Roman Polanski's controversial 1968 film - about a woman who gives birth to the devil after her husband promises it to a sect of Satanists in return of fame and fortune - is also surrounded by mysteriously coincidental, horrifying incidents. A year after Rosemary's Baby's release, Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson Family while she was eight months pregnant with the couple's first child. Also in 1969, producer William Castle was rushed to the hospital with kidney failure and, legend has it, he yelled out, "Rosemary, for God's sake, drop the knife!" while being admitted. Krzysztof Komeda, who scored the movie, happened to be a resident of the same hospital Castle was taken to; he later died of a blood clot, mimicking the death of Rosemary's friend Hutch from the film.
The most infamous possession movie is also afflicted with Hollywood's most infamous curse: four deaths are associated with the trilogy, which was premised around destructive spirits who inhabited a house. The film's young star, Heather O'Rourke, died at only 12 of septic shock, and her onscreen sister, Dominique Dunne, was strangled to death by her distraught boyfriend. Julian Beck, who played an evil spirit, died of cancer, while Will Sampson, who played a good spirit, died after a heart-lung transplant. All the deaths occurred within a six-year period.
While filming the devil-becomes-a-man tale, star Pete Postlethwaite, who plays Father Brennan, was struck by tragedy when his brother reportedly died after drawing three sixes in a card game.
That was only the latest in a long line of incidents that some say are signs of the beast: the original movie was likewise plagued with unexplainable tragedies, including scriptwriter David Seltzer, who was struck by lightning, and star Gregory Peck, who narrowly escaped a plane crash, but wasn't so lucky when it came to his son, who killed himself by way of a single bullet to the head.
The feature starts with the problems plaguing The Exorcist like the long hours, poor work conditions, and 11 grueling months in different countries. What was significant about this film (other than it was a horror film that won Oscars) was that people claimed it was real and caused a commotion. There is actual footage from the release of the film showing people fainting, vomiting, and cursing the film. The insanity surrounding the film lead people to arrive in droves to theaters and cause the studios opening it on more screens. This signaled the change of an era and set the "wide release" pattern for Hollywood. It was the first film to be shown in hundreds on theaters.
Exorcist II: The Heretic was a nightmare in a different sense. Director Friedkin said he would rather jump off a building than shoot this sequel. Writer Blatty sold the option to the script and was quickly picked up by director John Boorman (Deliverance) and stars Blair again. This was a critical and box office failure.
Soon after Blatty wrote another novel called "Legion". The CEO of Morgan Creek, James Robinson, agreed to give Blatty a chance at directing his own feature. This was based on the book Legion and the studio later forced him to add in an exorcism scene, so that they can make this into Exorcist III.
Soon after this, Robinson bought the rights to all the sequels and prequels, which leads us to Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. John Frankenheimer was set to direct, but stepped down just before his death. Paul Schrader took the helm as director, but Robinson decided to shelve the movie because it did not fit in with this "valuable franchise". Renny Harlin was brought on board and gave us the poorly rated Exorcist: The Beginning.
Star Brandon Lee's death paralleled the plot of gloomy '90s goth flick he was working on so closely, it's hard not to chalk it up to the supernatural. Lee died on the set of The Crow after being shot by a gun that was supposed to be filled with banks, while his character was supposed to be shot with a gun he thinks is unloaded. Likewise, in the script, The Crow was killed the night before his wedding; Lee was to marry his fiancée once filming ended on the movie.
The Superman curse refers to a series of misfortunes that have plagued creative people involved in adaptations of Superman in various media, particularly actors who have played the role of Superman on film and television. The curse basically states,
If you intend to play the strongest man on Earth, you will either die or end up in the weakest position possible.
The curse is somewhat well-known in popular culture, largely due to the high-profile hardships of Superman actors George Reeves and Christopher Reeve. Other sources deny the curse, stating that several Superman-related actors, such as Bud Collyer and Teri Hatcher, continued with successful careers after their association with the franchise and that many hardships of "cursed" individuals are common in their respective fields.
Supposed victims of the curse
Siegel & Shuster
Writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster created Superman in the 1930s but their employer DC Comics held the copyright to the character. In 1946, the two sued DC, arguing that they were inadequately compensated for the character. The New York Supreme Court limited their settlement to $60,000 each, a small sum compared to the millions of dollars Superman comic books, films, television series, and merchandise grossed. In 1975, in response to a campaign launched by Siegel and Shuster and joined by many prominent comic book creators, DC agreed to pay the two lifetime pensions of $35,000 a year and give them credit in every adaptation of the character. While Siegel and Shuster were respected in comic book fandom for Superman, neither went on to work on any other high-profile comic books after Superman. Some tellings of the curse state that Siegel and Shuster themselves cursed the character out of anger for the injustice.
The Fleischer Brothers
Brothers Max and Dave Fleischer founded Fleischer Studios, which produced the original Popeye, Betty Boop, and Superman cartoons. Shortly after bringing Superman into animation, the Fleischers began feuding with one another and their studio slumped financially until they were forced to sell to Paramount Pictures, which ousted the Fleischers and rearranged their company as Famous Studios. Although Dave Fleischer went on to a career as a special effects advisor at Universal Studios (which now owns many of Paramount's sound feature films released before 1950), Max died poor at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital.
