Showing posts with label trivia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trivia. Show all posts

16 September 2017

A Trivial Pursuit



by John M. Floyd



Yes, I know: there are a lot of productive things I could and should be doing right now, instead of writing a trivial post about trivia. But, as I've confessed in the past, I love little-known facts about fiction and those who create or portray it.

So, for the next few minutes, I challenge you to forget about the stock market and North Korea and politics and global warming and take a look at these worthless little tidbits about movies and novels and actors and writers. Since they surprised me when I learned about them, I hope they (or at least some of them) might surprise you as well.


- Ian Fleming wrote the children's book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was adapted from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

- Jack Kerouac typed the novel On the Road on one continuous roll of paper 120 feet long.

- Dooley Wilson (Sam, in Casablanca) didn't know how to play the piano.

- Dr. Seuss wasn't a doctor, of any kind.

- Harriet Beecher Stowe lived next door to Mark Twain in Hartford, Connecticut.

- The names of the policeman and the cab driver in It's a Wonderful Life were Bert and Ernie.

- Both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were extras in Field of Dreams.

- Between 1982 and 1984, Nora Roberts wrote 23 novels.

- The announcer who replaced Armed Forces Radio DJ Adrian Cronauer (played by Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam) was Pat Sajak.

- Mel Brooks wrote the lyrics to the theme from Blazing Saddles.

- Steve Buscemi is a former NYC firefighter.

- The final Lord of the Rings movie, The Return of the King, was nominated for eleven Oscars and won all of them.

- Before writing The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown was a pop singer. One of his solo albums was called Angels and Demons.

- In Raiders of the Lost Ark, a drawing of R2D2 and C3PO appears on a column in the Well of Souls.

- The novel Catch-22 was originally titled Catch-18.

- Robert Louis Stevenson burned stories based on readers' informal responses, Leo Tolstoy's son rescued the manuscript of War and Peace from the ditch where Tolstoy had thrown it, and Tabitha King pulled the discarded manuscript of Carrie from Stephen King's wastebasket.

- James Arness (Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke) and Peter Graves (Jim Phelps of Mission: Impossible) were brothers.

- William Atherton, who played the obnoxious TV reporter in Die Hard and Die Hard 2, sang the "What'll I Do?" theme song during the opening credits of the 1974 (Robert Redford/Mia Farrow) version of The Great Gatsby.

- "Goldeneye" was Ian Fleming's name for the Jamaican beach house where he wrote all the James Bond novels. Sting later used the same desk to write the song "Every Breath You Take."

- One of the voices of E.T. was that of Debra Winger.

- Clint Eastwood composed the main theme ("Claudia's Theme") for Unforgiven.


- Tom Wolfe, who was six-foot-six, preferred to write standing up, using the top of his refrigerator for a desk.

- In The Abyss, many of the underwater scenes were actually filmed in smoky air, using fake bubbles.

- Olivia Newton-John's grandfather, Max Born, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1954.

- Both Erle Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie dictated their novels. (Though ESG typed his earliest work.)

- To make some of the spacecraft seem larger in the movie Alien, director Ridley Scott filmed his own two children outfitted in miniature space suits.

- Rowan Atkinson has a master's degree in Electrical Engineering.

- Singer Tex Ritter ("Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darlin'," from High Noon) was actor John Ritter's father.

- Actor/director Anthony Hopkins composed the music for the movie Slipstream (2007).

- Clyde Barrow once wrote a letter to Henry Ford (it's on display at the Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan) praising the V-8 Ford as a getaway car.

- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the first book written using the typewriter.

- Clint Eastwood did all his own mountain climbing--no stuntmen--in The Eiger Sanction.

- Most of the cast and crew of The African Queen got sick from the water. Only Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston were unaffected because they drank only whiskey.

- Evelyn Waugh's first wife's name was Evelyn.

- Tom Hanks is a descendant of Abe Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln.

- The first U.S. paperback edition of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale was published with the title You Asked for It.

- Michael Myers's mask in Halloween was a two-dollar Captain Kirk mask, slightly altered and painted white.

- Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew novels, was really a pseudonym for a team of several different writers.

- Hoyt Axton (the father in The Black Stallion) wrote "Heartbreak Hotel."

- Melissa McCarthy and Jenny McCarthy are first cousins.

- The original title of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy. It was reversed when Newman decided to take the role of Butch rather than Sundance.

- The same author (Larry McMurtry) wrote Lonesome Dove and Terms of Endearment.

- Frank Oz was the voice of Yoda, the Cookie Monster, and Miss Piggy.

