12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People

Mitch
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Prepare to have your history books turned upside-down, folks! We’re about to flip the script on some of the most idolized figures and reveal their not-so-gleaming facets.

Yes, you heard it right! Hold on to your hats, for we’re about to bust some myths and reveal the not-so-glamorous truth about these so-called heroes. So, ready for some historical reality check? Let’s get started!

John Lennon

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Tony Barnard via Wikimedia Commons

Much like his hit single “Imagine,” John Lennon is more a creation of collective fantasy than reality. The man behind the peace signs and iconic round glasses was not as harmonious as his melodies would have you believe.

From his admitted domestic abuse to his history of abandoning his first son, Lennon’s personal life was a far cry from the utopia he crooned about. Despite penning lyrics advocating for peace and love, Lennon’s off-stage life was a discordant tune that contradicted his public persona.

Charlie Chaplin

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
P.D Jankens via Wikimedia Commons

Charlie Chaplin was a cinematic pioneer who had the world in splits with his slapstick comedy in the silent film era. But behind that toothbrush mustache and iconic bowler hat, Chaplin was far from the delightful tramp he played on screen.

The man had a notorious penchant for young girls, with a series of marriages to teenagers, the youngest being just 15 — quite the off-screen plot twist, wouldn’t you agree? And unlike the charming character that made us guffaw in “The Kid,” he was, let’s say, a little less humorous in his personal life.

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Los Angeles Times via Wikimedia Commons

With her iconic little black dress and Chanel No. 5 perfume, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is hailed as a paragon of haute couture. But behind the tweed and pearls hides a less glamorous history. Indeed, Coco was a Nazi collaborator during World War II, mingling with high-ranking German officers and even having an affair with a Nazi officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage.

While the world was at war, Coco was seemingly unaffected, living in the lap of luxury at the Ritz. It certainly makes the little black dress seem less enchanting, doesn’t it?

Steve Jobs

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Ben Stanfield via Wikimedia Commons

Oh, Steve Jobs, the Apple of our iEyes. Lauded for his visionary approach, Jobs is a titan of technology, a man who brought us sleek, sexy devices we didn’t even know we needed. Yet, behind the brushed aluminum and Gorilla Glass was a man who could be as cold as his products were hot.

While Jobs’ brilliance is undeniable, his treatment of employees and colleagues was often less than stellar. He berated and belittled employees in pursuit of perfection, creating a high-stress work environment. Further, he initially denied paternity for his first daughter, claiming he was sterile even after a DNA test showed otherwise. While we tap and swipe our iPhones in awe, let’s not forget that the man behind the icon had his glitches.

Mother Teresa

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Rajasekharan Parameswaran via Wikimedia Commons

Mother Teresa, the darling of the laureate committee and the poster child for charity, wasn’t all hallowed halos and angelic actions. Behind the saintly façade lurked a darker reality. Her clinics, hailed as sanctuaries for the suffering, offered substandard medical care, with evidence of poor hygiene and a lack of painkillers.

Furthermore, the millions of dollars in donations her mission received seemed to vanish into thin air, with little accountability. Her image may be one of selfless devotion, but the reality is a lot less charming and a lot more vexing.

Christopher Columbus

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Sebastiano del Piombo via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, Christopher Columbus, the intrepid explorer, lauded in classrooms for his ‘discovery’ of the Americas in 1492. Old Chris was, in fact, not the nicest of fellows.

Brutality was his calling card, with numerous accounts of him committing terrible atrocities against the native inhabitants of the lands he ‘discovered.’ Introducing forced labor, initiating the transatlantic slave trade, and decimating indigenous populations through violence and disease were just a few of his unsavory endeavors. So, while he might have sailed the ocean blue, his legacy is decidedly a darker shade.

Thomas Edison

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Louis Bachrach via Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Edison’s reputation shines as bright as the incandescent light bulb he’s credited with inventing. But here’s the shocker – the “Wizard of Menlo Park” was more of an intellectual pickpocket than a wizard. Nikola Tesla, the true genius behind alternating current, found his ideas swiped and patented by Edison.

Furthermore, Edison was notoriously harsh to his employees, expecting them to work 80 hours a week without batting an eyelid. So next time you switch on a light, remember: every bright idea has its darker side.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
René Burri via Wikimedia Commons

Ernesto “Che” Guevara: the man, the myth, the t-shirt icon. Behind that suave, beret-clad image, Guevara was a ruthless and dogmatic Marxist with no qualms about using violence to achieve his ends. His brutal methods led to countless deaths during the Cuban Revolution and his subsequent efforts to stir up armed rebellion in other countries.

So the next time you see someone wearing a t-shirt with his face on it, remember: the man behind the myth was significantly more bloodthirsty than heroic.

Elvis Presley

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Bryan1518 via Wikimedia Commons

With his gyrating hips and melodious voice, Elvis Presley certainly knew how to make the girls swoon. But there was a darker side behind the glittering persona and ‘culturally-appropriated’ chart-topping hits. Elvis was known for his unhealthy obsessions, including a penchant for underage girls.

Priscilla Presley, Elvis’s wife, was only 14 when they first met, and he was ten years her senior. His untimely demise hinted at a life led recklessly, with drug overdose being the speculated cause. The King may have left us spellbound with his music, but his personal life was far from the sparkly, sequined jumpsuits he wore on stage.

Alexander Graham Bell

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Harris & Ewing via Wikimedia Commons

While Alexander Graham Bell’s name is sandwiched between the pioneers of communication, his deeds tell an unsettling story. Despite his iconic status, Bell was an active member of the eugenics movement, advocating for the “improvement” of human genetic traits through selective breeding.

Bell aimed to eliminate the deaf population by discouraging their marriages and promoting the reproduction of people with “desirable” traits. His campaign against the deaf community starkly contrasts his revered image as a groundbreaking inventor. Quite ironic for someone whose invention broke barriers in communication.

Henry Ford

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Reinaldo Campos via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, Henry Ford – the man who put America on wheels and fathered the modern assembly line. Sounds great, right? Well, the story isn’t as shiny as his Model T.

Ford may have revolutionized the automobile industry, but he was also a notorious anti-Semite, distributing pamphlets that blamed Jews for World War I and other societal problems. So, while Ford’s innovations may have driven us into the future, his personal beliefs are a stark reminder that not every idol has a spotless past.

Andy Warhol

12 People Idolized in History Who Were Actually Horrible People
Bernard Gotfryd via Wikimedia Commons

Andy Warhol, the Prince of Pop Art, renowned for his vibrant Campbell’s Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe prints, was actually more of a soup kitchen for the soul. Famed for his indifference and cool detachment, he exploited friends and associates, using their personal lives and struggles to fuel his art and discarding them when they were no longer useful.

Warhol’s Factory wasn’t as much a hive of artistic creativity as it was a testament to his relationships’ cold, industrial nature. So, next time you’re marveling at his iconic pop art, remember – the cans are full, but the artist might have been a bit empty.

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10 Hated Leaders Who Were Actually Good People

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  • Mitch

    A computer science enthusiast with a keen interest in technology and games, Mitchelle (Mitch) contributes a cutting-edge perspective to the Frenz Hub writing team, integrating her academic knowledge with her personal passions

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