Being a celebrity is a pretty sweet gig. You’re super rich, live an exciting life, and earn tons of recognition for your work, but there is a downside. Everyone wants to know about your private life, and your every move is intensely scrutinized by millions. It’s the price of fame. Where things get tricky is when a celeb becomes the subject of a juicy rumor that just won’t go away. Even with an armful of evidence clearing their name, sometimes there’s nothing they can do to stop the gossip.
Beyonce faked her first pregnancy
When Beyoncé revealed her first pregnancy at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, it was a huge moment in pop culture. While the news was exciting, the meticulously planned reveal quickly went sideways when paparazzi photos showed a peculiar-sized baby bump, according to Gawker.
Fake pregnancy theories kicked into overdrive when footage surfaced of Beyoncé sitting down for an interview on Australian TV. In the now-infamous video, her stomach appears to fold inward, and it doesn’t take a doctor to know that pregnant bellies don’t do that. Beyoncé called the whole situation "so stupid" and said it was just the fabric of her dress folding, but when she and hubby Jay Z had the entire floor of a hospital locked down for daughter Blue Ivy’s birth, the tight security added more fuel to rumors that a surrogate was being used.
Two years later, Beyoncé "addressed" the fake pregnancy rumors in her HBO documentary Life is but a Dream, but she only made things worse. "We never see a full, clear shot of Beyoncé’s pregnant, swanlike body," wrote Rich Juzwiak for Gawker. "Instead it’s presented in pieces, owing to the limitations of her Mac webcam. When her body is shown in full, it’s in grainy, black and white footage in which her face is shadowed."
Beyoncé raised some eyebrows again when she announced her second pregnancy in 2017 via Instagram photos that basically said, "See? I’m really pregnant this time."
Tom Cruise is secretly gay
Despite marriages to Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, and Katie Holmes, along with being romantically linked to several women over the past three decades, Tom Cruise can’t escape rumors that he’s secretly gay.
It all started when Rogers gave an interview to Playboy about their divorce and claimed Cruise was celibate for most of their marriage. Awkward. The rumors really took off toward the end of his marriage to Kidman when two gay porn stars claimed they had separate affairs with Cruise. He responded with lawsuits.
According to Alloy, Cruise’s lawyer made an interesting remark that denies the affairs, yet also seems to suggest that if he were gay, Cruise would never come out anyway. "Believing that he had a homosexual affair and did so during his marriage, [audiences] will be less inclined to patronise Cruise’s films," the attorney said, "particularly since he tends to play parts calling for heterosexual romance and action adventure."
While Cruise’s marriage to Holmes and the birth of their child should theoretically put the gay rumors to rest, they have not gone away. In fact, they only intensified after the couple’s messy divorce. According to LA Weekly. it didn’t help that the public was learning more about Scientology’s controversial views on homosexuality. The gay rumors seem to be the one thing Cruise can’t outrun. (Get it? Because he’s always running in his movies? We thought it was a good one.)
Angelina Jolie had an incestuous relationship with her brother
During the 2000 Oscars, Angelina Jolie won an Academy Award for Girl, Interrupted and then shocked audiences by kissing her brother, James Haven, on the lips after describing how much she was in love with him. Rumors of incest flared up almost immediately, and the two would spend years trying to deny them.
"First, we’re the best of friends. And it wasn’t some odd open-mouthed kiss. It was disappointing that something so beautiful and pure could be turned into a circus," Jolie told People in 2004.
Fourteen years after the kiss, family friend Cis Rundle told Radar the real secret behind the smooch. According to Rundle, right before the Oscars, Jolie and Haven had watched their mother receive her first cancer treatment. "Nobody in the world knew that they spent the day in the hospital." Rundle said. "It was like, ‘Look where we’re at now.’ But the world saw something incestual. It was meant to be ‘Here we are.’ They only ever had each other. They had a very tight relationship with each other and their mother."
Yep, now’s the part where we all feel bad about spreading this one.
Jay Z cheated on Beyonce with Rihanna
In 2005, Jay Z and Beyoncé supposedly broke up thanks to a rumor that he cheated on her with Rihanna after signing her as an artist. This is according to J. Randy Taraborrelli’s 2015 book Becoming Beyoncé. However, in an interview promoting the book, Taraborrelli told Entertainment Tonight that the infidelity story was "total fiction" and had been allegedly fabricated by publicist Jonathan Hay to boost Rihanna’s career. You’d think that would put the issue to rest, but no.
