You might think of Old Hollywood as a rather more genteel and sedate time for the movie industry. However, it wasn’t always like that. Many of the actors and actresses who worked during that era went on to become legends, but behind all that they were real people. And, like most of us, they had some slightly weird (and in some cases downright disturbing) aspects to their personalities.
20. Peter Sellers was afraid of a color
Peter Sellers was by all accounts a very difficult man to get along with, to say the least. On movie sets he would reportedly have people fired on the slightest whim, and threw tantrums whenever things weren’t going his way. And he was also scared of the color purple. He thought it was a harbinger of death.
The actor’s fear of the color would lead to even more screaming fits if he saw it. His staff would make sure that Sellers never had to stay in a hotel room that featured purple. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, Sellers hated the color green as well. If someone was wearing green on set, Sellers would refuse to act with them.
19. Elvis had a bizarre relationship with a chimpanzee
At the height of Elvis’s career, he was offered a chimpanzee named Scatter as a pet. The animal had previously been a fixture on a local Memphis TV station, but they wanted rid of him, and Elvis took him in. Scatter moved into Elvis’s home, Graceland, and thus began one of the weirdest animal-human relationships in showbusiness.
Scatter was not a good housemate. He would rip up the curtains, torment visitors, bite people, and of course do the extremely unhygienic throwing thing that chimpanzees tend to do. Elvis apparently encouraged all this bad behavior, but according to his friend Lamar Fike he also physically abused the chimp. Poor Scatter died while still in the “care” of Elvis and his staff.
18. Audrey Hepburn loved her unusual pet
Few stars were as universally popular as Audrey Hepburn and, true to her lovable persona, she was practically a real-life Disney princess. On the set of the 1959 jungle romance Green Mansions Hepburn befriended her animal co-star, a baby deer, and it likewise bonded with her. She took it home and it became her pet. Hepburn named the little creature Pippin, or just “Ip” for short.
Deer don’t always make great pets, but Hepburn was more than up for the challenge of raising one. Pippin was given a custom-made bathtub to sleep in, but sometimes she would sleep with Hepburn herself. Pippin also followed her human “mother” to supermarkets. Hepburn’s bond with the fawn both amused and amazed the people around her.
17. Elizabeth Taylor was made miserable by the same thing which made her beautiful
Actress Elizabeth Taylor had very striking eyes, and there was a good reason for that. Just after her birth a doctor approached her parents and informed them of something rather remarkable — their new daughter had a genetic mutation. To be specific she had lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome, which is caused by the FOXC2 gene.
That little mutation in Taylor’s genes helped make her beautiful, as it enhanced her eyelashes by giving her an extra set of them. And yet the price of this was incredibly high. Taylor suffered from medical problems all her life, which was clearly difficult for her. And when she passed away it was from congestive heart failure, possibly another consequence of the lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome.
16. Jayne Mansfield deliberately engineered wardrobe malfunctions
They say that when you’ve got it, flaunt it. And one Hollywood actress definitely took that to heart. Blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield would go out on the town, wait for the photographers and then conveniently allow part of her outfit to come off. Once, she dived into a swimming pool and came up without her top.
If Instagram had been a thing back in Mansfield’s day, she would no doubt have been the queen of it. Her tendency to disrobe, her scandalous Playboy magazine photoshoot and her rivalry with Marilyn Monroe all grabbed headlines. But sadly, like Monroe, she died young. In 1967 she was killed in a horrific car accident.
15. Natalie Wood was sensitive about an old injury
Natalie Wood was only a child when an on-set breach of health and safety changed her life. While the ten-year-old was filming a movie called The Green Promise in 1949, a bridge rigged to collapse fell down too early. Wood fell into the water and broke her wrist. The injury never healed properly.
In fact, the incident left a protruding bone on Wood’s left wrist. She hated it and sought ways to cover it up. Fans of the actress have noticed that in almost all of her movies Wood wears a bracelet, watch or long sleeved gloves — something in keeping with her movie costume, to hide the bone. And some biographers claim that the injury was so bad because Wood’s mother refused to get it treated.