- Mickey Spillane ordered 50,000 copies of his 1952 novel Kiss Me, Deadly to be destroyed when the comma was left out of the title.

- Mia Sara (Ferris Bueller's girlfriend) has had two fathers-in-law: Sean Connery and Jim Henson.

- Director John Carpenter composed the music for most of his movies.

- Noah Webster was T. S. Eliot's great-uncle.

- Ian Fleming got the name for his fictional spy from a book he owned called Birds of the West Indies, by James Bond.

- The charcoal sketch of Kate Winslet in Titanic was actually drawn by director James Cameron.

- Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore were roommates at Harvard.

- J. K. Rowling came up with the names for the houses at Hogwarts while on a plane. She jotted the names down on a barf bag.

- The keypad on the laboratory's door lock in Moonraker plays the five-note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

- Author Sidney Sheldon created the TV series I Dream of Jeannie and The Patty Duke Show, and won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.

- When the kid in Home Alone 2 walks into the Plaza Hotel, the person he asks for directions is Donald Trump.

- Tom Clancy was part owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

- Cormac McCarthy wrote with the same typewriter for more than fifty years. When it broke, he auctioned it off for more than $250,000 (to donate to charity).

- In World War II, Roald Dahl was a fighter pilot, Donald Pleasance was a POW, Christopher Lee was an undercover agent for British Inteligence, and Charles Durning was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.

- When a hurricane hit the set during filming of Jurassic Park, the pilot who choppered the crew to safety was the man who had played Indiana Jones's pilot, Jock, in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

- The top three most-read books in the world are The Holy Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, and the Harry Potter series.

- In The Secret Life of Ian Fleming, Fleming was played by Sean Connery's son Jason.

- Actor Sam Shepard wrote 44 plays; one of them won him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979.

- The roles of both John McClane in Die Hard and Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry were first offered to Frank Sinatra.

- When J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, she typed three separate copies of the manuscript because she couldn't afford copying fees.

- Samuel L. Jackson's Pulp Fiction quote from Ezekiel was originally written for Harvey Keitel's character in From Dusk to Dawn.

- Chocolate syrup was used as blood in Psycho's shower scene; it was also used as the Tin Man's oil in The Wizard of Oz.

- Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was eighteen, and it was published when she was twenty.

- Mystery writer John Sandford, a.k.a. John Camp, won a Pulitzer for Non-Deadline Feature Writing in 1986 for articles about the life of a Minnesota farming family.

- Of his 70-plus film roles, Gregory Peck played a villain only twice (I think), in Duel in the Sun and The Boys From Brazil.

- Dolph Lundgren has a master's degree in Chemical Engineering.

- In the UK, Fifty Shades of Grey is the best-selling book of all time.

- George Lucas had a dog named Indiana.

- Robert Duvall had a bit part as Steve McQueen's cab driver in the movie Bullitt.

- The Salvation (2014) was a Western filmed in South Africa, with a Danish director and actors from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, the U.S., and England.

- Haley Joe Osment, the boy who "saw dead people" in The Sixth Sense, played Forrest Gump's son five years earlier.

- Tippi Hedren (The Birds) is the mother of Melanie Griffith and the grandmother of Dakota Johnson.

- Kurt Vonnegut managed America's first Saab dealership.

- Denzel Washington and Jeff Goldblum both played thugs in 1974's Death Wish.

- As a child, Roald Dahl--the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory--was a taste-tester for Cadbury's chocolate.

- Nathaneal West's 1939 novel The Day of the Locust features a character named Homer Simpson.

- In High Plains Drifter, one of the headstones in the cemetery was inscribed with the name Sergio Leone.

- Married (at one time or another): Geena Davis/Jeff Goldblum, Rachel Weisz/Daniel Craig, Calista Flockhart/Harrison Ford, Marlo Thomas/Phil Donahue, Rita Hayworth/Orson Welles, Uma Thurman/Gary Oldman, Dyan Cannon/Cary Grant, Lorraine Bracco/Edward James Olmos, Catherine Keener/Delmot Mulroney, Mia Farrow/Frank Sinatra, Christie Brinkley/Billy Joel, Barbara Streisand/Elliott Gould, Brooke Shields/Andre Agassi, Lisa Marie Presley/Nicolas Cage, Mary Steenbergen/Malcolm McDowell, Isabella Rosselini/Martin Scorcese, Madonna/Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller/Will Arnett, Michelle Phillips/Dennis Hopper, Mimi Rogers/Tom Cruise, Helen Hunt/Hank Azaria, Drew Barrymore/Tom Green, Katherine Ross/Sam Elliott, Scarlett Johanssen/Ryan Reynolds.

