If you’re a gossip queen (or king) like I am, then this article is for you! People always talk about celebrities and their families, relationships, and careers, but here’s an interesting fact that almost nobody talks about: the fact that many A-list stars have been involved in cults. As shocking as this may be, here’s a list of 23 celebrities who have been involved in some very strange cults, or who are still part of cults to this day.
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#22. Angel Haze
Rapper Angel Haze rose to fame in 2012 after the release of her first EP, titled Reservation. She grew up in Detroit, in a family that followed the Greater Apostolic Faith, a Christian pentecostal organization famous for its super strict rules.
Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia
This movement forbids all its members from using jewelry, listening to music, watching movies, or even dating. Luckily for her, when she was 16 years old, she and her family left the cult. Now she eats and does whatever she wants, and has recently come out as bisexual. I loved that plot twist!
#21. Neil Bush
Neil Bush is possibly the least liked member of the Bush family, and here’s why. He has been one of the greatest financial supporters of a cult known as the Unification Church. This movement believes that Sun Myung Moon – who died in 2014 – was the second Messiah and savior of the world, after Jesus Christ.
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This cult is most famous for its mass weddings, where literally thousands of people marry at once. Neil has donated millions of dollars to many of the Church’s projects and has praised them on the media on numerous occasions.
#20. Emily Schromm
Emily Schromm rose to fame after appearing in many reality shows on MTV, such as Real World and The Challenge. She once revealed that she grew up in a conservative family that was part of an unnamed Christian cult in southern Missouri.
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After leaving the cult, Schromm studied to become a nutritionist and also became a CrossFit trainer (which is kind of like a cult too, isn’t it?). Fortunately, she has left her conservative past behind her and has recently come out as bisexual.
#19. Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield was one of the greatest cultural and fashion icons of the 50s and 60s and had a successful acting career, winning a Golden Globe for her performance in The Girl Can’t Help It. But she was also famous for being friends with Anton LeVey, the leader of the Church of Satan.
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Mansfield joined this cult and took several pictures together with LeVey. To be fair, the Church of Satan wasn’t literally a church that worshiped Satan like in the Netflix series Sabrina. It was actually an anti-Catholic organization that carried out publicity stunts where its members always wore horns. I know, that’s as bizarre as it gets!
#18. Van Kilmer
Van Kilmer is a Hollywood actor most famous for his lead role in the Top Gun franchise and the 1995 Batman film. While most stars on this list joined cults when they were just kids or teenagers, Kilmer is part of a cult to this day.
Photo: Courtesy of Biography
A few years ago, he joined the Christian Science community, a cult that believes – among other things – that diseases are nothing but spiritual maladies that can be healed by praying. Believe it not, Kilmer almost died after developing a tumor and refusing to receive proper medical treatment. However, this wasn’t enough for him to wake up and smell the coffee since he’s still a Christian scientist.
#17. Valeria Lukyanova
Valeria Lukyanova is internationally known as the “Real-life Barbie”. She has undergone numerous surgeries and uses tons of makeup to look like a doll, and her body proportions are really similar to that of a Barbie. But what cult is she in?
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Lukyanova is an instructor at the controversial School of Out-of-Body Travel, which aims to teach students “how to leave their physical body and travel in their spiritual body“. She also practices breatharianism, a ridiculous cult which we’ll develop further in slide #5.
#16. Rose McGowan
Does Rose McGowan ring a bell? You probably know her for her role in the fantasy series Charmed and movies like Scream and Grindhouse. Just like the actors in #6, when Rose was a child she and her family used to be part of a cult known as Children of God.
Photo: Courtesy of The San Diego Union
The cult encouraged its members to have sex with the eldest members and leaders, so thank god the family quickly left the cult. Just a couple of years later, McGowan chose to pursue a career in modeling and acting, which strained her relationship with her parents. Because of this, she emancipated from her family and moved out when she was just 15 years old. Why isn’t there a biopic of her incredible life?
