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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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New York’s Marquis Theater: The Broadway lights glitter on as controversy haunts its not-too-distant past

New York's Marquis Theater circa 2003

New York's Marquis Theater circa 2003

Fun Facts About New York’s Marquis Theater

Marquis Theater seating chart

Marquis Theater seating chart

Location, Location, Location: 

1535 Broadway, New York, NY – the heart of Times Square at Broadway and 45th Street and within the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square.
Designed by: Architect John Portman

Features: 1,611 seats, an expansive backstage, high ceilings, state-of-the-art acoustics, and wide aisles.

Grand Opening: August 10, 1986

Shows Featured: Me and My Girl (1420 Performances), Gypsy, Man of La Mancha, The Goodbye Girl, Damn Yankees, Victor/Victoria, Peter Pan, Annie Get Your Gun,Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Drowsy Chaperone and Come Fly Away

“The Great Theater Massacre of 1982”: 5 famous Broadway theaters were demolished to make way for the hotel: the Helen Hayes, the Morosco, the Astor, the Bijou, and the Gaiety. Actor Christopher Reeve (then at the height of his Superman fame) joined with other protesters to stop the destruction, even forcing a Supreme Court challenge, but to no avail.

Actor Christopher Reeve

Actor Christopher Reeve

More controversy: The hotel in which the theater is located has been criticized for turning its back to Times Square. However, at the time the hotel was built, Times Square was only beginning to turn around. With the still-seedy character of Times Square, the architectural style of inwardly-oriented spaces made logical sense. The present redevelopment of Times Square as an urban destination point has left the Marriott Marquis detached from the street. However, the Marriott was the first major project in the Times Square revitalization, and has been credited as the starting point for today’s development node at Times Square.

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Elizabeth Blackwell: America’s First Female Medical Doctor

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

Fun Facts About Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

  • Elizabeth Blackwell 1821-1910, American physician, b. England; sister of Henry Brown Blackwell .
  • She emigrated to New York City when she was eleven years old. During Elizabeth’s childhood she took all the subjects the boys did at school. It was said that she wouldn’t leave until all of her writing was perfect.
  • When Elizabeth was ready to start college she applied to many colleges. Before applying to college she had gone to many teachers’ houses and trained with them. After many tries, she finally was the first women accepted to Geneva Medical College (then part of Geneva College, early name of Hobart). Even though she was accepted, the school did not seem to take her seriously. Nonetheless, her perseverance led her to a medical degree, which she received in 1849.
  • After she finished college she went to France to get more training. Elizabeth tried to enter La Maternite as a student apprentice. Even though the hospital did not recognize her degree, they let her be a nurse. While she was working there she got to help some doctors. One time she was called to take care of a baby whose eyes were infected. When she bent over the baby, some of the liquid squirted into her own eye. It got infected and resulted in her losing sight in that eye.
  • After she recovered she came home to the US. Shortly after, she tried to start her own hospital. A big problem was that no one wanted to see a female doctor. After she treated each patient they would spread the word about how good she was, and soon lots of people were coming to her.
  • With her sister, Emily Blackwell (1826-1910) who was also a doctor, and Marie Zackrzewska (an assistant), she founded (1857) the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which was expanded in 1868 to include a Women’s College for the training of doctors, the first of its kind.
  • In 1869, Dr. Blackwell settled in England, where she became (1875) professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women, which she had helped to establish.
  • She wrote Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women (1895) and many other books and papers on health and education. 

 

Special thanks to www.encyclopedia.com and  library.thinkquest.org

 

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The Jukebox: Staple of American Culture

The Wurlitzer Jukebox

The Wurlitzer Jukebox

Fun Facts About the Jukebox

  • Juke is an African word meaning “to make wicked mischief” and came directly from American slaves.
  • They described the illegal brothels or bootlegger shacks where they could occasionally escape their cruel lives with a jar of moonshine as “Juke-joints.”
  • Juke had an exotic and forbidden appeal, which inspired the name “jukebox”.
  • Coin-operated music boxes and player pianos were the first forms of automated coin-operated musical devices.
  • The first coin-operated phonographs were introduced in the 1890s when recording on wax cylinder records made it possible for them to survive many plays.
  • The very first “Jukebox” was officially introduced at San Francisco’s Palais Royal Saloon on November 23rd, 1889
  • Frequently exhibitors would equip many of these machines with listening tubes (acoustic headphones) and array them in “phonograph parlors” allowing the patron to select between multiple records, each played on its own machine.
  • Though the technology had existed since 1918, when Hobart C. Niblack of Rochester, NY patented an apparatus that automatically changed records, one of the first successful selective jukeboxes was an automatic phonograph produced in 1927 by the Automated Musical Instrument Company, later known as AMI.
  • In 1928, Justus P. Seeburg, who manufactured player pianos, created an electrostatic loudspeaker combined with a record player that was coin operated and gave the listener a choice of eight records.
  • Shellac 78 rpm records dominated jukeboxes until the Seeburg Corporation introduced an all 45 rpm vinyl record jukebox in 1950.
  • Stereo sound became popular in the early 1960s, and wallboxes (jukeboxes on a wall) of the era were designed with built-in speakers to provide patrons a sample of this latest technology. Interestingly, for the next several years, there were very few stereo 45 rpm records made; the “little LP” (also referred to as “stereo 7”) was designed and manufactured specifically for jukeboxes. It played at 33 1/3 rpm and was the same physical size as the 45 rpm records, to retain compatibility with the jukebox mechanisms.
  • Some jukeboxes during the 1960s were able to play other special 33 discs of 45 size, which provide a longer song or multiple songs, for a higher price. These specialty records (known as EPs, for “extended play”) were provided by the unique vendor that supplied records to the operator.
  • Starting in the 1980s, compact discs became the norm for modern jukeboxes.
  • Towards the end of the 20th century several companies started introducing completely digital jukeboxes which did not use physical recordings. The music selection and playback system was replaced by a dedicated proprietary computer.

Special thanks to www.bigsiteofamazingfacts.com and www.absoluteastronomy.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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