13 Things You Didn’t Know About “The Dick Van Dyke Show”

Eddie Deezen and Neatorama present 13 Things You Didn’t Know About The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Here are three of my favorites…

4. The show was not successful in its first season and was actually cancelled by CBS. Producer Danny Thomas had to personally go to the network execs and convince (beg) them to leave the show on the air. The show picked up steam during summer reruns that year, remained on the air and became the “classic” series we all know. Ironically, after star Van Dyke decided to end the series after it’s five-year run in 1966, it was the CBS executives who begged him to stay on.

7. Buddy Sorrel, the wise-cracking joke writer played by Morey Amsterdam, was actually based on Mel Brooks, who was originally a comedy writer and worked with the show’s producer Carl Reiner on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows in the 1950s.

9. The show was usually filmed before a studio audience, but was not on at least three occasions. One was on the day of JFK’s assassination- November 22, 1963. On that day, in the middle of rehearsals, the cast heard about the president’s assassination and decided to go ahead and film the episode “Happy Birthday and Too Many More” anyway. However, it was decided that they would do the episode with no studio audience, figuring no one would be in the mood to laugh at such a time.

25 Fascinating Facts About “Breaking Bad”

Jennifer Wood and Mental_Floss present 25 Fascinating Facts About Breaking Bad.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. THE NETWORK REALLY WANTED MATTHEW BRODERICK TO STAR.

It’s impossible to imagine Breaking Bad with anyone other than Bryan Cranston in the lead role, but he wasn’t as well known when the series kicked off, and AMC wanted a star. They were particularly interested in casting either Matthew Broderick or John Cusack in the lead.

“We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in Malcolm in the Middle,” a former AMC executive told The Hollywood Reporter about their initial reluctance to cast Cranston. “We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’” But Gilligan had worked with Cranston before, on an episode of The X-Files, and knew he had the chops to navigate the quirks of the part. The network brass watched the episode, and agreed.

“We needed somebody who could be dramatic and scary yet have an underlying humanity so when he dies, you felt sorry for him,” Gilligan said. “Bryan nailed it.”

10. GILLIGAN GOT SOME HELP FROM THE WALKING DEAD CREW FOR FRING’S FINAL EPISODE.

Fring’s final sendoff is one of the most memorable visual images from the entire series—and they were able to enlist the help of some true gore experts. “Indeed we did have great help from the prosthetic effects folks at The Walking Dead,” Gilligan told The New York Times. “And I want to give a shout-out to Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, and KNB EFX, those two gentlemen and their company, because their shop did that effect. And then that was augmented by the visual effects work of a guy named Bill Powloski and his crew, who digitally married a three-dimensional sculpture that KNB EFX created with the reality of the film scene. So you can actually see into and through Gus’s head in that final reveal. It’s a combination of great makeup and great visual effects. And it took months to do.”

15. HEISENBERG’S SIGNATURE HAT WAS A MATTER A PRACTICALITY.

Heisenberg’s porkpie hat came to identify Walter White’s dark side, but it originated from a very practical place. “Bryan kept asking me, after he shaved his head, ‘Can I have a hat?’ because his head was cold,” Kathleen Detoro, the show’s costume designer, explained. “So I would ask Vince and he kept saying no; Jesse wore the hats. Finally, Vince said, ‘I think there’s a place …’ It was Bryan asking for a hat, me asking Vince, and then Vince figuring out where in the story it makes sense: It’s when he really becomes Heisenberg.” (If you want to buy your own Heisenberg hat, it was made by Goorin.)

9 Hardened Facts About Charles Bronson

Jake Rosen and Mental_Floss present 9 Hardened Facts About Charles Bronson.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. HE EARNED HIS FIRST ACTING ROLE BY BURPING.

Bronson had always been interested in the arts. After serving in the Army during World War II, he found himself in Atlantic City doing odd jobs. One acting troupe invited him to paint scenery for them; Bronson found he enjoyed performing more. His first film role, in 1951’s You’re in the Navy Now, was landed, he said, because he was the only actor who could burp on demand.

