and claimed that Taylor had passed from a stomach hemorrhage. However, this couldn't have been further from the truth.

William Desmond Taylor directingLaura Loveday, Flickr

They Buried The Case

William Taylor Desmond had actually been shot in the back. This was undoubtedly a case of foul play. There were many in the industry with motive to end Taylor's life, but in the end, corruption prevailed. The case remained unsolved.

William Desmond Taylor & William Collier Jr - May 1920Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

George Reeves

2006's Hollywoodland attempted to tell the story of George Reeves's life and mysterious demise. During the 1950s, Reeves was the very first actor take on the role of Superman.

George Reeves in Superman costume looking at the cameraMichael Vance1, Flickr

He Was Depressed

Sadly, on June 16th, 1959, Reeves took a bullet wound to the chest and passed. He had supposedly taken his own life. After all, the actor struggled with depression. He was never happy with the typecasting he experienced throughout his career, and he also had troubling finances. But some things just didn't add up.

TV Guide featuring George Reeves The actual cape worn by Reeves in The Adventures of SupermanTim Evanson, Flickr

The Details Are Murky

On the day he passed, Reeves had been hosting a small get-together. It seemed suspicious that everyone at the house hadn't called the authorities right away. There were also stray casings near Reeves's body.

So, who had the motive to take out the popular actor?

George Reeves ''Blood and Sand'' 1941 ; Just 10 years before  ''Superman'' on TV.BJ Alias, Flickr

He Had A Scandalous Affair

Allegedly, Reeves had been sleeping with the wife of MGM executive, Eddie Manix. Some believe that it was Mannix who sought vengeance on his wife's lover, or at the very least, arranged to have him taken out. Of course, this is just a prevailing theory.

Photo of film executive Eddie Mannix in suitAssociated Press, Wikimedia Commons

Natalie Wood

Perhaps one of the biggest Hollywood mysteries of all was the watery demise of Natalie Wood. On November 28, 1981, her body was found in a Catalina Island cove.

Natalie Wood image taken in her London Home in Belgravia.Allan warren, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

A Tumultuous Marriage

At the time of her drowning, Natalie Wood was married to Robert Wagner. Their relationship had gone through its ups and downs. After all, they'd divorced in 1957 only to remarry in 1972.

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood  sitting at tablePress photo, Wikimedia Commons

Three Actors On A Yacht

The night before her body was discovered, Wood and Wagner had been spending time on a yacht with another actor—Christopher Walken.

Christopher Walken in suitLascher, Wikimedia Commons

A Tragic Accident

At first, the story seemed like a simple one. The authorities chalked it up to a tragic accident—one where Wood had fallen overboard while trying to ride a dinghy back to the dock. However, suspicious details began to surface.

Natalie Wood 1961 Splendor In The GrassWarner Bros., Wikimedia Commons

They Had Been Fighting

Apparently, on that fateful night, Wood and Wagner had had a pretty intense fight. Some believed that it had something to do with Christopher Walken. But that wasn't all.

Natalie Wood in black shirtJack Mitchell, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

She Was Afraid Of Water

Natalie Wood had a strong fear of water. In fact, she'd feared water her entire life, which made it unlikely that she'd try to board a dinghy all by herself. Nothing seemed to add up...

Years later, the captain of the yacht came forward—and dropped a bombshell.

Natalie Wood in yellow toponeredsf1, Flickr

The Captain Changed His Original Story

Captain Dennis Davern wrote a book detailing the events leading up to Wood's demise—and it flew in the face of Wagner's account. Davern blamed Wagner. According to him, the actor hadn't properly looked for his wife when she disappeared.

It's no wonder that the LAPD reopened Natalie Wood's case in 2011.

Natalie Wood Wagner GraveMeribona, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Lana Turner

Lana Turner may have been a gorgeous and talented actress, but her taste in men led her down a dark road. Enter: Johnny Stompanato.

Publicity photo of Lana Turner in gray shirtThe Silver Screen, Wikimedia Commons

She Fell For The Wrong Guy

Turner messed up when she decided to get involved with Johnny Stompanato, who was linked to the gangster Mickey Cohen. Reportedly, Stompanato mistreated Turner terribly—but one domestic dispute took a horrifying turn.

Lana Turner, Johnny Stompanato, And Cheryl CraneUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Her Daughter Tried To Protect Her

Reportedly, Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane took Stompanato's life in an effort to protect her mother. The court found that Crane's actions were justifiable, but the chilling incident sparked a conspiracy theory.

Cheryl Crane And Lana Turner - 1958Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

The Public Didn't Trust Her

Apparently, the public wondered whether Lana Turner made her daughter take the fall for her own actions. Some wondered whether Turner was responsible for Stompanato's end. 

Of course, only Cheryl Crane knows what actually happened—and she's sticking to her story.

Stephen Crane, Lana Turner, And Mildred TurnerUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

Albert Dekker

Albert Dekker was an actor and politician. On May 5, 1968, his fiancée made a horrifying discovery—Dekker's body in the bathroom. The chilling scene raised many questions.

Albert Dekker in suit sitting at a deskTrailer screenshot, Wikimedia Commons

A Shocking Scene

Though authorities reported that Dekker had accidentally hung himself, not everyone believed that assumption. Dekker had been found in the bathtub wearing women's clothes with a blindfold on. He also had writing in lipstick all over his person and had been bound.

Albert Dekker in In Old OklahomaRepublic Pictures, Wikimedia Commons

A Good Time Gone Wrong?

There were some missing items reported: surveillance equipment and cash. Some suspected foul play, but even Dekker's own son believed the tragedy was a result of an accident.

Albert Dekker in In Old OklahomaRepublic Pictures, Wikimedia Commons


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