WTF Fun Fact 13197 – Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Credits

Did you know Steven Spielberg was a college dropout? Well, in any case, he returned to his college, Cal State – Long Beach, when he was in his 50s to earn his BA degree. But the story of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic credits is less well-known.

A director drops out of college – and comes back

Speilberg has been given some honorary degrees over the years and spoke at a commencement or two. For example, he spoke at Harvard’s 2016 graduation ceremony. It was there he revealed his own college story.

He told students and their parent’s about his own graduation, just 14 years earlier.

Spielberg began college in his teens but was then offered his dream job at Universal Studios in his sophomore year. He told his parents that if his movie career failed, he would re-enroll.

But it didn’t happen quite like that. It did, however, take him 37 years to finally graduate.

He told the audience:

“…eventually, I returned for one big reason. Most people go to college for an education, and some go for their parents, but I went for my kids. I’m the father of seven, and I kept insisting on the importance of going to college, but I hadn’t walked the walk. So, in my fifties, I re-enrolled at Cal State — Long Beach, and I earned my degree.”

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic credits

It’s probably a lot easier to master college and its demands when you’re wealthy and have nothing to lose. But that’s not an attempt to diminish his achievement (just a nod to college students out there still grinding away)!

Another thing that helped the Hollywood director? Spielberg told that Harvard grads that he was given three credits in paleontology for making Jurassic Park.

Now, if you’ve seen Jurassic Park, you know there’s some sketchy molecular biology in there, but we’re hoping they got the paleontology right!

Regardless, Spielberg finished up his degree in film production. And we’re guessing he had a pretty high GPA by the end – at least in his major!

Here are some other words of advice he had to offer:

“And the way you create a better future is by studying the past. Jurassic Park writer Michael Crichton, who graduated from both this college and this medical school, liked to quote a favorite professor of his who said that if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything. You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree. So history majors: Good choice, you’re in great shape…Not in the job market, but culturally.”

Hey, we know an awful lot of history majors working in museums, journalism, marketing, politics, and law! We even know some who work as consultants on movie sets, Spielberg!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Steven Spielberg to Grads: ‘Earn This'” — TIME

WTF Fun Fact 13192 – Frank Sinatra Was Offered Die Hard Role

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Bruce Willis playing the lead character in Die Hard. But believe it or not, Frank Sinatra was offered Die Hard role John McClane.

Frank Sinatra offered Die Hard role but turned it down

Had Sinatra starred in Die Hard, it would have been a very different movie.

The film is based on a book by Roderick Thorpe called Nothing Lasts Forever. It was published in 1979 and was a sequel to Thorpe’s 1966 novel The Detective.

Now, The Detective WAS made into a movie. And this one did star Frank Sinatra as the main character, Detective Joe Leland. Is it starting to become clear why Frank Sinatra was offered the later Die Hard role?

The Die Hard we know and love

The sequel to The Detective, which we now know as Die Hard didn’t get a green light for production until the late 1980s. That was a good decade after the book was published. And by then, Sinatra was 73 years old.

However, since the movie was technically a sequel, the production company was obligated to offer the role to Sinatra first. As we all now know, he turned it down. (But can you imagine Sinatra as John McClane? We can’t!)

And believe it or not, Bruce Willis wasn’t the second choice. The role was then offered to Arnold Schwarzenegger. According to Business Insider (cited below), “the movie was pitched as a sequel to the actor’s 1985 film Commando rather than a sequel to The Detective. Schwarzenegger also turned down the offer…”

It wasn’t until after the second strike and miss that producers offered the role to Bruce Willis and the leading role was tweaked a bit, with the character renamed John McClane instead of Joe Leland.

At the time, Bruce Willis was known for his comedy roles, so the producers were taking a risk casting him in an action film.  WTF fun facts

Source: “73-Year-Old Frank Sinatra Was Originally Offered The Lead Role In ‘Die Hard'” — Business Insider

WTF Fun Fact 13154 – Shaggy’s Real Name

The character Shaggy from the cartoon Scooby Doo has a real name. It turns out that Shaggy is just a nickname. Now, that’s not surprising, but the fact that someone decided to give him enough of a backstory to name him Norville Rogers sure is.

The lowdown on Shaggy’s real name

Norville “Shaggy” Rogers is one of a group of amateur detectives and the slacker of the group, truth be told. Scooby-Doo is his dog, and is just as fond of running away from danger as his owner.