3. COMMUNISM (AND STEVE MCQUEEN) FORCED A NAME CHANGE.

When Bronson (né Buchinsky) was starting out, Senator Joseph McCarthy was preoccupied with rooting out Communists in Hollywood. Fearing his Lithuanian name would provide ammunition for accusations, he took on the name Bronson after driving with friend Steve McQueen, who pointed to a “Bronson” street sign and shouted to him that it would be perfect.

8. HE WAS HUGE IN ITALY.

While Bronson was a bona fide movie star in the States for a portion of his career, he was a megastar in other countries. Italian moviegoers called him “Il Brutto” (The Ugly One) and in France he was one of cinema’s “monstres sacrés” His movies would often earn more in other territories than they would in North America. In Japan, a publicist once said, his name appeared on a sign over a block long.

11 Solid Gold Facts About Bonanza

MeTV presents 11 Solid Gold Facts About Bonanza.  Here are three of my favorites…

BLOCKER FOUNDED THE BONANZA RESTAURANTS.

Not only is the popular buffet chain named after the show, it was founded by one of its cast members. Blocker started the chain in 1963, which eventually boasted 600 locations by 1989. Ponderosa restaurants started in Canada in the early 1970s and expanded to the United States in the 1980s. Today, both chains are owned by the same company.

THEY WEAR THE SAME OUTFITS FOR A REASON.

Have you ever noticed how the characters’ clothes don’t change from episode to episode? From the fourth season onwards, the Cartwrights wear the same outfits like cartoon characters. The standardization was made to make it easier to reuse stock footage for action sequences and to make it easier to duplicate the wardrobe for the stunt doubles.

MOST OF THE CAST MEMBERS WORE HAIRPIECES.

During the last few years of the series, Greene, Roberts and Blocker all had to wear hairpieces because their natural hair was thinning. Greene and Roberts started the series wearing hairpieces, while Blocker started wearing a toupee in 1968

 

30 Facts You Never Knew About “Aliens”

Hollywood.com presents 30 Facts You Never Knew About Aliens.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. Aliens was never shown to test audiences because it was not completed until the week before its theatrical release.

11. The Alien nest set was left intact after filming and was later used in Tim Burton’s Batman.

12. One of the Alien eggs from the movie is now on display in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

14 Campy Facts About “Ed Wood”

Mark Mancini and the Mental_Floss present 14 Campy Facts About Ed Wood.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. IT’S THE BRAINCHILD OF FORMER COLLEGE ROOMMATES.

In 1981, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski—both freshmen at the USC School of Cinema-Television—met each other in a cafeteria line, hit it off immediately, and arranged to become roommates. During their senior year, the duo began joining forces on an assortment of screenwriting projects, kicking off a partnership that continues to this day. Together, they have co-written Problem Child (1990), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), Man on the Moon (1999), and Big Eyes (2014). On the small screen, they also developed the hit FX series American Crime Story, which recently completed its first season with The People v. O. J. Simpson.

Before graduating from USC in 1985, Alexander and Karaszewski briefly considered making a documentary on history’s most enigmatic director, Edward D. Wood, Jr. Although this project went unrealized, they eventually returned to the subject. In 1992, author Rudolph Grey published Ed Wood: Nightmare of Ecstasy (The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.), a thoroughly researched oral biography of Wood and his work. The book inspired Alexander and Karaszewski to pen a 10-page story treatment for a new biopic about the eccentric, cross-dressing auteur.

3. COLUMBIA PICTURES DROPPED THE FILM AFTER BURTON INSISTED ON SHOOTING IT IN BLACK AND WHITE.

One month before production began, Ed Wood hit a snag. Burton was fortunate enough to hire his first choice for the role of Bela Lugosi, actor Martin Landau, and makeup artist Rick Baker made Landau look uncannily similar to the Hungarian movie star. Nevertheless, after watching the first color tests, something felt a bit off. That’s when everyone realized that they’d only ever seen black-and-white photographs of Lugosi. Immediately, Burton decided that Ed Wood couldn’t be filmed in color.