14. Marlon Brando wouldn’t memorize his lines
There’s no doubt that Marlon Brando was a great actor in most respects. Unfortunately, though, he wasn’t great at learning lines, and that’s a pretty vital part of the job. So he essentially cheated when it came to that. He would have cue cards with his lines on them printed out and hidden around the movie set.
Brando’s cue cards were sneakily hidden in places where he could read them in a natural way — taped to walls off-camera and the like. But that wasn’t all. Apparently for the 1996 movie The Island of Dr. Moreau Brando had his lines fed to him through an earpiece, a problematic situation as it would sometimes pick up police radio messages.
13. June Vlasek loved to take baths
In the days before social media and Instagram, movie stars had other ways of sharing beauty tips. They would give them to newspapers so their fans could seek new ways of emulating their idols. Actress June Vlasek, aka June Lang, shared an unusual one to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram in October 1932.
Vlasek told the newspaper, “Frequent baths — say twice a day — are my beauty hint.” But where would she or anyone find the time? The actress also recommended, “soaping and scrubbing with a brush cleanses the pores, I find, and increases the circulation, which lays the foundation for a healthy skin.” It seemed to work for her, anyway.
12. Doris Day liked to cover herself in Vaseline
Famous actress Doris Day had a trick she liked to use to keep her skin beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s one that’s rather difficult to pull off. In her 1975 autobiography Doris Day: Her Own Story Day explained that once a month she covered her entire body with Vaseline before getting into her pajamas and then into bed.
This was met with some mirth from columnists at the time. In 1977 Jean Kerr wrote in The New York Times, “What I want to know is where [Day] sleeps. In a bed? Suppose she turns over in the middle of the night. In her slippery condition wouldn’t she skid right out of the bed, knocking over lamps and alarm clocks and possibly damaging herself, wiping out the improvements?”
11. Lauren Bacall was difficult
Lauren Bacall was a take-no-nonsense kind of woman in an era which didn’t always react well to them. And her contemporaries didn’t always approve of her attitude. In 1945 the Hollywood Women’s Press Club voted for the year’s “Least Cooperative Actress” and Bacall was the runner-up (to Greer Garson). More recently, other people have discussed her combative personality.
In 2014, former President of Israel Shimon Peres told the newspaper Haaretz that he was distantly related to the actress. When he met her, he said, “She told me a bit about acting, about love, but she was not an easy woman. She had very strong opinions, was protective of her dignity, and was not easy to converse with.”
10. Grace Kelly had a big sexual appetite
Grace Kelly was known for being poised, classy, and in a way sort of sexless. But according to her biographers this probably wasn’t the case offscreen. She might have slept with almost all her leading men, a list which includes among others James Stewart, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Ray Milland and William Holden.
According to TV and theatre director Don Richardson, who was interviewed for the 1987 biography Grace: The Secret Lives of a Princess, Kelly indeed had plenty of affairs. He added, “Ironically, her Catholicism, which she believed in, didn’t prevent her from being promiscuous. She would jump out of bed on Sunday morning, wearing nothing but the crucifix, go to church, come back in an hour and jump into bed.”
9. Orson Welles hated his nose
Actor Orson Welles was extremely insecure about one part of his face. In 1955 he wrote in a sketchbook, “You may have wondered why I look so peculiar on the television. And it’s partly, I must confess to you, the fact that you see my nose as it is. In most of the films that I appear in, I put on a false nose. Usually as large as I can find.”
And Welles wasn’t kidding. After finishing shooting his 1948 Macbeth, Welles flew to Rome to act in another move and — as his biographer Barbara Leaming notes — “Orson seemed far more worried about the supply of false noses he had inadvertently left in Hollywood than about his unfinished picture.” As Welles grew older, his false noses in movies grew ever bigger.
8. Greta Garbo had a strange diet
In the days of Old Hollywood, actresses were expected to be thin. To achieve this, women sometimes went to worrying lengths. There was reportedly one period in Greta Garbo’s life where she ate nothing but spinach, and another era where she subsisted on no other food but dried apricots, brown beans, biscuits and chicken.
