This article contains mentions of child sexual abuse and sexual harassment
Sharon Stone’s Hollywood career has spanned decades, ranging from memorable roles in the erotic thriller Basic Instinct to her Oscar-nominated turn in the Martin Scorsese-directed Casino. Along the way, she’s suffered heartbreak, personal tragedy and health struggles, which she candidly chronicled in her 2021 memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice.
Stone’s book isn’t a typical Hollywood memoir, coasting on talk show-ready anecdotes and behind-the-scenes gossip. More than anything, in fact, the book offers her uniquely personal account of both the triumphs and hardships that have made her who she is. As a review in The Times put it, Stone pulls no punches in offering readers a raw and unvarnished account of the story of her life. The result is a book that is ultimately “about survival, about the nerve-holding clarity that comes with age and after a terrifying near-death experience.”
Even before the book came out, excerpts had already started making headlines, ranging from a stunning allegation about what is, arguably, her most iconic/notorious onscreen moment to admissions about some health crises that were far more dire than fans realized. Keep on reading to find out more about the most shocking revelations from Sharon Stone’s book.
Sharon Stone and her sister were abused by their grandfather
Sharon Stone didn’t have to progress too far in the story of her life before recounting trauma in her memoir The Beauty of Living Twice. According to an account in the Daily Mail, Stone wrote about how her grandmother locked her and her sister, Kelly, both toddlers at the time, in a room with their grandfather — who then proceeded to molest them.
Looking back after the passage of decades, she wrote, “About halfway through this it dawned on me that it must have been hell for my grandfather to be a pedophile. I mean, who would get in that line? It occurred to me that anyone would jump in the give-me-terminal-cancer line before that line.”
In that excerpt published in the Mail, she wrote of attending her grandfather’s funeral when she was 14, realizing his death meant she no longer had to fear him; their abuser was finally gone. “I poked him, and the bizarre satisfaction that he was at last dead hit me like a ton of ice,” she wrote. “I looked at [Kelly] and she understood; she was 11, and it was over.”
If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services at www.childhelp.org/hotline.
She was almost decapitated by a clothesline at age 14
In addition to the death of her grandfather, Sharon Stone wrote in her memoir about another memorable incident that took place when she was 14. At the time, she wrote, she was “breaking a wild horse” while her mother was hanging damp laundry to dry on a clothesline. Suddenly, she recalled, the spirited horse began galloping and rearing, “snorting and spinning” as Stone lost control of the animal.
“I didn’t realize we were heading for the wet sheets on the line until the line hit my neck and my feet slid through the stirrups,” she wrote. Her mother was miraculously able to stop the horse, using what Stone described as “some kind of dynamic maternal strength,” and free Stone from the stirrups. After walking inside the house and looking in a mirror, she realized her “neck was hanging open, wet and ripped from one ear to the other,” she wrote. “There was plasma rolling down the front of my shirt. It was a gigantic f**ked-up mess of drastic proportions.”
When her parents took her to a hospital, the doctor “turned white” when he saw the “14 inches of meaty, torn-up kid neck” he stitched together. The resultant scar required “several attempts at plastic surgery on my neck over the years.”
A secret abortion left Sharon Stone in dire straits
When Sharon Stone was 18, she became sexually active for the first time while involved in her first serious romance. Unfortunately, the sexual education she’d received growing up had been minimal, and she knew next to nothing about birth control. That came home to roost when she discovered she was pregnant.
As she wrote in The Beauty of Living Twice, via an excerpt in Vulture, her boyfriend drove her across state lines, to an Ohio clinic to have an abortion. When she returned home, however, it didn’t take her long to realize something wasn’t right. “I was bleeding all over the place and far worse than I should have been, but this was a secret and I had no one to tell,” she explained. “So I stayed in my room and bled for days. I was weak and scared and then just weak.”
Once the bleeding had stopped and she began to feel better, she took her blood-stained clothing and sheets and burned them in a barrel. When Planned Parenthood opened a clinic near where she was living, she added, it “saved me: that someone, anyone, could talk to me, educate me. No one ever had, about anything.”
The shocking remark that kickstarted Sharon Stone's modeling career
After seeing Ford Models cofounder Eileen Ford on a TV talk show, Sharon Stone and her mother decided to take a bus to the company’s New Jersey headquarters in hopes of landing her a modeling contract with a legitimate agency.
