Top 10 People Destroyed by Rumors

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Rumors can be one of the most destructive forces on the face of the earth. Every day, people’s lives, careers, businesses, and futures are destroyed by rumors. Not even the rich and powerful are safe from rumors.

Rumors don’t even have to be true to destroy a life. Even allegations of wrongdoing can wreck a career or sabotage ambitions. The internet and social media make the situation worse by spreading even the most ridiculous rumors quickly. Some of those destroyed by rumors include:

10. Sarah Palin

The bizarre former governor of the state of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate has been turned into a joke by all manner of rumors. The biggest of the rumors is Palin faked a pregnancy in order to cover up her 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy. More recently, Palin has become tabloid fodder with rumors of affairs with basketball players flying. Palin’s political career is dead, but she lives on as a B-list celebrity. During the last presidential campaign, nobody paid any attention to her.

9. J. Edgar Hoover

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has been turned into something of a joke by rumors in the decades since his death. The weirdest of these stories involves rumors that photographs of Hoover wearing a dress exist. The rumors are centered on claims that Hoover was a crossdresser and gay. No historian has been able to dig up any evidence verifying these stories, even though accounts of Hoover’s personal life suggest that he was gay. These stories were apparently spread by people that hated Hoover enough to ruin his reputation and they succeeded 20 years after his death.

8. Walt Disney

Not even the dead are safe from the destructive power of rumors. Since his death, Uncle Walt’s reputation has been seriously damaged by a wide variety of bizarre rumors. The rumors have made this beloved American icon look more like a whacko and even a traitor in hindsight. The strangest story is that Walt’s body was frozen and stored somewhere in Disneyland after his death in hopes that he might be brought back to life in the future. The rumor is so pervasive that even former Walt Disney Company Chairman Michael Eisner reportedly believed it. Disney’s body was actually cremated shortly after his death. The main reason this rumor has so much credence is that there is no grave or memorial for Walt, even though his family owns a funeral plot. Nor was a funeral ever held for the man. Another bizarre rumor is that Walt Disney was a Nazi. Biographies indicate that Disney was probably an anti-Semite, but he was a patriotic American and a strong supporter of America’s war against Nazi Germany. Disney’s company even made anti-Nazi propaganda films for the U.S. government during World War II. There is also no evidence that Disney was a racist, as some allegations claim, so the rumors are false, but widely believed. Those rumors can be traced to episodes of the animated shows Family Guy and Robot Chicken that show Walt as a Nazi. Even obvious satire can create destructive rumors and destroy reputations.

7. Michael Jackson

Nobody seems to have been the subject of more rumors than Michael Jackson. Popular rumors when he was alive involved child molestation, sleeping in an oxygen chamber, and plastic surgery to make himself look whiter. The rumors obviously damaged his career long before he died. Even though Michael is dead, he is still being plagued by bizarre rumors including:

  • Michael Jackson became a born-again Christian right before he died. Jackson was a lifelong member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an apocalyptic denomination in the United States. There is no evidence he changed his faith, but the rumor attracted a lot of attention online.
  • A Jackson Five reunion tour with a hologram of Michael as one of the performers is being planned.
  • Jackson’s brain was removed from his body before it was buried. Oddly enough, this is apparently true.

6. David Patterson

David Patterson being badgered by reporters

David Patterson served as Governor of the state of New York and attracted attention as the first blind man to serve as a governor. Since leaving office in 2010, Patterson has been plagued by rumors that he used drugs and engaged in bizarre sex in the governor’s office. The rumors are made worse by efforts to keep reporters from getting access to Patterson’s email. There have been constant rumors that a major newspaper, usually The New York Times, was about to run an explosive story about Patterson’s sex parties and drug use. The story has never been released, but the rumors keep spreading. Other rumors about Patterson include allegations that Patterson wrongly gave a syndicate (that included Rapper J-Z) a license to operate a casino in New York City. Patterson’s political career is obviously dead, but the rumors about him live on and on.

5. George Entwistle

The director general of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is one of the most powerful people in the United Kingdom, yet even that power and prestige couldn’t protect him from some very destructive rumors. They included allegations that the BBC staff knew of allegations of child molestation against a prominent politician that were false, even though they ran a News Night documentary making them. Another rumor was that News Night also refused to run an expose on child molestation charges against BBC presenter Jimmy Savile. Entwistle only served as the BBC director general for a few weeks before he was fired. Since his ouster, Entwistle has been the subject of more rumors, including one that he would only resign if he was paid a huge sum of money.

4. Prince Charles

Not even royalty are immune from rumors. The Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne has had his reputation ruined by all sorts of rumors. The weirdest rumor is that Charles eats seven hardboiled eggs for breakfast, which isn’t true. Strangely enough, Charles actually went out of his way to debunk that rumor on his website. There has even been speculation that all the rumors about Charles and his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, will keep him from inheriting the throne. Nobody knows if that will happen or not, but the fact such speculation is taken seriously shows the power of rumors in today’s world.

3. Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves became a major star with Speed in 1994, but since The Matrix trilogy wrapped up, he’s almost completely dropped out of sight. Part of the reason might be rumors that Reeves, who shuns the spotlight, is gay. The rumors apparently date from a minor 1984 movie called Wolfboy; the movie contained a scene in which Reeves got a kiss from a man. More recently, Reeves has been plagued by rumors that he had married actor Alan Cummings in 2004. In real life Reeves is married to a woman and he has kids. He has also been linked with billionaire music mogul and political contributor David Geffen. Interestingly enough, Geffen has claimed he has never even met Reeves. Part of the reason why these rumors are so persistent is that Reeves is a very private person who stays out of the spotlight. If that wasn’t bad enough, Reeves was also the subject of false death rumors; the rumors claimed that he had been killed in a snowboarding accident in Switzerland. The rumors thrive because nobody really knows that much about Mr. Reeves or his life, so it is easy to spread rumors about him.

2. Kevin Clash

Kevin Clash with Elmo the iconic puppet he operated for decades

Kevin Clash the puppeteer and creator of a pop culture icon. As a puppeteer for the Children’s Television or Sesame Workshop in New York, Clash was the genius behind one of the most popular children’s characters on American television, the childlike puppet Elmo. During the 1990s, Elmo became one of the most popular characters on the hugely popular children’s television show, Sesame Street, and one of the best-selling toys of all time. In 2012, rumors that Clash once had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy began spreading. The rumors were never proved, but the boy apparently took a $125,000 settlement from Clash. This allegation led to rumors that Clash visited gay telephone chat lines looking for boys to have sex with. Another accuser came forward and filed a lawsuit against the puppeteer. Clash resigned from his job with Sesame Street. The official reason for the resignation was that the rumors were distracting Clash from his “important work.” So far, there is no word on how this will affect Elmo or Sesame Street.

1. Justin Bieber

Even though he seems to be hot, Justin Bieber is currently the most popular target for rumor mongers. People seem to be willing to believe just about anything about this singer, which will probably destroy him sooner or later. Among the most bizarre rumors are that Bieber caught syphilis and that Kim Kardashian was pregnant with Bieber’s baby. Both rumors proved to be false, but they generated a lot of searches, according to Google. Bieber seems to be a magnet for rumors because lots of people hate him. They want to see him destroyed, so they’ll spread rumors about him in an attempt to achieve that goal. The rumors might end soon, because like Bieber himself, they might quickly degenerate into jokes.