At the height of Shirley Temple's popularity there was a rumor that she was not a child, but a 30-year-old dwarf. The rumor was so prevalent that the Vatican dispatched Father Silvio Massante to investigate whether or not she was actually a child.
2. The rumor that Rod Stewart once had to have his stomach pumped after “ingesting” too much semen was spread by a disgruntled employee after being fired by Stewart. The rumor followed Stewart for decades and he finally dispelled it in his 2012 autobiography.
3. In 2012, rumors began circulating on the Iranian Internet that Pepsi planned to use powerful lasers to shine the image of their logo on the Moon’s surface. Thousands of Iranians climbed onto their roofs to stare at the Moon. When nothing happened, some bought Coca-Cola out of spite.
4. There is a rumor that President Teddy Roosevelt had his family crest "Qui plantavit curabit" tattooed on an undisclosed part of his body.
5. When Shirley Pitts, leader of a shoplifting gang in Britain, died on 1992, English gangsters praised her for "never grassing" while rumors erupted about the fact her £5,000 burial dress had been stolen.
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There is a widespread false rumor that Will Smith turned down a scholarship to MIT. In reality he was quoted saying, "I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college."
7. Procter & Gamble has spent decades and millions to suppress rumors that its executives worship Satan and that their profits support the Church of Satan.
8. In 1991, a false rumor spread that New York-based "Tropical Fantasy" brand soda was bottled by the KKK and contained an ingredient to sterilize black men. Sales of the drink didn't recover until the city's black mayor drank a bottle on TV.
9. After the false rumors that mixing Pop Rocks with soda could cause death, General Foods sent letters to school principals, created open letters to parents, took out advertisements in major publications, and sent the inventor on the road to explain Pop Rocks are not dangerous.
10. In 1987, one of Heineken’s retailers started a rumor that urine was one of Corona’s important ingredients. They did it to stop its growing sales. Corona’s parent company sued for damages and reached a settlement.
A French chef named Bernard Loiseau committed suicide when he heard of rumors of his restaurant being downgraded from a Michelin Guide three-star restaurant to two-stars. This was the basis for the character "Gusteau" in "Ratatouille".
12. Popular American chewing gum brand Bubble Yum once had to mount a PR campaign to combat the rumor that it derived its soft texture from the addition of spider eggs.
13. An entirely unfounded rumor about "flesh-eating bananas" panicked the public to such an extent that the Center for Disease Control had to set up a "banana hotline" as it was inundated with calls from the gullible public worried about killer bananas.
14. There was a rumor that Psy's "Gangnam Style" video was a fulfilling prophecy of the end time, that the world would end when the video amassed a billion views. It hit a billion on December 21, 2012.
15. There was once a rumor that Charles Manson auditioned to be in The Monkees.
Ann Wilson of Heart wrote the song Barracuda after her recording company created a rumor that she and her sister were having an incestuous relationship for publicity. Following a concert, a fan asked how her “lover” was. Enraged, she went directly to her hotel room and began writing the lyrics.
17. In 2009, Former Transport Minister John Baird sent a text that “Thatcher has died.” It started a rumor that the Former British leader had actually passed, when in fact it was his 16-year-old cat named Thatcher.
18. After rumors that Yellow No. 5 lowered sperm count, some people increased their consumption of Mountain Dew as a form of contraception
19. There were rumors going around before elections that Thomas Jefferson would go on to confiscate all the bibles if he were to be elected president in 1800.
20. When Elvis Presley made his 3rd appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, he was only filmed dancing from the waist up because of a rumor that he had been hanging a small soda bottle down his pants "to create the illusion of a large, swinging endowment."
Mr. Rogers never served in the military, despite ongoing rumors that he was a Navy Seal who had 25 confirmed kills during the Vietnam War.
22. A Canadian progressive rock band called Klaatu sounded so similar to the Beatles, that rumors began to speculate that the Fab Four had secretly reunited.
23. Actress Jean Seberg was a victim of COINTELPRO where the FBI created a false rumor that the child Seberg was carrying was not fathered by her husband Romain Gary but by Raymond Hewitt, a member of the Black Panther Party.
24. In 1842, a famous writer named Honore De Balzac tried to publicize his play by starting a rumor that opening night was sold out. The play opened to an empty house.
25. Snapple fell victim to a rumor that the small "K" on their label was either a representation of the Ku Klux Klan or of an imagined "Jewish Tax.” The "K" on the products actually meant that they were certified kosher.
I actually heard the rumor about Rod Stewart while I was growing up in Chicago, as a having his stomach pumped because of a sexual act on many men, I thought he looked gay after I heard the rumor, now I feel kind of stupid.
Re #7: The Amway distributors who started that rumor about P&G got sued and lost badly.
Number 26 regarding Saddam Hussein and the PS2’s…I’ve read that as a “fact” on Fact republic