Shaggy is a bit of a hippie, and when the legendary Casey Kasem was asked to voice the character, he was reportedly unsure what hippies were supposed to sound like. Kasem ended up basing the character Walter Donton on the tv show Our Miss Brooks.

Kasem even convinced the producers of Scooby Doo that Shaggy should also be a vegetarian, like Kasem himself.

Since the show began, the character of Shaggy has been voiced by over 20 different people.

Shaggy’s family

Shaggy has quite an extended family. And they have some unique names, including a little sister named Sugie, Uncle Gaggy, Uncle Shaggworthy, and Betty Lous Shaggbilly. Pretty impressive for a guy who is only nicknamed Shaggy!

Of course, Shaggy hails from Coolsville, Ohio and adopted Scooby Doo from Knittingham Puppy Farm. It was after that when Shaggy met Daphne, Fred, and Velma and decided to start Mystery Incorpotated. And it’s no surprise that he’s also the one who bought and painted the Mystery Machine. It does seem like his taste.

According to his Wikipedia entry, there are some other random fun facts about the cartoon character:

“Shaggy’s old nickname was Buzz (apparently for his buzz cut) until his 10th birthday. Fred says that, contrary to what people believe, Shaggy is not skinny because Scooby is always stealing his food, but rather because he’s a vegetarian. But as healthy as Shaggy tries to stay, he has battled unhealthy habits. Velma calculates that he once ate exactly 45% of his body weight. This led to him dieting and starting a new hobby: collecting decorator belt buckles. Shaggy claims to have the largest collection of decorator belt buckles in the world and currently owns 653. He also states that he wears a different belt buckle for every mystery if one pays attention, the joke being that his baggy shirt always hides them.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Shaggy Rogers” — Wikipedia

WTF Fun Fact 13153 – Albert Einstein and Yoda

The appearance of the Star Wars character Yoda was partially influenced by a poster of Albert Einstein hanging in the creator’s studio.

What’s the relationship between Albert Einstein and Yoda?

We suppose that a close look and some squinting at the Star Wars character Yoda could conjure an image of Albert Einstein in one’s head. But they’re hardly twins – and that’s not just because of the green skin and alien visage.

Still, they have more in common than just their supposed wisdom.

Stuart Freeborn is the special effects artist that worked as a Star Wars makeup supervisor and was primarily responsible for Yoda’s final look. And he had a poster of Einstein hanging on the wall of his office.

Freeborn said Einstein played a role in influencing his vision of Yoda. But he also admitted that the character is based on his own face.

CineSecrets had a quote from the artist:

“…A picture of Einstein ended up on the wall behind the Yoda sculptures and the wrinkles around Einstein’s eyes somehow got worked into the Yoda design. Over the course of this evolutionary process Yoda slowly changed from a comparatively spritely [sic], tall, skinny, grasshopper kind of character into the old wise spirited gnome that we all know today. The final step in that transformation was Franks [Oz, sic] insistence that the puppet should have no jaw fitted. That allowed him more freedom for expression as a puppeteer but it also meant that the skin hung loosely below the cheeks and that gave Yoda an older, rather chinless look that is quite different to the drawings Ralph [McQuarrie] did.”

Surprising it is not

Look at them side-by-side and see what you think. The more you look, the more you can see it.

We want to know what Einstein would have thought. There are many photos of the genius looking goofy and joking around. But he wasn’t always known as a good guy. Unlike Yoda, his attitude sometimes outstripped his wisdom.  WTF fun facts

Source: “How Einstein Influenced the Look of Yoda” — Mental Floss

WTF Fun Fact 13112 – Psycho’s Toilet Scene

The Hitchcock thriller Psycho has some memorable scenes, a few of which take place in bathrooms. But Pshcyo’s toilet scene, while not the most iconic bathroom scene, was still a pathbreaker. It was the first American movie to feature an audible toilet flush.

Why is Psycho’s toilet scene unique?

Other films had featured toilets in passing. Silent movies had featured toilets flushing (although it was extremely rare). But the film pushed the envelope on the Hays Code (a self-imposed agreement to stay away from anything morally questionable) by featuring the up-close toilet flush.

It seems silly now, of course. We all flush the toilet. But American audiences were scandalized at the time to see and hear such a seemingly private thing on screen.

