Famous figures with dark secrets

Authors, athletes, musicians, and movie stars seem like they exist on a higher plane than the rest of us, but they're just humans. And like every other human, they have plenty of secrets they'd like to keep hidden. The craftiest have managed to keep their dirty deeds under lock and key, largely avoiding the courtroom of public opinion, such as …

Bill Murray was accused of domestic abuse

Regardless of your political opinions or religious beliefs, we can all agree Bill Murray is a great comedian. He's one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood, stealing the show in everything from Ghostbusters to The Royal Tenenbaums. But while the man wins smiles wherever he goes, Murray has a pretty prickly reputation around Tinseltown. Nicknamed "The Murricane," the actor is notoriously moody and difficult to work with. Harold Ramis even referred to Murray as "just really irrationally mean and unavailable," which partially explains why we only got a new Ghostbusters by casting all-new Ghostbusters.

Unfortunately, according to some accounts, Murray is way more than just a grouch. While working on What About Bob?, Murray allegedly got into a war of words with producer Laura Ziskin, going so far as to physically threaten her, break her glasses, and toss them across a parking lot. Fast forward to 2006, and things get a lot worse. That year, Murray's then-wife, Jennifer Butler, moved out, taking their four kids with her. As Butler put it, she was tired of dealing with her husband's "adultery, addiction to marijuana and alcohol, abusive behavior, physical abuse, sexual addictions, and frequent abandonment."

Then in 2007, Butler says things got even more violent, claiming Murray hit her in the face. After the blow, the actor allegedly said Butler was "lucky he didn't kill her." A year later, as the couple finalized their divorce, Butler dropped her claims of domestic abuse — when everything was said and done, she was given primary custody of the kids. While Murray described the divorce as "the worst thing" that ever happened to him, he somehow managed to avoid any fallout. After all, everybody loves a curmudgeon. It's like Murray himself said, "People say I'm difficult, and sometimes that's a badge of honor." The rest of the world seems to agree.

Ronda Rousey promoted Sandy Hook conspiracies

The first-ever UFC women's bantamweight champ, Ronda Rousey was once an unstoppable force, winning six straight fights before her recent losses. With such a spectacular record, it's impossible to attack her MMA legacy … though defending her personal choices is trickier. In Rousey's autobiography, she admitted to violently assaulting her ex-boyfriend. (Of course, he allegedly took nude photos of Rousey without her consent — if true, you kinda had it coming, bub.) She's also currently in a relationship with Travis Browne, a UFC fighter who was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

Even more disturbing, Rousey has used her social media presence to promote some truly kooky conspiracy theories. In 2013, the champ shared a video on Twitter called "The Sandy Hook Shooting—Fully Exposed." Produced by ThinkOutsideTheTV, this troubling YouTube video currently has over 11 million views and posits some pretty upsetting questions about whether the shooting was a false flag operation to destroy the Second Amendment, if doctored images were used to manufacture the incident, and if the people involved were all actors.

When sharing the video, Rousey described it as "extremely interesting," saying it was a "must watch" documentary. As you might expect, the move drew a lot of criticism, but instead of apologizing, Rousey went on the defensive, claiming that "asking questions and doing research is more patriotic than blindly accepting what you're told." Eventually, Rousey deleted the video, but her manager tried to cover for the champ, claiming she didn't mean to upset anyone but just wanted to share "a different perspective."

UFC president Dana White, on the other hand, was way less tactful. "People are [very bad f-word, followed by very bad word for kitty cats] is the problem," White said, in regards to Rousey's critics. Or maybe the problem is the world's biggest MMA star is sharing crackpot conspiracy theories online? Yeah, that's probably it.

John Lennon was a nasty person

As far as most people are concerned, John Lennon is the living embodiment of the peace movement. Known for songs like "All You Need Is Love," Lennon was the hippie's hippie, going toe-to-toe with the Nixon administration and protesting the Vietnam War. But while the Beatle encouraged everyone to give peace a chance, he never took his own advice. According to those close to Lennon, the musician was way different than you might imagine.

First off, Lennon was a horrible father. According to his housekeeper, Dorothy Jarlett, Lennon would sometimes hit his young son, Julian, for bad table manners. The singer was also a notorious womanizer, who abandoned his wife Cynthia when Julian was just five. In an interview with The Telegraph, Julian Lennon described his father as a hypocrite. "Dad could talk peace and love out loud to the world, but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him: his wife and son." It was all deeply tragic, especially considering John was abandoned by his own father.

In addition to mistreating his family (he also cheated on Yoko Ono), Lennon admitted to abusing women as a younger man. During an interview with Playboy, Lennon said, "I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically—any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself, and I hit." Despite his iconic stature, Lennon was a dark and complicated character. But according to the Beatle, we shouldn't be surprised by his behavior. As he explained, "It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite."

Muhammad Ali's racist beliefs

As a three-time heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali revolutionized the sweet science of boxing, but it was his achievements outside the ring that put him on the cultural map. Whenever people remember Ali, they recall his brave stand against the US government, his fight for equal rights, and his incredible acts of heroism, like the time he freed American hostages in Iraq.

There's no denying Ali is the Greatest, but it's wrong to say he was a saint. While his opinions seem to have shifted over time, Ali was a hardcore racist in the '60s and '70s. After all, he was a member of the Nation of Islam, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as anti-Semitic, anti-gay, and anti-white. Martin Luther King Jr. also described the movement as a "hate group," probably because it preaches "white devils" were created by an evil wizard.

During a 1968 interview with The Boston Globe, Ali expounded on some of these radical ideas. According to the champ, "whites and blacks cannot get along — this is nature." Ali went on to praise racist governor George Wallace for promoting segregation and even said, "I don't hate rattlesnakes, I don't hate tigers — I just know I can't get along with them." Disturbingly, Ali stepped up his racist rhetoric in a 1975 interview with Playboy, slamming interracial marriage by saying, "We'll kill anybody who tries to mess around with our women." When asked what he would do to a black woman involved with a white man, the champ responded, "Kill her too."

Perhaps most shocking of all, Ali once gave a speech in front of the KKK, once again attacking interracial marriage. "Black people should marry their own women," he said, before saying, "Bluebirds with bluebirds, red birds with red birds," much to the pleasure of his all-white audience. It's disturbing to think of Ali hand-in-hand with the Klan, but it just proves icons never escape the ring of history unscathed.

David Bowie's illegal relationship

When David Bowie passed away in 2016, the whole world went into mourning. After all, we'd lost more than just Bowie — we lost Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, and Jareth the Goblin King. Bowie was a genuine rock god who transcended the genre, but while his musical achievement are practically untouchable, it seems Major Tom was involved in some majorly disturbing stuff. As it turns out, Bowie was involved with some very young Americans.

In the 1970s, Los Angeles was full of so-called "baby groupies" — girls ranging from 12 to 16 who were groomed and seduced by grown celebrities. One of the most famous groupies was Lori Maddox, a young girl who first met Bowie when she was just 14. According to Maddox, she hooked up with Bowie after her 15th birthday, meeting up with the singer in his L.A. hotel. After plying her with champagne and hash, Bowie "de-virginized" Maddox, before asking her to take part in a threesome with another 15-year-old.

Unfortunately, Bowie's creepiness doesn't stop here. In 1987, he was accused of rape by 30-year-old Wanda Nichols. Allegedly, the attack occurred in Dallas, but there wasn't enough evidence to put Bowie behind bars. As for the rocker, he dismissed the charges as ridiculous. But if there's even a shred of truth to these claims, Bowie's non-musical legacy definitely deserves some changes.

Chuck Berry's videotape scandal

Everybody calls Elvis Presley the "King of Rock and Roll," but perhaps that title really belongs to Chuck Berry. The man was a rock pioneer, and with a little help from Marty McFly, Berry produced some all-time classics like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Roll Over Beethoven." Rolling Stone even went so far as to deem Berry the fifth-greatest artist of all time. But while he's one of America's greatest musicians, there are some who'd say Berry is also one of America's biggest creeps.

Over the years, Berry has had multiple run-ins with the law. In the '70s, he was arrested for income tax evasion, and in 1987, he was arrested for assaulting a woman. In 1990, police raided his home and made off with weed, hashish, and weapons. But things get worse when you travel back to 1961, when Berry was arrested for transporting a female across state lines for sexual purposes. True, Berry was probably targeted because he was a black man involved with a white girl … but the lady in question was only 14, so there's that too.

Unfortunately, the 1961 incident wasn't the only time Berry was accused of freaky behavior. In 1990, the man was sued by multiple women, all of whom claimed Berry had videotaped them while using the bathroom. The restroom in question was located in a St. Louis restaurant owned by the rock star but, instead of going to court, Berry decided to settle. Supposedly, the ordeal cost Berry $1.2 million plus legal fees, and it really goes to show that when you're talking about beloved celebrities, you never can tell.

Dr. Seuss created racist propaganda

While everybody loves Theodor Seuss Geisel, the beloved author has some ugly skeletons in his closet. During World War II, the illustrator was working for a New York newspaper, and as chief editorial cartoonist, Seuss used his position to promote the war effort. Occasionally, that meant encouraging people to buy war bonds, while other times, that meant drawing incredibly racist cartoons.

Some of these illustrations feature Hitler standing alongside an ugly Japanese leader, complete with slanted eyes and turned-up nose. But, as some have pointed out, this isn't a caricature of a real figure, like Emperor Hirohito. Instead, it's an attack on the Japanese people as a whole. Even worse, Seuss created several comics implying Japanese-Americans were all saboteurs who planned on destroying America from the inside. He even said, "If we want to win, we've got to kill Japs …" Not even the Doctor could make a whimsical rhyme out of that attitude.