For another star who became part of this very same cult, slide to #12!
#15. Allison Mack
Allison Mack made a name of herself after taking on lead roles on famous TV series such as Smallville and Wilfred. However, she became even more famous in 2018 after being accused of blackmail and forced sexual labor in relation to her marketing organization, NXIVM.
Photo: Courtesy of Hollywood Reporter
NXIVM is a marketing platform that focuses on personal development seminars and it is led by Keith Raniere. This is more of a cult than an organization and its leaders have forced many women into sexual slavery.
#14. The Arquette Family
Without a doubt, talent runs through the Arquette’s veins, as many of their members have gone on to become major A-list Hollywood stars. From David and Rosanna to Patricia, they’ve been rocking the acting world for decades. But I bet you didn’t know the family was a member of a cult-like commune during the 70s.
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The Arquettes lived in a commune known as Skymont Subud, which was located in Virginia. The settlement had a very primitive infrastructure, including no electricity nor running water. Also, all its members had to pay a monthly fee to the “community”, whoever that went to. Luckily, they left the cult before it was too late and moved to Chicago.
#13. Tom Cruise
Actor Tom Cruise became a follower of the Church of Scientology during the mid-90s thanks to his first wife Mimi Rogers and has been an advocate of this movement ever since then. According to the actor, Scientology helped him recover from dyslexia.
Photo: Courtesy of The Daily Beast
The truth is that many people consider Scientology a cult, mainly due to some of the insane things they believe in. In 2004, Cruise came into the spotlight after his controversial claim that psychiatry should be outlawed, something that all Scientologists believe. Can you guess which other famous Hollywood icon was once a follower of this cult? Slide next and find out!
#12. Leah Remini
Leah Remini rose to fame in 1998 thanks to her role in the sitcom King of Queens, and her fame began to rocket ever since then. But way before rising to stardom, at the age of 9, she and her family became followers of Scientology.
Photo: Courtesy of A&E
Although the US government doesn’t consider it a cult, Remini does, and she has revealed many secrets and abusive practices that she witnessed while being a member. In 2016, she starred in the documentary series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which looks into the movement’s beliefs and practices.
#11. Christopher Owens
Christopher Owens is a famous singer and songwriter, best known for his debut album Lysandre and for being the lead singer of the indie band Girls. Just like Rose McGowan, he’s one of the many artists who once found themselves involved in the Children of God cult.
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Owens’ family was part of the cult and they endured a horrible tragedy because of its insane beliefs. Owens’ parents had a younger child who died of pneumonia 10 days after birth because of the cult’s anti-medicine stance. We’re glad that the artist left the cult when he was 16.
#10. Neil Young
Neil Young is one of the greatest rock legends in history, but just like the artist in #3, he was great friends with the infamous cult leader and murderer Charles Manson. In fact, Young was a big fan of Manson’s music and defended him until the last days before the tragic murders.
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In fact, Young helped Manson to make it in the music industry by introducing him to important producers and record companies. He used to spend lots of time in the Manson house and once defined him as a “stone-brilliant” artist. It’s a good thing he eventually came to his senses!
#9. Gloria Swanson
Gloria Swanson was a famous actress and producer and one of the greatest Hollywood icons during the 50s, especially after her lead role in Sunset Boulevard. Back in the 60s, during the peak of her career, she became friends with L. Ron Hubbard. Any clue as to who he is?
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Hubbard was nothing less than the founder of the Church of Scientology. Swanson was one of the cult’s first members, way before Tom Cruise and Leah Remini. Luckily for her, she became disillusioned with the movement and went on to sell nutrition and macrobiotic products.
#8. Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder is an accomplished actress, who you probably know for her performances in Beetlejuice, Little Women, and The Age of Innocence. Before becoming the legend she is today, she spent part of her childhood growing up in the Rainbow Family. Ever heard of this?
