Top 10 Bizarre Celebrity Meetings


Over the years, some of history’s grandest,
strangest or greatest people have occasionally crossed paths. Sometimes, their meetings are nothing special. Other times they’re little moments of oddness
seemingly designed to beguile and befuddle fans for generations to come. Guess which type this article is about: 10. JD Salinger was Dumped for Charlie Chaplin In 1941, JD Salinger was a 22-year old kid
about to be sent off to war. He was still a decade away from publishing
his seminal novel Catcher in the Rye, and wasn’t yet displaying any of the traits
that would mark him out as a literary genius. Charlie Chaplin, on the other hand, was one
of the most famous men in the world. Aged 52, he’d just finished his career-defining
sound comedy The Great Dictator, mocking Adolf Hitler. The two men were at that time so far apart
in terms of achievement that even imagining them in the same room is impossible. But Chaplain and Salinger did more than just
meet. Days after Salinger was sent to war, Chaplin
stole his girlfriend. At the time, Salinger was seeing Oona O’Neill,
the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill. She was a mere 16 years old, awkward enough
for a 22-year old Salinger, and crazy-young for a middle aged Chaplin. Yet, Oona and Chaplain wound up marrying,
and staying together until Chaplin’s death. Salinger meanwhile, was driven by their breakup
to start writing Catcher in the Rye. A great moment for world literature, a terrible
one for Salinger’s sex life. 9. Hitler Was Nearly Hired as a Scenery Painter
by Bertolt Brecht Around twenty years before Chaplin copped
off with Salinger’s girl, the Little Tramp’s evil German double was skulking around Berlin,
trying to make it as an artist. For all he would later become a genocidal
maniac, Adolf Hitler was at this point more interested in beauty than extermination. He was also interested in making money. This interest led him to apply for a job painting
scenery for Bertolt Brecht. During the Weimar-era, Brecht was one of Germany’s
great dramatists. His avant garde plays broke down boundaries
and changed what theatre could be. In short, he was a ‘decadent’ artist,
the sort the Nazis despised. We’re going to go out on a historical limb
here, and suggest that the reason for this hatred might be that Brecht totally refused
to hire Hitler. In a 1990s article, the LA Times wrote of
a Weimar-era Brecht production that Hitler was “unfortunately” not hired – suggesting
it may have been a close-run thing. However close he really came to working for
Brecht, we don’t know, but we like to think Hitler’s terrible interview was the point
when he decided to start heaping all his woes on ‘degenerate’ art. 8. Phillip Larkin Sabotaged George Orwell’s
Evening The author of 1984, George Orwell is today
widely-admired as one of the greatest writers in the English language. His stock wasn’t always quite so high, though. His socialist beliefs and shabby lifestyle
put him at odds with a lot of the British establishment in the 1940s. Among them was poet Philip Larkin. Then a 19-year old man studying at Oxford,
he considered Orwell an absolutely awful writer. So when Orwell came to give a speech at an
Oxford club Larkin was a member of, he saw the perfect opportunity to let Orwell know
what he thought of him. He didn’t simply tell him. That would have been too kind. Instead, he set out to sabotage Orwell’s
evening in the subtlest way possible. According to Larkin’s own account, he was
tasked with taking the great writer to dinner and organizing his hotel. He deliberately chose the crappiest hotel
in town, and went out of his way to make dinner suck as badly as possible. To make matters worse, he was also in charge
of Dylan Thomas’s simultaneous visit, and gave him the poshest hotel just to make Orwell
jealous. Larkin later called it an exercise in “practical
criticism.” 7. Groucho Marx Had a Terrible Dinner with TS
Eliot A snobbish intellectual, TS Eliot was known
as the greatest poet of his day, thanks to serious, experimental works like The Waste
Land. However, there was a side to Eliot no-one
knew about. He was a crazy-big Marx Brothers fan. So much so, that he wrote Groucho a letter,
begging for a signed portrait. This is where things get odd. It turned out that Groucho, too, had an unlikely
side. He was a wannabee-intellectual, who absolutely
adored TS Eliot. After he sent Eliot his portrait, the two
became fervent pen pals. Then one day, they made the fateful decision
to meet for a dinner date. The dinner was an absolute disaster. Eliot showed up expecting to hear endless
wise crasks, and had prepared his own, awful jokes. Groucho showed up expecting an evening of
polite, brainy conversation, and had prepared his own, awful, literary theory on King Lear. When each man realized what the other was
after, both sank into a deep despair and refused to engage. After that awful evening, they never spoke
to one another again. 6. Arthur Conan Doyle Pushed Houdini Into Skepticism The name Houdini immediately conjures feats
of magic and escapism. In his heyday, though, the magician was nearly
as famous for something else. He liked nothing more than to turn up at a
psychic reading and tell everyone how the trick was done. For this you can thank Arthur Conan Doyle. The creator of arch-rationalist Sherlock Holmes,
Conan Doyle was surprisingly into the supernatural. He believed in ghosts, fairies, and pretty
much everything else paranormal. When he first became friends with Houdini,
this difference of opinion didn’t bother the two men until, that is, Conan Doyle invited
the magician to a séance run by his wife. For whatever reason, Mrs Conan Doyle decided
to try and contact Houdini’s dead mother. Bad move. Houdini could see right through the cheap
tricks she was using, and was deeply insulted. It didn’t help that Conan Doyle’s wife
produced a letter written in English and told Houdini his mother’s ghost had written it
