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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

8 Celebrities with Strange Superstitions

Most of us have an irrational fear or habit. Famous folks often seem to go one step further.

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Lucille BallEllen Weinstein for Reader's Digest

Lucille Ball

On the day that three-year-old Lucille Ball’s father died, a bird flew into her home and became trapped. Traumatized by the events, she developed a lifelong avian aversion. The actor (1911–1989) even refused to stay in hotels that had pictures of birds on the walls. Check out the bizarre origins of everyday superstitions.

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Gustav MahlerEllen Weinstein for Reader's Digest

Gustav Mahler

Composer Gustav Mahler (1860–1911) thought he could cheat death by not naming his ninth symphony by number. This was because several composers, including Beethoven and Schubert, had died after completing their ninth symphonies. So Mahler called his ninth The Song of the Earth—and it worked, in a sense. He lived long enough to write most of his tenth symphony, though he died before it was performed.

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Michael JordanEllen Weinstein for Reader's Digest

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan (1963– ) reportedly began the trendsetting change from mid-thigh basketball shorts to longer ones as a way of covering up a pair of University of North Carolina shorts, which he wore for good luck under his Chicago Bulls uniform. Find out the history behind 5 common superstitions. 

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Charles DickensEllen Weinstein for Reader's Digest

Charles Dickens

Author Charles Dickens (1812–1870) carried a navigational compass with him at all times and always faced north when he slept. He believed it improved his creativity and writing. This is the scientific reason people believe in superstitions

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John WayneEllen Weinstein for Reader's Digest

John Wayne

Although John Wayne (1907–1979) often wore a hat on his head in his films, his temper would flare if anyone left a hat on top of a bed. According to his daughter, Wayne was deeply superstitious and subscribed to the not-uncommon fear that a hat on a bed­ was a harbinger of bad luck.

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Diane Von FurstenbergEllen Weinstein for Reader's Digest

Diane von Furstenberg

Fashion designer and icon Diane von Furstenberg (1946– ) tapes a gold 20-franc coin in her shoe for good luck before every runway show. Her father hid the coin in his shoe during World War II and gave it to her when she was a girl.

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John SteinbeckEllen Weinstein for Reader's Digest

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck (1902–1968) wrote the first drafts of The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, and most every other one of his books the same way—by hand and in pencil. And he was very particular about his pencils, requiring perfectly sharpened Blackwing 602s. Here are the real meanings behind common omens and urban legends

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Benjamin FranklinEllen Weinstein for Reader's Digest

Benjamin Franklin

Author, inventor, diplomat, and scientist Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) swore by air baths. Before he started his workday, Franklin would sit without any clothes on for up to an hour in front of an open window on the first floor of his building. He wrote that the shock of cold water was too violent for him and it was more agreeable for him to bathe in cold air. Franklin would either read or write during his “bath.” Check out these surprising things you didn’t know were considered bad luck

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recipes for good luck bookvia

Recipes for Good Luck: The Superstitions, Rituals, and Practices of Extraordinary People

For more quirky recipes for success buy your own copy of Ellen Weinstein’s book, Recipes for Good Luck: The Superstitions, Rituals, and Practices of Extraordinary People.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest