30 Weirdest Movie Myths

Hey Girl Hey Boy

The Myth: Jamie Lee Curtis was born with both male and female sexual organs. Hence the gender-bending double name, and the fact that Curtis' own children were adopted.

How It Started: Apparently, this rumour has been reported as fact by university professors as an example of intersexuality (the technical term for hermaphrodites) but the original source is most likely somebody with a grudge against Curtis or her famous parents.

Any Truth? It's never been definitively disproven, and conspiracy theorists continue to read much into Curtis' silence on the subject. Then again, maybe she's got better things to do than defend herself across scurrilous, unfounded gossip.

Losing Her Head

The Myth: Jayne Mansfield was decapitated during the car crash that killed her.

How It Started: It's hard to say, although the myth was stoked by Kenneth Anger's infamous exposé of the movie world, Hollywood Babylon , which includes a photo of the crash scene that purports to show a clutch of human hair.

Any Truth? No, not that the truth is any more comforting. The official police report confirms that Mansfield skull was severed so thoroughly that cranial matter escaped, a gruesome fact that was simplified and mythologised as a beheading.

Golden Kiss Of Death

The Myth: Actress Shirley Eaton died for real after being painted in gold paint for her iconic death scene in Goldfinger .

How It Started: People believed the film's premise that somebody would asphyxiate from being covered in paint, and when Eaton disappeared from the public eye, they assumed the worst.

Any Truth? Eaton is still alive, and actually appeared on the Mythbusters series in 2003 to disprove the rumours. Also: it isn't possible to die from paint-related asphyxiation, although you could die from overheating if you left it on too long.

Race To The Death

The Myth: A stuntman died while filming Ben-Hur 's famous chariot race; worse, the producers callously left the accident in the final cut.

How It Started: It is likely that people conflated the 1959 film with similar rumours surrounding the earlier, 1926 version of Ben-Hur - but it didn't help when Second Unit Director Andrew Marton fanned the flames by ironically yelling at reporters that 20 men and 100 horses died during filming. "That's what you want to hear, isn't it?"

Any Truth? Stuntwork scholars have devoted a lot of time to researching this iconic sequence, and the only documented injury went to Charlton Heston's stunt double, Joe Canutt, who gashed his chin.

Homicidal Automobile

The Myth: The car in which James Dean died was so cursed that, even when its parts were stripped and redeployed in other vehicles, it continued to cause fatal crashes.

How It Started: Custom car builder George Barris, who purchased Dean's Porsche Spyder after his death - and then related a string of catastrophes involving vehicles into which parts from the 'killer car' had been installed.

Any Truth? While a few incidents have been corroborated, documentation confirms that the car was initially sold as scrap to race driver Dr. William F. Eschrich, not Barris. Hence much of the legend is down to a canny self-promoter perpetuating the myth.

Phallic Palace

The Myth: A disgruntled artist at Disney deliberately added a penis shape to one of the turrets of King Triton's castle in the VHS cover art for The Little Mermaid .

How It Started: People looked at the picture. It does look remarkably like a dick.

Any Truth? The artist responsible has denied any malicious intent, blaming a late-night rush to meet the deadline for not noticing what he'd drawn.

Sexy Sky

The Myth: More Disney mischief, as animators reputedly added the letters S E and X to the sky above Simba's head in The Lion King .

How It Started: A four-year-old boy noticed the salacious secret message and told his mother, who told conservative lobby group the American Life League, who kicked off big-time.

Any Truth? More likely it spells SFX - an animator's in-joke. Or, given how hard it is to see anything, it could just be wishful thinking.

Spooks' Revenge

The Myth: After four deaths in six years, including that of child star Heather O'Rourke, the Poltergeist franchise was cursed.

How It Started: The filmmakers reportedly used real skeletons during filming, leading to speculation that the dead were back to claim revenge.

Any Truth? The evidence is hardly conclusive, but the details of the deaths - one from manslaughter, one from cancer, two from complications in surgery - are unusual and tragic enough to creep people out.

Killer Kane

The Myth: Orson Welles was the killer of Elizabeth Short, the aspiring actress whose unsolved murder achieved fame as the Black Dahlia.

How It Started: Mary Pacios, a neighbour of the Short family, has put together the case for the prosecution. Her key evidence is a series of mannequins built by Welles for The Lady From Shanghai (which was shot in LA around the time of the murder), and which are disfigured in a style similar to Short.

Any Truth? Welles was never even a suspect at the time and, frankly, there are many, many more likely candidates.

And The Winner Is

The Myth: Marisa Tomei only won her Oscar for My Cousin Vinny because Jack Palance read her name from an autocue instead of opening the envelope.

How It Started: Film critic Rex Reed insisted that Palance was drunk or stoned, and that the envelope would have revealed Vanessa Redgrave as the true winner.

Any Truth? The Academy has always strenuously denied it, insisting that the auditors are poised backstage to correct any errors. "If such a scenario were ever to occur, the Price Waterhouse people backstage would simply step out onstage and point out the error. They are not shy."