America’s First Theme Park Was All Santa, All the Time

Anyone know where Santa Claus lives?

North Pole, right?  Yeah, that’s a correct answer, but so is Santa Claus, Indiana!

I can vouch that Santa Claus, Indiana exists because I visited it as a kid back in the 1960’s.  Of course then it was called Santa Claus Land (or at least that’s what my grandparents called it when they took me).

When I asked my grandparents about Santa living in our home state and not the North Pole, they explained that Santa did live at the North Pole with the elves and reindeer but sometimes the jolly ole fellow liked to escape the cold.

If you’d like to learn more about Santa Claus, Indiana, Erin Blakemore and Mental_Floss have the full story in America’s First Theme Park Was All Santa, All the Time.

40 Things We Learned from Joe Dante’s “Gremlins” Commentary

Rob Hunter and Film School Rejects present 40 Things We Learned from Joe Dante’s Gremlins Commentary.  Here are three of my favorites…

7.    Galligan is the first to point out that the “don’t feed after midnight” rule is silly because it’s always after midnight somewhere. “Well we make fun of all that stuff in Gremlins 2 anyway,” says Dante.

10. The titles on the theater marquee are an in-joke for producer Steven Spielberg’s benefit. A Boys Life was the working title for E.T., and Watch the Skies was the one for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “I think we did this mainly so that when Steven saw the dailies he’d be happy.”

15. Cartoonist legend Chuck Jones is the guy at the bar teaching Billy (Galligan) how to draw. There was originally more of a plot involving Billy’s hopeful career as an artist.

11 Dashing Facts About Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Mark Mancini and Mental_Floss present 11 Dashing Facts About Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

1. MEL BROOKS HAD PREVIOUSLY WORKED ON A COMEDIC ROBIN HOOD TV SERIES.
In 1974, Mel Brooks’ smash-hit genre parodies Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein became two of the highest grossing movies of the year—with Blazing Saddles beating out The Towering Inferno and The Godfather: Part II for the top spot. Having secured a lasting career for himself in Hollywood, Brooks took a break from cinema so he could pursue a new TV project. The comic joined forces with Norman Stiles and John Boni to co-create ABC’s When Things Were Rotten, a fast-paced, gag-driven sitcom that put a satirical spin on Robin Hood. Starring Get Smart alum Dick Gautier in the lead role, the show relied heavily on anachronistic pop culture references; in one episode, for example, a character named Lord McDonald of the Golden Archers dons a T-shirt reading “Over 1,000,000 Dispatched.”

When Things Were Rotten premiered on September 10, 1975. After three months of lackluster ratings and mixed reviews, the show was canceled just 13 episodes into its run. Brooks would, of course, take another stab at the legendary hero of Sherwood Forest when Robin Hood: Men in Tights was released 18 years later. Incidentally, that 1993 comedy starred a familiar face: Dick Van Patten, who plays an abbot in the film, had portrayed Friar Tuck in When Things Were Rotten.

4. SEAN CONNERY WANTED TO PORTRAY KING RICHARD—IN WOMEN’S CLOTHING.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves had an all-star cast that boasted Costner, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Rickman. Sean Connery also made a brief appearance as King Richard, a part he reportedly wanted to reprise in Men in Tights. According to James Robert Parish’s It’s Good to Be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks, Connery told the director “that he would repeat his role of the monarch—but this time in drag. However, intriguing as this comic prospect was, he wanted a $1 million salary, which he planned to donate to Scottish charities.” Unable to afford this king’s ransom, Brooks cast Patrick Stewart instead. For better or for worse, the cross-dressing angle was scrapped entirely.

6. WHEN BROOKS FIRST REACHED OUT TO CARY ELWES ABOUT PLAYING ROBIN HOOD, THE ACTOR ASSUMED HE WAS BEING PRANKED.

Early on in the Men in Tights casting process, Brooks called Elwes at his home to discuss the project. “He actually called me at home and I thought someone was pulling my leg so I hung up on him,” Elwes told Den of Geek in 2014. “He called back and he said ‘don’t hang up, it’s really me!’ I apologized, but I couldn’t believe he was calling me.” In short order, Elwes was cast as the film’s hero. Once he came aboard, Elwes helped Brooks choose an actor to play Ahchoo, Robin’s sidekick. In the end, the part went to an unknown 19-year-old comedian named Dave Chappelle. “We actually cast [him] together,” Elwes recalled. “We saw a lot of actors and when Dave came in, he was just so amazing and we knew right then and there [that] this guy was a star.”

 

Paul Gulacy’s Cover for Americomics #4

This is Paul Gulacy’s cover for Americomics #4.  

I actually played a small role in this piece coming about.  At the time I was buying and selling original comic art.  Through my best buddy, John Beatty, I had met many comic artists.  Paul Gulacy was one.  Bill Black, the publisher of Americomics was another.  I put Bill in touch with Paul and the rest as they say is history.