-Dated (at one time or another): Helen Mirren/Liam Neeson, Anjelica Huston/Jack Nicholson. Sarah Jessica Parker/Robert Downey Jr., Courtney Cox/Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg/Frank Langella, Carrie Fisher/Paul Simon, Jeanne Tripplehorn/Ben Stiller, Meryl Streep/John Cazale.

- Barbie in Toy Story 3 is voiced by Jodi Benson, who also voiced Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

- Paranormal Activity cost $15,000 to make and has grossed $210 million; Deep Throat cost around $25,000 and grossed $600 million; John Carter cost $350 million and lost $200 million.

- Mickey Spillane was at one time the author of seven of the ten best-selling novels in history.

- Sean Connery wore a toupee in all of his James Bond movies.


And maybe the most valuable and surprising piece of trivia of all:

- Katy Perry's cat's name is Kitty Purry.

(Don't ever say I didn't give you the inside info.)


Can you think of any crazy and lesser-known movie/novel/actor/author facts? Inquiring minds want to know . . .




21 November 2015

In Pursuit of Movie Trivia




by John M. Floyd

I think I've always been in pursuit of movies, and anything involving them. I confess to having watched more movies in my lifetime (both in theatres and at home) than any sane person should watch, and I own so many videos they're beginning to compete for shelf space with my beloved books. My recent suggestion to my wife that we might have to move because my DVD collection needs more room didn't go over well, but she has tentatively agreed that we might add a couple hundred square feet to my home "office." We'll see if that comes to pass, but I'm not optimistic.

A reel addiction

This attraction to filmed fiction might seem, to you, to be a bit immature. If you said that to me outright, my honest response would be, "Of course it's immature." I am fully aware that I haven't yet grown up, and if I do, I hope it doesn't happen anytime soon.

A direct result of all this, of course, is my fondness for movie trivia. I love discovering little-known facts about films and actors and filmmaking--most of them found in those fascinating DVD "bonus features"--and for today's column, I've put together a list of this incredibly worthless information. (Since most of these little nuggets came as a surprise to me, I hope some of them might surprise you as well.)

The unscientific observations of a movie maniac:



- The original title of Star Wars was The Star Wars.

- The main theme song for Unforgiven ("Claudia's Theme") was composed by Clint Eastwood.

- "Goldeneye" was Ian Fleming's name for the Jamaican beachfront home where he wrote all the James Bond novels.

- The Blair Witch Project was filmed in eight days.

- Michael Myers's mask in Halloween was a two-dollar Captain Kirk mask, slightly altered and painted white.

- Actor Sam Shepard, who's also an author, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1979.

- Tom Selleck was offered the role of Indiana Jones but had to refuse because of his contract with Magnum, P.I.

- The cigarettes smoked by the boys in Stand by Me were made from cabbage leaves.

- The original title of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy. The names were reversed when Newman decided to take the role of Butch rather than Sundance.

- In Raiders of the Lost Ark, a drawing of R2D2 and C3PO appears on a column in the Well of Souls.

- Sean Connery wore a toupee in all of his James Bond movies.

- Most of the cast and crew of The African Queen got sick from the water. Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston were unaffected because they drank only whiskey.

Deep Throat cost less than $ 25,000 to make, and earned an estimated $ 400 million.

- Steve Buscemi was once a New York City firefighter.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was adapted from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

- The charcoal drawing of Kate Winslet in Titanic was actually drawn by director James Cameron.

- The Jaws line "You're gonna need a bigger boat" wasn't in the script, and was improvised by Roy Scheider.

- When a hurricane hit the set during the filming of Jurassic Park, the pilot who choppered the crew to safety was the same man who had played Indiana Jones's pilot, Jock, in Raiders.

- Several battle scenes in Braveheart had to be refilmed because of extras wearing sunglasses and wristwatches.

- Actor Christopher Lee was an undercover agent for British Intelligence in World War II.

- The final Lord of the Rings movie, Return of the King, was nominated for 11 Oscars and won all of them.

- The announcer who replaced Armed Forces Radio DJ Adrian Cronauer (played by Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam) was Pat Sajak.

- Steven Spielberg waited 33 years to finish college. When he did, he turned in Schindler's List as his student film requirement.

- For John Carpenter's 1982 movie The Thing, the entire cast and crew were male.

- The roles of Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove were originally written for John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.

- In The Secret Life of Ian Fleming, Fleming was played by Sean Connery's son Jason.