Rihanna’s team surprisingly denied those claims. "Hay was never Rihanna’s publicist or had any personal or professional relationship with her," her lawyer told Page Six. The producer of Rihanna’s first single also denied hiring Hay as a publicist. So, if the rumor wasn’t started by a publicist, does that mean there’s a kernel of truth to it? Good luck making it go away now.
Kris Jenner orchestrated Kim Kardashian’s sex tape
When Kim K Superstar, the infamous intimate video featuring Kim Kardashian and Ray J, rocketed the Kardashian family to reality television fame in 2007, it was hard not to notice the similarities to Paris Hilton’s own private tape, which boosted ratings for her show, The Simple Life, and made her a household name. The situation seemed especially fishy considering Kardashian was Hilton’s former employee/best friend. Oh, and there’s this: Kardashian’s momager, Kris Jenner, negotiated a $5 million deal with Vivid, which allowed Kim K Superstar to be released to the public in the first place. The whole thing seemed a little too calculating, and Jenner has long been rumored to be the mastermind behind it all.
In 2012, rumors about Jenner’s involvement were kicked up a notch thanks to Kris Humphries, Kardashian’s second husband (for 72 days). Shortly after their divorce, TMZ reported that Humphries allegedly sent texts to a girlfriend claiming that not only did Jenner instruct Kim to shoot the sex tape with Ray J, but she even made her do a reshoot because she "didn’t think the first one was pretty enough."
The Kardashian family denied Humphries’ claims, and their sources told TMZ that Kim never discussed the tape with Humphries except to make it clear that the subject was off-limits, which makes sense. C’mon, she didn’t like the guy enough to stick it out and try to make their marriage look like something other than a publicity stunt, so why would she tell him family secrets?
Oprah and Gayle King are lesbian lovers
Oprah Winfrey might be one of the most powerful women in television, but that hasn’t stopped a constant barrage of rumors that she’s lesbian lovers with best friend Gayle King.
These two women who have remained close friends since working together back as 1976. Winfrey even addressed the rumors in a 2010 interview with Barbara Walters. "I’m not a lesbian… I’m not even kind of a lesbian," Winfrey said (via ABC News). "And the reason why it irritates me is because it means that somebody must think I’m lying. That’s number one. Number two…why would you want to hide it? That is not the way I run my life."
However, Oprah’s former stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, complicated things in 2014 when she began spilling tea about Winfrey’s personal life, including her relationship with King. "I can only say what I saw and observed over the years. Gayle was more present that [long-time partner] Stedman," Barbara told the Daily Mail. Granted, Barb was clearly upset over Oprah’s father divorcing her and having her kicked out of their home, but that didn’t stop the rumors from making headlines all over again.
Ronan Farrow is Frank Sinatra’s son
In 2013, Mia Farrow told Vanity Fair (via People) that she continued to have a relationship with ex-husband Frank Sinatra while married to director Woody Allen, and Sinatra could "possibly" be the father of her son, Ronan Farrow, who does bear a striking resemblance to the legendary crooner. The New York Daily News reported that even Allen admits his (maybe) son "looks a lot like Frank with the blue eyes and facial features."
However, Sinatra’s daughters, Nancy and Tina, have both denied that Ronan is their brother, even though he’s a close friend of the family. Nancy called it "nonsense" and claimed Mia "knew better." Tina went the TMI route by telling Showbiz411 that Sinatra had a vasectomy before Ronan would’ve been conceived. She even added that Ronan "looks just like Mia’s late brother."
But perhaps Ronan summed up the situation best when he tweeted, "Listen, we’re all *possibly* Frank Sinatra’s son."
Bradley Cooper and Victor Garber were gay lovers
Like Tom Cruise, Bradley Cooper has been romantically linked to several famous celebrity women, including Renee Zellweger, Zoe Saldana, and Jennifer Aniston. He even had a baby with model Irina Shayk. But like Cruise, Cooper can’t escape rumors that he’s secretly gay, which have persisted ever since his brief four-month marriage to Jennifer Esposito, who allegedly caught him in bed with another man, according to the National Enquirer. The rumors specifically linked him with to Alias co-star Victor Garber.
Years later, Cooper told The Advocate that he loved the attention. "I think it’s awesome," he said. "It was all over the Internet. It was the first time I read a rumor like that about me, and I just thought it was fantastic. But if you believe those rumors, every single male in Hollywood is gay."
The aforementioned situation became a little more interesting when Garber came out of the closet in 2013. Needless to say, that didn’t exactly help Cooper’s case.