Garbo had some other odd eating habits as well, mostly involving strange combinations of food. Sometimes she would eat raw eggs mixed with orange juice, buttermilk mixed with yeast, or cornflakes mixed with lingonberry jam and coffee. Some enthusiastic foodies have reported that that last one is actually pretty tasty.
7. James Dean had little concept of hygiene
James Dean was a teen idol of his era. Women wanted him, men wanted to be him. However, if any of his admirers had actually met him, they might have found his hygiene habits to be a bit of a turn-off. Dean didn’t care much about how he dressed. Sometimes his clothes were filthy and he neglected to wear shoes.
According to those who were around at the time, Dean showed up in jeans held together with safety pins when he went to rehearsals and sometimes wore the same unwashed t-shirt for over two weeks. In May 1955 the Detroit Free Press wrote of the movie star, “Jimmy dresses like an unmade bed.”
6. Tippi Hedren was very reckless about her pets
Tippi Hedren didn’t exactly display good judgement when she bought a particular animal home. The beast in question was a massive male lion named Neil, who Hedren thought she could care for after working in the field of conservation. She was wrong. Neil, like all lions, simply wasn’t meant to be in a house. And later he was joined by others.
Hedren even let the lions and her own daughter, actress Melanie Griffith, sleep in a bed together. This relationship ended exactly how you’d would expect: Griffith was attacked and needed surgery on her face. In 2014 Hedren told the Daily Mail newspaper she now considered her actions “stupid beyond belief.”
5. Charlie Chaplin had a disturbing alter ego
To most of the world Charlie Chaplin was a talented movie clown. But behind the scenes there were some pretty unpleasant psychology at play. Chaplin considered his most famous character, the Tramp, to be a manifestation of sorts of his own father. And he also reportedly indulged in some distinctly unfunny behavior.
According to those who knew him, Chaplin would prey on younger girls (waiting until they were only just of legal age) and mistreat them once they were in a relationship. He claimed to have slept with thousands of women, but his marriages were generally disastrous. And his co-stars didn’t much like him either. In Marlon Brando’s 1994 autobiography he called Chaplin “probably the most sadistic man I’d ever met.”
4. Marilyn Monroe loved to read
When Marilyn Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller in 1956, it was seen as a comical mismatch, with Variety magazine running the witty headline, “Egghead Weds Hourglass.” But in truth Monroe was far from a dumb blonde — she was intelligent and well-read. She was even told to stop reading more “radical” books while she was on set.
Before her tragic death, Monroe had apparently collected up 400 books for her personal library. These included Ulysses, A Streetcar Named Desire, and the children’s book The Little Engine That Could. Monroe also enjoyed taking literature classes and writing for herself, and critics have said her work is excellent.
3. Alec Guinness hated Star Wars
Even though it introduced him to a whole new generation of fans and earned him a tremendous amount of money, Alec Guinness loathed Star Wars. He never expected the movie to do anywhere near as well as it did and was furious that young children knew him only as Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi.
And Guinness made absolutely no attempt to hide his contempt. If he received fan mail about Star Wars, he attempted to send it back. He begged George Lucas to give him a way out of the movies. And in one of his autobiographies he detailed a story about making a kid promise to never watch Star Wars again. A pretty long way from Obi-Wan.
2. Alfred Hitchcock was disturbingly obsessed with one woman
After casting Tippi Hedren in The Birds, Hitchcock put her through something far more terrifying than anything in the movie. He made an advance on her and she said no, so he tormented her as revenge. He would throw live birds at her instead of fake ones and pay people to stalk her off set.
Hitchcock’s creepy behavior even extended to Hedren’s own children. The megalomaniacal director had a mask made of Hedren’s face, created a realistic-looking doll out of it, and then gave that doll in a coffin to Hedren’s daughter Melanie Griffith. Unsurprisingly, Griffith still hates Hitchcock to this day.
