A peek behind the scenes or an untold story can reveal so much more about our favorite shows and movies. Why did Mary Tyler Moore wear that silly wig on her new show, and who were those Hanson brothers in Slap Shot? These are the mysteries of the screen (big and small) that stay with us for years, seemingly never to be solved. But there are explanations and anecdotes — everything has some back story or secret origin. What was in the bottle before Barbara Eden (Jeannie) moved in? What’s George Harrison doing in that Monty Python movie? And what is up with the mask that Michael Myers wears — is it really a Star Trek thing? Take a moment to dig deeper and you might find the fact or tale that makes you enjoy a series or film even more.
Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman Wore Six Different Costumes
We all know the costume Lynda Carter wore as Wonder Woman— the star-spangled shorts, the golden eagle bustier, how could anyone forget? Yet on the TV show, which ran from 1975-79, she actually wore several other getups depending on the situation. When we first meet Carter’s Wonder Woman, for example, in the TV movie The New Original Wonder Woman (which was retroactively designated the series pilot), she’s wearing a white form-fitting minidress and a Lone Ranger-style domino mask.
This first outfit is the athletic garb she and the other Amazons of Paradise Island wear for the contest that will determine who takes wayward pilot Steve Trevor back to the civilization of men and women. To go out into this brave new world, Wonder Woman is given a red, white, blue and gold outfit that is essentially the costume she wears 95% of the time for the rest of the series (although in the series pilot she wears a short skirt instead of hot pants — minor detail). In the episode “The Bushwhackers,” Wonder Woman gets what’s called the “western” outfit, which involves a red top and white riding pants. In a few episodes, she wears a full-length blue spandex body suit, which is either a wetsuit (when she’s swimming, duh) or a motorcross outfit (when she’s wearing a helmet and riding a bike) — but it’s the same garment in either situation. At another point in the series, she wears what might be called a “formal” outfit, which includes a blue skirt and a red, white and blue cape. Finally, there’s a second Paradise Island outfit, which Carter wore in at the beginning of the second season during a recap of her origin story — this one was more like a white one-piece swimsuit with a diaphanous skirt. A girl’s gotta have options.
‘The Love Boat’ Was Filmed On Actual Cruise Ships, And The Extras Were Paying Passengers
On The Love Boat, passengers (often established stars from other shows) came on board for amorous sagas — finding love with a new person, falling back in love with a spouse, that sort of thing. Even though the plots could be convoluted, the cruise ship looked like a real cruise ship, bustling with hundreds of passengers unrelated to the story. The show achieved this verisimilitude by actually being a seafaring cruise.
Captained by Merrill Steubing, the titular boat of love was actually the Pacific Princess, which set sail in real life as part of the Princess Cruises fleet. While most scenes were filmed on sound stages in California, there were some outdoor shots that couldn’t be pulled off in a studio setting. For these, the cast and crew actually went on cruises on the Pacific Princess, and paying passengers were used as extras.
TV Batman Adam West Had A Super Sex Life (So Did Robin)
His character was a virtuous do-gooder, but TV’s Batman, Adam West, had a sex life that viewers could hardly have imagined. It turns out that when he wasn’t performing as a saintly hero fighting dastardly villains, just like in the comic books — a medium for children, especially back then — he was engaging in free love and reaping the benefits of being a Hollywood star in the Swinging Sixties.
According to a story published soon after his death, West reportedly slept with as many as eight women a night and even had quickies between scenes on the set of Batman. He wasn’t the only one. Just as many women were eager to sleep with Burt Ward, who played Batman’s sidekick, Robin. The Dynamic Duo, according to the stories, did much of their extracurricular work while still wearing their iconic Batman and Robin costumes.
Felix Silla, Who Played Cousin Itt In ‘The Addams Family,’ Was Also Twiki In ‘Battlestar Galactica’
Top actors of short stature often get the chance to play numerous memorable roles, though you don’t always see their faces. Warwick Davis, for example, played the hero of Willow, but his first movie role was as the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi. Kenny Baker, who played Fidget in Time Bandits, has a massive legacy as the man inside the R2D2 suit in six Star Wars movies. But do you know Felix Silla?