The movie was being developed by Columbia Pictures, whose higher-ups disagreed with Burton’s decision to shoot in black and white. “They were saying, ‘Look, we can’t get our cable money, we can’t get our foreign video money, we won’t be able to exploit the movie in a lot of markets if it’s in black-and-white,” Alexander recalled. Still, Burton held firm. Realizing he wouldn’t budge, Columbia abandoned the picture. Fortunately, Disney was there to pick it up—and allowed Burton to follow his creative instincts.

9. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE’S LEADING MAN IS IN IT.

Although he appeared in more than 30 movies and worked with visionaries like Steven Spielberg and John Ford, Gregory Walcott is chiefly remembered for playing the main character in Plan 9 From Outer Space. “It’s enough to drive a puritan to drink!” Walcott vented in 1998. Regardless, when Tim Burton’s Ed Wood came around, he made a quick cameo as a prospective investor in one scene. The film marked Walcott’s final film appearance; the actor passed away in 2015.

11 Tiny Errors You Never Noticed in “The Andy Griffith Show”

Me-TV presents 11 Tiny Errors You Never Noticed in The Andy Griffith Show.  Here are three of my favorites…

ANDY REFLECTS – “The Bookie Barber”

Outside the barber shop, Andy tells Barney that one of his ears is longer than the other. After the quip, he walks off camera, presumably down the street. However, as soon as he exits the frame, watch the glass of the shop window. In the reflection, you can see Griffith immediately stop and hunch over, presumably under the camera. He awkwardly stands there for the rest of the shot.

TUBA – “The Mayberry Band”

You can see the reflection of the film crew and equipment in Andy’s tuba. Though warped around the curve of the horn, it’s an interesting glimpse at the set, as you can see ladders and rigging.

BARNEY IS PLUGGED IN, TOO – “Opie the Bird Man”

A handful of episodes later, another microphone cable can be spotted, running up Don Knotts’ pant leg. Look for it in an overhead shot, when Andy and Barney talk to Opie, who has climbed up a tree.

16 Epic Facts About “Spartacus”

Roger Cormier and the Mental_Floss present 16 Epic Facts About Spartacus.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. YUL BRYNNER TRIED TO MAKE HIS OWN SPARTACUS MOVIE FIRST.

A Spartacus film starring Brynner and Anthony Quinn was on the slate for United Artists, with the titles Spartacus and The Gladiators already trademarked. UA even paid for a full-page ad to be published in Variety in February 1958 for The Gladiators. However, Douglas and his film company owned the movie rights to Howard Fast’s novel, Spartacus, and when Universal Pictures backed Douglas—along with Ustinov, Olivier, and Laughton all preferring Trumbo’s script over the script for Brynner’s project—Douglas had won. Brynner’s film was never made.

3. STANLEY KUBRICK WAS NOT THE FIRST DIRECTOR.

David Lean (1957’s The Bridge on the River Kwai) turned down an offer to direct, and Laurence Olivier was asked but declined because he thought both acting and directing would be too much. Douglas believed that the original director, Anthony Mann, was scared of the large scope of the movie, and he also didn’t like how close he was to the British actors, so he fired him after two weeks of filming. Douglas turned to Kubrick, his director on Paths of Glory (1957), who agreed for a salary of $150,000.

8. KUBRICK TOLD THE HIRED CINEMATOGRAPHER TO TAKE A SEAT.

Because Kubrick was a cinematographer himself and very exacting in what he wanted, he eventually told Russell Metty, the man hired by Anthony Mann, to do nothing and let Kubrick do all the work for him. Metty would win his first and only Oscar for Best Cinematography for “his” work on Spartacus.

15 Facts About “Silence of the Lambs” That You Didn’t Know

Cory Mahoney and the Hollywood.com present 15 Facts About Silence of the Lambs That You Didn’t Know.  Here are three of my favorites…

3. The moth cocoons Buffalo Bill placed in his victims throats were actually made from a combination of Tootsie Rolls and gummy bears, in case they were swallowed. 

