Category Archives: Television

Police Squad!: The Short-lived yet Critically-acclaimed Show that Became a Successful Movie Franchise

Police Squad! Opening Title Sequence

Police Squad! Opening Title Sequence

Fun Facts About Police Squad!

  • Drebin (Leslie Nielsen), Norberg (Peter Lupus) and Hocken (Alan North), the main characters of Police Squad!

    Drebin (Leslie Nielsen), Norberg (Peter Lupus) and Hocken (Alan North), the main characters of Police Squad!

    Police Squad! was a television comedy series first broadcast in 1982. It was a spoof of police dramas, packed with visual gags & non sequiturs.

  • While a parody of many television shows & movies, it bore a particular resemblance to the Lee Marvin cop show, M Squad.
  • Police Squad! was created by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker, who had previously worked together on The Kentucky Fried Movie & Airplane!.
  • Despite critical acclaim, the show was cancelled by ABC after just six episodes.
  • This was enough to gain a strong cult following through repeats on TV, which led to the 1988 movie version The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad! & two further sequels. Many gags from the show were recycled for the films.
  • Leslie Nielsen played Detective Frank Drebin in the series & all three films. Alan North played the role of Captain Ed Hocken on the show; in the films, the role was played by George Kennedy.
  • Peter Lupus also co-starred on the show as Officer Nordberg, while O.J. Simpson appeared as Nordberg in the films.
  • Ed, Frank and "Tall Al"

    Ed, Frank and "Tall Al"

    Ed Williams, who played scientist Ted Olson on the show, would reprise his role in the films, making him & Nielsen the only two actors from the series to appear in the movies.

  • Robert Goulet, who appeared as one of the “special guest stars” who were invariably killed off at the beginning of their episodes, would appear as villain Quentin Hapsburg in the second Naked Gun film.
  • Dr. Joyce Brothers played herself in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! She also played herself in Episode 4 of the television series.
  • The show was presented in the style of a Quinn Martin show of the early 1970s, with a portentous narrative over the opening titles which made a big feature of the show being “…in color”, followed by numerous gags.
  • Each episode would similarily play credits over a 1970-s style freeze frame of the final scene, except that the frame was not frozen – the actors simply stood motionless in position while other activities (pouring coffee, convicts escaping, chimpanzees running amok) continued around them.
  • The Naked Gun was the first of three movies based upon Police Squad!

    The Naked Gun was the first of three movies based upon Police Squad!

    One noticable difference between the series & the films is in the portrayal of Frank Drebin. In the series he is shown to be considerably more competent & straight-laced, & less Maxwell Smart-like than he is depicted in the films. The TV portrayal of Drebin was never intended to be overtly comic, merely a sendup of the ultra-serious Dragnet-like portrayal of TV cops (Nielsen’s trademark deadpan delivery was a perfect fit for this kind of parody). In the series, Drebin was intended to be the archetype of the straight man, in contrast to the rampant hilarity going on around him. It was not until the films that Drebin was changed to a more outwardly comic character.

  • ABC announced the cancellation of Police Squad! after four of its six episodes had aired in March of 1982. The final two episodes were aired that summer.
  • According to then-ABC entertainment president Tony Thomopoulos (on Entertainment Tonight), “Police Squad! was cancelled because the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it.” What Thomopoulos meant was that the viewer had to actually pay attention to the show in order to get much of the humor, while most other TV shows did not demand as much effort from the viewer.
  • In its annual “Cheers & Jeers” issue, TV Guide magazine called the explanation for the cancellation “the most stupid reason a network ever gave for ending a series.”
  • Police Squad! DVD Cover

    Police Squad! DVD Cover

    Matt Groening is quoted as saying “If Police Squad! had been made twenty years later, it would have been a smash. It was before its time. In 1982 your average viewer was unable to cope with its pace, its quick-fire jokes. But these days they’d have no problems keeping up, I think we’ve proved that.”

  • Four years later, ABC aired another law enforcement series spoof titled Sledge Hammer! which enjoyed more longevity. The show, created by Alan Spencer, featured characters that were not one-dimensional (unlike “Police Squad”), as well as more serious undercurrents to the plots. There was also a legitimate relationship between David Rasche’s Hammer & his female partner, Doreau.
  • The series was released to DVD on November 6, 2006 in the United Kingdom, & a day later in the United States. Special features include audio commentaries on several episodes, a gag reel, a new interview with Leslie Nielsen, featurettes, & a photo gallery. Co-creators David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, & Jim Abrahams recorded audio commentary, along with series writers Robert K. Weiss & Robert Wuhl.

Opening Title Sequence

The title sequence was packed with sight & visual gags. A selection:

  • Spoofing 1960s police show N.Y.P.D., the opening credits would show a red flashing squad car light going down a city street.
  • When Captain Hocken is introduced in his office, someone offscreen starts shooting the place up, with ridiculous results (people catching on fire, jumping out windows, etc; one woman even throws her baby on the floor as she runs away).
  • According to Pat Proft, had the show been renewed for a second season, this sequence would have been replaced by Mahatma Gandhi brandishing an assault rifle.

Titles

The opening sequence of each episode ends with an on-screen graphic listing the title of the episode, accompanied by an announcer’s voice-over intentionally giving a different title for the episode. The list of episode titles, with the on-screen graphic title followed by the announcer’s title in parentheses:

  • Police Squad Ending Credits

    Police Squad Ending Credits

    “A Substantial Gift” (“The Broken Promise”)

  • “Ring of Fear” (“A Dangerous Assignment”)
  • “Rendezvous at Big Gulch” (“Terror in the Neighborhood”)
  • “Revenge & Remorse” (“The Guilty Alibi”)
  • “The Butler Did It” (“A Bird in the Hand”)
  • “Testimony of Evil” (“Dead Men Don’t Laugh”)

Guest Stars

During the opening credits of each episode, a well-known actor is introduced as a “special guest star”, but is then killed off during the introduction, thus completing their appearance on the show. Stars included:

  • Lorne Greene (stabbed & thrown from a speeding car)
  • Georg Stanford Brown (crushed by a falling safe)
  • Florence Henderson (gunned down while singing in a kitchen)
  • William Shatner (dodges a salvo of bullets but drinks poisoned wine)
  • Robert Goulet (executed by firing squad)
  • William Conrad (stabbed & thrown from a speeding car)
  • A sequence was filmed with John Belushi (chained to concrete blocks underwater) but the actor died shortly before the episode was due to air, & the producers decided not to use the scene. According to the user-edited Internet Movie Database the producers wanted to include the Belushi scene when Police Squad was rebroadcast in the 1990s, but the footage could not be located & is presumed lost.

Running Gags

Drebin getting advice from Johnny, the shoeshine guy

Drebin getting advice from Johnny, the shoeshine guy

Frank Drebin’s rank constantly changes, often many times within a single scene. He often introduces himself (in narrative) as “Sergeant Frank Drebin, Detective Lieutenant Police Squad”, which is a non-existent rank made up of three real ones (Larger police departments often have Detective Lieutenants & Detective Sergeants, but NOT all three titles.) Also, in the first episode, a witness first refers to Drebin as ‘Sergeant’ then a few lines later calls him both ‘Lieutenant Drebin’ & finally ‘Captain Drebin’.

Drebin repeatedly drives into something (usually trash cans) when he parks his car. The number of trash cans he hits indicates the episode number i.e. one in episode one, two in episode two & so on.
Each episode had a crime lab scene where Ted Olson is giving a highly suspect or dangerous lesson to a kid, in a parody of Watch Mr. Wizard, when Frank interrupts him.
Ted uses the doorway while Frank walks around the set.