1. Cary Grant was a big fan of LSD
Leading man Cary Grant didn’t handle fame very well. He was desperate to find something, anything, that would give him inner peace. More traditional things such as yoga didn’t work for him, so he turned to LSD. And he loved it. Reportedly, he would drop acid around a hundred times throughout his life.
This little-known aspect of Grant’s life became the basis for a documentary, Becoming Cary Grant, in 2017. That year the director Mark Kidel told The Guardian, “He claimed he was saved by LSD. You have to remember that Cary was a private man. He rarely gave interviews. And yet, after taking acid, he personally contacted Good Housekeeping and said: ‘I want to tell the world about this.’”
But there are many individuals who left their mark on society way before these Golden Age stars who also had some strange quirks. Indeed, here are 40 of the weirdest habits practiced by historic figures. And some are so odd, that they may well change your opinion of them.
40. Michelangelo didn’t bathe
Famously, Renaissance man Michelangelo was responsible for the stunning work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Yet while he may be considered one of the finest artists of all time, he seemingly didn’t have as good a record in the hygiene department. Yes, Michelangelo supposedly didn’t perform any ablutions; apparently, he didn’t often wear clean clothes, either.
39. Martin Luther ate his own waste
Martin Luther didn’t like some of the Catholic Church’s practices, so he led the Protestant Reformation and ultimately set up the Lutheran Church. Despite the wisdom that he possessed, though, Luther supposedly partook in one particularly disgusting habit in the belief that it would improve his wellbeing. Somewhat alarmingly, it’s said that he actually consumed his own excrement on a regular basis.
38. Charles Dickens combed his hair hundreds of times each day
Given Charles Dickens’ odd quirk, it’s a wonder that he found the time to pen such classics as Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol. You see, the popular author hated his hair being out of place, and this therefore led him to brush through his mane almost incessantly on a daily basis.
37. Franz Kafka had his cake and ate it, too
It seems as though Franz Kafka knew how to inspire himself to get his writing work down. Since the novelist really liked pineapple upside-down cake, he’d give himself a huge treat after he’d completed a new piece. Yes, Kafka would consume an entire gateau to celebrate – and he wouldn’t let any outsiders take a single bite, either.
36. Maya Angelou couldn’t write at home
One of author and poet Maya Angelou’s most famous works is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. But she didn’t pen that lauded autobiography at home, as from the late ’60s Angelou actually preferred to write in small hotel rooms. She would bring along her own tools to aid her creativity, though, including a deck of cards and some sherry.
35. Leonardo da Vinci didn’t like to see caged birds
The quintessential Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci was versed in art, biology, music, sculpting, engineering, and anatomy, to name just a few disciplines. Yet he also had a soft side – especially when it came to animals. It’s said, for example, that he used to purchase birds in cages just so that he could free them. Leonardo is thought to have followed a vegetarian diet to boot.
34. Salvador Dalí was a pen stealer
Salvador Dalí had such an eccentric public persona that some wondered if it actually took away from his surrealist work. His antics may have distracted, though, from the fact that he occasionally stole from his fans. Yes, when admirers asked the artist to sign autographs, he would – and then he’d hang onto their pens.
33. Beethoven counted out beans to make the perfect cup of coffee
It’s no surprise that one of the most important composers ever to have lived exhibited strange behaviors to stoke creativity. In Ludwig van Beethoven’s case, the morning tended to start with a cup of coffee brewed with 60 beans exactly; he logged each one personally. On occasion, he’d also apparently walk around inside his room while spilling water onto his own hands and humming.
32. Andy Warhol created creepy time capsules
Andy Warhol’s contributions to the pop art movement included 1962’s Campbell’s Soup Cans – a collection of 32 renditions of the famous brand’s tins. But nothing that simple would likely ever be found within the time capsules that Warhol pieced together monthly. Instead, he filled these artifacts with strange finds, including boots that had once belonged to Clark Gable and a foot that had been mummified.
