Old Hollywood Diets: The Good, The Bad, And The Bizarre
There’s no shortage of strange diets, and classic Hollywood is all the proof you need. From Marilyn Monroe’s wacky breakfast recipe to Jean Harlow’s strict “tomato” diet plan, it’s no secret that starlets tried all sorts of odd tricks to slim down. Of course, not all eating plans from the Golden Age were that strange (Sophia Loren’s diet sounds delightful!), but it’s still fascinating to take a look back at what filled our favorite stars’ plates. Some are more surprising than others!
Scroll down to learn about some of the strangest old Hollywood celebrity diets — and see which stars didn’t follow much of a “diet” at all.
Marilyn Monroe Diet
The legendary starlet admitted that many folks found her eating habits “bizarre” in a circa 1952 interview with the now-defunct Pageant magazine. A snapshot: Marilyn Monroe’s breakfast recipe included two raw eggs whipped in hot milk. Meanwhile, her go-to dinners consisted of either steak, lamb chops, or liver with just four or five raw carrots on the side. The one indulgence she'd allow herself? A hot fudge sundae after her evening drama classes.
Audrey Hepburn Diet
Robert Wolders, who was Audrey's partner from 1980 until her death in 1993, described the classic starlet's daily diet in a People interview: "We had brown bread with jam for breakfast, lunch would be chicken or veal or pasta, often with vegetables from the garden, and for dinner we often had soup with chicken and vegetables. She had chocolate after dinner, baking chocolate. She had a finger or two of Scotch at night." Her youngest son, Luca Dotti, revealed in an interview with Yahoo! Lifestyle that Audrey also did a "detox day" about once per month, consisting of fruits, veggies, yogurt, and tons of water.
Elizabeth Taylor Diet
The actress's weight famously fluctuated throughout the years, and so did her diet. According to TODAY, Elizabeth Taylor's daily diet in her younger years consisted of bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, a peanut butter and bacon sandwich for lunch, and fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cornbread, green peas, and even more side dishes for dinner.
Her indulgent habits eventually caught up with her, and before long she weighed over 180 pounds, according to CR Fashion Book. But by the late 1980s, she figured out how to lose weight by going on a diet that she personally created, which she would later translate to a book, Elizabeth Takes Off. The book is currently out-of-print, but reportedly contained some useful advice (lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein) along with some super strange "recipes." (Cottage cheese mixed with sour cream, anyone? Or how about steak with peanut butter?)
Sophia Loren Diet
Sophia Loren once famously said, "Everything you see I owe to spaghetti." But obviously, that wasn't the only food the screen siren enjoyed. According to Elle Australia, she's been known to endorse the Mediterranean diet, an eating plan that emphasizes plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, whole grains, and olive oil.
Since she grew up poor, it didn't take her long to develop a deep appreciation for high-quality food after making it big in Hollywood. In fact, Sophia Loren even wrote a couple cookbooks full of Italian-inspired recipes, like a Tuscan bean soup, Sicilian-style fish, and, yes, plenty of pasta, such as lemon spaghetti.
Mae West Diet
While other Hollywood stars were trying to slim down for roles, Mae West spoke candidly with the San Jose News about “fattening up” for her parts by enjoying creamed chicken on buttered toast, lobster Newburg, and chocolate cream cake. Her secret to achieving an hourglass figure with this indulgent diet? Custom corsets! She said, “What can be accomplished by the feminine figure, once it’s nipped here and there, and allowed free rein elsewhere — you’d be surprised!”
Katharine Hepburn Diet
In an interview with Observer, the legendary actress revealed that she was no health nut when it came to food. She said, "I deny myself nothing. I think what you should eat is perfectly obvious. I just don’t care to eat those things, so I don’t. We live in an era of making a great deal out of very little. They make a big deal out of diets. I’ve never been on a diet in my life." However, it's worth noting that Katharine followed quite a rigorous exercise regimen, so perhaps that's why she was able to enjoy all of her favorite foods as she pleased — especially brownies.
Jean Harlow Diet
To slim down ahead of movie roles, Jean Harlow would put herself on a stringent diet, according to The Telegraph. This plan consisted of just two tomatoes and some form of grilled meat for lunch and dinner, and black coffee and orange juice for breakfast. The only other items she'd add would be the occasional hard-boiled egg or odd handful of spinach. Today, many people compare this plan to a "before-its-time" version of the Atkins diet, which famously encourages dieters to avoid bread and wheat products and emphasize protein.
Greta Garbo Diet
The screen siren had a reputation for being aloof and notoriously private. But she did find a friend in nutritionist Gayelord Hauser. According to The Cut, it didn't take long for Garbo, a fad-diet aficionado, long to follow the suggestions Hauser had to offer. Much of Hauser's philosophy was based on fueling one's body with "wonder foods" to live longer, including Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, and molasses.
The recipes Hauser offers can only be described as bizarre — who on earth would want to eat a "celery loaf," even if it was as healthy as he claimed? However, it's also been said that Garbo enjoyed snacking on dried apricots, which sounds downright delightful in comparison to a celery loaf if you ask us.