Interestingly, it wasn’t Hitchcock who wanted the toilet in the movie, it was reportedly screenwriter Joseph Stefano. According to Screenrant, “Stefano was adamant in showing this to add realism to the movie but Hitchcock stated it must be needed in the script. Stefano then wrote the scene in which Marion Crane flushes evidence down the toilet.”

What gets flushed?

The self-assured Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, steals money from the real estate office where she works and goes on the run. Of course, there’s an ill-fated stop at the Bates Motel, but before the iconic shower scene, we get the toilet flush heard ’round the world.

After her conversation with Norman Bates, the motel owner, Marian returns to her room and makes notes about her finances. Knowing better than to leave such evidence in writing, she tears up the paper and throws it in the toilet. Getting rid of the evidence for good requires a strong flush.

Apparently, it was necessary to hear that to make it clear that the evidence she created tying her to the theft is gone.

Of course, none of that matters to her anyone once she steps into that shower.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Psycho’s Toilet Flush & 9 Other Movies With Obscure Cinematic Milestones” — Screenrant

WTF Fun Fact 13059 – The Minionese “Language”

Have you seen “Minions,” “Despicable Me,” or “Despicable Me 2”? If so, you may have heard the Minion characters speaking their own language. All Minions are voiced by Pierre Coffin, who also created the language called Minionese.

Minionese and other made-up languages

From Klingon to Elvish, storytellers have been making up their own languages for years. And some fans have ever learned how to speak them.

According to the Motion Picture Association, Minionese is “the lexical version of a hearty stew, made up of words from multiple languages, expressed not only vocally, but through the Minions’ physical comedy. While the creation of Minionese makes narrative sense now that the Minions have a rich backstory…Coffin’s goal was for the audience to understand Minionese without actually knowing the exact verbiage through the Minions huge range of vocal melodies and inflections, as well as their physical actions.”

It takes an interesting mind to create such a dynamic method of communication!

Creating language

Coffin’s first task was creating a backstory for Minions Kevin, Stuart, and Bob. The characters are part of a nomadic tribe in search of a master. In the course of their journey, they’ve taken on bits of different languages they’ve come across. In fact, there are elements of Egyptian, French, and even Transylvanian.

But each character’s intonation means a lot to the language as well. All three Minions have different ways of vocalizing.

According to Coffin:

“You don’t understand their words, you don’t understand their grammar, but you do understand when they’re in a position of conflict, if they’re sad or if they’re happy.”

He actually started building the language while watching silent films. That helped him understand how visual communication would play an integral role in having characters speak something no one had ever heard (but needed to understand if they were going to follow the plot).

When Coffin gets stuck on a line of Minion dialog, he just turns to other languages:

“Every time I got stuck in a sequence or in a shot where I need to express something, I have my Indian or Chinese menu handy. I also know a little bit of Spanish, Italian, Indonesian and Japanese. So I have all these sources of inspiration for their words. I just pick one that doesn’t express something by the meaning, but rather the melody of the words.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Here’s How They Created Minionese, the Language of the Minions” — Motion Picture Association

WTF Fun Fact 13039 – Alternate Names for the Seven Dwarfs

The Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is based on an 1812 fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. But in the original, the dwarfs did not have names. And when Disney decided to make their 1937 film, they went through some interesting alternate names for the seven dwarfs.

Decisions, decisions

According to Disney Diary, “It wasn’t until the 1912 Broadway play “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” that they were given monikers. And the names were not what you think. They were called Blick, Flick, Glick, Pick, Quee, Snick, and Whick.”

Disney didn’t necessarily love those names, so they went through quite a few alternate names for the seven dwarfs until they finally settled on Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy.

We can’t confirm it, but according to Treasured Family Travels, “It is popularly believed that Walt Disney named the Seven Dwarfs after his own seven staff animators: Carmine Coppola, Ted Sears, Les Clark, Wolfgang Reitherman, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, and William Cottrell.” Or, at least, he named them after their personality traits.

The Seven Dwarfs’ alternate names

According to Mental Floss (cited below): “Disney and co. went through dozens of names before deciding on the seven we know today.” Some of them include Jumpy, Deafy, Chesty (?!), Hickey (again, ?!), Wheezy, Baldy, Gabby, Tubby, Burpy, and Awful.

Some of those might be a bit too on-the-nose to illustrate in an inoffensive way.

Modern Seven Dwarf Names

Disney Diary notes that modern retellings still change the names of the dwarfs.

