Celebrity Stories That Ended Up Being Total Lies

We love when celebrities share parts of themselves with us, whether that comes in the form of details about who they are dating, facts about how they grew up, peeks inside their homes, or something else entirely. We especially love when famous folk share unexpected things, like the struggles they have faced or weird events that have happened in their lives. But while we want to believe every single thing celebs have to say, it has become increasingly clear that many stories are at best, exaggerations, and at worst, total lies.

To compile our list of celebrity falsehoods, we chose to focus on less common lies. This means we opted to steer clear of celebrities caught lying about their age — which everyone from Eminem and Agyness Deyn to Jennifer Lopez has been accused of. Frankly, it is such a common practice that we should ask which celebrities haven't been deceptive about their true birth year. We also steered clear about untruths related to plastic surgery or other enhancements like hair transplant surgery or botox because, again, the list is so long that we just expect it by now. 

Instead, we collected instances of celebrities lying about things that fully shocked us once they got busted. Here are 14 celebrity stories that ended up being total lies.

The White Stripes claimed to be siblings

The White Stripes was an acclaimed rock band that gained fame in the early '00s, after being formed in Detroit in 1997. In their time together, the duo put out six albums and scored three hits on the Billboard Hot 100, which is not an easy thing for an alternative outfit to do. They were also nominated for eight Grammys between 2004 and 2011, half of which they won. In short, they were a huge success. However, things were not as straightforward when it came to the relationship between the band's two members, Jack White and Meg White.

Early on in the band's career, the pair told the world they were siblings, with Jack even referring to Meg as his big sister during live performances, per The Cut. When rumors emerged that the duo had actually once been married, Jack White initially doubled down on the lie. "We're brother and sister. Someone started a rumor about how we used to be married and we played along with it," he insisted to NME in 2001. "That was a bad idea, we get asked this all the time now." But a year later, their 1996 wedding license was published online and the former couple was forced to fess up about their marriage, which had ended in 2000. Three years after having their truth spilled to the public, Jack told Rolling Stone that they lied because they felt people would focus more on the music if they were related rather than lovers.

Lindsay Lohan never saw Whitney Houston's body

Lindsay Lohan seems to have gotten her life back on track, as evidenced by her marriage to Bader Shamass and her much-discussed Netflix holiday movie, "Falling for Christmas." But for years, we have taken much of what the star has told us with a grain of salt. The actor has copped to some of her lies — like when she told Oprah Winfrey she had lied about never using cocaine — but there are still some serious question marks lingering. Like, what was the deal with her list of sexual conquests being leaked? Per E! News, Lohan has admitted she made the 36-name list, but some of the men have denied ever sleeping with her.

In a more straightforward lie that sounded incredibly ridiculous from the outset, Lohan once claimed to have come into contact with Whitney Houston's dead body. She told The Daily Telegraph that she arranged the body bag for the late singer's corpse while doing community service for the Los Angeles Coroner's Office. The lie was quickly debunked by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, which released a statement to E! News. "Ms. Lohan may well have cut and rolled plastic for us (which we use in lieu of body bags), but not specifically for any particular case," they said. Why she made this story up is still a mystery, but not as big of a mystery as that time she tried to kidnap kids she claimed were being trafficked, which remains unexplained as of this writing.

Bow Wow was busted for using a stock photo

Thanks to social media, our culture has started to feel like one big game of show-and-tell. So, we have to laugh when celebrities get called out for promoting fake realities. Like that time Khloe Kardashian lied about baking pies that were actually from a bakery named Sweet Lady Jane. Perhaps our favorite one of these instances is when Bow Wow was caught lying about a flight he took. Even funnier was the fact that it was a regular social media user who exposed him and not a media outlet.

In 2017, Bow Wow (formerly Lil' Bow Wow, if you grew up in the early '00s) posted an Instagram photo of a private plane with a caption that read, "Travel day. NYC press run for Growing Up Hip Hop. Lets gooo. I promise to bring yall the hottest show EVER." Of course, the intended implication was that the rapper was so rich and famous that he flew private — a total falsehood that was debunked by an account called LegendsofCH, which posted a Snapchat photo of Bow Wow flying commercial. "So this guy lil bow wow is on my flight to NY. But on Instagram he posted a picture of a private jet captioned 'Traveling to NY today' smh," they captioned on top of a photo of the star sitting across the aisle. The jet photo was exposed as a stock image, with Bow Wow saying in an appearance on the "Steve TV Show" that he simply liked the picture.