Photo: Courtesy of Biography
The Rainbow Family is sort of like an isolated hippie settlement where a bunch of families lives together without electricity and running water, far from the modern world. Ryder would spend most of her time reading and lived there until the age of 10.
#7. Glenn Close
Glenn Close is one of the most talented actresses out there, and her whopping 7 Academy Award nominations prove my point. But years before making a name for herself, when she was just 7 years old, her parents joined a radical right-winged organization called Moral Re-Armament (MRA).
Photo: Courtesy of Golden Globes
Shockingly, Close’s family was part of the cult for 15 years, and the actress herself participated in several of its activities, such as the MRA choir group. She once said in an interview that she didn’t sympathize with the group’s political beliefs at all, but just pretended to believe in what the leaders said.
#6. Joaquin & River Phoenix
Talent runs through the Phoenix brothers’ veins, as both Joaquin and his late younger brother River are among the greatest actors of these past decades. But here’s something you were never told: both them and the rest of their siblings (Rain, Summer, and Liberty) were raised in a cult.
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The cult they grew up in was called Children of God, led by a preacher called David Berge, who was then accused of child sexual abuse. Most members of this cult lived in small isolated communities and those who did have ordinary jobs would be stigmatized as “systemites”. Good thing they developed a common sense with the years and left the cult for good!
#5. Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer is one of the greatest Hollywood stars of these last decades, but she was just an aspiring actress when she first moved to Los Angeles. After moving to LA, she met a couple who introduced her to breatharianism. Can you guess what it’s about?
Photo: Courtesy of The New York Times
Breatharianism is a cult that believes that people can live out of sunlight, which means there’s no need for eating food or drinking water. The craziest part is that she never realized she had actually been part of a cult, at least not until her husband Peter Norton made a film about cults and made her realize the similarities between breatharianism and the movements featured in his movie.
#4. John Lennon
Rock legend John Lennon was not only famous for being part of The Beatles, but also for his spiritual and rather mystic personality. During the 60s, he befriended a man known as Father Yod, who had 14 wives and ran a vegetarian restaurant in LA.
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Father Yod founded a hippie commune in Hollywood known as the Source Family, and Lennon became part of it. In fact, he would often be seen dining at Yod’s restaurant with other A-list stars such as Marlon Brando and Alice Cooper. The cult dissolved after Father Yod passed away in an airplane accident.
#3. Dennis Wilson
Dennis Wilson is one of the members of the legendary rock band The Beach Boys, though he is also famous for having been close friends with the cult leader Charles Manson. In fact, he used to spend his days at the Manson house and write the lyrics to some of his songs with him.
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Also, it was Wilson who introduced Manson to the famous producer Terry Melcher. Manson introduced both of them to many of the most powerful executives within the music industry. Wilson left the Manson Family by 1968 and has publicly expressed his guilt about his association with such an infamous criminal.
#2. Elvis Presley
Popularly known as the King of Rock, Elvis Presley was an iconic singer and actor, and without a doubt one of the most influential cultural figures of the 20th century. His main hits, such as Heartbreak Hotel or Love Me Tender, are still popular to this day. But did you know that the rock legend once joined a group known as The Self-Realization Fellowship?
Photo: Courtesy of Biography.com
By the name, it’s hard to tell whether it was a dangerous and radical group, or simply a group of elder women who gather to read self-help magazines every week or two. Well, it was kind of a bit of both! The cult, created by Paramahansa Yogananda, tries to help people find God. I wonder if Elvis found him or not!
#1. George Harrison
If you thought that the hippiest band member of The Beatles was John Lennon, you were wrong! When he was in his 30s, George Harrison became a devotee of Hare Krishna, a famous Indian cult that thrived during the 60s.
Photo: Courtesy of Ultimate Classic Rock
Harrison underwent this process of religious conversion after the band broke up. But let’s be fair, compared to most cults on this list, this one was pretty harmless: they were just a bunch of people who fought for peace in the world and sought inner spirituality for its members.