31. Stravinsky used headstands to get his creative juices flowing
No single genre can define composer Igor Stravinsky’s work, but it seems that he owed all of it to a morning ritual he used to spark his creativity. Apparently, Stravinsky would spend ten to 15 minutes in a headstand, which he believed helped open up his mind. Then he would feel ready to compose music.
30. Voltaire would only live close to a country’s borders
French philosopher Voltaire had a tendency to ruffle feathers with his writing. In 1734, for instance, he denounced the institutions of his home country, enraging members of Parliament to the point that they wanted him arrested. So, Voltaire fled to a friend’s chateau in Cirey near the French border, allowing him to escape the nation if he was chased. After that, he always lived close to the boundary between one nation and another – just to be safe.
29. Nikola Tesla believed celibacy helped him to create
Of all the ways to get the creative juices flowing, Nikola Tesla specifically refused to engage in one of them. Yes, the inventor of the alternating current electric supply system felt as though chastity aided his pursuit of his professional aims. He maintained that he’d made the right decision, too, and ultimately he died a bachelor.
28. Charles VI of France thought that he was a wolf made of glass
Charles VI restored a shining reputation to the crown during his reign, with his subjects even going so far as to call him “Charles the Beloved.” But in his 20s, the French monarch started suffering through periods of bad mental health, leading some to dub him “Charles the Mad” instead. During one of his episodes, he even believed himself to be a wolf made of glass. The king would therefore approach castle guests and howl at them, although he’d also avoid being touched himself for fear that he would break into pieces.
27. Churchill liked to be naked
British prime minister Winston Churchill reportedly enjoyed hanging out in his office naked, and it’s even said that another head of state once walked in and saw him in the buff. According to legend, Churchill traveled to the White House during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s tenure. Then, when FDR entered the prime minister’s room at one point, the commander-in-chief reportedly found his British counterpart nude following a recent bath.
26. Picasso carried around a gun in case anyone annoyed him
Pablo Picasso’s bright, unique mind guided him as he co-founded the Cubist movement. Picasso’s avant-garde style led to lots of questions, though, and these inquiries sometimes annoyed the artist himself. So, when he became irritated by people asking too much, he would whip out a revolver in order to quieten them. And while the influential icon actually loaded the weapon with blanks, this was nevertheless quite the statement.
25. Frida Kahlo lied about her age
Much of Frida Kahlo’s artwork took its cues from her home nation of Mexico – not least the country’s natural landscape. And as it turns out, Kahlo let Mexico inspire a little white lie that she’d tell about herself, too. You see, although she entered the world in 1907, she would inform people that she had actually breathed her first in 1910. And, incidentally, that year also happened to see the kick-off of the Mexican Revolution.
24. Stanley Kubrick had 16 cats
Stanley Kubrick’s perfectionism infamously alienated him from some of his movie casts. But perhaps he left this tough persona at the studio door. In any case, Kubrick had a deep love for animals; he even took care of 16 cats at one point. The director’s menagerie apparently grew to include seven golden retrievers and four donkeys, too.
23. Marie Antoinette wanted to cosplay as a peasant
As the Queen of France and Navarre, Marie Antoinette made a reputation for herself by spending big. And, ultimately, her subjects would blame her profligacy for an economic downturn in France. But before that point, the monarch had the so-called “Queen’s Hamlet” built at Versailles. This was a tiny peasant village where she would dress up in a shepherdess costume and make believe that she was a commoner. She even milked cows and sheep while cosplaying there.
22. Henry VIII hired staff to wipe him after trips to the bathroom
King Henry VIII gained notoriety for his string of wives – some of whom he had beheaded. Clearly, then, the English monarch had little shame – and this seemed to extend to his trips to the toilet, too. You see, Henry hired a fleet of male staffers called the Grooms of Stool, whose sole job was wiping the king after he went to the bathroom. What’s more, all of the men who held this position were later knighted – and it sounds like they earned the distinction.
