A great fury gripped America in 1910 after boxer Jack Johnson became the first undisputed black heavyweight champion of the world. In those unenlightened times, a desegregated fight was unheard of. But after years of dodging Johnson’s challenges, white champ James J. Jeffries came out of retirement “for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro.”
When the pair squared off in Reno, the crowd chanted “Kill the nigger” and the ringside band played “All Coons Look Alike to Me.” And then Jeffries threw in the towel in the 15th round. When the news broke, riots and lynchings around the U.S. claimed the lives of at least 20 blacks and two whites.
Johnson was hounded out of the country for marrying a white woman in 1911, lost his title in Cuba in 1915, and spent the remainder of his life as the kind of fallen spectacle we now call “Mike Tyson.” Racism, as ever, remains the hardest palooka to keep down. — Charles Bottomley
After the jump, watch a clip of Jack Johnson‘s 1909 fight. Read more…
Angelina Jolie, eh? She has tattoos. And sex. With a lot of different people. Billy Bob Thornton. Some other dudes. Possibly her brother. The list goes on and on and on. So when Jolie was cast opposite Brad Pitt in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, bedsprings were expected to be sprung.
Brad had never been so vulnerable. His marriage to Jennifer Aniston was crumbling. The aging himbo wanted kids; the nipply Friend did not. Pitt, an architecture nut, also had become obsessive about building the couple’s new house. It was enough to make a girl listen to some John Mayer records.
With trouble at home, and Jolie’s penchant for shtupping anything with a pulse, it was inevitable there would be some in-trailer hosing going on, on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. In 2005, the Pitt-Aniston five-year union ended in divorce.
Brad and Angelina are now embarked on their plan to adopt the entire world one child at a time. Jennifer has been working out her single’s issues with a succession of men including unfunny party-harder Vince Vaughn and that Mayer guy. Magazines fret nonstop over her inability to move on. But that’s okay. We haven’t either. — Charles Bottomley
“You’re not paying a hooker to have sex,” Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen once famously said. “You’re paying her to leave afterwards.” Sheen should know. At 1995 the trial of Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss, it emerged that the son of movie icon Martin Sheen had spent some $50,000 on prostitutes in just over a year.
Sheen’s was the most public face in Fleiss’s very public bust. During the 1990s she ran a prostitution ring whose client list included movie and political types who, if we mentioned them, would sue us into the poorhouse. (Hint: Not Larry Craig.) It’s a bitch-eat-bitch world in Hollywood: Fleiss’ boyfriend turned her in (he was launching his own call-girl ring), while Sheen was offered up as a B-list patsy for the prosecution.
In 1997, Fleiss was sentenced to 37 months in jail for charges related to her prostitution business. Upon her release, she embarked on a (failed) attempt to start a brothel for women in Nevada. But the scandal did wonders for Sheen, who’s since developed into one of the highest paid actors on TV, earning $350,000 per Half Men episode. — Charles Bottomley
On NBC’s hit sitcom 30 Rock, Oscar/Emmy serial nom Alec Baldwin is straight-up hilarious – but the voicemail recording that leaked in April 2007, featuring the actor verbally assaulting his 12-year-old daughter Ireland, was anything but:
“YOU HAVE MADE AN ASS OUT ME OF FOR THE LAST TIME … PICK UP THE GODDAMN PHONE … I DON’T CARE THAT YOU’RE TWELVE OR ELEVEN OR WHATEVER, ARE YOU PIG ENOUGH TO PICK IT UP? I’M A GOOD FATHER, AND YOU’RE A PIG. I DON’T GIVE A SHIT. GOOD FATHER. YOU THINK THIS IS ABUSE? YOU THINK THIS IS ABUSE, YOU THOUGHTLESS PAIN IN THE ASS? GET MAD, YOU DAUGHTER-OF-A-BITCH . . . PIG. OH, ALSO, TELL YOUR MOTHER I SAID GO F*CK YOURSELF. This is Dad, ring me back when you get a chance.”
This over-the-top, foam-spewing tirade was clearly tied to Alec’s anger at his ex-wife, Kim Basinger. Their 1993 marriage had officially ended in divorce in 2002, and a gag order forbade the feuding stars from discussing their strife in public. He accused Kim of leaking the tape. She denied it. Amid the media jamboree he appeared on The View to express remorse for his brutal rant – and blamed it all on Kim: “I have been driven to the edge by parental alienation for many years,” he said. Miraculously, Baldwin’s career survived the stink, his work on 30 Rock distracting fans from his accidental role as Freakazoid Father.
Before the early 1970s, pornography was a strictly underground taboo, but the revolutionary adult film Deep Throat broke the mold, sending erotica from “smut” to “porno chic” almost overnight.
In 1972, the World Adult Theater in New York’s Times Square premiered the monumental film, which tells the story of a sexually frustrated woman, played by Linda Lovelace, who goes to the doctor only to learn that her clitoris is located in the back of her throat. Thankfully there is a very simple remedy, which the doctor and a variety of other men happily demonstrate. Director Gerard Damiano set his film apart from other pornos by including an actual storyline, superior cinematography, and witty dialogue–like a recipient of oral sex asking, “Do you mind if I smoke while you eat?” The movie even garnered a favorable review in Variety.
An NYC judge ruled that the film was “indisputably obscene by any measure,” and Deep Throat was banned in 23 states. After a lengthy, costly legal battle, lead actor Harry Reems and 11 others involved in the film were convicted of conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines. (In the years to follow, Reems’s career hit the rocks and he fell into alcohol and drug abuse.)
