Beloved famous folks you’d probably hate if you met them in person

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Are we good people with very bad days or bad people with good days? Who’s to say? In the grand tapestry of history, there exists a  paradox surrounding famous figures who have been elevated to the status of geniuses, moral pillars, and even saints. They are hailed as remarkable individuals, seemingly untouchable and beyond reproach. Yet, beneath the surface of their carefully crafted personas lies a different story—a story of deeply flawed human beings who, at times, committed acts of wrongdoing, did morally questionable things, or generally sucked as human beings.

Here are ten examples of people who are praised for being saints, geniuses, and heroes but were, in fact, rather terrible people.

1. Mahatma Gandhi

Despite being revered for helping India win freedom from British colonial rule in 1947, Mahatma Gandhi’s shortcomings as a human are now raising eyebrows among many historians, primarily his racism, misogyny, and addiction. During his time in South Africa, when Gandhi was 20 years old, he made statements indicating his belief in white people being “the predominating race” and expressed derogatory views towards black people, characterizing them as “troublesome, very dirty, and living like animals.” The celebrated Indian lawyer struggled with an addiction to carnal pleasures, and, on one occasion, he left his dying father’s side to have intercourse with his wife, later swearing a vow of chastity and becoming obsessed with his celibacy. When Gandhi was in his late 70s, he conducted a controversial experiment to test his willpower in abstaining from sexual activity, which involved sharing a bed while naked with his teenage grandniece, who was in her late teens at the time. Although Gandhi claimed it was a test of his self-control, this act has garnered significant criticism due to its perceived inappropriate nature.

2. Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is perhaps the best example of how no human being, not even the saintliest or most virtuous, can truly embody perfection. Despite literally becoming a saint in 2016, as concluded by a 2013 study conducted by the University of Ottawa, Mother Teresa wasn’t a saint. The study revealed that her revered image did not withstand factual scrutiny and was primarily the outcome of a vigorous media campaign orchestrated by a struggling Catholic Church. Mother Teresa was far from perfect. She had 517 missions in 100 countries at the time of her death, and she is rightfully hailed for her assistance to the poor. However, it is often overlooked that she took satisfaction in the suffering of poor individuals.

“There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering,” she once told Christopher Hitchens.

The study shed light on the disappointing reality that individuals seeking medical care at facilities associated with Mother Teresa often struggled to receive the assistance they desperately needed. Medical professionals reported witnessing unhygienic and inadequate conditions, including a lack of proper food and essential pain relief. Remarkably, this deficiency in care was not due to insufficient funding, as Mother Teresa’s globally recognized order had ample financial resources. Instead, the study’s authors attributed these shortcomings to Mother Teresa’s distinct perception of suffering and death.

 

 3. Roald Dahl

The same man who brought us the enchanting worlds of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,”  “Matilda,” and “The Big Friendly Giant,” Roald Dahl, also held deeply troubling and anti-Semitic views. Despite the joy his books have brought to many, it is important to acknowledge that Dahl openly expressed his opinions about Jews. In a 1983 interview with the New Statesman, he stated, “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.” Yup, sorry for ruining your childhood memories tho.

4. John Wayne

“The Duke” may have been the mega Hollywood star, beloved for his rough and tough on-screen persona, particularly in Western movies. However, he had another side to him: he was a racist and a homophobe. In a revealing 1971 interview with Playboy magazine, John Wayne openly expressed his views, bluntly stating, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.” He also used a homophobic slur when referring to the movie “Midnight Cowboy.” Furthermore, he harbored negative sentiments toward Native Americans. In that same interview, he justified the colonization of America, claiming that Native Americans were “hoarding it all for themselves.” Wayne asserted, “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them.”

5. Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, the iconic French fashion designer renowned for her elegant creations, has long been celebrated as a pioneer of modern style. However, a  2011 book by investigative journalist Hal Vaughan, titled “Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War,”  ignited controversy by shedding light on her alleged involvement as a Nazi spy and her deep-rooted anti-Semitism. Vaughan reveals Chanel’s romantic relationship with a Nazi officer, Hans Günther von Dincklage, and suggests that she played an active role as an intelligence operative for the Third Reich. According to Vaughan’s research, Chanel and von Dincklage embarked on missions across Europe, recruiting agents for the Nazi cause.

6. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

You might owe your iPhone to the genius mind of Steve Jobs, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the co-founder of Apple kind of sucked as a human. According to a 2015 piece by CBS News on Alex Gibney’s documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine,” Jobs had a knack for being a total jerk. Not only did he deny fathering his own daughter, causing her to be estranged from him for years, but he also partnered with Chinese factories where workers were subjected to unbearable conditions, leading to tragic outcomes like suicides. The relentless pace demanded of them to produce iPads and iPhones took a devastating toll. Oh, and did we mention the stock scandal? Jobs found himself in hot water over allegedly backdating stocks, a maneuver that would make even the slickest Wall Street shark raise an eyebrow. When faced with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jobs played a game of blame-shifting worthy of a seasoned politician. Deny, deflect, and make someone else take the fall—classic Jobs move.

7. Dr.Seus

Well, there goes another beloved childhood author, now tarnished by their racist beliefs. Dr. Seuss had a darker side that is often overshadowed by his whimsical tales. His problematic legacy stems from his perpetuation of harmful racial stereotypes, particularly targeting Asian communities. Not only did his books contain racist imagery, such as depicting Asian characters with exaggerated features and offensive portrayals, but he also published numerous political cartoons during World War II that fueled anti-Japanese sentiment. These cartoons painted Japanese Americans as a threat and contributed to the dehumanization and subsequent internment of over 110,000 individuals of Japanese descent.

8. Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson, the poster child of progressive presidents, may have left an indelible mark on America with his child labor laws, the Federal Trade Commission, and the concept of an eight-hour workday. Yet, lurking behind this facade of progressiveness was a darker side. Wilson’s racist inclinations tainted his legacy. From his writings, where he expressed dread at the notion of Black Americans receiving equal treatment, to his resegregation of the federal government and dismissal of Black supervisors, his actions spoke volumes. Wilson extinguished a proposal for racial equality, and his endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan in the racist film “The Birth of a Nation” added an exclamation point to his controversial views.

9. Charlie Chaplin

Behind the iconic smile and lovable Tramp character, Charlie Chaplin had a dark side that tainted his legacy. Biographical accounts and testimonies paint a troubling picture of his personal life. From his alleged relationships with underage girls to his mistreatment and exploitation of women, Chaplin’s behavior raises serious concerns. Reports indicate a pattern of selfishness, cruelty, and disregard for the well-being of those closest to him. Even his marriages were marred by infidelity, emotional abuse, and erratic behavior. In other words, while some biographers portray Charlie Chaplin as an arrogant genius who manipulated those around him without remorse, the candid words of Marlon Brando, who worked with Chaplin in his final film “A Countess from Hong Kong,” cut straight to the point. Brando bluntly described the director as “probably the most sadistic man I’d ever met.”

Methodology

We delved beyond the surface of official biographies and explored lesser-known accounts that unveil the hidden aspects of famous figures often celebrated in history.

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