21. Alan Turing could run with the best of them
Alan Turing’s work in algorithms and computation was the basis for modern computer science, making him arguably one of the most influential individuals of the 20th century. Yet he still took time out from his pioneering work to indulge in his hobby of running. And he was good at it, too. In fact, Turing is said to have run a marathon in two hours and 46 minutes – just 11 minutes shy of the record held by the Olympic gold medalist of the time.
20. Ulysses S. Grant didn’t like people seeing him naked
It takes a lot of courage to be a general, and Ulysses S. Grant assumed this position during the Civil War. Even so, it seems that the 18th U.S. president was too afraid to strip down naked in front of anyone but his wife. And while this may sound normal today, that wasn’t the case in the 19th century. You see, someone of Grant’s status would typically have had servants to bathe and clothe him. He wouldn’t strip down and wash with soldiers in the barracks, either, which was another common practice of his time.
19. William Wordsworth ran his work past his pet dog
Even those with a dislike of verse will likely be familiar with William Wordsworth – the iconic British poet who helped ushered in the era of Romanticism within the genre. Allegedly, though, any work of Wordsworth’s that you may have read didn’t go to press without a very important figure editing. Somewhat unusually, the legendary figure is said to have read his poems aloud to his dog. And if the pooch barked or reacted in any other audible way during the recital, Wordsworth apparently reworked the piece in question.
18. Henry Cavendish was so shy that he’d communicate through notes
English physicist Henry Cavendish made the monumental discovery of hydrogen, yet the importance of his work seemingly did little to break him from his shyness. Cavendish felt awkward throughout his entire life, in fact, and so he did all he could to avoid interactions with others – including only speaking to his housemaids through notes.
17. Charlie Chaplin had a very strange audition process
While a lead role alongside Charlie Chaplin may have been coveted by many, any women hoping to nab a part in one of his films reportedly had to go through the wringer in order to get on screen. Rumor has it that Chaplin required female actors to remove all of their clothes before he threw pies at them, as, somehow, that helped him decide who his next star would be.
16. Stonewall Jackson did strange arm stretches
Stonewall Jackson led the Confederate army during the American Civil War until he lost a bout with pneumonia in 1863. Before then, though, Jackson’s main concern seemed to be the asymmetry of his arms. You see, it’s said that the general believed one arm was lengthier than its counterpart, and so he often undertook stretches that were meant to even out the blood circulation in both limbs.
15. Hans Christian Andersen always carried rope with him in case of fire
Hans Christian Andersen made his name by penning a slew of beloved children’s stories, from “The Little Mermaid” to “The Ugly Duckling.” But although Andersen wrote these happily-ever-afters, he had some serious fears about the way in which his own life could end. And as the legendary writer particularly feared falling victim to a hotel fire, he carried rope with him constantly so that he had a chance of escaping any blaze.
14. Alexander Graham Bell had a fear of moonbeams
Nowadays, we’re told to keep our eyes and skin covered in order to protect them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. But the inventor of the telephone and founder of AT&T, Alexander Graham Bell, supposedly had bigger fears about moonbeams. To ensure that any light from Earth’s natural satellite didn’t get into his house, then, he left his windows constantly shrouded.
13. William Faulkner typed with his toes
William Faulkner was a Nobel Prize laureate whose work came in a slew of different forms: novels, short stories, screenplays, essays, poems and even a play. Somehow, though, Faulkner managed to create his oeuvre in a very strange manner. Apparently, he would place his hands inside his footwear and proceed to type with the use of his toes.
12. Benjamin Franklin dated cougars
Benjamin Franklin led a busy life. As well as being a Founding Father of the United States, Franklin has also been credited with unearthing electricity, coming up with the concept of bifocals and establishing the University of Pennsylvania. And, interestingly, the legendary polymath had a clear preference when it came to dating: he only tended to get involved with older women.
11. Ronald Reagan would rub your earlobe if he liked you
President Ronald Reagan may have ushered in a new era of modern conservatism, but it seems that he was much more liberal in the ways in which he showed affection for others. For one, Reagan had a strange habit for grasping his friends’ and relatives’ ears to signify his fondness for the recipient – a practice that he’d apparently adopted in earlier life.