Justin Bieber lied about his laptop being stolen

Justin Bieber has never been the most trustworthy of sources, and we have yet to be shocked when one of his lies has been exposed. He once famously lied about posting a screenshot during the height of his manager, Scooter Braun's feud with Taylor Swift, and once claimed to have gotten a $60 million jet for Christmas, which TMZ debunked. But the lie that we really want to zero in on here is the time that Bieber claimed his laptop was stolen. This happened in 2012, when the "Peaches" star tweeted (via Ok!), "Sucks when u take personal footage and people don't respect your privacy. Yesterday during the show me and my tour manager Josh had some stuff stolen. Really sucks. People should respect other's property."

A Twitter account under the name @gexwy then popped up and started a dialogue with Bieber — a public one, of course — claiming that they were the individual who had taken the goods. Outlets like MTV News quickly suggested that it was all a hoax to create publicity. According to Ok!, someone in Bieber's camp had created the @gexwy account, and the stunt was in promotion of his music video for "Beauty and a Beat." The singer proudly stated that it was all a joke. But confusingly, a rep for the star claimed to E! News that a laptop had in fact been stolen and a police report had been submitted for it. The truth is out there.

Brandy faked being married

Celebrities faking relationships is nothing new, as stars have been pairing up for publicity (or for other reasons, such as hiding one's sexuality) since Hollywood began. But faking a marriage is rarer, especially in contemporary times and especially when the couple is actually an item. In fact, it is more common for couples to hide the fact that they are married like Janet Jackson did for years with her second husband, Rene Elizondo. Singer, Brandy did not hide a marriage, but rather fabricated one and promoted it as a reality. Her lie was only exposed when her supposed husband, Robert Smith, spoke up in interviews after their breakup, per MTV News.

As the former "Moesha" star detailed on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in March 2002, when she revealed she was pregnant with her daughter Sy'rai, she also claimed to have gotten married the previous year. In 2004, Smith told a number of radio stations that this marriage was not real and that the couple lied about it because they wanted to preserve Brandy's family-friendly image. 12 years later, the singer fessed up to Oprah Winfrey in a "Where Are They Now?" episode, tearfully stating, "At that time, being pregnant out of wedlock was not a trend. It was not something that people praised. You know, it was a sin. And I felt that I could not be honest about that. I felt the pressure of ... having to be perfect."

Miley Cyrus said she was married before she was

Let's be clear: This is not a Brandy situation, because Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth were, in fact, married. The issue? Well, Cyrus claimed to be married long before the pair actually tied the knot — a lie that she quickly walked back afterward. The turbulent couple went public with their romance shortly after filming "The Last Song" together in 2009. They broke up a year later, reunited a month after that, and broke up again two months afterward. So, obviously, they decided to get engaged! In May 2012, the pair announced their engagement — but by September 2013, they had called it off.

Before the end of their (first) engagement, Cyrus gave an interview to Cosmopolitan (via HuffPost) in which she referred to Hemsworth as her hubby and said, "I'm so happy I'm married." This was fiercely denied by their reps and proven to be false when they broke up months later, though that was not the end of their rocky love story. Cyrus and Hemsworth got back together in 2016, quickly got engaged again, and miraculously stayed together for a few years. They tied the knot in a secret wedding at the end of 2018, but Hemsworth filed for divorce only eight months after that. As of this writing, they have not gotten back together again — yet.

Kanye West did not get Taylor Swift's approval for lyrics

In case you have been hiding under a rock for the last decade and a half, let us give you a quick recap of the iconic feud between Kanye West and Taylor Swift. It started in 2009 when West rushed the stage after Swift won Video of the Year at the MTV VMAs, proclaiming the award rightfully belonged to Beyoncé. The "Folklore" artist told ABC News that West had called to apologize, but four years later, the rapper suggested his apology was insincere in an interview with The New York Times. Meanwhile, Swift wrote the song "Innocent" about the rapper and by 2015, they were photographed together at an award show. Things went south again when West referenced Swift in the lyrics to the controversial track, "Famous," in which he stated, "I made that b*itch famous."