January Jones’ baby daddy was a married man
January Jones dropped a gossip bombshell in 2011 when she told People she was expecting her first child but refused to reveal the father’s identity. Things really heated up when now-defunct website The Daily (via SheKnows) alleged the Mad Men star’s baby daddy is a married man. Pretty soon, ABC News pegged the top suspect as Jones’ X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn, whose wife is supermodel Claudia Schiffer. Vaughn denied the whole thing.
In 2015, celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s estranged wife, Stephanie March, made headlines by claiming Flay had an affair with Jones and could be the father. That could explain why Jones seemed to randomly call Flay in 2010 after she struck three parked cars while allegedly being chased by the paparazzi. At the time, Flay told TMZ that he’d only met Jones once, and that she had asked for his number because she was redoing her kitchen and wanted the name of his designer. Uh huh.
However, there is a third theory. Jones’ son is named Xander, and according to the LA Times, the actress starred in Seeking Justice with married actor Xander Berkeley not long before her pregnancy. You gotta admit, that’s a pretty juicy coincidence.
Richard Gere stuck a gerbil in an unfortunate place
During the ’80s, an anonymous prankster faxed a fake press release all over Hollywood that claimed Richard Gere had to be hospitalized after inserting a hamster up his rectum. According to Snopes, there is absolutely no truth to the story, but that didn’t stop it from becoming one of the biggest celebrity urban legends. Gere hasn’t exactly been happy about it, and he apparently has a theory about the prankster’s identity.
While answering fan questions on Ain’t It Cool News in 2006, Sylvester Stallone revealed that he didn’t get along with Gere on the set of The Lords of Flatbush, and that’s why Gere was kicked off the film. Stallone claimed Gere has harbored a grudge against him ever since and thinks he started the gerbil rumor. For the record, Sly says it wasn’t him.
Kevin Costner slept with Cal Ripken Jr.’s wife
In 1997, Cal Ripken Jr. was a massive draw for the Baltimore Orioles after setting a record for the most consecutive games ever played in Major League Baseball. The streak was still alive when a game was canceled on Aug. 14 due to an alleged circuit breaker tripping and causing the stadium lights to go out. Conspiracy theories suggested the blackout was cooked up because Ripken wasn’t going to make it to the game that night, but Ripken told NPR that news reports and photos placed him at the stadium that evening meeting with umpires and trying to get the game going. That didn’t stop the internet from concocting an even crazier story about the night the lights went out.
According to urban legend, Ripken’s pal, Kevin Costner, was crashing at the baseball pro’s house after filming The Postman. On the day in question, Ripken left for the game, but before he reached the stadium, he realized he forgot something and returned home to find Costner in bed with his wife. "Ripken allegedly then beat the crap out of Kevin Costner so badly that he couldn’t make public appearances for several weeks," wrote Uproxx. Depending on which version you read, Ripken was either distraught over his marriage or had to meet with police, and so his streak would have been broken had the Orioles not faked an electrical issue and rescheduled the game.
While "The Blackout Streak Conspiracy Theory" is undeniably false, according to the LA Times, Costner reportedly "snapped" in 2001 when he saw it on the internet. The actor also admitted that this rumors’ refusal to die has put a strain on his friendship with the Ripkens.
Jamie Lynn Curtis is a hermaphrodite
In 1996, The Baltimore Sun published an op-ed by Brown University professor William Beeman that claimed actress Jamie Lee Curtis has both male and female genitalia. So, naturally, that spread like wildfire. According to Thought Co., the incriminating sentence was later deleted from the published article because Beeman supposedly couldn’t track down the plastic surgeons who were reportedly spreading the rumor. "In other words, Professor Beeman had simply repeated an item of gossip," reported Thought Co.
Oddly enough, Snopes doesn’t list the Hollywood rumor as a definitive "True" or "False," but as "Legend," which is technically correct because Curtis has never confirmed or denied that she’s a hermaphrodite. (According to internet lore, she confirmed it on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, but no such video exists.) But seriously, why would she talk about? If Snopes is correct, the whole thing might have started over something as dumb as Curtis’ parents giving her a unisex name before she was born because sonograms weren’t invented back then. Regardless, she knows the truth, and something this personal is nobody else’s business.
The price of fame
From fake pregnancies to affairs to people thinking you shoved a small rodent somewhere unmentionable, there’s no telling what kind of stories people will concoct about the rich and famous. The rumor mill has only gotten worse in the digital age, which is ironic because sometimes all it takes is a quick Google search to learn if a celebrity rumor is legit. As author Mark Twain once famously didn’t say, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."