Solved by Snopes: 4 Movie Hoaxes You Probably Believe Are Real

Ben Stegner 07-09-2015

Although most people won’t admit it, pretty much every person has fallen for a hoax at one time or another. The Internet has only accelerated this; from viral hoaxes like the waterproof iPhone 5 Internet Hoaxes That Went Viral and Almost Fooled You This Year There were a few convincing hoaxes knocking about the Internet this year; from waterproof iPhones to Christmas Dinner in a tin. Here are some of the best. Read More to YouTube hoaxes Charge Your iPhone With an Onion, And Other Elaborate YouTube Hoaxes Remember that eHarmony cat lady? Or the pig who rescued a goat? They were both hoaxes; here's a few more. Read More like the eHarmony cat lady, you never know when something you consume online is false.


The Daily Dot offered some ideas on why these hoaxes persist, especially in the age of Facebook. According to them, most Internet users don’t bother to read more than article headlines and don’t understand satirical news Faking It: 8 Of The Best Spoof News Websites Keeping up with the news of the day, whether it be local, national, or international, is important. It's never good to bury your head in the sand, unaware of what is happening around you. However,... Read More , among other problems.

While this lack of critical thinking has given hoaxes staying power over the years, the Internet also gives us the tools we need to figure out the truth. With some help from Snopes, the master source for information about urban legends and rumors How To Debunk Online Rumors & Urban Myths Have you ever seen a post on the Internet and your only reaction was "what? That can’t possibly be true". It’s happened to me lots of times and I’m always sent on a wild goose... Read More , let’s dispel some of the most enjoyable movie-related myths that are still circulating today.

The Wizard of Oz: Munchkin Suicide

The Myth

The Wizard of Oz, released in 1939, is one of the most-loved movies of all time 8 Online Guides To The Best And Worst Movies Of All Time Read More . It also contains one of the biggest rumors in movie history: supposedly, a Munchkin character can be seen hanging from a rope on a tree in the background of a scene. This supposed suicide went unnoticed in the film’s early days, until the advent of VHS and DVD allowed people to watch frame-by-frame and take a closer look. Here’s the scene:

Once thought to be a crew member accidentally stuck on-screen, the legend eventually evolved into its current form: a Munchkin extra, distraught from unrequited love, decided to end his life on the movie’s set.

Why It’s Crap

This is the kind of hoax that seems believable when you get caught up in excitement and view the slow-mo video How to Shoot Slow-Motion Video: 3 Tips to Get You Started Everyone wants to walk away from an explosion in slow motion. Fortunately, with today's phones, it's easier than ever. Read More , but think about it for just a minute. First, filming a movie requires dozens of people at any given time, who would have surely noticed someone who was hanging on the set. Even if it somehow slipped by them, the post-production team would have seen the hanging when they were editing the film. That doesn’t even take into account the fact that the Munchkins weren’t even on the set when this scene was recorded.


Nobody committed suicide on the set of The Wizard of Oz. Even in 1939, it would have been physically impossible for someone to commit that act and not have a single person notice. And if the film staff were “covering it up,” they wouldn’t have been so cheap as to not get another take of the scene. Instead, it was a bird, which can be seen much more clearly in the remastered DVD release of the film:

Three Men and a Baby: Ghost Boy

The Hoax

Three Men and a Baby is a comedy from 1987 that involves three bachelors suddenly having to watch over a baby. As with The Wizard of Oz, a hoax circulated when viewers brought the movie home on tape and could pause and rewind the film as they saw fit.

According to the story, the house used in one scene was home to a boy who had committed suicide with a shotgun (in real life). Out of grief, the family had left the home, and the ghost of the boy now haunted it. If you look closely you can see a shotgun-like outline, followed by an eerie figure of a boy, seemingly backing this up:

What Actually Happened

Of course, this is totally made up. None of the filming took place in homes, as it was all on a set. What looks like a young boy is really a cardboard cut-out of Jack Holden, one of the three men of the title. Since Jack is an actor in the movie, there was originally going to be a story arc which involved him starring in a commercial, but it was scrapped.


The figure was left around and can actually be seen later in the movie — it’s clearly Jack, but looks different in the “ghost” scene because of the angle and curtains obscuring the hands. Once again, there’s a logical explanation for the mystery — something the unsolved conundrums on Wikipedia 6 Unsolved Mysteries Solved On Wikipedia Wikipedia is often mocked for its perceived lack of truth. Because it's an encyclopedia built entirely on the contributions of random people, it has a reputation for not always being accurate and truthful. In some... Read More could use.