The rapper claimed to have gotten permission for the lyrics in a phone call, while Swift maintained there was a call but denied she was told about the verbiage. Then Kim Kardashian piped in, stating to GQ, "She totally knew that that was coming out. She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn't." When the singer's rep maintained Swift's side of the story, Kardashian released secretly recorded footage of the call appearing to show Swift caught in a lie. The "Midnights" hitmaker was vindicated in 2020 when the full recording of the call was released, proving she was the truthful one. 

Brian Williams had a habit of embellishing stories

For years, the world only knew Brian Williams as a trusted journalist, most notably through his affiliation with NBC and his gigs as an anchor on NBC News and NBC Nightly News. But in 2015, we all came to question him regarding his story that a helicopter he was in had been shot down by enemy fire during the Iraq war in 2003.

When Williams' story was debunked, he told Stars and Stripes (via Politico) that he'd told the story in error — presumably repeatedly — and that it had been a helicopter ahead of his own which had actually been shot down. "I don't know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another," he stated. Soon after, many media outlets then quickly uncovered he had embellished — or flat-out lied — in multiple other instances.

According to The New York Times, an NBC internal probe found at least six more instances of exaggerated or false stories. For instance, Williams once told "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart that he was so close to the men beating humans at a Tahrir Square riot in 2011 that he made eye contact with one of them. However, an investigation proved he was actually witnessing the protests from a balcony and wasn't on the ground at all. Williams was suspended for six months. Six years later, he left NBC. At the time, he had been an anchor on MSNBC and on "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams."

Jussie Smollett staged a hate crime

Of all the instances on our list, this one is the most notorious — and the only one to end with a jail sentence! Jussie Smollett was at the height of his fame as Jamal Lyon on "Empire" when it was reported he had been a victim of a racist, homophobic attack in Chicago, in January 2019. Initially, people were extremely sympathetic, but things soon took a turn when the police detained persons of interest the next month. On February 17, the Chicago Police Department released a statement on Twitter that developments in the case required them to change the course of the investigation. The two men they detained were revealed to have connections to Smollett, and they were not White, as he had claimed in interviews.

The next day, the star was charged with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. CBS Chicago's Charlie De Mar reported that Smollett told the two original suspects what to purchase, including ski masks. Smollett was arrested on February 21, with police suggesting the hoax was conducted because he was unhappy with his "Empire" salary. Though he was cleared of all charges in March 2019, six new charges were filed against him the following year. In December 2021, Smollett was found guilty on five of the six charges for felony disorderly conduct, and three months later, he was sentenced to 150 days in jail, 30 months of probation, and fines of $145,000, per CNN.

Steve Rannazzisi lied about surviving September 11

The vast majority of people who were alive on September 11, 2001, remember exactly where they were when the devastating terrorist attacks happened. Decades later, the date remains a sacred day for many Americans and one that is filled with much sadness and reflection. So, the idea of lying about being on the scene as the Twin Towers were hit is almost inconceivable. We say almost because, well, people have done it — which means it is sadly within the realm of believability. One person who lied about surviving the attack is comedian Steve Rannazzisi, who appeared on the FX series "The League" and then killed his career with this gross mistruth.

In a 2009 appearance on the podcast, "WTF with Marc Maron," Rannazzisi told the host he was working at Merrill Lynch at the time of the attacks (first lie) and that he was evacuated from his office when the first tower was hit (second lie). In 2015, Rannazzisi admitted to The New York Times that he had never been employed by Merrill Lynch — In fact, the company did not actually have offices in either of the Twin Towers, so it was not even a well-researched lie. The comedian was actually working in Midtown on September 11. "I know that I hurt a lot of people — people that lost people, people that helped people survive," Rannazzisi stated on a 2015 episode of "The Howard Stern Show." "And those are the people that I truly am sorry [to]. I feel awful."

Hilaria Baldwin claimed to be Spanish

Hilaria Baldwin is not the first celebrity to mislead the public about her cultural roots, but her lie was not so much of a one-time comment as an ongoing, in-your-face pattern. After becoming famous when she married actor, Alec Baldwin in 2012, she established herself as a lifestyle guru focused on yoga, health, and parenting. A big part of her story was that she was of Spanish heritage — and she was even featured on lists of Latina stars, which she then retweeted to her followers. According to Insider, Hilaria even claimed to have been born in Mallorca, Spain, including on her official talent agency profile for CAA, despite having been born in Boston.