Perhaps even more shocking, before World War II, Seuss was attacking black people. In one bizarre comic called "Cross-Section of the World's Most Prosperous Department Store," a well-to-do white man is seen examining several black men, considering which one he should buy. Adding insult to injury, there's a sign in the back that reads, "Take Home a High-Grade N***** for Your Woodpile!" In addition to this comic, Seuss also created a series of ads for a mosquito repellant, depicting Africans as stereotypical savages.

But Sess was an incredibly complicated man, as he also drew cartoons supporting civil rights and attacking anti-Semites. Plus, after visiting Japan in 1953 and witnessing the destruction of Hiroshima, he wrote Horton Hears a Who!, a book that says a person is a person no matter how small, and was even dedicated to a Japanese friend. It seems like Seuss changed his opinions over time, but it's still weird to think the man who made the Lorax once used the n-word for laughs.

Casey Affleck was accused of sexual assault

While he's yet to become a superstar, Casey Affleck has been slowly winning fans with movies like Manchester by the Sea, Gone Baby Gone, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. But while Affleck is a critical darling, not everyone is a fan, like Amanda White and Magdalena Gorka. As filmmakers, these women have had firsthand experience working with Affleck, and according to them, the raspy-voiced actor is something of a monster.

In the late 2000s, White and Gorka were working on I'm Still Here, a bizarre mockumentary directed by Affleck. During shooting, both women claim they were sexually assaulted by Affleck on multiple occasions. According to White (the film's producer), Affleck ordered a crew member to expose himself to her. Another time, Affleck allegedly tried to force White to sleep with him. When she refused, the producer claims Affleck sent her a stream of angry, offensive texts.

As for Gorka (the film's photography director), she asserts Affleck constantly talked about having sex with her, and encouraged the crew to do likewise. On one occasion, Gorka says she was sleeping in bed when she awoke to find Affleck "curled up next to her … wearing only his underwear and a T-shirt." The actor supposedly smelled of alcohol and was "caressing" Gorka's back. Shocked, she ordered him out and quit the project soon after.

Eventually, both women filed multi-million dollar lawsuits against Affleck, both of which were settled for unknown amounts. Thanks to the settlements, we'll never really know what happened, but it seems odd Affleck gets a pass from the media, while filmmakers accused of similar crimes are eviscerated by the press. As for the actor himself, he's been dismissive of the incident, saying, "I guess people think if you're well-known, it's perfectly fine to say anything you want."

Matthew Broderick killed two people and got away with just a light fine

When most people associate Matthew Broderick with cars, they remember him driving that ill-fated Ferrari in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Past that, they might recall him in a Honda commercial a couple of years back. But in Ireland, people have a completely different image of the movie star — over in the Emerald Isle, Broderick is almost synonymous with deadly car wrecks.

In 1987, Broderick was vacationing in Ireland with his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Grey. The two had started dating on the set of Ferris Bueller, and now they were driving through County Fermanagh in a rented BMW. Unfortunately, somehow the actor swerved into the wrong lane, smashing into a Volvo carrying mother and daughter, 63-year-old Margaret Doherty and 28-year-old Anna Gallagher — tragically, neither survived the crash. As for Broderick and Grey, the actress escaped unscathed, while her boyfriend suffered a broken leg, a collapsed lung, and a concussion.

In the aftermath of the accident, Broderick was charged with reckless driving, though he was released on bail. Using crutches to get around, Broderick was obviously shaken by the incident, describing it as a "terrible, terrible thing." Originally, the actor was facing five to ten years in prison — ultimately , he only paid a fine of $175. As you might imagine, this infuriated quite a few people, and it only grew worse when Broderick appeared in that 2012 Honda commercial.

When asked why he veered into the wrong lane back in 1987, Broderick says he doesn't remember. Perhaps it was a simple case of an American driving in the wrong lane. Maybe it was a young man driving carelessly. Whatever the reason, two people are dead, and their families feel the whole affair was "a travesty of justice."

H.P. Lovecraft was a horrible racist

While Dr. Seuss definitely made some racist cartoons, he's a veritable MLK Jr. compared to H.P. Lovecraft. One of the most influential and popular writers of all time, Lovecraft has influenced everyone from Stephen King to Neil Gaiman. There are festivals held around in the world in his honor, and there's a never-ending supply of Cthulhu merchandise. However, all this undying love for Lovecraft is kind of weird, considering he once wrote a poem called "On the Creation of N******."

According to The Atlantic, Lovecraft wrote thousands of letters during his life, and if you ever work up the courage to sift through his stuff, you'll see him praise lynching as an "ingenious" way of dealing with African-Americans. You'll come across a passage referring to Jews as "hook-nosed, swarthy, guttural-voiced aliens," and you'll see him wish for a "kindly gust of cyanogen" to wipe out New York City's Chinatown, which he referred to as a "mess of stewing mongrel flesh without intellect, repellent to the eye, nose, and imagination."

As a result of his rampant racism, the World Fantasy Convention recently decided to remodel their iconic award, which was previously based on Lovecraft's likeness. After all, it's a bad look when the guy who inspired your statuette would refer to some of your nominees as "semi-human," and not in the cool, epic fantasy way.