Drebin would offer a cigarette to people he was interviewing with the line “Cigarette?”, to which they would respond “Yes, I know” or “Yes, it is.” Drebin’s usual response would be a slightly nonplussed “Well…”

Drebin frequently needs to meet with Johnny, the omniscient shoeshine boy who knows everything in town, for “the word on the street”. Johnny won’t actually tell Frank anything until Frank slips him a bribe (often saying, “I dunno anything about it,” or, “It’s a big city,” until he’s paid). Each time Frank leaves Johnny, a specialist or celebrity arrives, & asks Johnny for advice about their particular profession:

  • A doctor asks Johnny how to perform an operation
  • A priest inquires about Johnny’s views on life after death
  • A fireman is instructed how to fight a fire at a furniture warehouse
  • Dick Clark asks about ska
  • Joyce Brothers talks with Johnny about psychology
  • Tommy Lasorda wonders about baseball, specifically his problems with his pitching game
Act II Running Gag

Act II Running Gag

The Act II label is followed by a joke:

  • Act II: Bruté?
  • Act II: Gesundheit
  • Act II: Richard III
  • Act II: Ball III
  • Act II: Lieber
  • Act II: Yankees One

The weekly criminal is always sent to “the Statesville Prison” (a pun on State Prison). Captain Hocken recites the names of the criminals caught in the previous episodes, so by episode six, five names are recited plus the final culprit.

The glass door of the squad room has “Police Squad” written on it in gold in such a manner that whichever side you look at it, one of the words is written backwards.

The Zucker Brothers hailed from Shorewood, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. In every episode, a discreet reference is made to Milwaukee place.

Other jokes

In “Rendezvous at Big Gulch” (“Terror in the Neighborhood”), the characters work undercover in a locksmith shop. Whenever anyone enters, Norberg is cutting a key on a grinding wheel & loses his grip. The key flies up & embeds itself in the ceiling—along with hundreds of others already stuck. As someone exits the shop, the door slams & all the keys fall to the floor.

"I'm a locksmith.  And I'm a locksmith."

"I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith."

Drebin, posing as a locksmith, enters a man’s office & is greeted by the resident with “Who are you & how did you get in here?” to which Drebin replies, “I’m a locksmith … & I’m a locksmith.”

The locksmith shop at one point in the episode is vandalized with a rock thrown through the window, leaving a hole where the “L” would be in “Locksmith.” In a later scene, Frank goes to the shop to open it in the morning & sees a man waiting with a big ox. The window with the hole reads “ocksmith” (ox smith), & Frank can be seen explaining to the man he doesn’t shoe animals.

Also in the locksmith shop, behind the counter is a board labelled “Car Keys, House Keys, Florida Keys (a map of the Florida Keys), Francis Scott Keys (which are red, white, & blue), Honkeys (which are all white), Turkeys, & Pot Roast”

In “The Butler Did It” (“A Bird in the Hand”), a kidnapping takes place in a Japanese garden. This consists of pots with Japanese people standing in them. Drebin asks to see the “crime scene,” so a film projector is started showing the same scene of the kidnapping shown minutes earlier in the episode (complete with a slate).

In “A Substantial Gift”(“The Broken Promise”), as Frank & Ed are driving to Little Italy, the rear-projected background scene is from Rome, Italy, including the Colosseum. Later, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is seen out of an apartment window.

In the same episode, the U.S. Capitol Building is seen out the window of the Police Squad headquarters. In another episode, the Eiffel Tower is seen out the window. In each episode, a map of the New York City & Chicago metropolitan areas hang on the wall.

In “The Butler Did It” (“A Bird in the Hand”), Frank & Ed stop to fill up at an ARGON gas station. ARGON is the name of an oil company with an ad appearing in “Kentucky Fried Movie”, in which they claim to refine oil from teenager’s faces, discarded hair combs, leftover fast food, & other sources.

VIDEO:  Police Squad! Opening Intro

VIDEO:  Police Squad!  Frank visits Johnny, the shoeshine guy

VIDEO:  Police Squad! Epilogues

Special thanks to www.lonympics.co.uk

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All in the Family: Classic 1970s Norman Lear Sitcom That Brilliantly Lampooned Bigotry

All in the Family ran on CBS from January 12, 1971 through April 8, 1979

All in the Family ran on CBS from January 12, 1971 through April 8, 1979

Fun Facts About All in the Family

  • Cast: (from left) Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker, Sally Struthers as Gloria Stivic, Rob Reiner as Michael "Meathead" Stivic and Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker

    Cast: (from left) Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker, Sally Struthers as Gloria Stivic, Rob Reiner as Michael "Meathead" Stivic and Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker

    Most viewers perceived the show with satirical intent, and therefore its impact would reduce prejudice

  • Thirteen percent of Americans watched every week

  • Six percent of Americans never watched

  • Thirteen percent of non-viewers did not watch because it was offensive

  • On average sixty-two percent of viewers preferred Archie over Mike

  • Thirteen percent of viewers believed Archie made better sense than Mike

  • Archie wins forty-two percent of the time

  • Lionel makes fun of Archie six percent of the time

  • Gloria makes fun of Archie two percent of the time

  • Edith makes fun of Archie thirty six percent of the time

  • Mike makes fun of Archie forty six percent of the time

  • Twenty percent of viewers believe the show has made them aware of prejudice

  • Twelve percent of US adolescents believed Archie was extremely funny

  • Twenty-two percent of US adolescents believed ethnic slurs were not wrong

  • Eighty-four percent of viewers believe Archie is not reasonable

  • Ninety percent of viewers believe Mike is usually right

  • Mike begins bickering at 4.94 percent

  • Viewers believe Archie is in control 15.7 percent of the time

  • Sixty-nine percent of viewers believe AITF has a serious purpose

  • Sixty-eight percent of viewers identify with Mike

Archie-isms

A

adult-er-ess (adult female)
air-a-plane (airplane)
alexander graham booth (john wilks booth)
a-rhab (arab)
a-ri-ba-du-che (arrivederci)
arterial influction (arterial Infarction)
assiatic nerve (ciatic nerve)

B

All in the Familybeaurocraps (beaurocrats)
bequerred (to give to)
berieve (grieve)
buttinsky (a person who is nosy)
birth patrol (birth control)
bisontonical woman (bionic woman)

C

chinooka (hanukah)
chinkiepuncture (acupuncture)
constitionalists (constituents)
consecration (concentration)
corpsuckels (corpuscles)
cuisini (zuchini)

D

Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker

Carroll O'Connor

detergent (deterrent)
detergerate (regurgitate)

E

entramanore (entrepreneur)
ecrology (ecology)

F

Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker

Jean Stapleton

female intermission (female intuition)
finixiate (asphixiate)
floorplay (foreplay)

G

garlic stones (gall stones)
groinocologist (gynecologist)
geronimous zones (erogenous zones)
groan (groin)
Guatemoola (Guatemala)

H

homosapien (killer fag)
house of ill refute (house of ill repute)
his-mones & her-mones (hormones)

I

iminent (intimate)

Rob Reiner as Michael "Meathead" Stivic

Rob Reiner

incremented (cremated)
ipso fatso (vice versa)
ivory shower (ivory tower)
incest (incense)

J

jetlock (jet lag)

K

kromo-stones (chromosomes)

L

lufrans (lutherans)
last will & tenticle (last will & testament)

M

menstrual show (minstrel show)
mental pause (menopause)
minororities (minorities)

N

nave (nieve)

O

P

pillow of salt (pillar Of salt)
poke-ya-nose mts. (poconos mts)
poisbyterians (presbytarians)

Sally Struthers as Gloria Stivic

Sally Struthers

premartial sex (pre-marital sex)
prederranged (prearranged)
orevert (pervert)
prostate server (process server)
pernt (point)

Q

qualifidations (qualifications)

R

rectal nerve (retnal nerve)
rosemarie (for stephanie on ABP)

S

shemoglobins (hemoglobins)
sympathize (synchronize)
strategies of war (tragedies of war)

