8+ Facts About Old Hollywood That Sound Fake But Are True

Hollywood may be known for its glitz and glamour, but it hasn't always been like that.

Back in the days of Old Hollywood, things got really, really weird.

We're talking actresses putting boric acid in their eyes and movie sets using asbestos as props. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are 10+ wild facts about Old Hollywood that sound fake but are very true.

1. Child actors had to sit on a block of ice whenever they misbehaved on set:


This was called the "black box."

"So far as I can tell, the black box did no lasting damage to my psyche," child actress Shirley Temple once said.

2. Joan Crawford removed her back teeth to help accentuate her cheekbones:

"The painful procedure, however, infected her gums, which stretched her mouth. When the swelling subsided, it left her with a larger upper lip," wrote Shaun Considine in the book, Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud.

"Pleased with the extension, she decided to paint in her lower lip, giving the world 'the Crawford mouth.'"

3. Crawford would also soak her eyes in boric acid to make them "sparkle":


It was part of her beauty rituals, outlined in her autobiography, My Way of Life.

"While the masque is working, place pads soaked in witch hazel and boric acid over your eyelids and put on your favorite music."

4. The director of *Skippy* threatened to have Jackie Cooper's dog killed if he couldn't produce tears:

“I could visualize my dog, bloody from that one awful shot,” Cooper wrote in his memoir, Please Don’t Shoot My Dog.

“I began sobbing, so hysterically that it was almost too much for the scene."


He continued:

"[Taurog] had to quiet me down by saying perhaps my dog had survived the shot, that if I hurried and calmed down a little and did the scene the way he wanted, we would go see if my dog was still alive.”

5. They used cancer-causing asbestos on movie sets in the '20s and '30s:

Steve McQueen even believed that the harmful substance caused him to develop pleural mesothelioma cancer later in life.

6. Since *The Conqueror* was filmed near a nuclear testing site, many of the cast and crew later developed cancer:


According to a People magazine article, 91 people out of the 220 cast and crew contracted cancer due to the leftover radiation.

7. A real bomb accidentally went off during a publicity shot for the silent film, *Haunted Spooks*:

Silent comedian Harold Lloyd was posing when he realized that the fake bomb had a lot of smoke coming out of it.

Shortly after, it went off, taking with it his thumb and forefinger.


He was also blinded for several months.

8. Judy Garland had to take "pep" pills so she could work for 72 hours straight:

Refinery 29

Garland told biographer Paul Donnelly: the studio gave her and Mickey Rooney pills "to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted, then knock us out with sleeping pills."

"Then after four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep pills again so we could work 72 hours in a row. Half of the time we were hanging from the ceiling, but it was a way of life for us.”

Sadly, this happened to a lot of actors back then, but Judy was always associated the most with it.

9. A near-death experience caused a casting change to the Tin Man in *The Wizard of Oz*.


Buddy Ebsen was the original Tin Man, but the aluminum dust from the makeup almost killed him.

He was replaced by Jack Haley, but the damage was done. Ebsen suffered breathing issues for the rest of his life.

10. To get her doe-eyed look, Audrey Hepburn would separate each eyelash with a safety pin:

Her son wrote about this unique beauty ritual in the book, Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit.

11. Gene Kelly once made Debbie Reynolds hide under a piano, crying:


They had a huge rivalry, after all.

Debbie cried after Gene Kelly insulted her dancing so much while they were filming Singin' in the Rain.

It was her makeup artist, Alberto de Rossi's, doing.

"Alberto is really the one who created the legendary 'Audrey Hepburn eyes,' in a slow process of applying mascara and then separating each eyelash with a safety pin."