Tag Archives: World War II

Christmas Lights: Illuminating the Cold Winter Night Since 1880

Fun Facts About Christmas Lights

  • The General Electric Christmas lighting outfit, the first set offered for sale to the public. Circa 1903-1904.

    The General Electric Christmas lighting outfit, the first set offered for sale to the public. Circa 1903-1904.

    The inventors of electric Christmas lights are Thomas Edison and Edward Johnson

  • Before electric Christmas lights, families would use candles to light up their Christmas trees. This practice was often dangerous and led to many home fires.
  • Edward H. Johnson put the very first string of electric Christmas tree lights together in 1882. Johnson, Edison’s friend and partner in the Edison’s Illumination Company, hand-wired 80 red, white and blue light bulbs and wound them around his Christmas tree. Not only was the tree illuminated with electricity, it also revolved.
  • During the Christmas season of 1880, strands of lights were strung around the outside of Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory. Railroad passengers traveling by got their first look at an electrical light display.
  • General Electric was the first company to offer pre-wired Christmas light strings. Prior to this, lights had to be hand wired on the tree. GE was unable to patent their string (or festoon), and suddenly the market was open to anyone who wanted to manufacture the strings.
  • Modern Christmas light decorating to the extreme

    Modern Christmas light decorating to the extreme

    In 1895, U.S. President Grover Cleveland proudly sponsored the first electrically lit Christmas tree in the White House.

  • In 1901, The first commercially produced Christmas tree lamps were manufactured in strings of nine sockets by the Edison General Electric Co. of Harrison, New Jersey.
  • It was a common but incorrect belief in the early days of electric Christmas lighting that Christmas light bulbs would burn longer in an upright position. Early decorators spent a lot of time making sure that the lamps were positioned upright on the tree.
  • Many of the earliest figural light bulbs representing fruit, flowers and holiday figures were blown in molds that were also used to make small glass ornaments. These figural lights were painted by toy makers.
  • Many of the earliest Christmas lights burned so hot that they were about as dangerous as the candles they were advertised to replace.
  • Ink Blotter advertising General Electric's new pre-wired sets of Christmas lights. The artwork is a direct copy of General Electric's cover art for their 1904 booklet advertising their first set of Christmas lights.

    Ink Blotter advertising General Electric's new pre-wired sets of Christmas lights. The artwork is a direct copy of General Electric's cover art for their 1904 booklet advertising their first set of Christmas lights.

    Early in their history, Christmas lights were so expensive that they were more commonly rented than sold. An electrically lighted tree was a status symbol in the early 1900s.

  • Until 1903, when General Electric began to offer pre-assembled kits of Christmas lights, stringed lights were reserved for the wealthy and electrically savvy.
  • The wiring of electric lights was very expensive and required the hiring of the services of a wireman, our modern-day electrician. According to some, to light an average Christmas tree with electric lights before 1903 would have cost $2000.00 in today’s dollars.
  • Early NOMA Christmas light outfit

    Early NOMA Christmas light outfit

    Albert Sadacca saw a future in selling electric Christmas lights. The Sadacca family owned a novelty lighting company and in 1917 Albert, a teenager at the time, suggested that its store offer brightly colored strands of Christmas lights to the public.

  • Christmas lights were first advertised in the Ladies Home Journal.
  • True outdoor Christmas lights were not introduced to the public until 1927-1928, almost 45 years after the first electric tree lights were demonstrated. There were sets offered for sale as safe to use outside before 1927, but they were small, dangerous and extremely impractical for the average family.
  • By the 1920’s Albert Sadacca and his brothers organized the National Outfit Manufacturers Association (NOMA), a trade association. NOMA soon became NOMA Electric Co., with its members cornering the Christmas light market until the 1960’s.
  • President Coolidge at the lighting of the first National Christmas Tree on December 24, 1923.

    President Coolidge at the lighting of the first National Christmas Tree on December 24, 1923.

    On Christmas Eve 1923, President Calvin Coolidge began the country’s celebration of Christmas by lighting the National Christmas Tree with 3,000 electric lights on the Ellipse located south of the White House.

  • Montgomery Wards inadvertently gave the American public two well known Christmas treasures: the bubble light and Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer. The original story of Rudolph, a bit different than the one we know today, first appeared in a children’s giveaway booklet in 1939. The character became a runaway hit. Also, Carl Otis, the inventor of the bubble light, worked as an accountant for the company. Wards did not sponsor Carl’s invention, and he eventually sold it to NOMA. It became the biggest selling Christmas light in history up to that time.
  • Electrically lit trees did not become “universal” in the United States until after World War II.
  • NOMA Bubble lights

    NOMA Bubble lights

    Largest Cut Christmas Tree was a 221 foot Douglas fir at Northgate Shopping Center, Seattle, Washington, USA, in December 1950. (Guiness Book of World Records)

  • It is interesting to note that while Christmas is a uniquely Christian holiday, most of the major Christmas lighting companies were owned and operated by people of the Jewish faith.