All in the Family

All in the Family

santy’s ga’nomes (santa’s gnomes)
six thousand dollar man (six million dollar man)
suppository remarks (derogatory remarks)
saniquarium (sanitarium)

T

trampaloon (trampoline)
transversive (transvestite)
terlit (toilet)

U

urology (eulogy)

V

veal scallepeepee (scallipini)
venereal (funeral)
Vertizontal (horizontal)

W

wild hornets (wild horses)
weirdwolf (werewolf)
woman’s lubrication (woman’s liberation)

Norman Lear

Norman Lear

X

Y

Z

zeberellas (female Zebra’s)

 

Special thanks to Allinthefamily.com

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Bob Dylan: Visionary musician and lyricist; voice of a generation

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, 1941

Fun Facts About Bob Dylan

  • Young Bob DylanMost reference books list Robert Allen Zimmerman’s birth date as May 24, 1941. But a passport issued to Robert Dylan in 1974 says his birth date is May 11, 1941.
  • Robert Allen Zimmerman received a D-plus in a music-appreciation class at the University of Minnesota.
  • Bob didn’t care to speak to other musicians, other than talking about stuff related to music and what they were recording or playing at the time. He would speak to people he knew, but wasn’t really interested in becoming “friends” with the musicians he met…apart from a few guys that became close to him like George Harrison.
  • In 1970 Dylan received an honorary doctorate of music from Princeton University.
  • Dylan’s reputation has long been larger than his record sales. His best-selling album is “Greatest Hits” (1967), which has been certified double-platinum, meaning it has sold between 2 million and 3 million copies. Runner-up is “Greatest Hits – Vol. II” (1971), a million-seller; Columbia Records doesn’t release sales figures, but a representative said “Vol. II” is nearing double-platinum. The next bestsellers are “Desire” (’76) and “Blood on the Tracks” (’75), both of which have achieved platinum status.
  • Bob had a rule that he only ever recorded music at night, he would show up to the studio around 9pm and work until the early hours of morning…always. Occasionally his band would record music pieces during the day and try to get Bob to listen to it, Bob would say “I don’t even wanna hear it if it was recorded during the day”
  • None of Dylan’s singles has ever reached No. 1 on Billboard’s pop chart. “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965) peaked at No. 2, as did “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (’66).
  • Bob DylanThe Byrds flew to No. 1 in ’65 with a version of Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” is the only Dylan tune to hit the Top 10 twice – in 1963 by Peter, Paul & Mary, when it carried to No. 2, and in ’66, when Stevie Wonder took it to No. 9.
  • Under his senior photo in the Hibbing High School yearbook, Zimmerman said he wanted “to join Little Richard.”
  • In the summer of 1959 Zimmerman played piano in Bobby Vee’s band – for two gigs.
  • Dylan’s harmonica is heard on records by Harry Belafonte, George Harrison, Steve Goodman, Roger McGuinn, Booker T. and Priscilla Jones, Doug Sahm, Carolyn Hester, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Sly & Robbie.
  • Among the pseudonyms Dylan has used when appearing on others’ records have been Blind Boy Grunt, Tedham Porterhouse, Robert Milkwood Thomas, Roosevelt Gook and Bob Landy.
  • The Minnesota Historical Society lists 97 Dylan items in its reference library. Included are a 1987 Ph.D. thesis by a Purdue University student, five fanzines, 17 books and articles published in Germany, one children’s book, and Dylan’s original, hand-written lyric sheet for “Temporary Like Achilles,” a 1966 song on “Blonde on Blonde.” The Historical Society bought it from a collector in 1988. The most interesting title in the society’s collection is “Mysteriously Saved: An Astrological Investigation into Bob Dylan’s Conversion to American Fundamentalism” by John Ledbury. Bob Spitz’s 1989 tome, “Dylan,” is the biggest item, at 639 pages.
  • Little Sandy Review, a mimeographed Twin Cities rag about folk music published in the late ’50s and early ’60s, was the first source to reveal that Zimmerman had invented Dylan. Little Sandy editor Paul Nelson later became a key editor at Rolling Stone.
  • Bob Dylan

    Dylan adapted “Blowin’ in the Wind” from a spiritual, “No More Auction Block,” which is also known as “Many Thousands Gone.”