Source: Ain’t It Cool News
You know Felix Silla, even if you don’t recognize him. Born in Italy and trained as a circus performer, Silla attained TV immortality by playing Cousin Itt on The Addams Family. A couple of years after that series ended, he played the young gorilla in Planet of the Apes. But Silla really hit the double TV sci-fi jackpot in 1978. That’s the year he started playing Lucifer on Battlestar Galactica. Shortly thereafter he got the call to play Twiki on the related-but-different show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (both Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers were produced by Glen Larson). And if you’re a fan of really bad sequels, you saw Silla in Meatballs Part II as Meathead the Alien.
Mary Tyler Moore Was Elvis Presley’s Leading Lady In The King’s Final Film
Elvis Presley made a lot of movies — in fact, his success as a movie star overshadowed his music in the ’60s, so much so that he needed a “comeback” special in 1968 at the age of 33. Sharing the screen with Elvis in his peak cinematic years was a good move for many actresses, including Carolyn Jones (in King Creole, 1958), Juliet Prowse (in G.I. Blues, 1960), Stella Stevens (in Girls! Girls! Girls!, 1962), Ann-Margret (in Viva Las Vegas, 1964) and Donna Douglas (in Frankie and Johnny, 1966).
In the last film Presley made as an actor, the very forgettable Change of Habit, he was teamed with a sitcom actress who would be arguably the biggest star out of all his leading ladies (with the possible exception of Ann-Margret). Mary Tyler Moore was famous for playing Laura Petrie when Change of Habitopened in 1969. She became much more famous the following year, when The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered to instant success. In fact, TV success kept Moore so busy that she didn’t make another theatrical movie until 1980’s Ordinary People.
Adrienne Barbeau’s ‘Escape From New York’ Death Scene Was Filmed In John Carpenter’s Garage
Spoiler alert: Maggie, played by Adrienne Barbeau, doesn’t fare too well in the 1981 apocalyptic action film Escape From New York. When her companion The Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) is killed (whoops, another spoiler), Maggie attempts to make a last stand, pulling a handgun on the advancing Cadillac being driven by the Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes).
Maggie is run over by the Duke’s vehicle, but when director John Carpenter looked at the footage he’d shot and cut together, he wasn’t sure that point would be clear to audiences. Needing one more scene, he decided to film a shot of the dead Maggie underneath the Duke’s car. It was easy to get ahold of Barbeau, as she was his wife at the time, and the mini-shoot was accomplished in their own garage, using their own car in place of the Duke’s Cadillac.
Years After ‘Partridge Family’ Ended, Susan Dey And David Cassidy Had A Regrettable One-Night Stand
Susan Dey and David Cassidy played brother and sister on The Partridge Family, but Dey secretly longed to be in a relationship with Cassidy. At that time, he was one of the leading teen idols in entertainment, with hordes of adoring young female fans. Cassidy was well aware of Dey’s crush, but he viewed her as the sister he never had — and not as a romantic interest, at all.
In fact, Cassidy was notably insensitive to Dey’s feelings, hooking up with groupies and often parading the flavor of the week in front of a crushed Dey. But hope springs eternal — and after The Partridge Family had stopped taping, they did get together for a single night of passion. Cassidy later wrote about the tryst in a memoir, and said that he regretted it, which further hurt Dey. Although the pair had managed to become friendly, they reportedly never spoke again after Cassidy spilled the beans.
Charlie’s Angels Anchored ABC’s ‘Jiggle TV’ Lineup
In the mid- and late 1970s, the ABC network hit upon a winning formula, with Three’s Company, Wonder Woman and especially Charlie’s Angels drawing massive ratings thanks to the physical talents of Suzanne Somers, Lynda Carter, Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. Paul Klein, an executive at rival NBC, denigrated ABC’s brand of entertainment as “jiggle television.”
Charlie’s Angels, with its three female protagonists, who would inevitably end up in a bathing suit, t-shirt or towel every episode, was the ultimate in jiggle TV, which became
a specialty for its producer, Aaron Spelling. Two of his anthology series, Fantasy Island and The Love Boat, with their tropical locations and attractive guest actresses, also fell under the jiggle TV category. And of course, those viewers who truly wanted a front-row seat to the moral decline of humanity on their TV screens could tune in to Battle Of The Network Stars (also an ABC show) to watch Carter, Fawcett, and Somers perform feats of athleticism against the likes of Adrienne Barbeau and Loretta Swit (CBS) or Donna Mills and Erin Gray (NBC). Ah, the majesty of sport.