Special thanks to tackylighttour.com, loc.gov and oldchristmastreelights.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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Interpol: Aiding Cross-border Law Enforcement and Cooperation

Interpol: Established September 7th, 1923

Interpol: Established September 7th, 1923

 

Fun Facts About Interpol

 

Interpol offices1. Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization, O.I.P.C., ICPO) was founded in Austria in 1923 to facilitate cross-border police cooperation. The word ‘Interpol’, contraction of ‘international police’, was chosen in 1946 as the telegraphic address.

2. Interpol is the world’s third largest international organization, after the United Nations and FIFA, with 186 member countries financed by annual contributions of about €41.7 million from its member countries.

3. It was located in Germany from 1942 to 1946, and its staff and facilities were used as an information gathering unit for the Gestapo. After World War II, the agency was reconstituted and headquartered in Paris. Today the organization is headquartered in Lyon, France.

4. The United Nations recognized Interpol as an intergovernmental organization in 1971.

Its principal services are to provide its member countries with information on the whereabouts of international criminals, to held seminars on crime detection science, and to facilitate the apprehension of criminals.

5. Contrary to the popular belief, Interpol officers do not operate directly in member countries and are not involved in the actual law enforcement. Interpol’s main role is to pass the information.

6. Interpol maintains a large database of unsolved crimes, convicted and alleged criminals. Member nations may access specific sections of this database at any time, while its police forces are encouraged to check information collected by Interpol whenever a major crime is committed.

7. In 2003 Interpol established Command and Co-ordination Centre, enabling the organization to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

8. Since 2002 Interpol has also been maintaining a database of lost and stolen identification and travel documents, and by 2006 this database contained over ten million identification items reported lost or stolen.

Special thanks to http://facts.trendstoday.info 

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OPEC: Influential Oil Producing Cartel with “Diplomatic Immunity”

OPEC Cartel Logo

OPEC Cartel Logo

Fun Facts About OPEC

Members of OPEC meet

Members of OPEC meet

 

 

Current Members: Algeria, Angola, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela

Cartel: By definition, OPEC is a cartel — a group of producers which tries to restrict output in an effort to keep prices higher than the competitive level.

It no longer sets crude oil prices: OPEC admits to setting crude oil prices in the ‘70s and’ 80s — they would look ridiculous to try and deny it. However, the oil market underwent a transformation in the 1990s and today, prices for crude oil are established according to three markets: 1) The New York Mercantile Exchange; 2) The International Petroleum Exchange in London; and, 3) The Singapore International Monetary Exchange.

This isn’t to suggest that OPEC has no influence on prices; quite the contrary. Prices established by the exchanges are based on supply and demand; therefore any decision OPEC makes concerning restricting production, for example, will have some effect on prices. These decisions, however, can have a direct consequence on profit margin, so it isn’t always in their best interests.

Its practices are considered to be illegal: Simply put: Cartels are illegal in many countries. In the U.S., for example, OPEC is in direct violation of antitrust laws, such as the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 — the same act that broke up Standard Oil, American Tobacco and Ma Bell. Antitrust laws don’t criminalize monopolies per se, only if the monopoly is used to eliminate its competition through methods of production or price-fixing.

Ordinarily, U.S. antitrust laws explicitly prohibit dealing with cartels. What makes OPEC so special? Simple: Congress grants OPEC diplomatic immunity from prosecution and in essence treats it as though it were a sovereign nation, even though this is not remotely the case. This status was tested in 1978, when the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), a non-profit labor organization in the U.S., filed suit against OPEC under the Sherman Act. In 1981, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the case, claiming OPEC was protected by its sovereign immunity status.

In 2007, a pair of controversial bills were introduced in Congress designed to amend antitrust laws to include OPEC. If the measures are approved in both houses and the president doesn’t veto it, individuals harmed by OPEC in the U.S. can begin to sue the organization. If this were to happen, few expect OPEC to continue doing business with the U.S.

It isn’t the only game in town: If one only paid passing attention to the media, you might get the impression that OPEC is the only oil game in town. Granted, its member countries control anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of the world’s proven oil reserves and over 40% of the globe’s oil production; however, there are other sets of somewhat substantial oil-producing groups.

Originally formed as an agent of the Marshall Plan following World War II, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a vast and all-encompassing organization with all sorts of arms and legs. Of its 30 member countries, a minority are oil producers, including the USA, Canada, Mexico, and the UK. Together they account for about 23% of the world’s oil production.

Additionally, the Russian Federation and a handful of former-Soviet states, such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are responsible for about 15% of global oil production.

OPEC Member Nations

OPEC Member Nations

It was formed to fight the “Seven Sisters”: The world’s wealthy oil barons have not always resided in the Middle East. In fact, for most of the 20th century, the member nations of OPEC were at the mercy of the so-called “Seven Sisters,” a non-organizational set of oil producers and distributors which, perhaps due to that non-organizational status, somehow eluded antitrust prosecution. The Seven Sisters was composed of Standard Oil of New Jersey, Royal Dutch Shell, Anglo-Persian Oil, Standard Oil of New York, Standard Oil of California, Gulf Oil, and Texaco.

By 1960, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela had grown tired of exporting their oil and then having to buy it back at higher prices. They formed OPEC to assert their “legitimate rights in an international oil market,” and by the 1970s, thanks in part to strategic maneuvers such as the Arab oil embargo, began to dominate the market.