  • Dylan was scheduled to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on May 12, 1963, with Irving Berlin, Al Hirt, Rip Taylor, Teresa Brewer, Myron Cohen and Topo Gigio, the Italian mouse. Dylan was going to sing “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.” During the dress rehearsal, he was told that “John Birch” was deemed too controversial by network censors, and program producer Bob Precht, whose idea it was to invite Dylan on the show, asked him to sing another song. Dylan declined and did not appear.
  • “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” was scheduled to be included on Dylan ‘s second album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” Columbia Records got paranoid, recalled the album and removed the song.
  • On June 7, 1969, Dylan sang “I Threw It All Away” and “Living the Blues” on Johnny Cash’s TV program. They sang a duet on “Girl from the North Country.”
  • Bob asked his music engineer to get him a 1966 Harley Davidson Shovelhead. Bobs engineer Mark Howard got him the bike and watched Bob ride away on it, but heard him stall the bike just around the corner and went to see if he needed any help. He found Dylan sitting on the bike staring straight ahead with 3 people hanging around the front of the bike asking for his autograph…Dylan just sat there like he did not even see them, he then proceeded to start the bike again and ride off without acknowledging the 3 fans. Bob liked to ride his bike with no helmet and told Howard that “The police are really friendly around here…they are all waving at me” Howard told him that they were waving at him because he had no helmet on and wanted him to stop!!
  • Dylan’s first major U.S. TV appearance was on “The Steve Allen Show” in early ’64.
  • In August 1969 Dylan made his first paid public performance since July 26, 1966, when he broke his neck in the crash of his Triumph 500 motorcycle. Backed by the Band, he performed in front of 200,000 people at England’s Isle of Wight festival. He was paid $75,000 for a 70-minute performance.
  • Dylan flew his parents, Abe and Beatty Zimmerman, to New York to see him perform at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 12, 1963.
  • Dylan married Sara Lownds in an impromptu private ceremony Nov. 22, 1965, in a judge’s chamber in Mineola, N.Y. Two days later the singer told an interviewer from the Chicago Daily News, “I don’t hope to be like anybody. Getting married, having a bunch of kids, I have no hopes for it.” Dylan’s marriage was not announced until February 1966.
  • Bob DylanSara Dylan received custody of the couple’s four children in their 1977 divorce. A fifth child, Sara’s daughter Maria Dylan, is married to singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman, formerly of St. Louis Park.
  • When Dylan accepted his Grammy for “Lifetime Achievement” in February, he said, “Well, my daddy didn’t leave me too much . . . he was a very simple man.” He shifted anxiously. “But he did say, `Son . . . it’s possible to be so defiled in this world that your own mother and father will abandon you. And if this happens, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your ways.'”
  • Since around 1975 Bob has only ever included 10 or less songs on his albums (not including “best of” or “compilation” albums) regardless of whether or not he had more than 10 songs in the pipeline at the time. On his album “Oh Mercy” the producers tried to get Dylan to include an eleventh song “Series Of Dreams” Bob replied with “Y’know what..I only put 10 songs on my albums” the producers tried again, saying that the song was so great it simply had to go onto the album…Bob replied again “nah nah, I’m only puttin 10 songs on there”…end of story!!
  • Dylan won his first Grammy in 1980 for best rock vocal performance for the religious-oriented “Gotta Serve Somebody.” “Slow Train Coming,” the album on which the song appeared, was named best inspirational album at the Dove Awards, which recognize gospel recordings.
  • While attending the University of Minnesota in 1959 and ’60 Zimmerman lived at the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house on University Av. and later above Gray’s Campus Drug in Dinkytown. He performed at the Ten O’Clock Scholar coffeehouse, where the Dinkytown Burger King now stands.
  • Whenever Bob was out and about he almost always wore a hoody, whether for anonymity or not, who knows. One day a drummer that was brought in to play with Bob’s band asked one of the engineers “Where the F**k is Bob Dylan” the engineer proceeded to say “he’s sitting right next to you” Bob just looked up in his hoodie, raised his eyebrows and continued writing lyrics!!
  • Dylan’s quasi-autobiographical 1977 movie, “Renaldo & Clara,” was three hours and 57 minutes long. He portrayed Renaldo, while musician Ronnie Hawkins played a character named Bob Dylan. The film included 47 songs.
  • After taking a shellacking from critics, the movie was edited to about 90 minutes.
  • Bob DylanDylan’s first two movies were documentaries – “Don’t Look Back,” a look at his 1965 British tour, was released in ’67, but did not receive widespread distribution until ’75; “Eat This Document,” which was shot in ’66 for an ABC-TV special, was screened as a movie in ’71.
  • Dylan is the author of two books. “Tarantula,” which was rejected by Macmillan and Co. in 1965, was bootlegged in ’70 and officially published in ’71. “Writing and Drawings by Bob Dylan” was published in ’73; it features 187 song lyrics, 17 drawings, 26 poems and five pages of manuscript.
  • Dylan phoned critic Robert Shelton of the New York Times to invite Shelton to review his performance Sept. 26, 1961, at Gerde’s Folk City, opening for the Greenbriar Boys. It was considered audacious for an artist to ask a critic for a review – especially one from the Times. Dylan hoodwinked Shelton during an interview; among other things, Dylan said that when he was 13, he ran away and joined the circus and that he had recorded with Gene Vincent in Nashville, Tenn. Shelton’s rave review launched Dylan’s career.
  • In 1961, after rave reviews on the New York coffeehouse circuit, Dylan signed a three-year deal with Witmark & Sons to publish his songs. In three years Dylan wrote 237 songs for Witmark, including “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” “Masters of War,” “With God on Our Side,” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Only a Pawn in Their Game” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
  • Dylan was a contributing editor to “Broadside,” the folk-music magazine.
  • Judson Manning, the Time magazine correspondent belittled in “Ballad of a Thin Man” (“Because something is happening here/But you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mr. Jones?”), interviewed not only Dylan, but also Adolf Hitler.
  • Bob DylanThree Dylan songs begin with nearly the same line, “Early in the mornin’. . . .” The songs are “Obviously Five Believers,” “Pledging My Time” and “Tangled Up in Blue” (which actually starts “Early one mornin’ . . . “).
  • Although they never received credit on the liner notes (which had already been printed), a handful of Minnesota musicians appeared on a few tunes on “Blood on the Tracks” that were rerecorded at Sound 80 in Minneapolis in December 1974. The players included drummer Bill Berg, bassist Billy Peterson, fiddler-mandolinist Peter Ostroushko, keyboardist Gregg Inhofer and guitarists Kevin Odegard and Chris Weber.
  • Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana in August 1964 at the Delmonico Hotel in New York.
  • Columbia Records hired Bob Johnston to produce Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” sessions in Nashville as a reward for having returned Patti Page, a Columbia stalwart, to the charts with “Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
  • Louis Kemp, Dylan’s childhood friend, was hired as a staff member on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. He now runs Louis Kemp Seafood Co.
  • In 1967, while recuperating from his motorcycle accident in Woodstock, N.Y., Dylan signed with MGM Records, home of the Righteous Brothers, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Connie Francis and the late Hank Williams. MGM withdrew the contract on a technicality, and Dylan signed with Columbia.
  • When Dylan was wooed to Asylum Records in 1973, Columbia put out “Dylan ” to spite him. The album of outtakes includes versions of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles.”
  • Bob DylanAfter seeing Tiny Tim perform Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” in California, Dylan summoned the fey singer to Woodstock in 1967. For Dylan, Tiny Tim did an impression of Rudy Vallee singing “Like a Rolling Stone” and an impression of Dylan singing Vallee’s “There’s No Time Like Your Time.”
  • Bob always carried around a rolled-up bundle of paper with lyrics that he was working on, it was always written in pencil, and he was totally fanatical about his words. Bob would even be writing down new lyrics during recording sessions…adding, deleting and taking out words. He would have a piece of paper with thousands of lyrics written down, most of which was mainly illegible to other readers, words going upside down, sideways and all over the page. His crew hardly ever seen him eat, but he was always drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and hacking away at his lyrics. Dylan told his pianist he had been working on some of his songs for five or six years, trying to get them the way he wanted them…perfect!!
  • Among the duets Dylan has recorded for other artists’ albums are “Buckets of Rain” with Bette Midler, “Sign Language” with Eric Clapton and “Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on” with Leonard Cohen.
  • The first time Dylan plugged in and played electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, he was accompanied by members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Later that summer, at Forest Hills Stadium, Dylan rocked with, among others, two members of the Band, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm.
  • The Zimmerman family home at 2524 7th Av. E. in Hibbing was sold in August 1990 for $50,000. It had been on the market for about nine months. Its previous owner, who reportedly bought it from the Zimmerman family, sold many items to a Dylan collector.
  • Imprisoned boxer Ruben (Hurricane) Carter wasn’t the only prizefighter about whom Dylan sang. In 1963 Davey Moore was knocked out by Sugar Ramos and died two days later; 18 days later Dylan began singing “Who Killed Davey Moore?” The tune never appeared on record until this year’s “Bootleg Series.” Meanwhile, “Hurricane,” about the boxer who was jailed on murder charges and later exonerated, was a modest hit in ’76.
  • Bob DylanHundreds of singers have recorded Dylan tunes. Otis Redding recorded “Just Like a Woman,” but decided not to release his version because he couldn’t get past the line, “with her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls.”
  • Dylan and John Lennon once wrote and recorded a song together while Dylan was on tour in England. “I don’t remember what it was, though,” Dylan said. “We played some stuff into a tape recorder, but I don’t know what happened to it. I don’t remember anything about the song.”
  • Bob never ever played the same song exactly the same. Whether he was just jamming, or recording, he would play the song in a different key, using different phrasing, or a different tempo…..this would often totally confuse other musicians in his band. Bob Dylan hated to repeat himself…ever!!
  • Since moving from Minneapolis to New York in 1960, Dylan has performed only five times in the Twin Cities – 1965 (at the Minneapolis Auditorium), ’78 (St. Paul Civic Center), ’86 (Metrodome), ’89 (RiverFest at Harriet Island) and ’90 (Minnesota State Fair).
  • “Bob Dylan,” his first album, was recorded in a few hours at a cost of $402. Initially it sold 5,000 copies. Since then more than 35 million Dylan records have been sold.
  • Dylan was the first big-name rock figure from the ’60s to turn 50 as of May, 1991.
  • There has never been an official video made by Bob Dylan for “Like a Rolling Stone”, although there is currently a contest on YouTube for fans to make one. 

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Blowin’ in the Wind

 

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling  Stone

 

Special thanks to www.startribune.com and bite-dose.com

 

 

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Donuts: International sweet treats and a multi-billion-dollar industry

Donuts

 Fun Facts About Donuts

Although controversial, who traditionally is known for importing doughnuts to America, around 1847? 

    Dutch settlers. The donut (or “doughnut”) is a deep-fried piece of dough or batter. It comes from the Dutch origin of olykoeck or “oily cake”. The two most common types of donuts are the flattened sphere (you know…the ones that are injected with jelly or custard) and the ring donut.

Which company is the world’s largest coffee and baked goods chain?

    Dunkin’ Donuts. Internationally, Dunkin’ Donuts has over 1700 locations in 29 countries and over 6,000 stores in 30 countries world-wide! In the U.S. there are over 4,400 locations across 36 states.