- To make some of the spacecraft seem larger in the movie Alien, director Ridley Scott filmed his own two children outfitted in miniature space suits.

- The roles of both John McClane in Die Hard and Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry were first offered to Frank Sinatra.

- The martial arts instructor for the the Bond movie Never Say Never Again was Steven Seagal.

- The original tagline for posters of the movie Twister was "It sucks."

- Marlon Brando refused to memorize his lines in Superman. When he spoke to the superbaby, he read words written on a diaper.

- Haley Joe Osmont, the boy who "saw dead people" in The Sixth Sense, played Forrest Gump's son five years earlier.

- Samuel L. Jackson's Pulp Fiction quote from Ezekiel (which is inaccurate and mostly fictional) was originally written for Harvey Keitel's character in From Dusk Till Dawn.

- Alfred Hitchcock was placed under CIA surveillance for his use of uranium as a plot device in Notorious.

- Among the actors considered for the role of Han Solo were James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Christopher Walken, John Travolta, Kurt Russell, Billy Dee Williams, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Sylvester Stallone, Bill Murray, Burt Reynolds, and Robert DeNiro.

- Many of the extras in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest were really mental patients.

- Dooley Wilson (Sam, in Casablanca) didn't know how to play the piano.

- Peter Sellers' salary for Dr. Strangelove was more than half the budget of the entire film, and the movie Titanic cost more than the Titanic itself.

- The names of the cab driver and the policeman in It's a Wonderful Life were Bert and Ernie.

- Both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were extras in Field of Dreams (the Fenway Park scene).

- The view-through-the-gunbarrel sequence at the beginning of James Bond films was invented by title designer Maurice Binder, who really did aim the camera down a gunbarrel.

- Kevin Spacey was cast in Seven only two days before filming began.

- Charles Durning, a WWII veteran, was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.

- In the coliseum scenes in Gladiator, only the bottom two decks contained real people. The other thousands of spectators were computer-generated.

- Gregory Peck's closing "Do your duty" speech in To Kill a Mockingbird was done in one take.

- In High Plains Drifter, one of the headstones in the graveyard was inscribed with the name Sergio Leone.

- One of the voices of E.T. was that of Debra Winger.

- In The Abyss, many of the underwater scenes were filmed in smoky air instead, using fake bubbles.

- Tippi Hedren (The Birds) is the mother of Melanie Griffith and the grandmother of Dakota Johnson.

- The carpet in the Overlook Hotel in The Shining had the same design as the carpet in Sid's hallway in Toy Story.

- The Nakatomi Tower in Die Hard was really the (at that time) recently-built Fox Plaza, the headquarters of the studio that produced the movie.

- Martin Balsam was originally hired as the voice of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Stanley Kubrick replaced him because he feared Balsam's voice might be too familiar to audiences.

- Actor Donald Pleasance was a POW in World War II.

- In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford was supposed to have fought with the Arab swordsman in the marketplace. Instead Ford was ill with dysentery that day, and just shot him instead.

- Hannibal Lecter appeared on screen for only 16 minutes in The Silence of the Lambs, and Darth Vader was on-screen for only 12 minutes in Star Wars.

- The "You talkin' to me?" scene in Taxi Driver was improvised by Robert DeNiro. The scripted scene had consisted of only one line: "Bickle speaks to himself in the mirror."

- Cecil B. DeMille originally wanted William Boyd (TV's Hopalong Cassidy) to play Moses in The Ten Commandments.

- Pierce Brosnan was forbidden, by the terms of his contract, from wearing a tuxedo in any non-James Bond movie from 1995 to 2002.

- Dolph Lundgren has a master's degree in Chemical Engineering.

- George Lucas's dog was named Indiana.

- The working title for North by Northwest was In a Northwesterly Direction. 


A final piece of trivia:

I watched a movie last week called The Salvation (2014). It was a Western filmed in South Africa, with a Danish director and actors from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, the U.S., and England. And it was good.

Who says truth isn't stranger than fiction?






02 February 2013

In Pursuit of Mystery Trivia


Last week I did some housecleaning, in the form of thinning out my vast collection of hardback books. I do that every now and then only because I'm forced to--by my wife and by the fact that no matter how big our house is, it's still not big enough for a steady inflow of non-e-books--and as a result I always wind up giving some to the library, some to friends, and some to the garbage crew that comes by every Tuesday and Friday.