In 2020, people started to bust holes in the various stories she had told, including one that suggested she moved to the United States from Spain at age 19 to go to NYU. Per Page Six, Hilaria went to school in Weston, Massachusetts, and her parents only moved to Mallorca when she was 27 — which was damning given the video footage of her faking a Spanish accent on numerous occasions. That includes one heavily rotated clip from "Today" where Hilaria pretended to forget the word for cucumber. A month later, she posted a lengthy apology on Instagram, writing, "The way I've spoken about myself and my deep connection to two cultures [American and Spanish] could have been better explained  — I should have been more clear and I'm sorry."

Ryan Lochte's robbery story was fake

During the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ryan Lochte found himself caught up in a big scandal when he and three other Olympians claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint after armed men with badges stopped their taxi. "They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like, 'We didn't do anything wrong, so — I'm not getting down on the ground,'" Lochte told NBC News. "And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead, and he said, 'Get down,' and I put my hands up. I was like, 'Whatever.'"

Brazilian authorities were immediately skeptical of the story, which was no doubt enhanced because the athletes in question did not make themselves available to meet with authorities, per The Washington Post. While Lochte had returned to the United States by the time his story was confirmed to be falsified, authorities in Brazil tracked down the athletes who still remained in the country. Based upon security footage and witness testimony, the police uncovered that Lochte and his fellow swim pals had actually committed vandalism before being approached by an armed security guard. While he did not rob them or point a gun to their heads, they did pay him for damages. Lochte was charged for filing a false report, but the charges were dropped in 2021, per USA Today.

Diana Ross lied about her first child's father

Diana Ross has five children — daughters Rhonda Ross Kendrick, Chudney Ross, and Tracee Ellis Ross, and sons Evan Ross, and Ross Naess. The boys were fathered by Ross's second husband, Arne Naess Jr., and are the youngest of her kids. Her daughters were all presumed to have been the kids of her first husband, Robert Ellis Silberstein, which was the party line for a long time. But while Silberstein is the biological father of Chudney and Tracee, Rhonda was revealed to be someone else's kid. So, who is her actual father? None other than the legendary Berry Gordy, who signed The Supremes in 1961.

Ross was already pregnant when she married Silberstein in 1971, and though he knew about the pregnancy (and many suspected the child was Gordy's), they kept it all under wraps for well over a decade. "The bottom line was, I looked just like [Gordy], and my sisters looked just like their father, a 6-foot-tall Jewish American man," Ross Kendrick told the New York Post in 2015. Despite that, Ross Kendrick did not learn that the man she called uncle was actually her father until she was nearly in her teens. It is unclear exactly when the secret became confirmed publicly, but Ross Kendrick's true parentage is now a widely reported fact.

Princess Beatrice may have cut Ed Sheeran's face

It is a little bit tricky to know for certain who is lying with this entry on our list. But clearly, somebody is bending the truth and if we had to put our money on it, we would say it is James Blunt. The British singer-songwriter is not even the main character in the lie, which has to do with a royal, a pop star, and a sword — which sounds like the start of a really great joke. The story broke in 2016 when The Sun published a report that Princess Beatrice had cut Ed Sheeran's face with the weapon after a dinner party mishap. She had reportedly been trying to fake-knight Blunt at the time, and an accompanying photo of Sheeran with a gash on his face seemingly confirmed the tale.

In March 2017, Blunt did an interview with Shortlist where he claimed the story was actually untrue. "Ed was drunk, messing around, and he cut himself. We made a fancy story up; people fell for it. It was very embarrassing," he said. But years after the "You're Beautiful" singer had convinced everyone that the British tabloid was wrong, Sheeran's manager, Stuart Camp implied that Blunt was lying to protect the Royal Family from embarrassment. He told the podcast, "Straight Up," that he and Sheeran had chosen not to publicly comment on the incident rather than lie about it. "I'm not lying because someone's a f***ing idiot and they've been waving a sword around when [they're] all drunk," he insisted.