Which company, founded in 1937 proudly boasts the slogan, “Hot Original Glazed”? 

    Krispy Kreme. Krispy Kreme is probably best known for their fresh, hot, glazed, yeast-raised doughnuts. The company’s “Hot Doughnuts Now” flashing sign is an integral part of the brand’s appeal and fame.

Which Entenmann’s doughnut is the company’s top seller in 2005?

    Rich Frosted Chocolate Dipped. Introduced in 1972, the Rich Frosted Chocolate Dipped doughnut has become a favorite among consumers. More than 168 million pounds of chocolate has been used to produce the doughnuts. Image how many swimming pools you could fill with that amount of chocolate!

Which is NOT one of Dunkin’ Donuts top selling donuts as of 2005?

    Coconut Crunch. Jelly-filled and Chocolate frosted also rank as their top sellers. Coconut Crunch, although not a number one seller, still remains one of the over 52 varieties of donuts the chain produces on a yearly basis.

Which chain produced the world’s largest edible doughnut in 1998?

    Winchell’s House of Donuts. You may also know Winchell’s by its other name, “Home of the Fresh ‘n Warm Donut” The store located in Pasadena, CA, created a gigantic version of their apple fritter doughnut. It weighed 5000 pounds and stood 95 feet in diameter!

What is the name given to the popular Polish doughnut, which is now being marketed in many U.S. grocery stores today?

    Paczki. The others are also types of doughnuts from other regions around the world. The popular deep-fried Paczki’s are usually filled with jams such as raspberry, strawberry, lemon ,and prune. They are pronounced (poonch-key) and have deep roots in Polish heritage and history.

According to an article published by Restaurant.org in 2002, what is the estimated number of doughnuts that Americans consume annually?

    10 billion. It really is too big of a number when you consider that as of 1997, there were 6,792 doughnut shops in the U.S. alone. In 2005, one can only imagine that the number of doughnut shops has increased dramatically. Unfortunately, 1997 was the last year that all overall statistics and data is available on this subject (or at least that I can find!).

According to a 2004 report by USA Today, doughnut sales increased 9% in 2003. According to the same article, how much is the U.S. doughnut industry worth?

    $3.6 billion. USA Today also reports that the three fastest-growing chains in the U.S. are (in order) Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and Tim Horton’s.

Nationally, what is Randy’s Donuts best known for?

    Big Donut Drive-In. Randy’s Donuts is a landmark in Inglewood, CA. The 22 foot diameter donut on top of the building was built in 1952. The giant donut has been featured in many TV shows as well as many popular movies, such as “Mars Attacks” and “Coming to America”.
Special thanks to  www.funtrivia.com

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Bugs Bunny: More than just a beloved cartoon character

Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in scene from "A Wild Hare"

Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in scene from "A Wild Hare"

Fun Facts About Bugs Bunny

How did Bugs Bunny get his name?

In 1940, Warner Bros. asked its illustrators for sketches of a “tall, lanky, mean rabbit” for a cartoon titled “Hare-urn Scare-urn.”

Someone in the office labelled the submission from cartoonist “Bugs” Hardaway as “Bugs’ Bunny” and sent it on.

Although his drawings weren’t used, the words that labelled them were given to the rabbit star of the 1940 cartoon “A Wild Hare,” which introduced “Bugs Bunny.”

Birthplace 

According to Bugs Bunny: 50 Years and Only One Grey Hare, he was born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York (in a warren under Ebbets Field, famed home of the Brooklyn Dodgers) 

Trademark Line

Bugs’s debut as a star was the 1940 short A Wild Hare, where he first uttered his trademark line, “What’s up, Doc?”

Other Well-Known Lines

His other popular phrases include “Of course you realize, this means war”, “Ain’t I a stinker?” and “I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque.”

Accent

Bugs Bunny has a Flatbush accent, an equal blend of the Bronx and Brooklyn dialects (of the New York Accent)

Clipped Hare

By 1941, Warner Bros’. cartoon department, technically Leon Schlesinger productions, had found its niche in animation, funny cartoons, and a lot of the credit for that can be given to Fred “Tex” Avery. However, one incident in 1941 would cause Tex to leave the WB studio forever and move on to MGM, where he exploded into one of the zaniest cartoonists of all time with the likes of his “Droopy” and “Wolf” cartoons. Avery had been a blessing to Leon Schlesinger, WB cartoons’ producer, because he had created Bugs Bunny. However, there was one early Bugs cartoon Leon didn’t like, because the ending had Bugs falling from a cliff with no resolution. “The Heckling Hare”, Avery’s 3rd Bugs cartoon, pitted the Rabbit against a dopey hunting dog not unlike “Meathead” from Avery’s “Screwy Squirrel” series for MGM years later. Due to Schlesinger’s decision to cut the original ending to this cartoon (which is now lost) the headstrong Avery literally walked out on Schlesinger and moved to MGM. Now, the cartoon is seen on TV with the ending in which Bugs and the dog “brake” in midair before they are about to crash after falling off a cliff, and we hear Bugs say “Nyah, fooled ya didn’t we?!” The original lost ending had Bugs fall off another cliff before the iris out.

Bugs at War

Bugs was popular during World War II because of his free and easy attitude, and began receiving special star billing in his cartoons by 1943. By that time, Warner Bros. was the most profitable cartoon studio in the United States. Like other cartoon studios, such as Disney and Famous Studios had been doing, Warners put Bugs in opposition to the period’s biggest enemies: Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and the Japanese. The 1944 short Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips features Bugs at odds with a group of Japanese soldiers. This cartoon has since been pulled from distribution due to its racial stereotypes.

In the cartoon Super-Rabbit, Bugs was seen in the end wearing a USMC dress uniform. As a result, the United States Marine Corps made Bugs an honorary Marine Master Sergeant.

From 1943-1946, Bugs was the official “mascot” of Kingman Army Air Field, Kingman, Arizona, where thousands of aerial gunners were trained during World War II. Some notable trainees included Clark Gable and Charles Bronson. Bugs also served as the mascot for 530 Squadron of the 380th Bombardment Group, 5th Air Force, USAF, which was attached to the Royal Australian Air Force and operated out of Australia’s Northern Territory from 1943 to 1945, flying B-24 Liberator bombers.

International Acclaim

Bugs Bunny cartoons air in countries outside of the United States. In most cases, the original US cartoons are simply redubbed in the native language and the characters are usually given names more fitting for the country in which they are appearing. For example, in Finland, Bugs Bunny is called Väiski Vemmelsääri.

Legacy 

In 2002, TV Guide compiled a list of the 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time as part of the magazine’s 50th anniversary. Bugs Bunny was given the honor of number 1. In a CNN broadcast on July 31, 2002, a TV Guide editor talked about the group that created the list. The editor also explained why Bugs pulled top billing: “His stock…has never gone down…Bugs is the best example…of the smart-aleck American comic. He not only is a great cartoon character, he’s a great comedian. He was written well. He was drawn beautifully. He has thrilled and made many generations laugh.

…and now…

Video: Wild Hare (1940)

Special thanks to www.bigsiteofamazingfacts.comtoolooney.goldenagecartoons.com and www.answers.com

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Allan Sherman: Writer, producer, singer and brilliant comic parodist

Allan Sherman, Nov 30, 1924 - Nov 20, 1973

Allan Sherman, Nov 30, 1924 - Nov 20, 1973

 

Fun Facts About Allan Sherman

Birth and Death: November 30, 1924 – November 20, 1973

Most known for: An American comedy writer who became famous as a song parodist in the early 1960s.

First album: My Son, the Folk Singer (1962). It became the fastest-selling record album up to that time.

Biggest hit: Sherman’s biggest hit single was “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”, a comic novelty in which a boy describes his summer camp experiences to the tune of Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours.

