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Nine Neat Pop Culture Facts

A pop culture addict who loves to talk about movies, music, books, comics, and all of the other things that move and entertain us.

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Lawrence of Arabia is widely considered a masterpiece. It has long been hailed as perhaps the pinnacle of film making. Ironically, for decades everyone saw a flawed copy of the movie without even realizing it. The truth came to light in 1989 when the director, David Lean, was reconstructing the movie for a rerelease. He noticed that a caravan of camels changed direction between two shots. He then noticed that star Peter O'Toole had his watch on the wrong arm. It was then he realized that the entire second reel had been flipped and was backward. This had apparently happened in 1966 when the 35mm master was struck. That means that from its release until 1989 every time the movie was seen it was seen with 10 minutes of reversed shots. Luckily Lean was finally able to correct the mistake. It does kind of make me want to see the "original" flawed version though.

nine-neat-pop-culture-facts

Charles Schulz Hates Peanuts

Charles Schulz is the cartoonist who became famous for introducing us to lovable characters like good old Charlie Brown, wise beyond his years Linus and the most imaginative dog ever, Snoopy. The strip, and the characters, have been known to us for decades as Peanuts. Chuck didn't choose this name though. It was foisted on him by the publisher and he said that he always disliked it, calling it perhaps the worst title for a comic strip ever. He said he would have called it Good Old Charlie Brown. Unfortunately for him, he didn't have the pull to get his way in those matters until Peanuts was well established.

Had things gone differently for Schulz, instead of getting famous for drawing a dog he might have worked in relative obscurity drawing the world's most famous mouse. Charles applied for a job at Walt Disney, but did not get the job. It may have taken him longer to get established, but he and the world became all the richer for it.

nine-neat-pop-culture-facts

The Tom Hanks Vs Henry Winkler Feud

Charles Schulz is the cartoonist who became famous for introducing us to lovable characters like good old Charlie Brown, wise beyond his years Linus and the most imaginative dog ever, Snoopy. The strip, and the characters, have been known to us for decades as Peanuts. Chuck didn't choose this name though. It was foisted on him by the publisher and he said that he always disliked it, calling it perhaps the worst title for a comic strip ever. He said he would have called it Good Old Charlie Brown. Unfortunately for him, he didn't have the pull to get his way in those matters until Peanuts was well established.

Had things gone differently for Schulz, instead of getting famous for drawing a dog he might have worked in relative obscurity drawing the world's most famous mouse. Charles applied for a job at Walt Disney, but did not get the job. It may have taken him longer to get established, but he and the world became all the richer for it.

nine-neat-pop-culture-facts

Why Bill Haley Really Rocked

Bill Haley seems like an unlikely rock star. A pudgy guy who had been in some country bands, Bill was in his 30's when he recorded Rock Around the Clock with the Comets. There is a lot of debate about the first rock song, and it definitely wasn't Rock Around the Clock. But while it wasn't first, it was the one that broke open the dam. After the song was in the movie Blackboard Jungle rock and roll was huge, and Bill Haley and the Comets were the face of rock and roll for many people. They had a string of hits, made a movie, and got so popular the Haley was beating Elvis in reader polls for best male singer in magazines well into 1956. Haley also had to put up with his fair share of racist crap. He was picketed by white supremacist groups, not only for having the audacity to play what they referred to as "jungle music". He also played on bills with black artists and bands. Sometimes The Comets were the only white people in a revue. He also insisted on only playing to integrated crowds. This led to death threats and attempted bomb attacks. Luckily, no harm came to anyone in the group. Eventually Haley was replaced by Elvis as the main attraction in rock and roll, but he managed to hang on a little longer in Britain. In fact, he was the first artist t3o have a gold record (1 million copies) in Britain. He's not remembered with the same reverence as Elvis maybe, but all in all his legacy is not bad at all.

nine-neat-pop-culture-facts

L.B. Lenoir's Car Crash

Bill Haley seems like an unlikely rock star. A pudgy guy who had been in some country bands, Bill was in his 30's when he recorded Rock Around the Clock with the Comets. There is a lot of debate about the first rock song, and it definitely wasn't Rock Around the Clock. But while it wasn't first, it was the one that broke open the dam. After the song was in the movie Blackboard Jungle rock and roll was huge, and Bill Haley and the Comets were the face of rock and roll for many people. They had a string of hits, made a movie, and got so popular the Haley was beating Elvis in reader polls for best male singer in magazines well into 1956. Haley also had to put up with his fair share of racist crap. He was picketed by white supremacist groups, not only for having the audacity to play what they referred to as "jungle music". He also played on bills with black artists and bands. Sometimes The Comets were the only white people in a revue. He also insisted on only playing to integrated crowds. This led to death threats and attempted bomb attacks. Luckily, no harm came to anyone in the group. Eventually Haley was replaced by Elvis as the main attraction in rock and roll, but he managed to hang on a little longer in Britain. In fact, he was the first artist t3o have a gold record (1 million copies) in Britain. He's not remembered with the same reverence as Elvis maybe, but all in all his legacy is not bad at all.