The point is, in every one of these sad (for me) "inventories" I seem to find something that gives me an idea for a SleuthSayers column.  This time it was a delightful little collection of questions called The Mystery Trivia Quiz Book, by Kitty Reese and Regis Sinclair. I've long since forgotten where I bought it, or even why I bought it, but I couldn't resist sitting down and paging through the questions. (Now my problem is deciding whether to keep the darn thing or toss it overboard.)
Here is a sampling of the brain-teasers I found there, plus a few of my own. Some are easy, some are tough, and some are just plain silly, but I hope all of them bring back for you (as they do for me) fond memories of mystery novels, stories, authors, movies, and TV shows.

1. What was the full name of Sherlock Holmes's landlady?
2. In what magazine did Dashiell Hammett's first Continental Op story appear?
3. What was Evan Hunter's best-known pseudonym?
4. Who killed Richard Kimble's wife in TV's The Fugitive?
5. What's the name of Bill Pronzini's famous detective?
6. Who played the gangster who carved up Jack Nicholson's nose in Chinatown?
7. What fictional series character hitchhikes across America carrying only a toothbrush, an ATM card, and the clothes on his back?
8. Where did Nick and Nora Charles stay when they were in New York?
9. What mystery (and former Western) author wrote the novel Hombre and the short story "3:10 to Yuma"?
10. What Poe story is considered to be the first "locked-room mystery"?
11. What was taken in John Godey's novel The Taking of Pelham One Two Three?
12.  Who played a judge in the final episode of Perry Mason, telecast in 1966?" (This one isn't as hard as it sounds.)
13. In what city was Spenser based?
14. How do you pronounce Ngaio Marsh's first name?
15. In North by Northwest, what is Cary Grant's reply when Eva Marie Saint says, "Roger O. Thornhill. What does the O stand for?"
16. Who shot J.R., on TV's Dallas?
17. What was the basis of many of the titles of Martha Grimes's detective novels?
18. What was Mike Hammer's secretary's name?
19. What did BullittVertigoThe Maltese Falcon, and Dirty Harry have in common?
20. Who lived on a houseboat called The Busted Flush?
21. Edgar Box is the pseudonym of what writer?
22. Who always includes a number in the titles of her mystery novels?
23. Who played the murderer in Rear Window?
24. In Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd--how did he die?
25. How did Nero Wolfe finish the following line: The only safe secrets are . . .
26. What TV character's name was taken from the British film industry expression "man-appeal" or "M-appeal" (which is what the series producers were looking for)?
27. What was Robert B. Parker's middle name?
28. What was Dick Francis's only collection of short stories?
29. Who was the voice of Charlie in TV's Charlie's Angels?
30. How did Hitchcock manage to do his trademark cameo in the cramped setting of the movie Lifeboat?
31. What's the name of the bog that borders the Baskerville estate?
32. In Richard Diamond, Private Detective, who played Sam (RD's answering service)?
33. What mystery writer is actually Dr. Robert William Arthur?
34. In which of the Thin Man movies did James Stewart play a suspect?
35. Who had to turn down the role of Indiana Jones because he was tied up filming a P.I. series?
36. What's unique about the settings of Nevada Barr's mystery novels?
37. In The Maltese Falcon, what was Sam Spade's partner's name?
38. Who were the two cousins who used the pen name Ellery Queen?
39. What Ben Gazzara/Chuck Connors TV series had the following format: the first half was spent catching the crook and the last half was spent convicting him?
40. What do P.D. James's first two initials stand for?
41. Who writes mystery novels starring sports agent Myron Bolitar?
42. Who was the producer's first choice to play Lt. Columbo?
43. The movie Heavenly Creatures was based on a crime actually committed by what popular mystery writer, when she was in her teens?
44. What musical instrument did Sherlock Holmes play?
45. What TV private detective frequented a bar called Mother's?
46. What was used to simulate blood in the Psycho shower scene?
47. What do Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series and Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series have in common?
48. What did the dying man tell James Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much?
49. What is romance author Nora Roberts's mystery-writer pseudonym?
50. Which Agatha Christie novel featured Alice Ascher, Betty Barnard, and Carmichael Clarke?

That's it--put down your pencil and turn in your paper. By the way, if you felt comfortable answering half of these or more, I don't know whether to congratulate you or feel sorry for you. I will say that you probably spend more time reading and watching mysteries than you should. (I certainly do.) And shame on you, shame I say, if you Googled any of them.

In case anyone's interested, I will supply all fifty answers in my SleuthSayers column two weeks from now. Meanwhile, it's time to get back to my sorting and trashcan detail. Anybody want a copy of Tommy Chong's autobiography?

Didn't think so.