Chevy Chase Was Tricked Out Of Being In ‘Animal House’
Animal House, the ultimate college comedy, was envisioned as a cast of many quirky characters (kind of like a frat house) with no leading man. With John Belushi and others on board, that plan seemed to be viable — but then Universal Pictures weighed in. They wanted Belushi’s old Saturday Night Live co-star Chevy Chase, a headliner who would have changed the entire dynamic of the story. Chase was considering making a movie called Foul Play alongside Goldie Hawn, but he was intrigued by the Animal House prospect, and agreed to a lunch meeting.
Over lunch, director John Landis used reverse psychology:
I said, ‘Listen, Chevy, our picture is an ensemble, a collaborative group effort like Saturday Night Live. You’d fit right in, whereas in Foul Play, that’s like being Cary Grant or Paul Newman, a real movie-star part. Don’t you think you’d be better off surrounded by really gifted comedians?’
Of course, that was exactly what Chase didn’t want. He wanted to be a big star. He told Landis he’d be making Foul Play with Goldie Hawn, not Animal House.
Mae West Tormented Raquel Welch And Farrah Fawcett On The Set Of ‘Myra Breckinridge’
Iconic sex symbol Mae West came out of retirement to appear in Myra Breckinridge, a famous 1970 flop of a movie about a man, played by Rex Reed, who undergoes gender reassignment surgery and comes out looking like Raquel Welch. Mae West, who was in her late 70s, demanded — and for some reason, got — top billing, script approval, and permission to sing two songs in the movie. Before filming even started, it was clear that West thought she was the star.
Raquel Welch was already the new hot actress, and Farrah Fawcett showed great potential — and Mae West wasn’t about to play nice with either one of them. West decided that only she was allowed to wear black or white in the film, so all of Welch’s costume had to be remade. The two were so icy to one another that even though they share scenes with one another they’re never actually in the same frame. West wasn’t just awful to Welch, she bullied Fawcett to tears. One traumatic tactic West used was repeatedly complaining about the color of Fawcett’s hair — and forcing her to dye it a new color three times.
The Gopher Was A Controversial Last-Minute Addition To ‘Caddyshack’
What is the plot of Caddyshack? For such a beloved movie, it doesn’t have the cleanest narrative arc. The two most interesting characters, Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) and Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) are fun to watch but there’s nothing at stake for either of them. Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) has something at stake in that he is poor and wishes he weren’t, but he’s not an interesting character. What is this movie really about?
Wrong. Caddyshack is the story of a groundskeeper who is vexed by a gopher.
Harold Ramis’s directorial debut had clocked in at four and a half hours, which was way too long. An editor cut the film down to an acceptable length, but also cut out much of the coherent story involving Danny and his girlfriend and their fellow caddies. Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Rodney Dangerfield were not intended to be the main story of the movie, but they were better than the main story, and something had to be sacrificed. Feeling like the movie was a collection of funny vignettes without enough connective tissue, Ramis agreed to make the gopher an impish character who gets the last laugh.
The Oompa-Loompas Were Originally African Pygmies
The Oompa Loompas from Roald Dahl’s book Charlie And The Chocolate Factory weren’t originally conceived as we saw them in the film Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. To refresh your memory: the movie creatures were mischievous natives of Loompaland, in the region of Loompa, which was represented to be a small, isolated island in the Hangdoodles. Willy Wonka discovered them and realized that they were being mistreated by the Whangdoodles, Hornswogglers and Snozzwangers. Wonka took them home to work in his factory and to give them a better life, making his Gobstoppers and other sugary treats.
But that’s not how they were originally described in Roald Dahl’s book. In the first edition, published in 1964, the Oompa Loompas weren’t fantastic or supernatural beings; they were slave laborers imported from Africa. According to Dahl’s biographer, the Oompa Loompas in that edition were “a tribe of 3,000 amiable black pygmies who have been imported by Mr. Willy Wonka from ‘the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had been before.'” Dahl revised the description of the Oompa Loompas, making them merry hippies from a made-up land, but only after the movie came out.
Yvonne Craig Did Her Own Fight Scenes On ‘Batman,’ Unlike Adam West And Burt Ward
Yvonne Craig joined the Batman TV series in its third season, playing the dual role of Barbara Gordon and Batgirl — and the new blood was just what the show needed, as its popularity had begun to flag. Craig was a dynamic presence on screen, and not just because she was drop-dead gorgeous. She brought a physicality to her performance that was years in the making.
