Hollywood stars

10 Classic Hollywood Stars Who Have Had Plastic Surgery

Photo credits: 1. Donaldson Collection / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images, 2. Sunset Boulevard / Corbis / Getty Images

Celebrities have had a long and complicated relationship with plastic surgery. Going “under the knife” could launch your career or sink it, but judging by the looks of some of classic Hollywood’s most famous faces, the risk paid off. From facelifts and nose jobs to weird new anti-aging techniques, these Hollywood icons knew exactly what “beauty is pain” means.

Marilyn Monroe

Left: Marilyn Monroe in 1946. (Photo credit: Richard C. Miller / Donaldson Collection / Getty Images), Right: Monroe in 1953. (Photo credit: Frank Povolny / Twentieth Century Fox / Sunset Boulevard / Corbis / Getty Images)

Widely considered one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood history, Marilyn Monroe’s iconic looks didn’t come naturally. In fact, in 2013, the star’s medical records were auctioned off for thousands of dollars. They included details of medical procedures and even x-rays of Monroe’s chin and nose.

According to author Patrick McGrady, Monroe underwent chin surgery around 1949 after hearing people refer to the contracted actress as a “chinless wonder”. Cosmetic surgeon John Pangman performed a cartilage transplant on Marilyn’s chin, and soon after her recovery, the roles started rolling in. Even a director, who was told Monroe fell on her chin, told the actress, years ago.”

Hedy Lamarr

Side-by-side images of Hedy Lamarr in 1942 and 1969

Left: Actress Hedy Lamarr in 1942. (Photo credit: Eric Carpenter/John Kobal Foundation/Hulton Archive/Getty Images), Right: Hedy Lamarr in 1969. (Photo credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images)

Austrian-born actress Hedy Lamarr was not only an accomplished performer, but she also invented several revolutionary devices that contributed to the development of cell phones and the internet. Some of his inventions have even been used by the military. When she wasn’t inventing, Lamarr starred in some of the most successful films of Hollywood’s Golden Age – she was affectionately dubbed the “most beautiful woman in cinema”. Yet this nickname would contribute to a dangerous obsession with aging later in life.

Lamarr struggled to come to terms with her appearance as she grew older, often turning to plastic surgery which ultimately left her unrecognizable. She reportedly used Botox and lip fillers, and underwent rhinoplasty and a facelift.

dean martin

Side-by-side photos of Dean Martin in 1940 and 1960

Left: Dean Martin circa 1940, work before the nose. (Photo credit: Bettmann/Getty Images), right: Dean Martin circa 1960. (Photo credit: Henry Gris/FPG/Getty Images)

Famous singer, actor and legendary member of the Rat Pack, Dean Martin has plastic surgery to thank for his prolific career. The ‘King of Cool’ apparently had his nose done at the age of 27. After the procedure, his career took off and he signed an exclusive contract with MCA for his own radio show, Dean Martin songs.

His good friend and comedian Jerry Lewis supposedly liked to joke about Martin’s “old nose”.

Mary Pickford

Side-by-side images of Mary Pickford in the 1920s and 1953

Left: Silent film star Mary Pickford circa 1920s. (Photo credit: Corbis/Getty Images), Right: Mary Pickford in 1953. (Photo credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

The beautiful Mary Pickford is considered one of Hollywood’s first “America’s Sweethearts”. The silent film star became one of the industry’s most famous actors and began seeking plastic surgery in the 1930s – long after the ‘talkies’ took over. At that time, procedures such as facelifts were still in their infancy, making them a risky option for early Hollywood stars.

Pickford underwent several facelifts throughout his life, which left him with minimal ability to move his face. She could barely smile!

Burt Lancaster

Side by side images of Burt Lancaster in 1953 and 1962

Left: actor Burt Lancaster in 1953. (Photo credit: Bettmann/Getty Images), right: Lancaster in Alcatraz Birdman in 1962. (Photo credit: Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images)

Classic actor Burt Lancaster made his career playing tough characters with a heart of gold, but Lancaster confessed to a co-star while filming the movie 1900 in 1976 that her famous face was due to extensive plastic surgery.

