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VOICE OVER: Samantha Clinch WRITTEN BY: Joe Shetina
A scandal can only stay covered up for so long. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for Hollywood's dirtiest secrets that only came out years later. Our countdown includes Epstein Island, R. Kelly's misconduct, Joan Crawford's abuse, and more!

10 Scandals That Were Covered Up Until Decades Later

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for Hollywood’s dirtiest secrets that only came out years later.

Trauma on the Set of “Last Tango in Paris”
The 1972 erotic drama about two strangers who engage in a clandestine and psychologically damaging affair was controversial enough for its subject matter. Years later, it earned even more bad press. In 2006, lead actress Maria Schneider expressed how manipulated she felt when shooting the sexual assault scene. Details about the scene were apparently left out in effort to elicit a more genuine reaction from Schneider, and it had an extremely negative impact on her. Feeling blindsided and humiliated, Schneider completed her work, but wouldn’t speak to director Bernardo Bertolucci for the rest of her life.

Joan Crawford’s Abuse

Remembered as one of classic Hollywood’s most luminous lights, the reputation and legacy of Joan Crawford was forever altered upon the release of her adoptive daughter’s tell-all memoir. “Mommie Dearest” is Christina Crawford’s account of decades of abuse at her mother’s hand. The memoir rocked the industry Joan Crawford helped define. Later, details of violent episodes and physical mistreatment would be immortalized in the book’s 1981 film adaptation. These allegations have been much debated over the years, but the fact remains that the book and movie shattered the illusion of the star’s flawless persona.

Clark Gable & Loretta Young’s Secret Daughter

This story sounds like something pulled from one of its key players’ movies. When she became pregnant in 1935, actress Loretta Young hid the baby’s true parentage. Clark Gable was married at the time and Young feared for her public image. So, she stayed out of the spotlight for a bit and faked an illness. A year and a half later, she announced she’d adopted a baby girl, who was actually her real daughter. Young kept this secret for decades, though there was always speculation in Hollywood about the truth since her daughter looked quite a lot like Gable. However, the circumstances of the pregnancy were even more tragic. Purportedly, the child was the product of a non-consensual encounter between Gable and Young.

Judy Garland’s Studio-Enforced Substance Use Disorder

The “Wizard of Oz” star was only 13 years old when she signed a contract with MGM. What she endured there would plague her for the rest of her tragically brief life. Studio executives preyed on her self-esteem and gambled with her health. They put her on a strict regimen of pills, and deprived her of substantive meals. Though her personal troubles would be widely reported in the press, they were seen as simply that, personal troubles. It took years for people to learn the true extent to MGM’s responsibility in the substance use disorder that would ultimately hasten her death.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Abuse of Tippi Hedren

In the early 1960s, when the master of suspense called, you answered. Tippi Hedren had never starred in a movie before Alfred Hitchcock plucked her out of obscurity and cast her as the lead in “The Birds.” It sounds like something out of a dream. For Hedren, it became a nightmare. Not only was he very controlling and possessive, but when she rebuffed his advances, Hitchcock went out of his way to torment her on set and refused to let her out of her contract. It wasn’t until after his death in 1980 that she spoke about her mistreatment publicly.

R. Kelly’s Misconduct

Hiding behind one’s fame can only last until victims no longer remain silent. Rumors swirled for years about Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and producer R. Kelly. While court cases had dogged him since 1996, it wasn’t until the 2019 TV documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” that the public finally knew the true extent of his crimes. Several victims came forward with allegations of misconduct. There was enough evidence to convince a jury, let alone the public. His subsequent conviction and sentencing to 31 years in prison was the punctuation mark on decades of hidden crimes.

The Dark Side of Nickelodeon

Hollywood is littered with stories about child stars taking wrong turns. Investigation Discovery’s 2024 docuseries, “Quiet on Set,” shed some new light on why that might be the case. For years, Nickelodeon bombarded millions of kids with images of celebrities getting slimed, not to mention some bizarrely foot-forward comedy. Many of the network’s former stars and creative staff have alleged multiple instances of unprofessional and, frankly, horrific behavior by longtime executive producer Dan Schneider. The series’ biggest bombshell was the revelation that former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell was the secret plaintiff in a case against dialogue coach and producer Brian Peck.

Epstein Island

Financier Jeffrey Epstein’s address book was littered with notable names, from politicians to socialites to actual royalty. The exploits of Epstein and his partner and longtime right hand, Ghislaine Maxwell, became somewhat public in the mid-2000s when the former was convicted and given a lenient sentence for sex crimes. This didn’t deter him from continuing his pattern of sexual exploitation. The extent of the horrors committed at his private getaway in the U.S. Virgin Islands wouldn’t be revealed until his high profile second case in 2019. Although rumors and conspiracy theories still swirl about his death in prison and just how much his A-list clientele may have known about his crimes, new details are still emerging all the time.

Bill Cosby’s Decades of Misconduct

In the 1980s, he was America’s dad. By the 2020s, he was public enemy number one. Though his standup made him famous, Bill Cosby’s inoffensive sitcom persona made him lovable. So when his long history of sexual misconduct was finally revealed, it felt like the ultimate betrayal. Allegations existed early on, but Cosby and his lawyers tried for years to silence victims and media personalities who dared to report on them. The story finally broke open in the mid 2010s. Accusers came out in droves, with stories spanning over five decades and, unfortunately, many cases were impossible to prosecute due to the statute of limitations. His widely publicized trial in 2018 ended with his conviction, which was overturned in 2021 as a result of due process violations.

Harvey Weinstein’s Reign of Terror

A Hollywood producer has the power to make or break careers. Harvey Weinstein mastered the art of the Oscar campaign, but his prestige came at the cost of many women’s livelihoods and safety. Over his three decades as a Hollywood power player, several actresses allege that he kept the predatory casting couch practice alive and well. Even though several celebrities said the quiet part out loud over the years, it wasn’t until 2017’s #MeToo explosion that Weinstein suffered any consequences. The allegations led to Weinstein being charged in both New York and Los Angeles, as well as becoming the target of multiple civil suits. The overturning of his New York conviction in 2024 led to outcry, but the story is still ongoing.

Which of these scandals or crimes were you the most shocked to find out about?