– despite Houdini’s mother knowing nothing about the language. Although Houdini didn’t say anything at
the time, the pair later publically fell out over spiritualism, ending their unlikely friendship. 5. Orson Welles Met Hitler, Didn’t Realize
Who He Was Brecht isn’t the only celebrity who once
had a run-in with Germany’s most notorious dictator. Before the Nazi party took power, a young
Orson Welles was on a school trip to the region when the teacher decided to take his class
to a nearby tavern. It just so happened that the tavern was being
used as a hall for speeches on fascism and racial purity. As you might expect, the Nazis were present. According to his own account, Orson Welles
was ushered in and given a seat. It just so happened that the guy sitting nearest
him was Adolf Hitler. Incredibly, Welles later claimed that sitting
next to a genocidal maniac was deeply boring. Apparently Hitler had so little charm or personality,
that Welles couldn’t remember a single detail about him. It was only when the Nazis rose to global
prominence over a decade later that Welles realized who he’d been sat next to all those
years ago. 4. Proust, Joyce, Stravinsky Meet, All Hate Each
Other You’d be hard-pressed to imagine a more-stellar
gathering than the one that took place in Paris on May 18 1922. Two arts patrons invited the writers Marcel
Proust and James Joyce, and the composer Igor Stravinsky, to all come to a 40-person shindig
together. It should have been one of the greatest meetings
of minds in history. Instead, the three geniuses utterly hated
each other. The trouble began when Joyce rolled in blind
drunk at 11pm, wearing disheveled clothes. He promptly fell asleep with a glass of champagne
in his hands. Meanwhile, Proust cornered Stravinsky and
tried to get him talking about Beethoven, who Stravinsky hated. The two fell out and Proust went and woke
Joyce up to talk to him instead. Almost immediately, they fell out too. Joyce apparently wanted to smoke and talk
about pretty girls, while the homosexual Proust would rather eat truffles and talk about duchesses. They wound up insulting one another’s writing,
then both had to take a cab home together, thinking the entire way about how much they
hated each other. 3. Chaplin and Gandhi Get Awkward Together When he wasn’t busy stealing other men’s
girlfriends, Charlie Chaplin apparently liked to rub shoulders with the great and good. One day, in 1931, he wound up rubbing shoulders
with perhaps the greatest and the goodest of them all: Mahatma Gandhi. The circumstances of the meeting are a little
weird. According to Chaplin, Gandhi’s entourage
invited him over for a meeting while they were in London. But other accounts claim Gandhi had no idea
who Chaplin was and had never heard of his films. However it happened, the two men wound up
sitting in a house in London together, surrounded by the press, at which point things got awkward. Apparently, Chaplin was completely ignorant
of Indian politics and had only a vague idea what Gandhi believed in. The crowd of reporters also overwhelmed both
men and they couldn’t think of anything to say to one another. In the end, they wound up sitting in silence,
before making some awkward, stilted conversation about farm machinery (of all things). On the plus side, apparently Gandhi ended
the meeting by saying Chaplin was “a very charming man.” 2. The Graham Greene/Oscar Wilde Connection English novelist Graham Greene was born in
1904. Oscar Wilde died in 1900. The laws of basic physics would suggest they
never met. That’s certainly true, and we’re not trying
to con you here. But Wilde did once meet Greene’s father,
and the story is so good we thought we’d share it anyway. It was the late 19th century, and Greene’s
father was sharing coffee with another man in Naples. A stranger, who overheard their English, asked
to join them. Greene’s father agreed, and for the next
hour the stranger charmed them both with his fantastic, witty conversation. As the minutes danced by, he ordered more
and more drinks, each of them increasingly expensive. At long last, he got up and gave a flamboyant
goodbye and left. It was at this point Greene’s father and
his companion finally clicked that they’d been talking to an exiled Oscar Wilde. It was also at this point that they realized
he hadn’t left anything for his drinks. The famous playwright had stiffed them for
the bill. Recounting the story in one of his books,
Graham Greene took a kinder view. Referring to Wilde’s sparkling conversation,
he claimed the impoverished writer had been “paying for his drink in the only currency
he had.” 1. JM Barrie’s All-Star Cricket Team You’re probably aware of fantasy football,
where players can create teams composed of history’s greatest players. You may not be aware that its literary equivalent
once really happened. In the early 20th century, Peter Pan author
JM Barrie decided to create a literary cricket team. It comprised some of the biggest stars the
world has ever seen. Known as the Allahakbarries (after the Islamic
cry “Allahu Akhbar” combined with Barrie’s surname), the team was captained by Barrie. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the superstar bowler. Winnie the Pooh creator AA Milne shared batting
duties with Jeeves and Wooster writer PG Wodehouse. Rounding out the team was Three Men in a Boat
author Jerome K Jerome, along with two now-forgotten genre writers who were massive in their day:
AEW Mason and EW Hornung. The rest of the team was filled out with politicians
and local bigwigs, including the government official who tried to crush the Irish Easter
Uprising in 1916. Crazily, the team could have been even bigger. Both Conan Doyle and JM Barrie were acquaintances
of Oscar Wilde, who sadly died before the team was formed. To us, the idea of all these British and Irish
superstars enjoying a jolly game of cricket together of a summer’s evening
is just lovely. Aww.

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