Source: LA Times
Craig had studied ballet since she was 10 years old, and had been very successful at it, attending the School of American Ballet in New York. At just 17 years of age, Craig was the youngest member of the touring Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. She ditched ballet for acting, doing guest spots on TV shows and appearing in two Elvis movies before getting the Batman gig.
Working on the show was physically taxing, and while Adam West and Burt Ward had stunt doubles for the run of the series, Craig insisted that she do her own stunts. Her ballet training was integral to her work on the show, and it’s one of the reasons that she was able to convince the producers to let her jump around on camera.
Sally Field Was Actually The Fifth Gidget
Sally Field is one of the biggest and most critically acclaimed stars of her generation, so we all know her trajectory pretty well. She won Oscars for Places In The Heart (1984) and Norma Rae(1979). Before that, she was the object of Burt Reynolds’ affection in Smokey And The Bandit (1977). Before that, she was The Flying Nun (1967-70). And before that, she was Gidget (1965-66).
Though Sally Field is arguably the canonical Gidget, she wasn’t the only Gidget or even the first Gidget. Sandra Dee was the first screen Gidget, in the eponymous 1959 film. Then Deborah Walley played the character in the 1961 movie Gidget Goes Hawaiian, and Cindy Carroll took over in Gidget Goes To Rome (1963).
All of these characters were based on a real-life surfer girl named Kathy Kohner, who was given the nickname “Gidget” by her young male surfer friends. Kohner stood about five feet tall, and the name was a contraction of “girl midget.”
Peter Sellers Shot Jacqueline Bisset On The Set Of Casino Royale
Peter Sellers was a loose cannon, which is one factor in his being a brilliant comedic actor — his co-stars never knew what he was going to do. In fact, his strange behavior alienated his colleagues on numerous occasions, with a prime example being Orson Welles. Welles and Sellers ended up in a legendary feud while making the 1967 Bond spoof Casino Royale, and couldn’t even film scenes together. The animosity stemmed in part from Sellers’ fat jokes at Welles’ expense, but Orson got off easy compared to Jacqueline Bisset.
The incident happened on their first take. As the seductive Miss Goodthighs, Bisset entered the scene wearing a pajama top and carrying a bottle of Champagne. Sellers, playing James Bond, turned to her and quite unexpectedly shot her in the face with a gun — it was loaded with blanks, of course. But the gunpowder made her skin burn, and she was bleeding where tiny shards had broken the skin. “First I thought I had been actually shot and then when I realized it had been a blank, I thought I’d been blinded,” she later revealed. “My face looked like a shower spout of pinpricks leaking blood. … To get shot in your first scene with a big star, that is a nightmare.”
His Herman Munster Getup Made Fred Gwynne Sweat Like Crazy
You didn’t just stroll on to the Munsters set and shoot your scenes — hours of makeup application, for the cast members, was required for each episode. Herman Munster’s costume was extremely bulky and unbearably hot. In order to keep him cool enough for his health and comfort… and to keep his heavy makeup from melting, a stagehand would use an air compressor to shoot cool air into his costume in between scenes. Despite all of their efforts, the actor consistently lost weight due to excessive sweating.
Actress Yvonne De Carlo had her own hot-and-heavy struggle: her wig reportedly weighed about 20 pounds. Her transformation to Lily Munster required two hours in the makeup chair, and the results were horrifying — to her, at least. The first time she saw herself made up as Lily, the veteran actress broke down crying, asking “So it’s come to this?” The shock wore off, though, and over time, she came to understand the show better, and to love it.
The ‘L’ Was Penny Marshall’s Trick To Remind Viewers Of Laverne’s Name
You could depend on audiences to know (or at least guess) that a show called Laverne & Shirley would be about two women, one named Laverne and the other Shirley. But would they remember, week-to-week, which one was Laverne and which was Shirley? Arguably not — and when this is a concern, writers often will work a character’s name into the opening lines of a show to establish who’s who.
It’s a clumsy bit of exposition, and actress Penny Marshall felt there had to be a better way. She decided upon a visual clue: Laverne’s famous “L” monogram. Just as Batman doesn’t really need to say “I’m Batman” (although, for some reason, he does) because he has a big bat icon on his chest, Laverne never needed to remind the audience that she was Laverne — it was always right there in that flowing script “L.”