Kirk Alyn played Superman in two low-budget 1940s serials but failed to find work afterwards, saying that casting directors thought he was too recognized as Superman. He eventually retired to Arizona. He made an uncredited cameo appearance in the 1978 film Superman: The Movie as the father of young Lois Lane, who witnesses young Clark Kent racing the train they are riding on (his wife is portrayed by Noel Neill, also uncredited, who played Lois Lane in the Kirk Alyn Superman movies as well as on The Adventures of Superman from 1953 to 1958). Alyn developed Alzheimer's disease before passing away of related causes and old age in 1999.
George Reeves played Superman in the 1951 film Superman and the Mole Men and the ensuing television series Adventures of Superman. Like Alyn, he was recognized only for the role. On June 16, 1959, days before he was to be married, Reeves was found dead of a gunshot wound at his home with his Luger near him. The death was ruled a suicide but other theories persist.
John F Kennedy
In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy's staff approved of a Superman story in which the hero touts the president's physical fitness initiatives, scheduled to be published with an April 1964 cover date. On November 22, Kennedy was shot and killed but, at the request of successor Lyndon B. Johnson, DC published a reworked version of the story.
Richard Donner was hired to direct Superman: The Movie and Superman II. With the completion of the first film and about 25% of the sequel left to finish, Donner was fired from the project and director Richard Lester was hired to finish and direct Superman II. Around 50% of Donner's film was scrapped and re-shot by Lester, delaying the theatrical release until 1980. In 2006, Donner released Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut on DVD with all of his footage restored and most of Lester's removed.
The notion that Donner was actually "cursed" by his association with Superman is a subject for debate. While his falling out with the Salkinds did lead to a re-working of Superman II, he has since directed all four Lethal Weapon films starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, the big screen adaptation of Maverick starring Gibson in the role once made famous by James Garner, The Goonies, and Scrooged with Bill Murray. Donner also co-wrote issues of the Superman comic book, Action Comics with his former assistant Geoff Johns
* Christopher Reeve played Superman/Clark Kent in the Superman film series, Superman: The Movie (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). The actor was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown from his horse in a cross country riding event on May 27, 1995. Reeve died on October 10, 2004 due to heart failure stemming from his medical condition.
* Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve and co-founder of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation with her late husband, publicly revealed that she was diagnosed with lung cancer on August 9, 2005. She died of the cancer on March 6, 2006 at the age of 45.
* Margot Kidder, who played Superman’s love interest Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve suffered from intense bipolar disorder. In April 1996, she went missing for several days and was found by police in a paranoid, delusional state.
Marlon Brando, who played Superman's biological father Jor-El in Superman (1978) underwent various personal tragedies later in his life:
* In May 1990, Brando's first son, Christian, shot and killed Dag Drollet, 26, the lover of Christian's half-sister Cheyenne Brando, at the family's home above Beverly Hills. Christian, 31, claimed the shooting was accidental. After a heavily publicized trial, Christian was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years in prison. Christian died 18 years later at the age of 49.
* The tragedy was compounded in 1995, when Cheyenne, said to still be depressed over Drollet's death and over losing her child to Drollet's parents, committed suicide by hanging herself. She was only 25 years old.
* Marlon Brando's notoriety, his family's troubled lives, his self-exile from Hollywood, and his obesity attracted considerable attention in his later career. On July 1, 2004, Brando died at the age of 80. The cause of his death was intentionally withheld, with his lawyer citing privacy concerns. It was later revealed that he died of lung failure brought on by pulmonary fibrosis. He had also been suffering from liver cancer, congestive heart failure, and diabetes, which was causing his eyesight to fail.
Lee Quigley, who played the baby Kal-El in the 1978 Superman movie, died in March 1991, at the age of fourteen, after inhaling solvents.
Comedian Richard Pryor, who had previously suffered from a drug addiction that lead to an almost fatal accident, starred as a villain in 1983’s Superman III, but later took Superman's side near the end of the movie and became a hero. Three years later, he announced that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He died of cardiac arrest on December 10, 2005.
On July 2, 1996, on the anniversary of their grandfather's suicide, Superman IV (1987) co-star Mariel Hemingway's older sister, model and actress Margaux was found dead at age 41. She had taken an overdose of sedatives. Though Margaux's death was ruled a suicide, Mariel disputed this finding.
Mark Pillow, who made his acting debut playing Nuclear Man in 1987's Superman IV: The Quest for Peace never went on to star in another movie.
Actors from Superboy
* Both John Haymes Newton and Gerard Christopher, who starred as the title character in the Superboy television series (1988–1992), fell into obscurity after their respective tenures as the character.
* The same case can be made for Stacy Haiduk, who played love interest Lana Lang on the show and Ilan Mitchell-Smith, who played Superboy's college friend Andy McAllister.
* Professional wrestler Lex Luger had a guest role on the show as the "New Superboy". In 2007, he suffered a spinal stroke that initially paralyzed him in a quadriplegic state. He still remains paralyzed, but in a paraplegic state.
Lane Smith, who played Clark Kent and Lois Lane's boss Perry White on the Lois & Clark television series, was diagnosed with the rare Lou Gehrig's Disease in April 2005 and died of the disease on June 13, 2005.
Jeph Loeb, writer of Superman comics and the Smallville TV series lost his son, Sam Loeb, due to cancer.
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