By Taylor Leonard,
The stage and screen are soaked in a variety of superstitions. Among them are a series of curses said to plague performers and those associated with celebrity tragedy. Here are the five most famous curses alleged to affect the men and women of show business and those around them:
The Superman Curse
The soaring success of Superman quickly led to the comic book character being adapted for radio, television, and motion pictures during the 20th century. Portraying the Man of Steel on TV during the 1950s was actor George Reeves, who struggled to be taken seriously in any role without a cape and who suddenly committed suicide under mysterious circumstances at the peak of his fame. The actor Christopher Reeve would later rise to stardom playing Superman in a widely successful film franchise of the 1970s and 80s, only to become quadriplegic after a horseriding accident years later which ultimately led to his untimely death. Belief in the socalled Superman curse is so prevalent in Hollywood that many agents claim it’s the reason why no Alist actor has ever agreed to play the part.
James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder “Little Bastard”
The death of actor James Dean ranks among the most infamous of Hollywood’s golden age. A car crash on September 30, 1955 killed the driving 24-year-old Dean instantly, flung his mechanic passenger across the road, and totaled the Porsche 550 Spyder, dubbed “Little Bastard.” An unexplained fire started within the wrecked vehicle as it lay in storage, plus several accidents and one death associated with salvaged parts, have led to claims of a curse being placed on the remains of Little Bastard. Furthermore, the wreck allegedly disappeared during transit one day, only adding to the mystery.
“The Scottish Play”
Shakespeare’s Macbeth marked a turning point in the famed playwright’s repertoire, where themes of the macabre and tragedy took the place of love and comedy. In the centuries since Macbeth was first written, a particular superstition has developed around the play when being produced on stage. Uttering the title within a theater is traditionally forbidden, as doing so is said to cause disaster. Instead, Macbeth is to be referred to as ‘The Scottish Play” referring to its Scottish setting. Additionally, lines from the play can only be spoken during rehearsals or the actual performance, otherwise disaster is assured in some fashion.
The 27 Club
Numerous musicians over the last several decades have died at the young age of 27. Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse are the most notable names belonging to what is known as “the 27 Club,” but membership exceeds 50 musicians in total. The alleged curse is enough to make more than one musical artist start to rethink life choices in their late 20s.
Hollywood is in no short supply of shelved screenplays and postponed productions. However three separate projects which have been in development hell for over 30 years are there, some say, because of a curse. The yet to be filmed movies are an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces, an adaptation of the 1963 novel The Incomparable Atuk, and a biopic of silent film comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. The root of the alleged curse is that the leading roles of these projects were all offered to the same three famed comedians who died before filming could begin: John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley. After Farley’s death in 1997, no actor has been willing to take on any of these three roles.
Curses of the stage and screen rank among the more eerie and mysterious of show business superstitions. They serve as a reminder that fame and fortune are not enough to ward off tragedy and disaster if the writer of life has it written into the script.