Clark Gable and Joan Crawford’s steamy affair wasn’t the only such scandal in the early days of Hollywood. Here are some more of the movies’ most famous on- and off-screen pairings.


Douglas Fairbanks was one of the most popular stars of the silent era, while Oscar-winner Mary Pickford was the original “America’s Sweetheart” (despite being born in Canada!). She was a bankable star known as much for her talent as her beauty. The so-called “King and Queen of Hollywood,” however, met under the most bizarre of circumstances: Not on screen, but during an American tour to promote Liberty Bond sales funding for the First World War effort in 1918. Despite both being married at the time, they began a tumultuous affair during the tour that became one of the biggest scandals of the day. They finally married in 1920, and enjoyed a 16-year relationship together, during which they founded a production company, and transformed their home into “Pickfair,” a grand 22-room mansion that Life magazine described as “a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House … and much more fun.” By the early 1930s, however, Fairbanks’ career had dwindled, and his health began to fail, and while traveling in Europe to promote one of his final roles, he began an affair with an English socialite, Lady Ashley. He and Pickford finally separated in 1936.


Clara Bow was the original Hollywood “It Girl,” and according to the press at the time, enjoyed a career built around one scandalous relationship after another. Linked to a string of leading men, including Gilbert Rowland, Gary Cooper, and Oscar-winning director Victor Fleming, Bow became known across Hollywood for her questionable private life (which infamously led to her to wisely negotiate a contract with Paramount Pictures that did not include a morals clause). Bow certainly wasn’t alone in having a spicy off-screen life, as many of her co-stars and colleagues saw numerous scandals throughout their careers—but as fellow silent era actress Lina Basquette once commented, “They hid it; Clara didn’t.”


Two of Hollywood’s most legendary stars, Sophia Loren and Cary Grant, met while filming The Pride and the Passion in 1956. The pair reportedly began a steamy affair, and Grant began to make arrangements for Loren to star alongside him in his next movie, a romantic comedy called Houseboat. The only snag was that Houseboat had been written by Grant’s wife, Betsy Drake, and Gable had already agreed for her to star in the movie with him. Despite his wife’s involvement, however, Gable still went ahead: A last-minute rewrite of the script was called for, Drake’s role was rewritten to better suit Loren, and her writing credit was stripped from the movie. By the time filming came around, however, Grant and Loren’s love affair was on the rocks, and on set their relationship was understandably frosty. Loren went on to marry Carlo Ponti, while understandably Drake and Gable’s marriage collapsed in 1962.


One of Hollywood’s most famous affairs, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor met while filming the historical epic Cleopatra together in Europe in 1962. Burton had been brought in to play Mark Antony as a last-minute replacement for the actor Stephen Boyd, who had left the production due to scheduling conflicts. Burton’s arrival on set caused a sensation, and Taylor was immediately smitten. The two began an adulterous affair that soon made headlines across the world, as it was well known that they were both married to other people at the time. Even the Vatican became involved and condemned their relationship as little more than “erotic vagrancy.” Amid the tabloid frenzy that followed, Burton and Taylor divorced, married, divorced each other, remarried, then divorced each other again in a turbulent relationship tainted by drink, jealousy, and obsessive love.


In perhaps the biggest Hollywood scandals of the 1950s, Frank Sinatra married Ava Gardner, one of the decade’s most high-profile actresses, just days after his divorce from his first wife Nancy was finalized in 1951. Their relationship (and the longstanding affair that had preceded it) made headlines around the world and even made enemies of Sinatra and Gardner’s former friend, the millionaire Howard Hughes. Although Gardner later said she believed Sinatra to be the love of her life—and although they remained close for the rest of their lives—she called life with Sinatra “impossible” and their turbulent marriage finally broke down after six years in 1957. Sinatra went on to marry twice more, while Gardner—who had already been married twice before—never married again.