Allan Copelon?: Sherman took his mother’s maiden name after being abandoned in childhood by his father, Percy Copelon, a stock car racer, mechanic, and inventor. Much later, Copelon offered to pay for Sherman’s education if he would re-take the family name, but when no support was forthcoming, the young man became Allan Sherman once again.

TV Show Writer and Producer: Sherman created a game show, which he called “I Know a Secret.” TV producer Mark Goodson used Sherman’s idea and turned it into I’ve Got a Secret, which ran on CBS from 1952 to 1967. Rather than paying him for the concept, Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions made Sherman the show’s producer. Sherman was reported to be warm and kindhearted to all who worked for him. But sparks often flew between Sherman and anyone who was in a position to try to restrain his creativity.

As producer of I’ve Got a Secret, which was broadcast live, he showed a fondness for large scale stunts that had the potential to teeter on the brink of disaster. He once released 100 bunny rabbits onstage as an Easter surprise for the Madison Square Boys Club, whose members were seated in the studio. The boys were invited to come up onstage to collect their prize. Although the resultant melee made a good story, it did not necessarily make for good TV. The relationship between Mark Goodson-Bill Todman and Sherman became strained to the breaking point when he finally fought to execute an idea that was destined to fall flat. His plan was to have Tony Curtis teach the panel how to play some of the games he had played as a child growing up in New York City. The problems manifested themselves when it became obvious that Tony Curtis had never actually played any of the games that Sherman had brought the props for. The situation might have been salvaged had the props worked as planned, but they did not. The handkerchief parachute failed to open and land gracefully and the pool “tank” which was propelled by rubber band moved painfully slowly. The spot, which aired June 11, 1958, was a disaster and Sherman was fired as producer. His dismissal did not, however, prevent Mark Goodson-Bill Todman from bringing Sherman back many times as a guest on their shows in subsequent years after he achieved celebrity status following the release of his albums.

Sherman also produced a short-lived 1954 game show, What’s Going On? which was technologically ambitious, with studio guests interacting with multiple live cameras in remote locations. In 1961 he produced a daytime game show for Al Singer Productions called Your Surprise Package which aired on CBS with host George Fenneman.

My Son, The Folk Singer: Sherman lived in the Brentwood section of West Los Angeles next door to Harpo Marx, who invited him to perform his song parodies at parties attended by Marx’s show-biz friends. After one party, George Burns phoned a record executive and persuaded him to sign Sherman to a contract. The result was a long playing album of these parodies, entitled My Son, the Folk Singer, which was released in 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

My Son, The Celebrity: My Son, the Folk Singer was so successful that it was quickly followed by My Son, the Celebrity, which ended with “Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other,” fragments of song parodies including Robert Burns’: “Dinna make a stingy sandwich, pile the cold cuts high;/Customers should see salami comin’ thru the rye.”

Success with Top 40 Hit: In 1963’s My Son, The Nut, Sherman’s pointed parodies of classical and popular tunes dealt with automation in the workforce (“Automation,” to the tune of “Fascination”), space travel (“Eight Foot Two, Solid Blue,” to “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”), the exodus from the city to the suburbs (“Here’s to the Crabgrass,” to the tune of “English Country Garden”), and his own bloated figure (“Hail to Thee, Fat Person,” which perhaps only half-jokingly blames his obesity on the Marshall Plan).

One track from My Son, The Nut, a spoof of summer camp entitled “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” became a surprise novelty hit, reaching #2 on the national Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks in late 1963. The lyrics were sung to the tune of one segment of Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours”, familiar to the public because of its use in the Walt Disney film Fantasia. That December, Sherman’s “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas” single appeared on Billboard’s separate Christmas chart. Sherman had one other Top 40 hit, a 1965 take-off on the Petula Clark hit “Downtown” called “Crazy Downtown”, which spent one week at #40. Two other Sherman singles charted in the lower regions of the Billboard 100: an updated “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh” (#59 in 1964), and “The Drinking Man’s Diet” (#98 in 1965). He “Bubbled Under” with “The End Of A Symphony”, reaching #113 in 1964, spotlighting Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops Orchestra.

Decline in Popularity: Sherman’s career success was short-lived: after peaking in 1963, his popularity declined rather quickly. After the JFK assassination, impersonator Vaughn Meader vowed to never again do a Kennedy impression, and perhaps because of this ominous shadow – Meader was a very popular parody impressionist of the day – and the resulting reluctance to book such acts, the public saw less of Sherman’s type of comedy. By 1965, Sherman had released two albums that did not make the Top 50 and in 1966, Warner Brothers dropped him from the label. His last album for the company, Togetherness, was released in 1967 to poor reviews and poorer sales. All of Sherman’s previous releases had been recorded in front of a live studio audience – or in the case of Live, Hoping You Are The Same, recorded during a Las Vegas performance – but Togetherness was not, and the lack of an audience and their response affected the result, as did the nondescript backup singers and studio orchestra.

On and Off Broadway: In 1969, Sherman wrote the script and lyrics – but not the music, which was written by Albert Hague – for The Fig Leaves Are Falling, a flop Broadway musical that lasted only four performances in 1969, despite direction by George Abbott and a cast that included Barry Nelson, Dorothy Loudon and David Cassidy. Still creative, in 1973 Sherman published the controversial The Rape of the A*P*E*, which detailed his point of view on American Puritanism and the sexual revolution.

With Dr. Suess: In 1971, Sherman was the voice of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” for the television special. He also did voice work for Dr. Seuss on the Loose, his last project before his death.

Death: Late in his life, Sherman drank and ate heavily, which resulted in a dangerous weight gain; he later developed diabetes and struggled with lung disease. In 1966, his wife Dee filed for divorce, and received full custody of their son and daughter.

Sherman lived on unemployment for a time and moved into the Motion Picture Home, near Calabasas, California for a short time in order to lose weight. He died of emphysema at home in West Hollywood ten days before his 49th birthday. He is entombed in Culver City, California’s Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.

Legacy: Sherman was the inspiration for a new generation of developing parodists such as “Weird Al” Yankovic, who pays homage to Sherman on the cover of his first LP. Sherman’s hit song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” has been translated into other languages. In one notable example, the Dutch-Swedish poet Cornelis Vreeswijk has translated the song into Swedish and adopted it as his own.

 

Video: Hello Muddah Hello Faddah (1963)

Bonus Video: Harvey and Sheila (1963)

 

Special thanks to www.mahalo.com and www.youtube.com

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Howard Cosell: One-time Lawyer Turned Sportscasting Legend

Howard Cosell

Howard Cosell

Fun Facts About Howard Cosell

  • Howard Cosell was a legendary American sports journalist, who actually made sports speak. A lawyer by profession but a sports journalist by choice, Howard Williams Cosell was born on 25th March, 1918. For Howard, Jackie Robinson was the major source of inspiration.
  • He was born in North Carolina but grew up in Brooklyn. Very early in his life his parents, mother Nellie and father Isidore, made it very clear to him that they want him to be a lawyer later in his life. For achieving the same goal, he first graduated in English from New York University. After getting his degree in English, he attended the School of Law at the University of New York and eventually earned his degree.
  • In 1941, Cosell joined the state bar of New York. When the United States of America fought during World War II, he joined the Army Transportation Corp. While there, Cosell was quickly promoted to the grade of Major. At that point, Cosell was the youngest cadet to become a major. Soon after the conclusion of the war, Cosell decided to practice law. He chose Manhattan to begin a practice in Union Law, and among the list of his clients were very famous actors and sportspeople, such as Willie Mays.
  • He soon came to realize that his true calling in life was sports commentary after hosting the Little League for over 3 years and he decided to leave Law for once and for all by pursuing broadcasting as a career.
  • Cosell with Muhammad Ali
    Cosell with Muhammad Ali

    He was asked by Robert Pauley to get sponsorship if he wanted a show weekly on ABC Radio. He surprised Pauley by getting sponsorship from his relative and Pauley gave him a show. In time, he would become a prominent personality on television, yet he never stopped working on radio. His popularity reached its zenith when he covered Muhammad Ali. Cosell was famous for narrating the facts ‘As it is like’ and his sense of style and facts actually changed the entire sports broadcasting industry. Unlike other reporters, Howard always involved a bit of intellectualism in his commentary and thus was able to give his personal analysis on the game instantly.