Mary Tyler Moore Wore A Wig To Distance Herself From Her Old Character
Mary Tyler Moore was a TV star before she got her own groundbreaking show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. American viewers knew her as Laura Petrie, a role she had played in all 158 episodes before getting her own program. Moore’s character on her new show was Mary Richards, not Laura Petrie.
Spinoff shows had become common, with shows such as The Andy Griffith Show and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. giving us characters who went on to have their own series (Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., respectively). The producers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show were legitimately concerned that confused audiences would assume the character was Laura Petrie, so Moore started the new show wearing a large, dark wig. The wig disappeared after the first season, and nobody said anything.
Which Is Which? Anne Francis And Her ‘Twilight Zone’ Mannequin Double
The story of a statue that comes to life goes back to ancient times, when Pygmalion fell in love with his sculpture Galatea and Aphrodite brought her to life. There have been reboots and variations over the years, including the story of Pinocchio — you know how it is, statues and toys are always coming to life, and everyone’s happy about it. The inversion of the story, in which a person is turned into a statue, is not so happy.
This terrible fate befell the character played by Anne Francis on a 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone about a woman who goes into a department store and ends up becoming a mannequin. To shoot the story, the show needed the real woman (Ms. Francis) and a mannequin that looked just like her — but was clearly a mannequin if you look closely. In this picture, we see the prop and the actress side-by-side, and the resemblance is uncanny. Actor James Millhollin seems at a loss to tell which is which (hint: look at the eyes and the hands).
‘Strange Brew’ Is Based On Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Bob and Doug McKenzie, played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, are a pair of comedic characters developed on SCTV, a sketch show broadcasting out of Toronto and also carried in the United States. Because of different allocations for commercials, the Canadian version of the show ran two minutes longer than the American one. The producers asked Thomas and Moranis to fill the time with “Canadian content.” The duo bristled at the notion, but then came up with a rebellious solution — if the producers want more Canadian content, they would give it to them in the form of ridiculous cultural stereotypes.
Source: Ain’t It Cool News
The McKenzie brothers ended up being one of the most successful bits on SCTV, even getting its own movie. For the big screen, the comedians flirted with highbrow literature by borrowing their plot from Shakespeare. In Hamlet, a Danish prince returns home to Elsinore castle to find that his father has been murdered and his mother has shacked up with the culprit, his uncle. In Strange Brew, the Mackenzie brothers learn that the owner of their favorite brewery has been killed by an evil brewmaster, the owner’s daughter is in cahoots, her uncle is trying to cover it up, etc. — it’s not an exact rip of the plot, but there are similarities. And Moranis and Thomas tipped their hand with the name of the company at the center of the story: the Elsinore Brewery.
Max Headroom Won An Award For High Tech Effects, But There Were None
The character Max Headroom, which was first developed for British TV and debuted in 1985, was supposed to be a disembodied consciousness manifested as a computer-generated TV host. He was a talking head made of pixels and polygons — right? Well, that’s the impression the show wanted you to get.
Source: The Verge
The secret of Max Headroom was that he wasn’t computer generated at all. The character’s look was achieved by encasing actor Matt Frewer in a stiff suit-and-tie shell and applying makeup to make his skin look all smooth and plasticky. Under the harsh lights, and set against a background of careening parallel lines (ok, that part was computer generated), Frewer did indeed look very artificial. TV critics didn’t know how the effect was achieved, but they were impressed by what they assumed was some serious technology. In 1986, the show won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for Graphics — even though, apart from the lines in the background, the show didn’t employ any graphic effects.
Richard Dreyfuss Spends Most Of ‘American Graffiti’ Trying To Find Suzanne Somers
In American Graffiti, the high school graduate Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) glimpses a beautiful blonde woman driving a white Ford Thunderbird, and immediately becomes obsessed with her. His obsession isn’t unjustified — when he looks at her for that brief moment, she returns his friendly gaze and appears to mouth the words “I love you.” For the rest of the film, he’s on a quest to find her, although he is frequently distracted by side adventures, which tends to happen to teens cruising the strip on a Saturday night.