“In ‘Mirror Mirror’ with Julia Roberts the dwarfs are named Butcher, Chuckles, Grimm, Grub, Half Pint, Napoleon, and Wolf. In the upcoming “Snow White and the Huntsman,” being released June 1, the names are Beith, Coll, Duir, Gort, Muir, Nion and Quert.”

We may just be biased by childhood fondness, but we think the Disney names are the best.

If you’re bothered by the spelling dwarfs (as opposed to dwarves, you may be interested to know that “dwarves” didn’t become a popular plural until JR Tolkien’s use of the word in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Burpy, Hickey, Chesty and Other Alternate Dwarf Names” — Mental Floss

WTF Fun Fact 12995 – Disney Paint Colors for Invisibility

Disney is known for creating visually stimulating things. But they also created two colors designed to be the most boring on Earth. Go Away Green and Blending Blue are Disney paint colors designed to be ignored.

Why would Disney paint colors be so bland?

Go Away Green and Blending Blue are two of the most used paint colors at the Walt Disney World Resort. They were blended by Disney Imagineers to be so unspectacular that our eyes just pass right over them and never focus on what they’re covering (like doors no guest is meant to enter).

Of course, green and grey/blue have long been used in camouflage as well, but that’s technically to get uniforms to blend into the background.

According to the blog Inside the Magic (cited below), Go-away green is “A very bland shade of green you see a lot of in the park but don’t really think anything about.  It was created with the idea that the common eye would glaze right over it. Unless you’re looking for it, it is all too easy to just glance right past anything painted in this all-too-neutral color. It is used in a lot of places like fences, buildings, the wall around the park… And most famously, the door to the exclusive Club 33.

Neutral colors at Disney

These Disney paint colors aren’t exactly available to the rest of us, but if you’d really like to make your house not stand out, try Aganthus Green by Benjamin Moore.

House Beautiful Magazine says of Go-Away Green that “The color itself doesn’t initially appear to be all that magical (that’s precisely why it’s so great)—it’s really just a barely-there cross between pale gray and green. The unassuming shade blends well with many landscapes, so it’s often used on utility structures, back doors, and other less-than-majestic sights that Disney doesn’t want guests to notice. For instance, bloggers have spotted it disguising a not-so-pretty building behind a restaurant, slathered on a shadowy, nearly blank corner, and even on garbage cans.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Disney Secretly Invented Two Colors (and They’re Everywhere!)” — Inside The Magic Blog

WTF Fun Fact 12981 – Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco is Camp Crystal Lake

Are you a fan of 80s slasher films or Gen X nostalgia in general? Then you might want to visit the Kittatinny Mountain region in northwestern New Jersey. There, you’ll find a Boy Scout camp called Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco. It was the setting for the iconic horror film Friday the 13th.

Just make sure you don’t go in the summer because they really don’t like it when people bring up getting murdered in the woods.

Camp-No-Be-Bo-Sco is Camp Crystal Lake

For those who visit, the camp still looks much like it did in the 1980 film about a camp that reopens on Friday the 13th, 1980, decades after a drowning and two grisly murders. The boy who drowned – Jason Voorhees. And his mother is none-too-pleased.

In the film, campers return just like they do in real life each summer. At the real Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, kids enjoy week-long retreats with swimming and games, and arts and crafts. Of course, Camp Crystal Lake was the setting of a new set of a second murderous rampage.

The Boy Scouts of America run the camp (No-Be-Bo-Sco stands for North Bergan Boy Scouts). And they’re very careful about its image and protecting campers from any unnecessary scare tactics from outsiders during the summer.

Things change in the fall.

Touring Camp Crystal Lake (aka “Camp Blood”)

Unaffectionately referred to by campers as “Camp Blood” in the film, those who run the camp these days know that film tours are a great way to raise money. That’s why they hand it over to a group of camp alumni in the fall. The former campers bring in Friday the 13th movie props, invite actors, etc., and run Crystal Lake Adventures. They’ve been leading tours since 2011.

According to an article in Smithsonian Magazine (cited below), whose author took a tour:

“The staff at Crystal Lake Adventures do not do media interviews or allow any commercial photography. My tour guide said events always sell out quickly, and word-of-mouth among Friday the 13th fans provides plenty of publicity.”

Sounds like the perfect way to prepare for Halloween!  WTF fun facts

Source: “The 1980 Slasher Movie ‘Friday the 13th’ Was Filmed at This Boy Scout Camp in New Jersey” — Smithsonian Magazine