  • In 1970, the executive producer of ABC Sports hired Cosell a a commentator for Monday Night Football. Above and beyond Monday Night Football, Howard was also one of the commentators when ABC broadcast the Olympics. Cosell lent his voice to many other sports related shows on ABC. His colorful aura and idiosyncratic voice, is known, admired and remembered even today.
  • After a 14 year run, Howard Cosell retired from “Monday Night Football” on December 14th, 1984.
  • He got married in 1944 to Mary Abrams. Mary died in 1990 and Howard after the demise of his beloved wife, was seen only a few times in public. After 4 years, in 1995 Cosell also died due to heart embolism.

Special thanks to www.livetvcenter.com

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“It’s a Wonderful Life”: Frank Capra’s Timeless Holiday Classic

"It's a Wonderful Life" Movie Poster

"It's a Wonderful Life" Movie Poster

Fun Facts About “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Classic Christmas flick It’s a Wonderful Life is played in countless homes around the world each holiday season. So before the family gathers around the television to enjoy this feel-good film this season, brush up on your trivia knowledge about George Bailey’s story to impress even your scroogiest family members.

  • “The Greatest Gift” was a short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1943. It concerned a man named George Pratt who wished he never been born. A stranger meets George on a bridge grants him his wish. George gets to see what would have happened if he wasn’t around. He ends up selling a brush to his former wife and her new husband in this alternative universe. When Stern couldn’t get the story published, he self-published it as a 21 page Christmas card gift that he sent out to 200 friends. A Hollywood agent got a hold of the card and bought the rights. When attempts at creating a script failed, director Frank Capra took over the rights and the rest is history.
  • Despite the snowy setting, the movie was filmed in California where temperatures reached 90 degrees during filming. Jimmy Stewart can be seen sweating in some scenes.
  • Before “It’s A Wonderful Life,” film snow was actually corn flakes painted white. The problem was all that crunching. Films that used corn flake snow had to go back and dub in the dialogue. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live so he asked his special effects department for some new snow. They came up with a combination of soap, water and foamite (stuffed used for fighting fires). This new snow formula proved so successful it actually won a technical award from the Academy.

  • The classic scene where George and Mary dance the Charleston and end up taking a dip was filmed at the Beverly Hills High School gymnasium which actually has its basketball court built over its swimming pool. The same set up was used in the Cary Grant from “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.” The school also boosts such alumni as David Schwimmer, Lenny Kravitz and Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • George and Mary might not have taken their dunk during the high school dance had it not been for a little rascal, specifically Alfalfa. Carl Dean “Alfalfa” Switzer played the role of Freddie, Mary’s ill-fated date to the dance. Carl was 19 when he appeared in the film, but had his start in show business at the age of 8 when he appeared in the first Little Rascal short “Beginner’s Luck” in 1935.
  • Ginger Rogers turned down the role of “Mary” because she found the part to be “too bland.” When discussing the decision in her autobiography, Rogers asked her readers “Foolish, you say?”.

  • The Hotel Clarence in Seneca Falls, New York is named for George Bailey’s guardian angel.
  • Ma Bailey was played by Academy Award nominated actress Beulah Bondi. Turns out she played Jimmy Stewart’s mother in four other times in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Of Human Hearts,” “Vivacious Lady,” and on the “Jimmy Stewart Television Show.”
  • The film was James Stewart’s first since returning from World War II where he flew missions over Germany.
  • Alfred Hitchcock was famous for making on-screen cameos in all of his movies. Jimmy the Crow was Frank Capra’s good luck charm. He first popped up in “You Can’t Take It With You” and made subsequent cameos in most of Capra’s film. In “It’s A Wonderful Life” Jimmy was one of Uncle Billy’s pets shown in the Bailey Building and Loan.
  • Despite being only referred to as “Mr. Potter,” the full name of Lionel Barrymore’s character is Henry F. Potter.

  • At one point in the film, an inebriated Uncle Billy bids good night to his nephew George then wanders off screen. A crash is heard and Uncle Billy cries out, “I’m alright.” That crash was a crew member accidentally dropping equipment during the take. Frank Capra decided to keep in the ad lib and paid the crew member an extra 10 bucks for “improving the sound.”
  • By Hollywood standards, the original released of “It’s A Wonderful Life” in 1946 was a box office disappointment. The film cost around 3.7 million to make, but only generated 3.3 million in its initial run. That would be considered a bomb in anyone’s record book. Then along came television and public domain. Looking for fill up programming hours during the holidays, local television stations got to broadcast “It’s A Wonderful Life” as many times as they wanted. This meant several dozen showings in one holiday season. The result is that folks fell in love with the classic and demanded it to be aired every Christmas. Today, NBC maintains the rights to the film and have managed to create their own traditions with multiple airings every December.

 

Special thanks to holykaw.alltop.com and www.toptenz.net

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Sherlock Holmes: Arthur Conan Doyle’s Famous Sleuth

Holmes Silhouette with Signature Deer-stalker Hat and Pipe

Holmes Silhouette with Signature Deerstalker Cap and Pipe

Fun Facts About Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes”

  • Sherlock means blond, but two of the actors most associated with the role, Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, both had dark hair.
  • The famous deerstalker cap of Holmes was not ascribed to him by Doyle, , but by the illustrator of the stories, Sidney Paget.
  • The most famous phrase that was never used in Doyle’s original works was “Elementary, my dear Watson.” This was used in the first sound film to feature the character.
  • Doyle did write Holmes saying, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” This may be the most famous actual quote of the character.
  • Holmes’ best friend and biographer is Dr. Watson. Watson has a bullet wound that was first described as being in the shoulder, but in another story the wound had moved to the leg.
  • Holmes’ most famous nemesis was Professor Moriarty; however he only appeared in two stories, The Final Problem and The Valley of Fear. But, Holmes’ description of him as the “Napoleon of Crime” as well as the apparent belief that Holmes died fighting him (at least until Holmes returned due to popular demand), his fame is justified.
  • Canonically, the only woman to leave a lasting impression on Holmes was Irene Adler. She was also the only person to have beaten Holmes. It is believed by some fans that the two were romantically involved and had a child together. Laurie R King, British author of a series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, mentioned a son he had with Adler. She is not the first writer to do so.
  • Sherlock Holmes is famous for his cold logic, but Doyle believed in spiritualism.
  • Doyle became so tired of Holmes that he wrote The Final Problem in order to kill him off. The public’s demands for more stories lead Doyle to resurrect Holmes in The Adventure of the Empty House.
  • Nicholas Meyer wrote a book where he gives an explanation for Holmes’ absence during the time between The Final Problem and The Adventure of the Empty House. It is called The Seven Per Cent Solution, and instead of hiding out from dangerous enemies, Holmes is actually in Vienna, getting treatment for his cocaine addiction. His use of cocaine is part of Doyle’s canon.
  • Basil of Baker Street, a mouse in a children’s book series, as well as a Disney movie called The Great Mouse Detective was inspired by Holmes. Other characters based on the detective include Dr. House of television’s House, and Shirley Holmes, a teenager in the Canadian series The Adventures of Shirley Holmes. The character of Shirley was Sherlock Holmes’ great grand niece. Doyle set his stories in Victorian England, but other people have put Holmes in many settings, including the 1940’s, battling Nazis and the 22nd century.
Special thanks to www.associatedcontent.com

Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Olympics: The Thrills of Victory, the Splendor of Pageantry and the Pride of Nations

The Olympic Flame burns brightly during the Opening Cermony

The Olympic Flame burns brightly during the Opening Ceremony

Fun Facts About the Olympics

 

  • The early Olympic Games were celebrated as a religious festival from 776 B.C. until 393 A.D., when the games were banned for being a pagan festival (the Olympics celebrated the Greek god Zeus).
  • In 1894, a French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin, proposed a revival of the ancient tradition, and thus the modern-day Olympic Summer Games were born.
  • Opening day of the first modern Olympic Games was in Athens, Greece on April 5th, 1896.
  • Women were first allowed to participate in 1900 at the second modern Olympic Games.
  • The first opening ceremonies were held during the 1908 Olympic Games in London.
  • During the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the procession of athletes is always led by the Greek team, followed by all the other teams in alphabetical order (in the language of the hosting country), except for the last team which is always the team of the hosting country.
  • Created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914, the Olympic flag contains five interconnected rings on a white background.