What viewers often don’t know — and indeed couldn’t have known when the movie was released — is that the briefly-glimpsed blonde was played by Suzanne Somers. Though Somers would soon become a big star thanks to Three’s Company, she wasn’t famous at all in 1973. In fact, “Blonde in T-Bird” was Somers’ first credited screen role.
Bob ‘Hogan’ Crane Married Sigrid ‘Hilda’ Valdis And They Had A Son (Not Pictured)
Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane was known to be a charmer — or a masher, depending on your perspective. In 1965, he began an affair with one of his castmates, Cynthia Lynn, who played Col. Klink’s secretary Helga. Lynn left the show after the first season, and Patricia Olson — who performed under the stage name of Sigrid Valdis — stepped in to play Helga’s replacement Hilda. Crane followed along, redirecting his attention from Helga to Hilda.
“He was always hitting on me from day one,” Patricia Crane recalled for ABC News. “But he would hit on any bimbo that would walk on that set. It didn’t matter. I mean, that was just Bob.” Though Crane is remembered for his sexual appetite and mysterious death (in 1978), he romanced Patricia and — after divorcing his wife of 20 years, who was his high school sweetheart — put a ring on it in 1970. Their son, Scott Crane, was born the following year.
Jeannie Was Trapped In A Bottle That Originally Held Jim Beam Whisky
Sometimes the prop department works wonders — other times they just repurpose an everyday object. The latter was the case on I Dream Of Jeannie when it came time to create the bottle in which Jeannie (Barbara Eden) lives. In fact, the bottle you see on TV was available in local stores — well, as long as it was a liquor store.
The bottle used on the show is a 1964 special edition Christmas decanter sold by Jim Beam — for an estimated $5.99 at liquor stores of the day. The original bottle was smoke-green with a badge on it that said “Beam’s Choice;” for the show it was painted with gold leaf accents and the badge was removed. Over the course of the series’ five-season run, about 12 bottles were used.
The Xenomorph In ‘Alien’ Was Nigerian Actor Bolaji Badejo’s Only Film Role
Bolaji Badejo was drinking in a pub in Soho, London, when he was spotted by director Ridley Scott’s casting team. Badejo was hard to miss — a slender 6’10”, with very long legs, he was the perfect candidate to play the creature in Scott’s upcoming sci-fi horror film Alien. Badejo took the job, and his performance as the menacing Xenomorph is one of the many elements that make Alien a masterpiece.
Badejo was an art student at the time. He was originally from Lagos, Nigeria, and had come to the UK to study graphic design after a stint in the United States. He never acted in another film again, and after returning to Nigeria opened an art gallery in 1983. Badejo died in 1992 of sickle cell anemia.
There’s A Dead Actress In ‘The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly’
In the ‘60s people were dying to be in Sergio Leone movies, well, they were appearing in them whether they were dead or not. In The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, Tuco and Blondie come across a horse carriage full of corpses before finding out about the gold buried in the cemetery. One of the bodies in the shot wasn’t a mannequin; it was a real corpse — allegedly.
Source: United Artists
According to rumor one of the bodies belongs to a Spanish actress who wanted to act “even in death.” Not only is that commitment to the craft, but it’s a way to make the scene all the more real even if it is kind of gruesome. Or maybe this is just one of those cinematic rumors that’s gotten out of hand.
Barry White Wrote ‘Doin’ The Banana Split’
The Banana Splits were a band consisting of anthropomorphic animals — actors in costumes — who played pop music on their show The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. As the main characters were a band, music played a central role. The songs were written by professional songwriters, including N.B. Winkless Jr., a jingle writer for Kellogg’s, who reportedly wrote the theme song, and Barry White, who wrote “Doin’ the Banana Split.”
Although White wrote “Doin’ The Bananan Split,” he did not perform it — it was sung by Drooper (a lion), with much of the lead vocal work done by Ricky Lancelotti, who was uncredited. “Doin the Banana Split” actually made it onto the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 96 on February 8, 1969. Other songs were performed by journeyman musicians and singers.
Bones, Kirk And Spock Pretend To Shave With Their Communicators Between Takes On ‘Star Trek’
Star Trek is not a funny show. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the original series, Next Generation or Voyager — none of them have jokes. And that’s a shame because there is much to laugh at.