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Bill Haley seems like an unlikely rock star. A pudgy guy who had been in some country bands, Bill was in his 30's when he recorded Rock Around the Clock with the Comets. There is a lot of debate about the first rock song, and it definitely wasn't Rock Around the Clock. But while it wasn't first, it was the one that broke open the dam. After the song was in the movie Blackboard Jungle rock and roll was huge, and Bill Haley and the Comets were the face of rock and roll for many people. They had a string of hits, made a movie, and got so popular the Haley was beating Elvis in reader polls for best male singer in magazines well into 1956. Haley also had to put up with his fair share of racist crap. He was picketed by white supremacist groups, not only for having the audacity to play what they referred to as "jungle music". He also played on bills with black artists and bands. Sometimes The Comets were the only white people in a revue. He also insisted on only playing to integrated crowds. This led to death threats and attempted bomb attacks. Luckily, no harm came to anyone in the group. Eventually Haley was replaced by Elvis as the main attraction in rock and roll, but he managed to hang on a little longer in Britain. In fact, he was the first artist t3o have a gold record (1 million copies) in Britain. He's not remembered with the same reverence as Elvis maybe, but all in all his legacy is not bad at all.

nine-neat-pop-culture-facts

Alfred Hitchcock Explains MacGuffins

Alfred Hitchcock created many staples of film making, but one of the more famous is the idea of the MacGuffin. A MacGuffin is a plot device that gets the action in a story moving. It can be treasure, or information, or anything really. What it is matters less than the fact that it matters to the characters in the story for some reason. When asked to explain this concept of the MacGuffin, Hitch had a story he would tell to clarify.

On an English train on it's way to Scotland one man says to another "What's that package you have there?" The other man says "Oh that? That's a MacGuffin." The first man asks "What is a MacGuffin?" The second man replies "It's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish highlands." The first man replies "But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands." The second man answers "Then that's no MacGuffin."

John Lennon signs an album for his soon to be assassin Mark David Chapman

John Lennon signs an album for his soon to be assassin Mark David Chapman

Playboy's Poor Timing

Alfred Hitchcock created many staples of film making, but one of the more famous is the idea of the MacGuffin. A MacGuffin is a plot device that gets the action in a story moving. It can be treasure, or information, or anything really. What it is matters less than the fact that it matters to the characters in the story for some reason. When asked to explain this concept of the MacGuffin, Hitch had a story he would tell to clarify.

On an English train on it's way to Scotland one man says to another "What's that package you have there?" The other man says "Oh that? That's a MacGuffin." The first man asks "What is a MacGuffin?" The second man replies "It's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish highlands." The first man replies "But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands." The second man answers "Then that's no MacGuffin."

nine-neat-pop-culture-facts

The Cameraman Hero

Accidents on movie sets are rare, but not unknown. Of course productions have rules and safeguards to make things safer, but that wasn't always the case. In 1914 the movie industry was pretty new. There was already an issue in the filming of Across the Border. A pony had fallen over a cliff to its death. That shot even made it into the movie, allowed by censors because they had been assured the incident was accidental. The movie finished filming without further incident. Until, that is, one scene was ruined while being developed. They had to reshoot a scene of their leading lady, Grace McHugh riding a horse across the Arkansas River. A few accounts say she was in a boat, but the majority of them state she was on a horse. Something happened that caused her to fall off her horse (or out of her boat) and into the strong current.

But cameraman Owen Carter was not going to just stand there and let her get swept away by the river. He jumped in after the drowning actress. Again accounts differ. Most modern accounts state that they both drowned. Apparently her body was found five days later a mile from where she fell in, and his was found 4 days after that 12 miles away. However some of the accounts of the day paint a more horrifying scene. They posit that Carter actually saved McHugh, dragging her to a sandbar. Unfortunately the sandbar was actually quicksand, and the crew watched helplessly as the almost drowned duo sank and died. There were some claims that the whole accident may have been a publicity hoax. But while the tragedy was used to sell the movie in many tasteless ads, it had been all too real. Carter was posthumously honored with a medal by the Carnegie Hero Fund.

nine-neat-pop-culture-facts

Jon-Erik Hexum's Big Mistake

Jon-Erik Hexum was not a household name. In fact, his career really hadn't been going that long when he died. He had only come to Hollywood a few years before his untimely death at 26. Due to both the shortness of his on-screen career and some poor decision making on his part, he will always be remembered more for the tragic circumstances of his death than for any parts he played. While he had turned down opportunities to be in popular shows like The Dukes of Hazzard and CHiPs, he did get a regular part on the shows Voyagers! and Cover Up. If you have never heard of them you are not alone.

It was on the set of Cover Up that Hexum met his tragic end. They were filming an episode and there was a delay. Hexum was bored and began playing with the prop gun he was using in the scene. He put the gun to his head and fired. The gun was loaded with a blank. A blank can be just as dangerous as a bullet, which Hexum never had time to learn. He was taken to the hospital and after almost a week was pronounced brain dead. If there is a silver lining, it is that he was an organ donor, and in death he prolonged the lives of at least five people. (Become an organ donor if you're not already.) Unfortunately as the sad cases involving Brandon Lee and Alec Baldwin have shown, Hexum's case did not seem to lead to an increase of safety measures for guns on movie sets.

© 2022 Gracchus Gruad

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