It’s a thin line between genius and insanity. We know this. We’ve seen it amuse us, in small doses. In larger ones, we’ve watched it destroy careers and steal people we love when they were far too young.
The same brains that produce hilarious comedy, political genius, spin page-turning stories, and lead nations to greatness also see the world a bit differently from your average accountant or plumber. Since these 10 people definitely fall into the former categories, a little crazy is to be expected – but you might not know just how odd some of their quirks were rumored to be.
You’re about to find out, but remember: very few of these are confirmed, so don’t go tossing these around at your next meeting with a history professor unless you want to sit through a lecture on primary sources!
10. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The famous French philosopher tells in his memoir of needing to be spanked in order to get a boner. While that’s not all that insane or weird, the next part is: he liked it so much that people said Rousseau would pull his pants down in public and chase strange women around ass first, asking them to give him a whack.
9. Nikola Tesla
The scientist and inventor reportedly struggled from extreme forms of both obsessive-compulsive disorder and germaphobia. He refused to touch anything with dirt on it, had to bow to the number three with many everyday tasks, and couldn’t make himself touch anything round.
Kind of makes his accomplishments all the more impressive, don’t you think?
8. Ulysses S. Grant
He reportedly never let people see him naked – not even during the war, when he showered separately in his own tent. He supposedly bragged later in life that no one had seen him naked since he was a child. More than a bit of an odd claim, given that Grant was married, and the two had a child together!
7. Lyndon B. Johnson
The President must have taken his last name to heart, because according to several biographies, he liked to show off his penis (which he called ‘Jumbo’) to unsuspecting passersby or urinal-mates.
6. Martin Luther
Guys, he ate spoonfuls of his own poop. SPOONFULS.
I cannot with this fact, which, according to his own poopy mouth, seems to be true. When talking about the practice, he commented that he “couldn’t understand the generosity of a God who freely gave such important and useful remedies.”
5. Charlie Chaplin
In the arena of ‘Not Funny In The Least,’ we have Charlie Chaplin. He was one of the first in Hollywood to make use of the casting couch (in the lewd sense of the word), and – according to film historian Kevin Brownwing – Chaplin would force women to audition silently, then get them to undress using cue cards. He would then fondle them, throw custard pie at them, lick them clean, then force them to have sex with him. If they spoke at any point, they didn’t get the job.
Charlie Chaplin (if any of this is true) was a harasser, molester, and rapist.
4. Benjamin Franklin
He preferred older women to younger ones for various reasons (none of which will earn him any feminism awards any time soon). Let’s let him explain in his own words, shall we?
…in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones…
i. Because as they have more Knowledge of the World and their minds are better stor’d with Observations, their Conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreeable…
3. Because there is no hazard of Children, which irregularly produc’d may be attended with much inconvenience…
5. Because in every Animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part. The Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever. So that cover all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to know an old from a young one…
In case you missed it, that’s Ben Franklin saying that if you cover an old lady from the waist up, she’s just as hot as a young one. He also went on in this letter say that older women are more appreciative of the penis attention.
According to his apprentice Ascanio Condivi, the great master “often slept in his clothes…and boots.” Strange, sure, but I’m going to go ahead and assume he was a visionary in more ways than one, and saw the potential for the zombie apocalypse way back in the day.
2. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson
No matter how you feel about venerating generals of the Confederacy, there’s not much doubt that they remain, to this day, historical figures. And while Stonewall Jackson might be remembered by some for his military tactics and leadership abilities, he also had a very strange habit that, er, sticks out in the minds of some.
He apparently believed (according to the memoir of a friend and contemporary) that one side of his body was heavier than the other, and often walked around with one arm raised to, like, balance his blood flow or something.
Stranger still? He had to have the arm amputated after being shot by friendly fire (he survived, but died of pneumonia soon afterward). The arm isn’t buried with the body, but does have its own headstone? For real.
1. John Quincy Adams
He believed in mole people. At least, I’m assuming that he did (with all his heart, too), because he approved an expedition to the center of an earth that he believed was hollow.
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