But the government proved to be Deep Throat‘s best publicist. The controversy surrounding the flick pushed its worldwide gross into the stratosphere, with some estimates reaching $600 million.
It’s always the icy fembots. Martha Stewart bewitched a nation with her monotone instructions for wrapping birthday gifts. Then, in 2001, the homemaking empress was toppled from her throne when it emerged she was as crafty at Wall Street fiddles as she was at making prom corsages.
At issue was Martha’s sudden unloading of her ImClone shares the day before an FDA ruling sent the stock into free-fall. “Isn’t it nice to have brokers who tell you those things?” she said. But it sucks when they bring you down with them. The subsequent trial exposed America’s favorite homemaker as a devious scamster.
Likening herself to Nelson Mandela, Martha spent her five-month sentence at West Virginia’s Alderson Federal Prison Camp, scrubbing floors and reacquainting herself with the daily life of women who don’t have a TV show (or K-Mart line). She was called the “Contraband Queen” for making egg salad in her cell. She even suffered the indignity of losing a Christmas decorating contest.
Martha emerged from prison more popular than ever. The Martha Stewart Show returned to the airwaves. She launched her own brand of wine. A Martha Stewart housing development even sprung up in North Carolina. And her clothing line is still available at K-Mart. We love a scandal with a happy ending! — Charles Bottomley
Watch some of Martha’s most embarrassing moments after the jump.
Ah, the joys of minor league stardom. For Bob Crane, his six-season sentence making the world laugh at Nazis in Hogan’s Heroes brought him just that. The dedicated sex addict lived a life full of barflies with rug-burned knees and sheets crusted with dried jizz.
When his friend John Carpenter (no relation to the Halloween director) got him a prehistoric video camera, he started filming his sexcapades — many of them co-starring his techie pal. The orgy came to a premature end in 1978, when Bob was found bludgeoned to death in an Arizona hotel. Carpenter was the prime suspect, but DNA tests on the blood found in his car were inconclusive.
The 2002 film Auto Focus revived Crane’s notoriety, portraying him as a churchgoing family man who ends up screwing his brains out. The Cranes were disgusted. “My father had been having extramarital affairs and photographing hundreds of nude women engaged in sexual activity since the 1940s … He was an overly sexual person from an early age,” protested son Scotty — who, to prove it, posted prehistoric porn loops featuring Pop on the Web. Even his father might agree that some things are better left behind closed doors. — Charles Bottomley
After the jump, watch Bob perform “These Boots Were Made for Walkin'” — on the drums!
Don Imus took his controversial, boundary-pushing shock jock routine too far when he used the term “nappy headed ho’s” to describe the African-American players on the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball Team. Imus met with the team and apologized, saying it was “some idiot comment meant to be amusing.” But no one was amused.
Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Reverend Jesse Jackson and Snoop Dogg all spoke out about the remark. Jackson even led a protest outside Chicago’s NBC Tower, giving the network an ultimatum: “NBC must choose between Imus and the rest of us!” he proclaimed, referring to Imus’s MSNBC talk show. And so Imus lost the TV gig — along with 1.6 million loyal listeners to his CBS radio show Imus in the Morning, which was also cancelled.
A mere nine months after the scandal, however, Imus made a five-year deal with RFD-TV and was back on the air. In April 2008, Reverend Jackson was a guest on Imus’s new show, and it appeared the healing process was complete. Until, two months later, Imus again uttered racially insensitive rhetoric when discussing NFL player Adam “Pacman” Jones, who has been arrested six times. Imus asked, “What color is he?” When told he was African-American, Imus replied: “Well there you go, now we know.”
John Wayne Bobbitt was as dumb as a bag of hammers. His wife Lorena was crazier than a bag of wasps. On June 23, 1993, their abusive relationship reached a tipping point when John Wayne forced himself on Lorena. “He always has orgasm and he doesn’t wait for me to have orgasm,” the Ecuadorian Lorena later complained. “He’s selfish.” While J.W. slept, out came the steak knife, and off came his wang.
Lorena fled the scene. When it dawned on her what she had done, she threw the offending appendage into a nearby field. She was later found not guilty due to temporary insanity.
JW, meanwhile, successfully had his old feller reattached in a nine-and-a-half-hour operation, and later embarked on an unspectacular career in porn films. — Charles Bottomley
After more than 20 years of speculation (including congressional hearings and enough books to constitute a literary genre), the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of John Kennedy broke in a big way thanks to Oliver Stone’s JFK, a three-hour epic stuffed with unforgettable cameos (John Candy‘s Nawlins lawyer and Kevin Bacon‘s Nixon-loving hustler – “fascism is coming back!” – deserve special mention) and so many potential conspirators (FBI, CIA, the Mafia, Communists, anti-Communists) that it’s unclear just who WASN’T on the grassy knoll.
Thanks to script leaks, articles lambasting the production as unconscionable and “insult to the intelligence” appeared only days into shooting. The furor hardly diminished when the film was finally released in 1992. Along with endless complaints of factual inaccuracies (Stone claims the movie is a “countermyth,” which means it’s completely full of it but in a good way), gay activists didn’t appreciate the film’s salacious treatment of alleged conspirators’ homosexuality, particularly the costumed orgy between Bacon, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pesci. Yes, Joe Pesci.
Despite (or thanks to) the uproar, the film was a financial success and nominated for eight Oscars. Everyone from the Simpsons to Seinfeld paid comic homage, and in the ultimate sign of cultural saturation, Congress passed the JFK Records Act, promising the release of all files concerning the assassination by 2017. Only nine years till the truth is out!