10. Franz Schubert slept with his glasses on
You won’t find a portrait of Franz Schubert without his glasses on. That’s because the Austrian musician – most famous for composing “Ave Maria” and other vocal pieces – had extremely bad vision. In fact, his eyesight was so blurry that he wore his glasses around the clock – even while he dozed.
9. Georgia O’Keeffe had a studio in her car
Georgia O’Keeffe’s most famous modernist paintings depict the New York City skyline, enormous flowers and the sweeping land of New Mexico. Yet while she had to get out into nature in order to accurately capture the arid plains of the southwestern state, painting in the desert sun could prove uncomfortable, to say the least. So, O’Keeffe transformed her car into a studio by putting her canvas into the back of the vehicle and working on it from the front.
8. Lyndon B. Johnson held meetings on the toilet
Lyndon B. Johnson is among the select few to have served in all four of the American federal government’s elected positions: congressman, senator, vice president and president. Clearly, though, he didn’t let that distinction go to his head. After all, while he was in the White House, LBJ is said to have held talks as he sat on the toilet.
7. Honoré de Balzac really liked coffee
Honoré de Balzac would go to sleep right after dinner, rise at midnight and write from 1:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. And as the French novelist needed fuel to get him through such a rigorous work schedule, he’d supposedly down what corresponded to approximately 50 cups of coffee per day. Balzac didn’t always drink the beverage in its liquid form, though; on occasion, he crushed the beans into a powder and devoured the resulting substance instead.
6. Demosthenes would get a bad haircut to force himself to stay home and work
Ancient Greek orator Demosthenes is roundly considered to have been one of the best speakers of his time. But he got to be that way through a lot of practice – as well as a strange hairstyling tactic. Namely, Demosthenes would shave off half of his hair, thus making himself look so ridiculous that he couldn’t display himself in public for a few months. That gave him plenty of opportunity to perfect his speeches.
5. Napoleon liked to write about romance
A military genius, Napoleon Bonaparte successfully commandeered French armies through the country’s revolution and into the wars that followed. But, somehow, the leader had time to tap into his softer side. During his lifetime, Napoleon penned a novella called Clisson et Eugénie, which told the story of a soldier and the woman waiting for him at home. What’s more, many believe that his own experiences on the front had acted as a stimulus for the tale.
4. Henry Ford kept a jar full of Thomas Edison’s breath
People mistakenly credit the invention of the motor vehicle and the assembly line to Henry Ford. What he did do, however, was make personal cars less of a pipe dream and more of an accessible resource for average Americans. And through it all, Ford was inspired by the work of inventor Thomas Edison; in fact, the pair even eventually became friends. But things took an odd turn in 1931, when Edison was on the brink of death. Somewhat strangely, Ford asked his son – who also happened to be present – to gather Edison’s last breath in a jar for him.
3. Albert Einstein would eat bugs off of the ground
Physicist Albert Einstein famously came up with the formula for mass-energy equivalence, E = mc², which today is perhaps the most well-known equation in the world. Still, those who knew the Nobel Prize winner reported that he had some odd tendencies. For one, he apparently once picked up and devoured a bug that he found on the ground. It was also noted that Einstein sometimes went birdwatching, bringing a violin with him and playing it in tears.
2. Thomas Edison didn’t like it if someone added salt to their food
Perhaps the most significant inventor in American history, Thomas Edison revolutionized recording, motion pictures, communication and electrical power. In addition, he came up with a way to determine whether he wanted to hire someone to work with him. Specifically, if Edison noticed a person salting their food before taking the first mouthful, he wouldn’t offer them a position, as he felt that he couldn’t recruit anyone who would act on a theory before investigating it.
1. Pythagoras didn’t want people to eat beans
Ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras made a slew of scientific and mathematical discoveries during his day. Some of the ideas that he also came up with, however, were distinctly weird. And perhaps the strangest of all was the religion that Pythagoras founded, which prevented practitioners from eating beans or flattening out any grooves that they left in their bedsheets.