They wound up meeting with Ford herself, wrote Stone in an excerpt from The Beauty of Living Twice that was shared by Insider. That meeting took an odd turn, Stone recalled, when Ford told the wannabe young model that “she would like to throw me down the flight of stairs I had just come up and bounce the fat off of my a**.”
Admitting she and her mother were both put off by Ford’s unorthodox suggestion, they wound up signing with her agency anyway — after speaking with rival modeling agent Wilhelmina Cooper. “[Cooper] was incredibly generous and explained why Eileen wanted me and why she wanted the country-girl fat off,” Stone explained. Cooper offered her “so much kindness” and “dignity,” Stone explained, that she decided to take the advice she offered, to sign with Ford.
Sharon Stone thought she'd accidentally murdered a co-star
The movie that changed Sharon Stone’s life and career trajectory is, undoubtedly, the 1992 thriller Basic Instinct. As fans of the film will recall, the film opens with her character, Catherine Tramell, having sex with a man before fatally stabbing him to death with an icepick, mid-coitus.
Filming that scene, Stone wrote in an excerpt from The Beauty of Living Twice (via Vanity Fair), was traumatic to begin with, but became even more so when “we cut and the actor did not respond. He just lay there, unconscious.” According to Stone, she instantly panicked, thinking the retractable prop icepick had somehow malfunctioned and that she had actually killed him for real. “The fury of the sequence coupled with the director screaming, ‘Hit him, harder, harder!’ and, ‘More blood, more blood!’ as the guy under the bed pumped more fake blood through the prosthetic chest, had already made me weak. I got up, woozy, sure I would pass out.”
Thankfully, the guy wasn’t dead. “It seemed I had hit the actor so many times in the chest that he had passed out,” recalled Stone, who at the time was “horrified, naked, and stained with fake blood.”
The sordid story behind her infamous Basic Instinct scene
It says something about Basic Instinct that a naked Sharon Stone stabbing some dude to death with an icepick isn’t even the most memorable scene in the movie. That dubious honor goes to the infamous interrogation scene (screenshot above), when Stone, sitting in a chair while being questioned by several male police detectives, conspicuously crosses and uncrosses her legs, revealing with no uncertainty that she is not wearing a stitch of underwear.
While that scene may have ensured the publicity that paved the way for Stone to become an international sex symbol and A-list movie star, she claims in her memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice, that she was actually hoodwinked into going sans-panties for the scene. As she wrote, (via Vanity Fair), she was told that her white undies were “reflecting the light,” and was asked to remove them. “We can’t see anything,” she was assured. When she saw the scene as it would appear in the finished movie, in a screening “in a room full of agents and lawyers,” she was mortified. She responded by marching into the projection booth and slapping director Paul Verhoeven “across the face” before storming off.
Afterwards, she got her lawyer involved and thought about threatening to “get an injunction” to bar the release of the film. But after cooling off and deciding the scene ultimately “was correct for the film and for the character,” she “chose to allow this scene in the film.”
Sharon Stone was pressured to sleep with a co-star
Sharon Stone spilled even more tea in The Beauty of Living Twice when she detailed some absolutely vile treatment by an unnamed producer on one of her movies. That producer, she claimed in an excerpt published in the New York Post, “explained to me why I should f**k my co-star so that we could have on-screen chemistry.”
According to Stone, her contract afforded her the right to approve her co-stars — although producers typically ignored that and would instead “cast who they wanted. To my dismay, sometimes.”
This was the case when an actor — also not named — was hired and “couldn’t get one whole scene out” during the screen test, which led to the producer’s advice. “Now you think if I f**k him, he will become a fine actor?” she mused. “Nobody’s that good in bed. I felt they could have just hired a co-star with talent, someone who could deliver a scene and remember his lines. I also felt they could f**k him themselves and leave me out of it. It was my job to act and I said so.”
Why did Sharon Stone once pay Leonardo DiCaprio's salary out of her own pocket?
By 1995, Sharon Stone had become a major star headlining her own big-screen western, The Quick and the Dead. Playing a fearsome female gunslinger, Stone topped an impressive cast that also included Gene Hackman and Russell Crowe; as evidence of her newly earned Hollywood clout, she was also a producer on the flick.