7. Silence of the Lambs the only horror movie ever to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

Only two others have even been nominated: The Exorcist and Jaws.

9. Jonathan Demme always had characters speak directly into the camera for conversations with Clarice, yet he always filmed Jodie Foster looking slightly off camera.
The idea was to make audiences directly experience her point-of-view to more easily empathize with her character. We think anyone who has watched those gripping last few moments of the film can confirm the success of this technique.

13 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About “Arsenic and Old Lace”

Lou Lumenick and the New York Post present 13 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Arsenic and Old Lace.  Here are three of my favorites…

The Broadway version was too good for his own good

The main draw on Broadway was Boris Karloff as the critic’s homicidal brother, who is described as looking “like Boris Karloff’’ because of botched plastic surgery.

Much to Karloff’s chagrin, the producers insisted that he remain on Broadway while Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, as the aunts, and John Alexander, as their brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, reprised their roles in the movie.

Grant almost didn’t have the part

Grant wasn’t the first choice for the film, but Bob Hope wasn’t available because of a schedule conflict (Capra needed to shoot the film just before reporting for World War II military duty).

Grant, who donated his entire $100,000 salary to wartime charities, insisted, “Jimmy Stewart would have been much better [than me] in the film.’’ Stewart later starred opposite Josephine Hull in “Harvey’’ — for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

 

An auteur filled Karloff’s shoes

When Karloff left to head up a road company of “Arsenic and Old Lace,’’ he was replaced on Broadway by Erich von Stroheim. Karloff’s rival Bela Lugosi played the part for five weeks onstage in Los Angeles.

9 Festive Facts About A Charlie Brown Christmas

Me-TV presents 9 Festive Facts About A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Here are three of my favorites…

A FORD COMMERCIAL INSPIRED THE SPECIAL.

Charles Schulz was reluctant to turn his Peanuts comic strip into an animation, but ultimately allowed Ford Motors to use the characters in a commercial in 1959. Bill Melendez animated the spot, and Schulz liked the finished product so much he allowed Melendez to direct A Charlie Brown Christmas.

THE NETWORK DIDN’T LIKE IT AT FIRST.

Melendez and Mendelson screened the special for CBS just three weeks before it aired. The network hated it, thinking it was too slow and lacked energy, and the meeting ended with them telling the producers there weren’t going to be more specials in the future.

Image: ABC
THE NETWORK EVENTUALLY LIKED IT.

Maybe it was the fact that 15 million homes tuned into A Charlie Brown Christmas. Maybe it was because the special pulled a 50 share in the Nielson ratings, meaning half of all households with a television watched it. Whatever the case, CBS opened up to the special and aired it on the network until 2000, at which point ABC started airing it.

10 Minor Goofs You Never Noticed in Star Trek

Me-TV presents 10 Minor Goofs You Never Noticed in Star Trek the original series.  Here are three of my favorites…

A WOODEN STARSHIP – “Errand of Mercy”

In the opening, as the Enterprise is attacked by a Klingon vessel, you can see that the floor behind Nimoy has not been painted. The bare wood is exposed on the elevated part of the bridge.

BATTEN DOWN THE BRIDGE! – “The Changeling”

In the prologue, when a green bolt of light slams into the Enterprise — Red alert! Here we get a taste of that classic disaster technique of shaking the camera as the cast flails around on set. However, it must have been a pretty hard blast, as the helm console lifts off the floor.

THEY HAVE A L.A. ON NEURAL, TOO? – “A Private Little War”

The gang is on the primative planet of Neural. In the final act, Nona is being attacked by some tribal toughs, who look a bit like Daniel Boone in pastel pajamas. She tries to use Kirk’s Phaser against her attackers. As they struggle, Los Angeles can be seen off in the distance in the smog.

