Whether it's an action hunk from blockbuster 1980s movies or a scrunchie-rocking dance-pop star of the 1990s, these nostalgic celebrities might seem like old news. But in 2021, we actually heard a lot of unexpected stories about our favorites from the good ol' days. From affairs to awkward on-set encounters to random day jobs, these tales prove there's always more to know about even the most well-known names.
So get your cups ready, because this tea may be decades old, but we're serving it fresh and piping hot in 2021.
- Photo: Moonlighting / ABC11,659 VOTES
Bruce Willis broke into the spotlight with his 1985 role on the TV series Moonlighting, playing David Addison. But few people know that he spent the first 20 years of his life grappling with a severe stutter that affected his ability to communicate. Even more interesting: Acting seemed to be his solution.
He discussed his speech impediment in an interview with The Stuttering Foundation:
I could hardly talk. It took me three minutes to complete a sentence. It was crushing for anyone who wanted to express themselves, who wanted to be heard and couldn't. It was frightening. Yet, when I became another character, in a play, I lost the stutter. It was phenomenal.
Willis has also shared how much he struggled with his speech as a teenager, becoming the class clown in an attempt to distract from it. He's since had an incredibly successful career, with major roles in more than 70 films.
- Photo: Stealing Beauty / 20th Century Fox21,399 VOTES
Some girls dream of having a rockstar father, but Liv Tyler ended up growing up with two. Her mother, Bebe Buell, was a singer and Playboy model who had a brief fling with Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler in 1976. Liv was born the following year.
While she knew there was a chance Steven was the father of her daughter, Buell named her boyfriend, Utopia singer Todd Rundgren, as the father on the birth certificate. Buell was concerned about Steven's drug use at the time, and said that she and Rundgren "made a pact that he would be Liv's father and if it ever became an issue, we'd tell her at 18."
But it didn't take Liv that long to connect the dots. She recalled meeting Steven at Rundgren's concert around age 8 or 9, where he bought her a Shirley Temple:
It must be chemical somehow - DNA and genes... I felt a connection in a very strong way when I met him as a little girl and I didn’t know why at first, but I figured it out rather quickly.
Liv eventually confronted her mother and discovered Steven was her biological father. She later changed her last name from Rundgren to Tyler and appeared in an Aerosmith music video along with Alicia Silverstone. Aerosmith later debuted their hit "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for Liv's film Armageddon.
While Buell and Rundgren later broke up, Liv still counts Rundgren among her "eclectic mix of parental figures." As she put it, "I’m so grateful to Todd for choosing to be a father figure to me. It's a big thing for a man to say, 'I know this kid might not be mine, but I still want to be her father.'"
- Photo: Epic / Columbia
Foreign accent syndrome is a phenomenon that happens when someone recovers from a brain injury with a different accent or manner of speaking from the one they've always had.
George Michael, lead singer of the 1980s band Wham!, went into a coma from a life-threatening case of pneumonia. When he awoke five weeks later, he had a West Country accent, even though he hails from North London. West Country accents in the UK are associated with farmers and pirates, unlike George Michael's typically "posh" London accent.
While doctors were alarmed, fearing that Michael had FAS, the singer had a different explanation. Before his illness, he'd been watching the BBC sitcom Nighty Night and discussing it every evening with a friend, doing the West Country accent featured on the show. When he awoke, he had the TV show on the brain and for two days spoke with the accent - to his sisters' delight and to his doctors' concern.
Fortunately for his voice-dependent career, Michael eventually returned to his normal accent. In an interview with a London radio station, he described the humorous side of the alarming incident:
The first thing I said when I woke up... They said, "Do you know who you are?" and I said, "King of the World?"
- Photo: The West Wing / NBC
Rob Lowe struggled with substance abuse before achieving sobriety in 1990. He celebrated 31 years clean in 2021, and discussed his personal journey in an interview with Variety:
This was just how the business was back then... You’d go on the set and figure out which department was selling the coke on the set. It was no different than craft services. Where are the Red Vines, and where is the great Peruvian blow?... Those days are long, long, loooong gone.
Lowe said he was finally ready to get sober in 1990. His sex-tape scandal and a call from his mom made him reevaluate his way of life:
One day back in the days of answering machines my mother called me and I could hear her voice on the answering machine. I didn’t want to pick up because I was really, really hungover and I didn’t want her to know. She was telling me that my grandfather, who I loved, was in critical condition in the hospital and she needed my help. And I didn’t pick up. My thought process in that moment was, "I need to drink a half a bottle of tequila right now so I can go to sleep so I can wake up so I can pick up this phone."
Lowe said he'd kept in his wallet a card for a counselor that a friend had given him. The next day, he called.
- Photo: She's All That / Miramax Films
A lifelong wrestling fan, Freddie Prinze, Jr. was attending WrestleMania circa 2007 when he started chatting with someone about his ideas. After the higher-ups got wind of said ideas, Prinze found himself commuting to Connecticut for his full-time job on the World Wrestling Entertainment writing team.
He worked closely with WWE chairman Vince McMahon, pitching storylines and seeing his ideas through to the production side. Prinze recounted the details to GQ:
Afterwards your wrestler comes up to you and looks at you like a puppy dog, even though they are six foot ten and outweigh you by 200 pounds, and say, "Did I do a good job?" And it makes you feel very strange and weird.
Prinze eventually left the gig to pursue another passion: fatherhood. And there he lives happily ever after with Sarah Michelle Gellar in a perfect 1990s dream world.
- Photo: Splendor in the Grass / Warner Bros. Pictures
In his 2014 memoir Love Life, Lowe described meeting his idol, Hollywood legend Warren Beatty, as an 18-year-old. Lowe wrote that he had been dating a "young, successful actress" who was friends with Beatty and spent a lot of time at his house, though he doesn't name her. One night he accompanied his girlfriend to Beatty's house to watch a movie.
According to Lowe, Beatty told Lowe that he reminded him of himself at a similar age. Beatty then remarked that Lowe's girlfriend reminded him of his own former girlfriend Natalie Wood:
"It’s funny," [Beatty] continued. "Natalie was always getting asked by Frank Sinatra to come up to his house and lay by the pool. I never paid much attention to it, but years later, just a few years before Natalie died, I asked her, 'Hey, we’re both adults now, what exactly were you doing all those days at Sinatra’s?'
"And she looked me right in the eyes and said, 'Oh Warren, what do you think we were doing? We were f***ing!'
"Isn’t that funny?" He smiled at me, shaking his head at the memory.
I looked over at my girlfriend who looked away, ashen-faced. And the penny dropped.
Thanks for the heads up, Warren Beatty. You’re my hero to this day.