Old Hollywood Mysteries That Still Haunt Us Today

Kasia Mikolajczak
Hollywood sign
Unsplash | Nathan DeFiesta

I don't know about you, but I love old Hollywood mysteries. Not sure if you're aware, but Tinsel Town has some truly mysterious and even unspeakable tragedies that have happened to the world's biggest celebrities. And some of these haven't been solved yet.

So let's take a look down memory lane and learn more about these incredible stories. What do you say?

1. Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood

Everybody still admires Natalie Wood and many of her amazing roles. She was the "it" girl after she starred with bad boy James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. These two made a great team. Then she appeared in West Side Story and endeared herself again to the silver screen audience.

Many other great roles followed.

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner in Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind (2020)

Natalie Wood met fellow actor Robert Wagner when she was only 10-years-old and even told her mother that she would marry him one day — and that she did when she turned 18 years old. The couple shared a tumultuous love affair that spanned many years. They even divorced and later remarried.

But it was one faithful night that still has Hollywood guessing.

boat on the water
Unsplash | Osman Rana

In 1981 on the Thanksgiving weekend, the couple took a boat ride to Catalina Island alongside their friend Christopher Walken. What happened that night is still a mystery, but rumors say the couple argued, and later Wood was found dead in the water. Her death was ruled an accident as she apparently slipped and fell while trying to secure a dinghy.

Wagner was initially questioned but cleared of any wrongdoing.

Jennifer Aniston pondering

However, the mystery still surrounds Natalie Wood's death as she was known to have a fear of deep dark water. So the fact that she drowned is a little bit unusual. The case got reopened as new evidence came forth, but it was only changed from an “accident” to “undetermined” in 2012.

2. Jean Spangler

Jean Spangler in a black and white photo

I don't know if I told you that I used to be an extra on movie and TV show sets. Oh, yeah. I, too, aspired to be an actress just like Jean Spangler. She even appeared in a small role on a set of a Kirk Douglas movie which he later recalled after a friend told him that a young woman simply vanished. That's precisely what happened here.

Police suspected Spangler's husband.

woman lifing her hands up to her face shocked
Giphy | Madelaine Petsch

But in the end, all leads got exhausted. The only clues in the investigation were a purse and a cryptic note that was found on the ground in L.A.'s Griffith Park. After 70 years, Jean Spangler remains a missing person.

3. Virginia Rappe

Virginia Rappe and Rudolph Valentino in An Adventuress (1920)

Let's go back to 1921 when model and silent film star Virginia Rappe died. It happened after she attended a party with actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. The party took place at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Later that night, the actress was found to have suffered a "trauma" and was taken to hospital.

What happened later was pretty shocking.

woman looking shocked
Unsplash | Alexander Krivitskiy

Apparently, Rappe died from a ruptured bladder and secondary peritonitis, but rumors started swirling that she was a victim of a violent assault by Arbuckle. However, others claimed that she died from complications associated with a venereal disease. Arbuckle was subject to three manslaughter trials but was ultimately acquitted in 1922.

Wow, isn't that wild?

woman saying "So. Many. Secrets."
Giphy | CBS

I was aware of the Natalie Wood story, but I had no idea about any of these other Hollywood stories. Tinsel Town sure holds some deep secrets. Am I right? So let's continue to discover more.

4. Thelma Todd

Thelma Todd

Thelma Todd was known in Hollywood by the nicknames "The Ice Cream Blonde" and "Hot Toddy." But sadly, she was found dead in her home at age 29 of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. That death was suspicious, though.

Even though the coroner ruled the death as suicide many people believed otherwise.

clip from an old movie with a mafia man

In fact, most have said that it was a cold-blooded murder. Yikes! You see, Todd was the owner and operator of Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Café, which was the old stomping ground of criminals and mafia men in the '30s. Wow!

Here's where the story gets more complicated.

cafe sign
Unsplash | MichaƂ Parzuchowski

Todd's ex-husband Pat DiCicco was a big-time movie producer and well-known mob enforcer for crime boss Lucky Luciano. Oh my goodness! So when Todd's lifeless body was found in the garage next to her beloved café, her friends started asking questions.

This resulted in a grand jury probe.

man sitting back looking surprised
Giphy | Desus & Mero

But unfortunately, they found no evidence of foul play and declared the case as "accidental with possible suicide tendencies." Hmm, interesting, huh? Therefore, no charges have ever been laid against anybody regarding Todd's 1935 death.

5. Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate Valley of the Dolls (1967)

Who can forget the sad ending to the Sharon Tate story? She was an up-and-coming Hollywood starlet and even shared a home with her husband, director Roman Polanski. What happened on August 9, 1969, is definitely etched in Hollywood history.

Tate, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, was found dead in her home.

woman looking shocked
Giphy | Paramount+

Four other people were also found at the same time. Her gruesome death sent "shockwaves" through Hollywood. Many celebrities feared they would be next. Apparently, even Steven McQueen started to carry a firearm.

Wow, can you believe that?

man behind bars
Unsplash | Milad Fakurian

Everybody later found out that cult leader Charles Manson was behind the slayings. Members of the Manson "family" were arrested on unrelated charges but got eventually tied to the murders. And Manson, as we all know, spent 40 years in prison until he died in 2017.

6. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

This brings us to the most famous death of all — Marilyn Monroe. There was never a dame that everybody loved in Hollywood more than Norma Jean, better known as Marilyn Monroe. She even enchanted a U.S. president.

It's that connection to JFK that sparked many conspiracy theories.

Marilyn Monroe spinning in her white dress
Giphy | 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Marilyn Monroe died in her Brentwood home at age 36 on August 5, 1962. The official cause of death was an overdose of barbiturates. But many have thought otherwise. Some thought that her connection to JFK was what got her killed. Others believe that she died by suicide after the president broke her heart. Sadly, we may never know the truth.

Oh my gosh!

sign that says "The Road to Hollywood>"
Unsplash | Aman

What did I tell you, huh? Those are some fascinating real-life crime mysteries. It's like a plot from a movie, no? But what makes it even more shocking is that those are true stories. I hope one day we get to find out what really happened. I, for one, would sure like to know.