These guys are out there zooming around to different planets wearing goofy color-coded sweaters. Spock had pointy ears like an elf! Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand) had a hairdo that was woven like an Easter basket! And at some point, no matter how serious an actor you are, you realize that the communicator prop you’re holding, which helps you communicate with the pretend spaceship that is orbiting the planet you’re pretending to be on, looks a hell of a lot like an electric shaver. And you shave with it.
‘Gilligan’s Island’s Lagoon Was A Studio Lot Filled With Water
The relatively convincing lagoon of the fictional island where Gilligan’s Island was set was wholly artificial. It was constructed at CBS Studio Center, in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, and the water was only about 4 feet deep. Because the set was near a freeway, shooting often had to be stopped because of noisy rush hour traffic. Palm trees and other vegetation were strategically arranged to block buildings in the background, but sharp-eyed viewers can occasionally spot the structures.
Source: Closer Weekly
The water in the lagoon became famously filthy as it stagnated over the months of shooting. To prove its toxicity, Bob Denver (Gilligan) and Alan Hale Jr. (the Skipper) released a live fish in the water — and the fish died. The network eventually agreed to change the water when the show’s stars demanded executives go for a swim in the lagoon.
The Shark In ‘Jaws’ Was Named ‘Bruce,’ After Steven Spielberg’s Lawyer
There was one major special effect in Jaws: the mechanical shark designed specifically for the film. It was a full-size, pneumatically powered creature measuring approximately 25 feet long and weighed thousands of pounds. And it was a nightmare to deal with, famously malfunctioning and breaking down — in fact, the shark became an additional challenge for director Steven Spielberg, who had to rewrite scenes and shoot around the shark’s shortcomings.
The shark — actually, there were three of them — was named Bruce after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Ramer. All Bruces were destroyed, but a fourth Bruce was made from the original mold, and was hung at Universal Studios for park guests to take pictures with. In around 1990, that Bruce was taken down and sent to a junkyard to make way for more current attractions. The owner of the junkyard held on to Bruce, knowing he had a curio worth preserving. When the junkyard closed down in 2016, Bruce was donated to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
The Face Of Michael Myers In ‘Halloween’ Is William Shatner
The horror movie Halloween, directed by John Carpenter, was a low-budget affair, costing just $300,000 to make. The actor who played killer Michael Myers, Nick Castle, was Carpenter’s film school friend and was only paid $25 per day. Jamie Lee Curtis was reportedly only paid $8,000, and bought her wardrobe for under $100 from JC Penney.
But the most famous bit of movie magic — the mask worn by killer Michael Myers — is truly among the most legendary low-budget shortcuts. It was actually a Captain Kirk mask — yes, in its original form it was supposed to make the wearer look something like William Shatner — and it cost just $1.29. Carpenter painted it white, and liked it because of its blank stare.
The 1966 Batmobile Was A Lincoln Concept Car From 1955
The 1955 Lincoln Futura was a one-off, a concept car that demonstrated Ford Motor Company’s space-age imagination. It was hand built by Ghia in Turin, Italy at a cost of $250,000 or more than $2.3 million in 2019 dollars. The Futura made appearances at car shows as a car of the future, and after a few years was repurposed for the 1959 film It Started With a Kiss, although it was painted red for the movie because the original silvery color was not particularly photogenic.
After the film was over, car customizer George Barris bought the Futura for $1. In 1965, 20th Century Fox contracted Barris to create the car for a new television show based on the Batmancomic book, but Barris was tasked with producing a Batmobile in three weeks with a budget of just $15,000. He decided to work with the Futura, modifying it so that it could appear on the show. The modifications were simple: the fin was extended to the windshield, bat-details were added, and it was painted black with fluorescent cerise trim. The customizing crew also added gadgets, such as the “jet drive,” which was simply a butane tank, and the chain cutter that popped out of the car’s nose.
Jack Wild Seems Surprised That H.R. Pufnstuf Is An Average Joe
No one would ever accuse Sid and Marty Krofft of making convincing costumes — whether we’re talking about the sea monster Sigmund or the Banana Splits, these big goofy characters are obviously just people wearing clunky suits. But that doesn’t mean you want to see the people with their big foam heads off.
Young actor Jack Wild, who played Jimmy on H.R. Pufnstuf, quietly speaks for us all in this photo. Just feet away from him sits Roberto Gamonet wearing the H.R. Pufnstuf costume without the head, as well as Johnny Silver, who has removed the head from his Ludicrous Lion costume. Krofft-world bodies with human heads on them — does anyone want to witness that? Talk about moments that’ll ruin your childhood!