    The Olympic Flag

    The Olympic Flag

  • The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions of the world – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceana, and every national flag in the world includes one of the five colors, which are (from left to right) blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The colors of the rings were chosen because at least one of them appeared on the flag of every country in the world.
  • The Olympic flag was first flown during the 1920 Olympic Games.
  • In 1921, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, borrowed a Latin phrase from his friend, Father Henri Didon, for the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (“Swifter, Higher, Stronger”) to be used as the Olympic motto.,
  • Pierre de Coubertin wrote an oath for the athletes to recite at each Olympic Games. During the opening ceremonies, one athlete recites the oath on behalf of all the athletes. The Olympic oath was first taken during the 1920 Olympic Games by Belgian fencer Victor Boin.
  • The Olympic Oath states, “In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”
  • Pierre de Coubertin got the idea for the Olympic Creed from a speech given by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot at a service for Olympic champions during the 1908 Olympic Games. The Creed reads: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
  • The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia (Greece), a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games.

    The ceremonial lighting of the Olympic Flame

    The ceremonial lighting of the Olympic Flame

  • The flame first appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.
  • The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection.
  • In 1936, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 1936 Olympic Games, Carl Diem, suggested what is now the modern Olympic Torch relay. The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia by women wearing ancient-style robes and using a curved mirror and the sun. The Olympic Torch is then passed from runner to runner from the ancient site of Olympia to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city. The flame is then kept alight until the Games have concluded. The Olympic Torch relay represents a continuation from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern Olympics.
  • The Olympic Hymn, played when the Olympic Flag is raised, was composed by Spyros Samaras and the words added by Kostis Palamas. The Olympic Hymn was first played at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens but wasn’t declared the official hymn by the IOC until 1957.
  • The last Olympic gold medals that were made entirely out of gold were awarded in 1912.
  • The Olympic medals are designed especially for each individual Olympic Games by the host city’s organizing committee. Each medal must be at least three millimeters thick and 60 millimeters in diameter. Also, the gold and silver Olympic medals must be made out of 92.5 percent silver, with the gold medal covered in six grams of gold.
  • Host Greece won the most medals (47) at the first Olympic Summer Games in 1896.
  • James B. Connolly (United States), winner of the hop, step, and jump (the first final event in the 1896 Olympics), was the first Olympic champion of the modern Olympic Games.
  • The winter Olympic Games were first held in 1924 (in Chamonix, France), beginning a tradition of holding them a few months earlier and in a different city than the summer Olympic Games.
  • Beginning in 1994, the winter Olympic Games were held in completely different years (two years apart) than the summer Games.
  • Norway has won the most medals (263) at the Winter Games.
  • The United States has won more medals (2,189) at the Summer Games than any other country.
  • Up until 1994 the Olympics were held every four years. Since then, the Winter and Summer games have alternated every two years.
  • The first Olympics covered by U.S. television was the 1960 Summer Games in Rome by CBS.
  • No country in the Southern Hemisphere has ever hosted a Winter Games.
  • Three continents – Africa, South America, and Antarctica – have never hosted an Olympics.
  • A record 202 countries participated in the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens.
  • Only four athletes have ever won medals at both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games: Eddie Eagan (United States), Jacob Tullin Thams (Norway), Christa Luding-Rothenburger (East Germany), and Clara Hughes (Canada).
  • Speed skater Bonnie Blair has won six medals at the Olympic Winter Games. That’s more than any other American athlete.
  • Nobody has won more medals at the Winter Games than cross-country skier Bjorn Dählie of Norway, who has 12.
  • Larrisa Latynina, a gymnast from the former Soviet Union, finished her Summer Olympic Games career with 18 total medals—the most in history.
  • In order to make the IOC an independent organization, the members of the IOC are not considered diplomats from their countries to the IOC, but rather are diplomats from the IOC to their respective countries.
  • When choosing locations for the Olympic Games, the IOC specifically gives the honor of holding the Games to a city rather than a country.
  • The United States Olympic Committee established the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983 to recognize outstanding American Olympic athletes, however, a plan to build a hall has been suspended due to lack of funding.
  • The first marathon: In 490 BCE, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran from Marathon to Athens (about 25 miles) to inform the Athenians the outcome of the battle with invading Persians. The distance was filled with hills and other obstacles; thus Pheidippides arrived in Athens exhausted and with bleeding feet. After telling the townspeople of the Greeks’ success in the battle, Pheidippides fell to the ground dead. In 1896, at the first modern Olympic Games, held a race of approximately the same length in commemoration of Pheidippides.
  • During the first several modern Olympics, the marathon was always an approximate distance. In 1908, the British royal family requested that the marathon start at the Windsor Castle so that the royal children could witness its start. The distance from the Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium was 42,195 meters (or 26 miles and 385 yards). In 1924, this distance became the standardized length of a marathon.
  • Because of World War I and World War II, there were no Olympic Games in 1916, 1940, or 1944.
  • Tennis was played at the Olympics until 1924, then re-instituted in 1988.
  • In 1960, the Winter Olympic Games were held in Squaw Valley, California (United States). In order to bedazzle and impress the spectators, Walt Disney was head of the committee that organized the opening day ceremonies. The 1960 Winter Games Opening Ceremony was filled with high school choirs and bands, releasing of thousands of balloons, fireworks, ice statues, releasing of 2,000 white doves, and national flags dropped by parachute.
  • Though Russia had sent a few athletes to compete in the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games, they did not compete again until the 1952 Games.
  • Motor boating was an official sport at the 1908 Olympics.
  • Polo was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924, and 1936.
  • The word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek root “gymnos” meaning nude; the literal meaning of “gymnasium” is “school for naked exercise.” Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games would participate in the nude.
  • The first recorded ancient Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE with only one event – the stade. The stade was a unit of measurement (about 600 feet) that also became the name of the footrace because it was the distance run. Since the track for the stade (race) was a stade (length), the location of the race became the stadium.
  • An Olympiad is a period of four successive years. The Olympic Games celebrate each Olympiad. For the modern Olympic Games, the first Olympiad celebration was in 1896. Every four years celebrates another Olympiad; thus, even the Games that were cancelled (1916, 1940, and 1944) count as Olympiads. The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens was called the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad.
  • The Summer Olympic sports are archery, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe / kayak, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, handball, judo, modern pentathlon (shooting, fencing, swimming, show jumping, and running), mountain biking, rowing, sailing, shooting, soccer, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, track and field, triathlon (swimming, biking, running), volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.
  • The Winter Olympic sports are alpine skiing, biathlon (cross-country skiing and target shooting), bobsled, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hocky, luge, Nordic combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing), skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding, and speed skating.

VIDEO:  “The Olympic Hymn” by Spyros Samaras

VIDEO:  “The Olympic Anthem”, a.k.a, “Bugler’s Dream” by Leo Arnaud

Special thanks to www.factmonster.com and www.about.com

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