Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger And The History Of Career-Killing Hollywood Scandals

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With Thursday's announcement that he'd be putting his Hollywood career "on hold," Arnold Schwarzenegger has left the world to wonder whether there'll ever be another Terminator movie. Certainly plenty of movie stars have weathered scandal in the past, and some have gone on to become even bigger than they were before -- just ask the indestructible Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. Not everyone's fared so well, though. A look back at Hollywood's history reveals that the town isn't always as forgiving as Schwarzenegger might hope.

The history of career-killing scandal goes at least as far back as the early 1920s, when Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, one of the biggest comedy stars of the day, threw a party where a woman ended up dying of a ruptured stomach. The conjecture was that the 300-pound Arbuckle had raped her and crushed her with his weight. He went through three different trials (and was ultimately acquitted) while Hollywood did nothing to support him; the studio heads were angry because he'd gone on a vacation instead of doing promotional work for them, so they made him the scapegoat for a plague of scandal sweeping through Hollywood, and refused to release his movies. He made a slight comeback in the early '30s, signing a new contract with Warner Brothers right before dying of a heart attack at the age of 46.

Ingrid Bergman fared considerably better, but she got on Hollywood's bad side too. In the late 1940s she went to Italy to make a movie with Roberto Rossellini.

She was married. He was married. A great love affair ensued. When she became pregnant by Rossellini (with Isabella), people were shocked. Especially American people. This was a woman who'd played Joan of Arc and a nun -- for the country's moral and religious groups, who wielded a lot of political power at the time, the thought that she of all people would have a child out of wedlock was too much to bear. She was censured on the floor of the U.S. Congress and couldn't come back to America for years. "Hollywood wouldn't touch her," said James Robert Parish, the author of "The Hollywood Book of Scandals."

A lesser-known star who became the victim of a particularly ugly scandal was George Nader, a handsome actor who was friends with the much-more-celebrated beefcake Rock Hudson. Both Nader and Hudson were gay, but only Nader lost his career because of it. When a magazine threatened to publish compromising pictures of Hudson with a paramour, the studio traded Nader's career for Hudson's, paying the magazine to leave Hudson alone and out Nader's homosexuality instead.

These days it's a little harder to get cast out of Hollywood -- simply being gay or having an affair won't cut it anymore. In most cases you have to make a real nuisance of yourself, which plenty of stars seem to have no trouble doing. There's Charlie Sheen, obviously. And Mel Gibson, who, as Parish put it, is "so vocal in his outrageousness that he lost favor with the public." And then there's Lindsay Lohan, whom Parish described as being "condemned by her own stupidity."

So will Arnold's future in Hollywood end up looking more like Downey's comeback or Gibson's downfall? "I think he's shrewd enough and his people are shrewd enough to survive this," Parish said

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