However, when it came time to cast the role of “the Kid” — a teenage gunfighter who befriends Stone’s character — she and the other producers had auditioned many young actors, but hadn’t found the right one. Then, she recalled in her book (via Insider), “This kid named Leonardo DiCaprio was the only one who nailed the audition, in my opinion: he was the only one who came in and cried, begging his father to love him as he died in the scene.”
At the time, the studio balked at casting a young unknown, who was then best known for the sitcom Growing Pains. “The studio said if I wanted him so much, I could pay him out of my own salary,” she wrote. “So I did.”
Sharon Stone had an out-of-body experience after suffering a stroke
Sharon Stone shared a number of shocking revelations in her memoir, yet perhaps the most surprising is what she wrote about the stroke she suffered in 2001. She previously opened up about the catastrophic event during a 2014 interview Oprah Winfrey in a 2021 interview, as well as in 2019 during an event for the Women’s Brain Health Initiative (via Variety), during which she revealed it took her “about seven years” to recover, describing the treatment she received from people during those years as “brutally unkind.”
Writing in The Beauty of Living Twice, Stone revealed that the stroke was so serious that she recalled having an out-of-body experience, believing she was in the process of dying. According to an excerpt appearing in the New York Post, she was visited by three friends who gathered at her bedside — all of whom were deceased — telling her she had nothing to fear.
“The light was so luminous,” she wrote. “It was so… mystical. I wanted to know it. I wanted to immerse myself.” However, the experience came to an abrupt halt when she suddenly felt “like I had been kicked in the middle of my chest by a mule. She realized that she had “made a choice to survive,” awakening with “the kind of gasp you take when you are underwater far too long.”
A surgeon increased the size of Sharon Stone's breasts — without telling her first
In her memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice, Sharon Stone candidly admitted that she’s had breast augmentation surgery. Unlike most women who undergo that particular surgical procedure, however, she wasn’t actually seeking bigger breasts — but wound up receiving them anyhow.
As she wrote, via The Times, she was undergoing reconstructive surgery after having some tumors removed from her breasts. While the tumors were benign, she revealed that they were “gigantic, bigger than my breast alone.”
It wasn’t until the bandages came off post-surgery, she recalled, that “I discovered that I had a full cup-size bigger breasts, ones that [the doctor] said ‘go better with your hip size.'” The surgeon, she recalled, “had changed my body without my knowledge or consent.” According to Stone, her doctor hadn’t felt it necessary to seek her approval when he made the unilateral decision to increase the size of her breasts, simply because he “thought that I would look better with bigger, ‘better’ boobs.”
She underwent brain surgery weeks before her iconic dance with John Travolta at the oscars
Sharon Stone told Variety in 2001 that she experienced a brain hemorrhage that lasted for nine days after suffering a stroke in 2001. About a year later, she was asked to present at the 2002 Academy Awards alongside John Travolta. She accepted, despite undergoing brain surgery just two weeks earlier that had impeded her ability to walk.
As she wrote, via Insider, she set a big goal for herself and asked Travolta if he would dance with her onstage at the Oscars. “Of course, I didn’t know if I was really able to dance, but I wanted to push myself toward a bigger goal,” she wrote, recalling that “just two weeks before, I had struggled with walking. Now I would be dancing. I could do this. I could dance.”
Of the sweet little dance that would become an iconic Oscars moment, Stone wrote, “I stepped into my joy, my gratitude. … I floated down that stage and looked into the faces of all of my talented, amazing fellow Academy members. They were smiling, laughing, and digging the moment. All of us uplifted. They didn’t need to know why.”
She believes the media tried to pit her against Madonna
A continual theme throughout Sharon Stone’s memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice, is Hollywood’s patriarchal obsession with pitting female stars against each other. Women who would otherwise be friends and supporters, she explained, were positioned as rivals in order to stir up fake tabloid drama and line pockets. This, she wrote in an excerpt from the book published by Insider, was something she felt acutely when it came to her and pop icon Madonna.
“We have often been pitted against each other as this has been the way that the press, and I would have to say society in general, has found to bind women of our and past generations,” Stone wrote, adding, “There was not a place for women to find camaraderie, alliance, or safety with one another. It was put to us that there could be room for only one.”
However, over time she’d come to see Madonna as a kindred spirit. “I feel as if I secretly champion her,” she added. “I know she feels the same. We stand up for each other being asked. We know the pitfalls of being who we are and have been when we were breaking barriers in our respective fields.”
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