Everyone has a strange quirk or an eccentric tendency that they just can’t shake. Sometimes it’s something like collecting strange objects or it could be a lot more serious or even downright dangerous. In some cases, it stems from mental issues like obsessive-compulsive disorder or it could be something as simple as a person just really likes doing something.
In many cases, an eccentric behavior is looked down upon but something curious happens when it’s revealed that someone rich or famous is said to exhibit it. Time and time again throughout history we’ve seen that there’s a bit more leeway for them to have some odd pursuits. The more money or notoriety they have, the more their eccentric quirk seems to be brushed off if not just accepted as part of who they are. And it tends to be weirder.
While everyone can have a weird side, only those who are rich or famous (or both) really have the time and money to pursue their passions. From strange collections to hiding little people under dinner tables to stealing world leaders’ feces, here are 15 eccentric behaviors of the rich and/or famous.
15. Charles Dickens – Always Slept Facing North
Charles Dickens was already an eccentric person as he suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He would comb his hair several hundred times per day, for example, and rearrange the furniture in any room he was in. But it was his obsession with facing north that lands him on this list. When he slept, he slept facing north with his arms spread out at equal lengths to the edges of the bed. He believed facing north when he wrote made a better writer and took it to such extremes that he carried a compass along with him whenever he traveled so he could always face the right way.
14. Tycho Brahe – Kept A Dwarf Under His Table
Tycho Brahe was a world renowned Danish astronomer and nobleman who lived in the 16th century. He was known for his precise astronomical measurements as well as his comprehensive planetary observations. In fact, his observations were so accurate that they were five times more precise than the best available observations of the era. Oh, and he also employed a little person named Jepp as a court jester. He would often keep Jepp under his table when he threw dinner parties for social gatherings. Brahe believed that the dwarf could predict the future and read people’s minds and took everything Jepp said extremely seriously.
13. King Brothers – Lived In Poverty Despite Having $6 Million In Land
What would you do if you had $6 million? If your answer is live out your entire life on a ranch in a log cabin without access to indoor plumbing and electricity — then your name must be either Maurice or Harold King. The King brothers moved onto a 5,000 acre Alberta ranch in 1925 with only $5 to their names. By the time of their death in the mid-1990s their property was worth a cool $6 million. Despite that, Harold and Maurice never cashed out and lived in near poverty for their entire lives passing away at the ages of 96 and 98, respectively, in 1995 and 1996.
12. Ingvar Kamprad – Lives Super Cheap
The King Brothers were millionaires but Ingvar Kamprad is the multi-billionaire who built Ikea. While not living as close to the poverty line as Maurice and Harold, Ingvar is still extremely frugal. He waits until after Christmas to buy wrapping paper because it’s on sale, drives a 1993 Volvo (when he isn’t using public transportation), and he steals salt and pepper packets from restaurants. Another key to his frugality is that he buys cheap furniture from, you guessed it, Ikea that he puts together himself. You do have to wonder if he has the same problems figuring out the instructions to building the furniture as everyone else does.
11. Graham Pendrill – Moved To Kenya And Joined A Tribe
Frugal millionaires and billionaires are one thing but Graham Pendrill has taken it to the next level. The United Kingdom native visited Kenya where he helped the Masai Mara tribe to solve potentially violent inter-tribal issues. For his service he was inducted as an elder of the tribe and was the first white person to do so. The official ceremony had him drink bull’s urine where he was given a tribal name Siparo which means “Brave One.” He quickly donated all of his money to charity, sold his 12-bedroom mansion, and moved to Kenya to live in a mud hut with the tribe.
10. Nikola Tesla – Was In Love With A Pigeon
Nicola Tesla was probably one of the greatest inventors and scientists the world has ever known. His inventions and discoveries led to the radio, robotics, radar, home electricity, and pretty much everything else you have at home. However, he had so many eccentric behaviors that it’s hard to even know where to start. He was obsessed with the number three, hated pearls, and he liked to walk around the block three times before entering a building. He was also in love with a pigeon. He described it as the same way “a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.” Yes, those were his exact words.
9. Howard Hughes – Became A Total Recluse
It’s impossible to have a list like this one without bringing up Howard Hughes. When you think of someone who is eccentric and rich, Hughes should be the first face to pop up in your head. The millionaire used his wealth to produce blockbuster films and he pioneered new aviation technologies. But his strange habits turned full blown after he crashed his experimental Hughes XF-11. After the accident, he became a recluse. He would spend months in a blacked out screening room eating nothing but chocolate bars, milk, and chicken. He didn’t bathe and he urinated in bottles. When he passed away, he was in such bad shape that they needed to use his fingerprints to identify the body.
