5 celebrity urban legends that refuse to die

Published On: Nov 03 2011 04:35:35 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 13 2012 02:00:00 AM EDT

"You heard what? Get outta here!"

"No, really. It's true! Cary Grant was a secret double agent, working undercover to expose the secrets of an underground, Hollywood-elite clan of cannibals."

OK, so we made that one up.

But nothing stirs up with creative energy like combining people's fanaticism with celebrities and the obsession of conspiracies. It's no wonder many celebrity rumors last and last; they're so fun to talk about!

So, let's have some fun of our own. Ahead are five juicy tales of legendary lore that involve weird celebrities, unseen tattoos and a famous severed, supposedly at least, head. (Yeah, just try to close that browser now!)

These following five celebrity urban legends will likely live on long into the future, despite the fact that none of them is remotely true ...

No. 5: Michael Jackson's hyperbaric chamber

Knowing all we know about Michael Jackson, it's not surprising that just about any rumor about this tabloid favorite took on an air of plausibility.

So when you hear the widely circulated story that the King of Pop slept in a hyperbaric chamber in a bid to live to be 150, you're ready to buy it, aren't you?

The only hitch? The hyperbaric chamber Jackson was photographed in was actually one he had purchased for a local hospital. Jackson, in an attempt to cultivate his bizarre image, had a publicity photo taken in the machine knowing it would grab headlines -- and did it ever.

The same goes for the tabloids' frequent contention that he once paid top dollar for the bones of the Elephant Man. Not true. Not one word.

Which makes you wonder, with such weird true stories about Jackson, why even bother making up some?

No. 4: Mr. Rogers was a cold-blooded killer

OK, so we're going for the easy laugh with this heading. The actual legend is a little less dramatic, and this is a good thing. Because it falls in that perfect space that is believable yet outlandish enough for people to spread. See what you make of it:

Gentle Mr. Rogers wasn't always hosting his serene and innocent children's program. He was actually a Marine sniper with several confirmed kills. Yeah. And his arms are full of tattoos; that's why he always wears sweaters.

You already want to start telling your friends, don't you?

But hold your horses, cowboy, because it isn't true. Turns out, Mr. Rogers was pretty much what he seemed -- a mild-mannered, pleasant guy who, after college, became an ordained minister and then went into broadcasting, entertaining children for decades.

If you thought that legend was cool, our next one is even cooler ...

No. 3: Walt Disney's frozen head

This rumor is cool, because it has to do with someone's head -- with that "someone" being the founder of a children's entertainment empire. But it's also cool because it gets us asking why some rumors thrive and others whither away.

Perhaps of all the ones mentioned in this article, this one is the most popular. It's a seemingly "normal" kind of celebrity legend: Walt Disney, having an impairing fear of death, asked to have his body frozen until the day came when science could cure and thaw him out. (Whoa, where am I?)

Further, to add some real flair to the already bizarre legend, it is said the body (or head) is currently frozen away below EPCOT center.

This rumor has been enabled by embellishments in two Disney biographies. But grasping at straws, these biographies aren't respected sources today. They do go to show, though, just how much this rumor permeates pop culture.

The Disney urban legend is a weird one, but this next one might be even stranger ...

No. 2: Jim Morrison, the Hippies, and the CIA

It's typical to see on opposite ends of the spectrum: rock bands of the '60s over here and CIA operatives over there. But the distance perceived is only a thin slice of reality and how deep a slice you want to go depends on your own openness to conspiracy theories.

What's not a theory, though, is the uncanny tie many counter-culture icons had to the military, many of them being "army brats" with dads of high rank.
So some have suggested that Jim Morrison was actually working with the CIA. Others suggest that he, along with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, were puppets of the government. And of course, some think the CIA eliminated them. (Cue the minor key music.)

Unlike the other rumors on this list, these are "out there" to the point where you can't disprove them but if they did prove to be true our minds would be blown.

Despite being easy to debunk, our last urban legend remains incredibly prevalent ...

No. 1: Tommy Hilfiger's alleged racist rant on 'Oprah'

Racism. Now that's a juicy nugget that people revel in. So if a famous guy says it -- Hello!

This one was big not long ago. Heck, maybe this piece is dispelling it for the first time for some (un)lucky readers.

The rumor, spread by a couple viral emails that are variations of the same story, claims that Tommy Hilfiger said if he'd known that blacks and Asians would wear his clothes so regularly, he never would have designed them. What's more, the canard was beefed up with him supposedly going on "Oprah," she calling him out and then asking him to leave her show. Oh, no she didn't!

You're right, she didn't. Well, this one spread so well -- thanks, Internet! -- that Oprah herself made statements disputing the rumor. So as it stands, Hilfiger didn't say or do any of it.


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