It’s “customers” see bigger oil prices than its members: Oil taxes by countries that regularly import oil from OPEC, such as the U.S., the UK, Japan, and Italy, are often as much to blame for high oil prices as OPEC. Such taxes allow some countries to see oil-related revenues that are three or four times higher than some OPEC members see from exports. In addition, the production and development of oil requires huge investments, a fact that further chips away at OPEC-member profit margins.

As gasoline prices soar, more and more attention gets paid to OPEC. In the Western press its easily vilified and is a common ”fall guy“ for every issue related to oil and oil prices — not always unjustifiably so.

More than a few people would be pleased to see OPEC’s influence reduced or even made moribund. However, proven oil reserves are defined in the industry as the amount of oil that can be recovered and produced using today’s technologies, and as of 2006, the world total was 1,195,318 million barrels of crude oil; OPEC’s share of that amount was 922,482 million barrels or 77.2% (if you accept OPEC’s figures; hardly everyone does). Thus, unless a drastic change occurs in the energy-consumption habits of much of the world’s oil-hungry population, interest in OPEC is unlikely to recede for some time.

Special thanks to www.askmen.com

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The Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941: Living in Infamy

The Pearl Harbor Memorial rests atop the sunken U.S.S. Arizona

The Pearl Harbor Memorial rests atop the sunken USS. Arizona

Facts About the Attack on Pearl Harbor

  • Japanese attack routes on Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii
    Japanese attack routes on Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

    Although the aerial attack was very successful, the submarines failed to finish off any wounded ship inside the harbour.

  • The attack’s success surprised the Japanese as much as the Americans.
  • The last part of the decoded Japanese message stated that U.S. relations were to be severed.
  • The Japanese attack force was under the command of Admiral Nagumo.
  • Japansese force consisted of six carriers with 423 planes.
  • At 6 a.m. the first Japanese attack wave of 83 planes took off.
  • Nickname for Pearl Harbor is “Gibraltar of the Pacific.”
  • Eighteen U.S. ships were hit.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy,” in reference to the attack.

  • Three prime targets escaped damage, the U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, the Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga. They were not in the port when the attack took place.
  • Another target, the base fuel tanks also escaped damage.
  • Casualties included 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians.
  • 1178 people were wounded.
  • The day after the attack the U.S. and Britain declared war on Japan.
  • Pearl Harbor is the Naval Base for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
  • Pearl Harbor is the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
  • Pearl Harbor has 10 square miles of navigable water.
  • The harbour is on the southern coast of Oahu.
  • Naval vessel placement at Pearl Harbor during the attack
    Naval vessel placement at Pearl Harbor during the attack

    The harbour is artificially improved.

  • The attack was the climax of a decade of worsening relations between the U.S. and militaristic Japan.
  • A U.S. embargo on necessary supplies for war prompted the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • The Japanese Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku planned the attack with great care.
  • All of the planes on the Japanese ships were fully fueled and armed.
  • The Japanese planes took off about 90 minutes from Pearl Harbor.
  • The president at the time of the attack was Franklin D. Rooselvelt.
  • The attack brought the United States into World War II.
  • The Japanese fleet had 30 ships.

  • The Japanese were interested in the Hawaiian islands since the islands were annexed by the U.S. in 1898.
  • An admiral said, “leaving aside the unspeakable treachery of it, the Japanese did a fine job.”
  • Japanese suffered just small losses.
  • The attack crippled the United States fleet.
  • The Japanese deceived the U.S. by saying false statements and expressed interest in continued peace.
  • Americans think of the attack as very dishonorable.
  • The attack was planned weeks in advance.
  • The main reason for the attack was over economic issues.

  • Because of the unpreparedness of the U.S. military, Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short were relieved of duty.
  • The attack severely crippled the U.S. naval and air strength in the Pacific.
  • Of the eight battleships, all but the Arizona and Oklahoma were eventually repaired and returned to service.
  • On December 8, 1941, Congress declared war on Japan with only one vote against it. The vote against it was of Represenative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, who had also voted against U.S. entry into World War I.
  • Once the fleet was out of action, Japan would be able to conquest a great area.
  • A U.S. Army private who noticed the large flight of planes on his radar screen was told to ignore them because a flight of B-17s from the continental U.S. was expected at the time.
  • More than 180 U.S. aircraft were destroyed.
  • Pearl Harbor Memorial
    Pearl Harbor Memorial

    During the attack the USS Arizona sank with a loss of more than 1,100 men.

  • A white concrete and steel structure now spans the hull of the sunken ship as a memorial.
  • The memorial was dedicated on May 30, 1962.
  • U.S. officials had been aware that an attack by Japan was probable, but did not know the time or place it would occur.
  • Pearl Harbor was not in the state of high alert when the attack started, Anti-Aircraft guns were left unmanned.
  • The Americans were taken completely by surprise.
  • The main targets for the first wave was the airfield and battleships.
  • The second wave targets were other ships and shipyard facilities.
  • The air raid lasted until about 9:45 a.m.

 

 

 

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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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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