13 Surprising Facts About “Carlito’s Way”

Roger Cormier and Mental_Floss present 13 Surprising Facts About Carlito’s Way.  Here are three of my favorites…

6. JOHN LEGUIZAMO TURNED DE PALMA DOWN FOUR TIMES.
Leguizamo played the memorable (to most) Bronx native Benny Blanco only after De Palma let him create his own character. He told The A.V. Club that he turned the director down four times because he “just felt that it wasn’t enough of a part. Luckily, [Brian] De Palma and I had worked together on Casualties Of War (1989), so he let me improvise my ass off. I totally went off. I created this character, you know, all the bizarre back story, that he’s a go-getter who can’t wait to meet Pacino. I think that was the first time I really felt like I had found myself in movies. That was a great time… I’ll always love De Palma, because Carlito’s Way was where I found myself in film.”

 

9. PENN AND DE PALMA DID NOT ALWAYS GET ALONG.
“He’s an operatic moviemaker, so the reality level is somewhere off in De Palma-ville, and to get hold of it is impossible,” Penn claimed in 1996. “How to serve him is hard to get a grasp on, so it can become confrontational. And it did, to a degree, on Carlito’s Way.” He also said that working with Pacino was something he loved. “Working with him balanced that whole experience out.”

“I remember when I was shooting Carlito’s Way,” De Palma said, after he was asked if any of his actors took things too far. “There’s this scene where Sean is all coked up, and he’s trying to get [Al Pacino] to go on the boat trip with him. Because of where the sun was, I was shooting Sean over Al’s back for the beginning. I shot ten, fifteen takes, and I thought it looked pretty good. But Sean said, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’ I said ‘What?!’ He said, ‘We don’t have it.’ I said, ‘I think we do.’ He said, ‘I need a few more takes.’ He said, ‘Twenty.’ I said, ‘Twenty?? Ok…’ I shot ten more, I think, and then I said, ‘Sean, I have to shoot this two-shot, then I gotta go over and shoot Al. He’s been playing to you all morning.’ But Sean was never happy with the scene. And I came around, and shot a two-shoot, and an over-the-shoulder.”

 

11. A PLANNED WORLD TRADE CENTER SHOOTOUT HAD TO BE CHANGED AT THE LAST MINUTE.

“I had elaborate storyboards of this whole shootout on the escalators that were in the World Trade Center,” De Palma said. “I spent weeks and weeks photographing it … and a couple of days before we were about to shoot, they blew it up.” The epic shootout took place in Grand Central Station instead.

11 Bam! Pow! Things You Might Not Know About Batman

Me-TV presents 11 Bam! Pow! Things You Might Not Know About Batman.  Here are three of my favorites…

LYLE WAGGONER ALMOST LANDED THE ROLE OF BATMAN
Two screen tests were filmed to decide on the casting of Batman and Robin. One, obviously, featured West and Burt Ward. The other starred Lyle Waggoner and Peter R.J. Deyell, as you can see in the image. While Waggoner would ultimately lose the role to West, he would end up as another prominent DC Comics hero, playing Steve Trevor on Wonder Woman.

BRUCE LEE, SANTA CLAUS AND A CARPET MAGNATE WERE JUST SOME OF THE WACKY WINDOW CAMEOS.
In the reoccurring Bat-climb gimmick, a celebrity would pop his or her head out of a window as Batman and Robin were scaling the side of a building in Gotham. Jerry Lewis was the first, proclaiming, “Holy human flies!” After the comedian, there were window cameos from Dick Clark (pictured), the Green Hornet and Kato, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill “Jose Jimenez” Dana, Sergeant Sam Stone from the series Felony Squad, Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes, Lurch from The Addams Family, Don Ho, Santa Claus, Art Linkletter, Edward G. Robinson, Suzy Knickerbocker, and “The Carpet King.” The latter was a carpet salesman named Cyril Lord with a series of TV ads, who traded Dozier some carpet for the cameo.

 

JERRY “BEAVER” MATHERS HAS AN UNCREDITED ROLE IN “THE GREAT ESCAPE.”
“I’m Pop, the stage doorman!” he proclaims. A grown-up Mathers works the back entrance to the Gotham Opera House in this season three episode. “Pop? You ain’t old enough to drink,” the villain Calamity Jan snorts. “Well, I’m 17,” he replies. At the time, the actor was actually 20.

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