Old Hollywood is looked back upon as being glamorous and the “good old days” of Hollywood but, behind the scenes, things weren’t as innocent as they appeared. Although glitz, glamour and the life of luxury was in the spotlight, back in the early days Tinseltown could be surprisingly seedy and controversial and fans would be shocked at what went on when the cameras weren’t flashing (and sometimes even when they were). Back then, without social media and tabloids, things were expertly covered up and Old Hollywood was able to keep its charm and grace without anyone finding out what was really happening. Take a look back at 12 of Old Hollywood’s most shocking scandals and stories:
12. Spade Cooley
The story of Spade Cooley is one of the most tragic in country music history. From the ’40s to 1960, Cooley was regarded as the King of Western Swing but, on April 3, 1961, the singer viciously murdered his wife Ella Mae Evans right in front of their 14-year-old daughter. According to reports, Ella Mae had admitted to having an affair with country singer Roy Rogers and sent Cooley into a violent rage. Although he initially told police that Ella had fallen in the shower, at the trial Melody Cooley told the jury the entire beating that she witnessed saying that she “watched in terror as her father beat her mother’s head against the floor, stomped on her stomach, then crushed a lit cigarette against her skin to see whether she was dead.” After the longest case in county history at the time, Cooley was convicted of first-degree murder after withdrawing his insanity plea. After serving nine years of his life sentence, Cooley was given a 72-hour furlough from the prison to play a benefit concert but while standing on the wings he suffered a fatal heart attack.