Ah, the glory days…

Source: The Bristol Board.

15 Hardboiled Facts About “Cool Hand Luke”

Roger Cormier and Mental_Floss present 15 Hardboiled Facts About Cool Hand Luke.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. IT WAS WRITTEN BY AN EX-CON.

While in the Merchant Marine, Donn Pearce was caught counterfeiting money and thrown in a French prison. He escaped, returned to the U.S., and became a safe-cracker. A waitress ratted him out and he spent two years on a prison road gang where he heard about a Luke Jackson—someone who was an excellent poker player, a banjo expert, and who had once eaten 50 boiled eggs for a bet. He wrote about him in his book Cool Hand Luke, which was published in 1965. Pearce sold the movie rights to Warner Bros. for $80,000, and got an additional $15,000 to write the screenplay.

But it was his first time trying to write a screenplay, and Frank Pierson was later hired to rework the draft. Pearce appeared in the movie as the convict Sailor and was the production’s technical adviser. He punched someone out on the final day on set and was not invited to the film premiere.

2. JACK LEMMON OR TELLY SAVALAS COULD HAVE PLAYED LUKE.

Jack Lemmon’s production company, Jalem Productions, produced the movie, so Lemmon had first dibs on playing the lead, but he recognized that he wasn’t right for the part. Telly Savalas was then cast as Luke, but he was in Europe filming The Dirty Dozen, and since he refused to fly, the production had to look elsewhere for the starring role to get started on time.

7. BETTE DAVIS WAS THE ORIGINAL CHOICE TO PLAY LUKE’S MOTHER.

Bette Davis turned down the chance to play Luke’s mother, Arletta, which was a one-scene role. It went to Jo Van Fleet (East of Eden) instead, even though she was only 11 years older than Newman. For her single day of shooting, Van Fleet sat on a tree stump, 200 yards from everyone else, looking over her lines. Harry Dean Stanton recalled that Van Fleet asked him to sing to her before her take, and it made her cry.

15 Intense Facts About “Cape Fear”

Roger Cormier and Mental_Floss present 15 Intense Facts About Cape Fear.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. STEVEN SPIELBERG TRADED THE MOVIE TO MARTIN SCORSESE FOR THE RIGHTS TO SCHINDLER’S LIST.

Martin Scorsese was apprehensive about making Schindler’s List after the controversy surrounding his previous two films, Goodfellas and The Last Temptation of Christ. Steven Spielberg, on the other hand, said he “wasn’t in the mood” to make a movie about a “maniac.” So, once Scorsese promised Spielberg that the Bowdens would survive in the end, they traded. Spielberg had Bill Murray in mind to play Max Cady. Scorsese had other ideas.

4. IT COULD HAVE STARRED HARRISON FORD AND ROBERT DE NIRO.

Scorsese asked De Niro to ask Harrison Ford to play Sam. Ford told De Niro he would only be interested in working on the film if he played Cady and De Niro played Sam. De Niro said no to that.

6. REESE WITHERSPOON BLEW HER AUDITION TO PLAY DANIELLE. SO DID DREW BARRYMORE.

“It was my second audition ever,” Witherspoon said in 1999. “My agent told me I’d be meeting Martin Scorsese. I said, ‘Who is he?’ Then he mentioned the name Robert De Niro. I said, ‘Never heard of him.’ When I walked in I did recognize De Niro, and I just lost it. My hand was shaking and I was a blubbering idiot.”

Drew Barrymore auditioned for the role, too, but believed she overacted for one of Scorsese’s assistants. In 2000, she called the audition “the biggest disaster” of her life and said that Scorsese thinks she’s “dog doo-doo” because of it.

The Most Impressive Thing About All 50 States

Kathy Benjamin and Mental_Floss present The Most Impressive Thing About All 50 States.  Here are three of my favorites…

14. INDIANA

The home of the Indy 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the biggest sporting venue in the world by a good margin. It has permanent seating for 257,000 people, and temporary on-field seating brings that up to 400,000.

15. IOWA

Burlington is home to Snake Alley, what Ripley’s Believe It or Not called the “Crookedest Street in the World” (something the more famous Lombard Street in San Francisco also lays claim to). It was built in the 1800s to help horses get up a hill that was too steep for them to climb in a straight line.

16. KANSAS

Garden City, Kansas is home to a swimming pool so big it’s possible to waterski in it (which has happened a few times as a promotional stunt). Opened in 1922, The Big Pool was renovated in the early aughts and is now the world’s largest outdoor concrete municipal swimming pool. Bigger than a football field, it takes a full day to fill it to its 2.5-million-gallon capacity.

11 Things You Didn’t Know About “The Walking Dead”

Beirut Abu Hdaib and TGN Magazine present 11 Things You Didn’t Know About The Walking Dead.  Here are three of my favorites…

– The main logo keeps changing

The show’s credits have been changing over the years. But did you ever notice what was happening to the main logo? It has been getting darker, grimier and more worn out from one season to the next.