The MGM Lion Is a Killer

What You Heard

When it comes to film logos and mascots, surely one of the most recognizable is the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) lion, known for its iconic roar. MGM has produced hundreds of films since the 1920s so you’ve certainly seen this a few times:

The original lion, named Slats, has spawned two big myths: the first goes that the intro was originally supposed to be silent and still, but he instead roared when two burglars came into the warehouse where filming was taking place. The second, and more popular, says that Slats the lion killed his trainer and two assistants the day after the original intro was shot.

The Truth

The first rumor is an outright lie. It was invented by a joke website, and there is nothing to suggest that MGM was filming in a warehouse used by burglars. The second myth is, unsurprisingly, false as well.


Slats never killed anyone involved in his filming, as professional animal trainers were on the scene. All the proof that is required is the life of trainer Volney Phifer, who outlived the lion and actually buried him. He couldn’t have done that if he had been killed, right?

So, the next time you watch a James Bond movie (maybe while wearing your Apple Watch How James Bond Made Me Buy an Apple Watch Bond has always had a thing for watches. Indeed, some of the best gadgets Bond has ever used have been timepieces. Which means he would buy an Apple Watch. As will I. Read More ), rest assured that the lion you see at the start wasn’t responsible for any deaths. Speaking of Bond…

Goldfinger: Painted Murder


1964’s Goldfinger was the first blockbuster James Bond movie (check out the best Bond gadgets ever The Best Bond Gadgets Of All Time James Bonds gadgets are legendary. In this article, we run down some of the most futuristic gadgets from the films, and see how they stand up in the era of the iWatch. Read More ). In it, 007 is out to stop villain Auric Goldfinger’s plot to render the gold in Fort Knox useless. The gold theme again comes into play when Goldfinger’s secretary, Jill Masterson, betrays him to help Bond. To get revenge, he kills her by painting her entire body gold.

In those days, some people believed that the body breathed through the skin, which would mean that someone who was totally covered in paint would suffocate. Knowing this, dancers back then would leave a small patch of their skin exposed so as to make breathing possible. Since this woman was painted for real and people thought that would kill someone, it was enough for viewers to conclude that she had died when she slipped out of public view.


The Real Story

Of course, we now know that people don’t breathe through their skin; so as long as you’re breathing through your mouth or nose, you won’t suffocate. However, body paint could still keep you from sweating (which would overheat your body), and could be toxic if you wear it for too long, so covering yourself in it isn’t the best idea.

Regardless, actress Shirley Eaton had doctors standing by when she wore the paint, and was not affected at all by the scene. After Goldfinger she was in a few more films before retiring, so she lived through the movie just fine. Obviously, the directors wouldn’t have written this into the story if they would have deemed it unsafe for the actress.

Watch for Hoaxes

These are far from the only movie hoaxes to have been successfully debunked by Snopes, but they are some of the most famous. Others include an exaggerated story about a real tornado occurring during a showing of Twister, and the tired lie that the hoverboards from Back to the Future II were real.

There may even be some longstanding things you think about movies that are false after all — do some research and see what really happened! If you’re interested in investigating more falsehoods, check out some modern Instagram hoaxes Stay Secure: 3 Instagram Hoaxes Too Many People Fell For Take a good look at these Instagram hoaxes and make sure you don't fall for the next one! Read More that fooled thousands, or protect yourself by identifying Facebook scams before you fall for them How to Identify a Facebook Scam Before It's Too Late Facebook scams are all the rage, and they can sneak up on you. Here are some warning signs to look out for so you don't get caught in one. Read More .

What are your favorite hoaxes, from movies or otherwise, that turned out to be fakes? Have you heard of any recent myths you’d like to discuss? Give your thoughts below!

Image Credits:hold the pin set by Early Spring via Shutterstock

Related topics: Scams, Video.

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  1. Anonymous
    September 8, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    The video embedded here is the hoax version: somebody altered it to look like a body swinging on a rope. The original is clearly a bird in the background. You can tell that this version has been altered because the tips of the bird's wings can be seen moving on either side of the "Hanging body."

  2. Anonymous
    September 8, 2015 at 1:29 am

    I still don't get the Wizard of Oz clips. They are obviously 2 different pieces of footage. One shows something hanging between two trees (which looks nothing like a bird) and the other shows a moving bird in front of the left tree.

    I don't think someone killed themselves, but obviously something is off.