8. Tom Hanks – Collects Vintage Typewriters
A lot of eccentric behaviors come down to obsessing over strange things. Tom Hanks is no stranger to understanding that as he is a huge collector of vintage typewriters. You know, those things that are completely obsolete in the age of the personal computer. The actor/producer owns around 300 typewriters and types on one every single day. The reason all comes down to the sound when he explained that “everything you type on a typewriter sounds grand.” He even created an app for the iPad called the Hanx Writer which mimics the sound of a typewriter on the tablet.
7. Rosie O’Donnell – Collects Happy Meal Toys
Tom Hanks’ collection is probably worth quite a bit and a lot of celebrities collect expensive things. Demi Moore collects porcelain dolls and Angelina Jolie collects antique knives, for example, but Rosie O’Donnell sticks to something a bit more affordable: McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. She started her collection in the most obvious way you can imagine, by buying Happy Meals at McDonald’s in order to get at the toys. She now owns thousands of them and the reason she collects them is pretty straight forward, they remind her of her childhood.
6. Jemmy Hirst – Where Do We Even Begin?
While every other famous person on this list is famous with eccentric behaviors, Jemmy Hirst became famous BECAUSE of his eccentric behavior. The 18th century Englishman’s fame grew to the point that it captured King George III’s interest so Hirst was invited to London for tea with the monarch. Jemmy declined the offer because he was training an otter to fish at the time. He also trained his bull named Jupiter to act as a horse which he rode during fox hunts and trained pigs as his hunt dogs. He would also invite the poor to dine at his home by blowing a hunting horn. The food was served out of his favorite coffin. When he passed away in 1829 he requested that a bagpiper and fiddler play happy music as 12 old maids followed his coffin to the grave.
5. Oscar Wilde – Walked A Lobster On A Leash
If you’re looking for someone who has embraced his eccentricities, then you need not look any further than Oscar Wilde. The literary giant rejected the dour restraints of Victorian England and wore flamboyant clothing which flew in the face of the moral conservatism of the time. His room at Oxford University was decorated in brightly colored blue china, peacock feathers, and sunflowers. But his most eccentric behavior was walking an animal on a leash through the University grounds. While at first, that doesn’t sound too bizarre, it should be noted that the animal he was walking was in fact a lobster on a leash.
4. Lord Byron – Had A Pet Bear
What is it with English literary icons and strange pets? Lord Byron is considered one of the finest English poets. He was also a Greek national hero when he joined the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s and fought off the Ottoman Empire. He was an animal lover and while at Cambridge he wanted to keep a dog in his room but was forbidden by the university’s rules. Fortunately, the rules were specific to dogs so instead he kept a bear in his room. He even took the bear on walks through the campus scaring the bejesus out of the other students and suggested that he might apply for a college fellowship for the bear.
3. Francis Egerton – Only Wore A Pair Of Shoes Once
Francis Egerton inherited a fortune when he became the 8th Earl of Bridgewater in 1823. He threw large dinner parties where the guests would have to be dressed in the most chic fashion of the times. Oh, and all of the guests were dogs. Throwing these unusual dinner parties wasn’t the only strange behavior Egerton displayed, he also had a funny way keeping track of what day it was. He would only wear a pair of shoes once and afterward he would line them up in rows so that he could count the days that have passed.
2. Gunther IV – The Richest Dog In The World
Gunther IV inherited his fortune of $106 million from his father Gunther III and is now worth more than $375 million. He purchased a $7.5 million Miami Beach mansion from Madonna and won a rare $1,500 white truffle in an auction. All of this doesn’t sound eccentric until you realize that Gunther IV is a dog. Gunther III received an inheritance from a German countess Karlotta Libenstein who left her entire estate to her pet. When he died the fortune was then passed on to the dog’s offspring, making him the richest dog in the world.
1. Joseph Stalin – Was Obsessed With Stool
Joseph Stalin was the leader of the former Soviet Union and a huge believer in the occult. As strange as that may be, he was also obsessed with understanding a person’s character by examining their stool. When Mao visited Moscow in 1949, Stalin had the Chairman’s toilets disconnected from the sewers and reconnected to secret boxes which were then whisked away to a secret laboratory for analysis. He literally stole Mao’s poop. It was believed that the lack of potassium in the stool was a sign of nervous disposition or that high levels of amino acid met a person was calm and approachable.
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