– Carol was supposed to die instead of T-Dog

Producers were growing tired of T-Dog showing up late to shooting and his negative attitude so they decided to axe him. Carol was supposed to be eaten alive by zombies and producers decided that T-Dog would sacrifice himself to save her.

– The show is shot on 16 mm film

The show is being shot using Kodak’s Super 16 mm rather than digitally. Why? Simply because film matches the tone of the show much more than digital does.

10 Less Than Heroic Stories Of Survival From The Titanic

Mark Oliver and Listverse present 10 Less Than Heroic Stories Of Survival From The Titanic.

While it is hard to predict how we’d act in a life or death situation, if you check out the piece above you’ll learn about…

  • the man who said he accidentally tripped and fell into a lifeboat…
  • the man who dressed up as a woman to get into a lifeboat…
  • the millionaires who bribed crew to get their own lifeboat…
  • the man who told his wife the boat was sinking and to gather up the children and then left before they got topside on a lifeboat…
  • the baker who got drunk and went down with the ship but survived!

13 Running Facts About “The Fugitive”

Eric D. Snider and Mental_Floss present 13 Running Facts About The Fugitive.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. IT WAS ALMOST ALEC BALDWIN INSTEAD OF HARRISON FORD.
Kopelson, a fan of the TV series, had been trying off and on to get the film made since the 1970s. It was finally about to happen in the early ’90s, with Alec Baldwin in the lead role and Walter Hill (48 Hrs.) as director, but Warner Bros. didn’t think Baldwin had enough star power. “With an expensive movie, the consideration is, what star can ‘open’ it,” Kopelson said, “and the studio wasn’t certain at that time that Alec could do it.” (By the way, this was the secondtime Baldwin had lost a role to Harrison Ford, who also replaced him as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October sequel Patriot Games.)

9. HARRISON FORD WASN’T FAKING HIS BEFUDDLEMENT IN THE INTERROGATION SCENE.
To lend more realism to the scene where Dr. Kimble is first questioned by police, Davis had Ford and the other actors do it with only half a script—the cops’ half. Ford, not knowing in advance what the questions would be, had to ad lib responses in character. Naturally, this came across as being defensive and flustered, which was exactly what the situation called for. Acting!

13. THE DAM SCENE COST $2 MILLION, INCLUDING ABOUT $60,000 FOR DUMMIES.
The maze of tunnels leading to the dam were fake, and built in a Chicago warehouse. The last section of the tunnel—the part that opens over the dam, where Kimble and Gerard have their dramatic confrontation—was actually transported from Chicago to the Cheoah Dam in North Carolina, where it was rigged to look like it belonged there. For the big jump, there were no stuntmen involved. Ford himself (secured by a wire) did the shot where Kimble looks over the edge and considers jumping, and dummies were used for the plunge itself. Six Harrison Ford lookalike dummies were commissioned, each costing somewhere between $7000 and $12,000. They did not survive intact, much to the dismay of their manufacturer, who’d been hoping to re-rent them.

The Terrifying Subliminal Image Hidden in “The Exorcist”

If you’ve ever seen The Exorcist, then you’ve seen the face above even if you don’t remember it.

Director William Friedkin flashed the image on the screen for 1/8 of a second.  Your subconscious would recognize the frightening image even if you didn’t fully process it.

If you click over to The Terrifying Subliminal Image Hidden in The Exorcist by Jake Rossen at Mental_Floss you’ll get the full lowdown on the image and where you can find it.

15 Farm-Fresh Facts About “Green Acres”

Stacy Conradt and Mental_Floss present 15 Farm-Fresh Facts About Green Acres.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. THE WHOLE RIDICULOUS PREMISE WAS BASED IN REALITY.
If it seems a bit farfetched that a city slicker would leave a lucrative career in finance to rehab a dying farm without knowing a thing about agriculture, well, at least one person has tried it. “I got the idea from my stepfather when I was a kid,” Sommers, the show’s creator, said in a 1965 interview. “He wanted a farm in the worst way and he finally got one. I remember having to hoe potatoes. I hated it. I won’t even do the gardening at our home now, I was so resentful as a child.”

7. IT WAS ONE OF DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER’S FAVORITE SHOWS.
During his retirement years, keeping tabs on the residents of Hooterville became one of the former president’s favorite pastimes. The Eisenhowers loved the show so much that they deemed their valet’s pet pig “Arnold” and allowed it to freely roam their house—even letting it lounge on slip-covered chairs that their grandkids weren’t allowed to sit on.

9. MR. HANEY WAS BASED ON ELVIS PRESLEY’S MANAGER.
Actor Pat Buttram, who played Mr. Haney, met Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, on the set of the movie Roustabout, where Buttram played the owner of a carnival. He got the part of Mr. Haney just a year later—and later stated that he used Parker as inspiration for the Green Acres swindler.

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