He told director Bernardo Bertolucci that he had surgery on his teeth, face and body, saying “the most real thing on my face is my eyes”.

Rita Hayworth

Side by side images of Rita Hayworth in 1935 and 1947

Left: Actress Rita Hayworth circa 1935. (Photo credit: Bettmann/Getty Images), Right: Hayworth in 1947. (Photo credit: Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Stunning Rita Hayworth, born Margarita Carmen Cansino, underwent a major transformation to ditch her Latin locks by dyeing her hair red and enhancing her hairline using electrolysis. The procedure uses a thin metal probe that delivers a mild electric shock into the hair follicle to permanently remove hair.

The electrolysis lifted Hayworth’s hairline an entire inch, helping to create the signature look that led her to stardom. The treatment was used all over vintage Hollywood – Marilyn Monroe even used it to get rid of her widow’s hairline.

Marlene Dietrich

Side by side images of Marlene Dietrich

Left: German actress Marlene Dietrich, date unknown. (Photo credit: Culture Club / Getty Images), right: Dietrich around 1940. (Photo credit: Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images)

When it comes to celebrity facelifts, Marlene Dietrich pioneered the now famous technique. During filming Kismet in 1944 Dietrich, 43, had her makeup artists twist tiny locks of hair around bobby pins which were pulled tight and pinned to the back of her head, sometimes pulling until she bled . This created a smooth facelift look without the need to go under the knife.

It is also believed that Dietrich had his molars removed to create sharper cheekbones and jawline. We guess you could say she would stop at nothing to achieve a sculpted look!

Joan Crawford

Side-by-side images of Joan Crawford in the 1930s and 1966

Left: Actress Joan Crawford circa 1930. (Photo credit: Imagno/Getty Images), Right: Joan Crawford in 1966. (Photo credit: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Joan Crawford quit working with MGM in 1953 and returned after undergoing a facelift and breast augmentation — but these weren’t her first cosmetic procedures. In fact, her iconic “Joan Crawford lip” was the result of botched dental surgery. According to the book Bette and Joan: The Divine QuarrelCrawford had his back molars removed to give his cheekbones a more defined shape and had his “front teeth filed down to allow the temporary caps to fit over them.”

Joan’s front teeth began to decay from the caps and her gums became infected. When the swelling finally subsided, she was left with a larger and elongated upper lip. Crawford began to line his lower lip to line it up with his upper lip, creating the iconic “Crawford mouth”.

Clark Gable

Side-by-side images of Clark Gable

Left: A young Clark Gable, date unknown. (Photo credit: Bettmann/Getty Images), right: Gable circa 1954. (Photo credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

Around the time his career began to take off, Hollywood heartthrob Clark Gable had his ears surgically “pinned” in 1933 to make them appear smaller. Around the same time, Gable was also suffering from a serious gum disease called periodontitis.

As a result, he had nearly all of his teeth removed and was forced to wear dentures from an early age, which contributed to his horrible breath, as many of Gable’s co-stars have described.

Lana Turner

Side by side pictures of Lana Turner

Left: Actress Lana Turner, date unknown. (Photo credit: Sunset Boulevard / Corbis / Getty Images), Right: Lana Turner in 1981. (Photo credit: Bertrand Laforet / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images)

Some accounts claim that actress Lana Turner showed a photo of herself at 27 to her plastic surgeon, Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, and said, “This is what I want to look like.”

More about us: Here are the “most beautiful” people of the 90s – and what they look like today

Turner rose to fame during the height of Hollywood’s obsession with “glamorous girls.” Her career was marked by great success and beauty which also led to her narcissistic downfall.

Elizabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and historical content writer. After completing her Masters in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada, Elisabeth shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter and volunteer with local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to higher education.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially excited to share her love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

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