Tabatha On ‘Bewitched’ Was Played By Twin Actresses
Bewitched‘s cast included Elizabeth Montgomery, two different “Richards,” and Agnes Moorhead. But don’t forget Tabitha, an important part, played by Erin Murphy. Or we should say, played mostly by Erin Murphy. Did you know she was a twin?
Erin Murphy, the actress known for playing Tabatha, has a fraternal twin sister Diane, and for at least 18 episodes in 1966-67 the two of them shared the job of playing Samantha and Darrin’s offspring. Erin eventually got the role all to herself, partially because, as fraternal (and not identical) twins, she and her sister began to look noticeably different from each other.
Groucho Marx’s Guest Appearance On ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ Was Canceled
Comedy legend Groucho Marx (of the Marx Brothers) was booked to do a guest spot on Welcome Back, Kotter. In the episode, “Sadie Hawkins Day,” as originally written, series star Gabe Kaplan would break into a Groucho Marx impression, and then the show would cut to Marx himself reacting to it. The cameo was never filmed.
Marx was 86 at the time, and looked it. In fact, he was too feeble to perform the scene, so it was canceled. Marx shot a few publicity stills with the cast on set, but he wasn’t in the episode. He died the following year.
The non-appearance was no doubt a disappointment for Kaplan, a Groucho Marx fan. You may detect occasional touches of Groucho in Kaplan’s Kotter, but the actor went for the gusto in 1982 when he starred in Groucho, a one-man play written by Groucho Marx’s son.
The Painting Seen On ‘Good Times’ Was Painted By A Former NFL Player
Jimmie Walker is most famous for playing J.J. Evans on Good Times, and J.J.’s calling card was the interjection (all together now) “Dy-no-mite!” But his frequent clowning overshadows a serious side that the show’s writers gave J.J.: he is a talented artist. J.J. Evans is often seen painting on the show, and the closing credits of many episodes roll over a scene that J.J. painted — that was actually a canvas by artist Ernie Barnes.
Source: L.A. Times
Barnes’ most famous work is “Sugar Shack,” and appearing at the end of Good Times isn’t its only claim to fame — it was also used as cover art for Marvin Gaye’s 1976 album I Want You. Barnes, who died in 2009, also supplied other paintings attributed to J.J. on the show, and his art can be found on covers of albums by Curtis Mayfield, The Crusaders and B.B. King.
Barnes has been recognized as an important 20th-century artist, although he might have painted less if he’d had better luck at football. Barnes was drafted out of college by the Baltimore Colts in 1959, and bounced to the New York Titans, San Diego Chargers, and Denver Broncos. Barnes was playing for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League in 1965 when he suffered a career-ending foot fracture. New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin soon hired Barnes not to play, but to paint, telling him “You have more value to the country as an artist than as a football player.”
The Studio Didn’t Think Spencer Tracy Would Live To Finish Shooting ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’
Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner was an important film in 1967, asking audiences to contend with the idea of interracial marriage not in the abstract but in their own lives, through the eyes of characters played by Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Both actors felt the movie was very important to make, but only one of them was really in the shape to do it. Though he was just 67 years old, Tracy was thoroughly ill, suffering from heart disease, diabetes, high-blood pressure, respiratory disease and more.
New York Post
Tracy failed his insurance physical before shooting began. Both Hepburn and director Stanley Kramer put up their salaries as collateral in case of Tracy’s death. But the precautions went further: Kramer, Hepburn, and co-stars Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton worked on extra footage from a second script that accounted for the possible loss of Tracy. Spencer Tracy would come to the set in the morning and film his scenes, then leave by midday to rest up — and the rest of the cast and crew would continue working without him. Tracy died 17 days after shooting wrapped.
Fonzie Was Only Allowed To Wear A Leather Jacket Because Of His Motorcycle
One of the most famous garments in the history of American television, once a prized exhibit at the Smithsonian, Fonzie’s leather jacket almost never got its chance to shine. Apparently, higher-ups at ABC forbid the Fonz from wearing his trademark duds on Happy Days because they feared that the jacket would make him look like a hoodlum. That’s why in the first few episodes the Fonz is rocking a forgettable white windbreaker.
Thankfully, producers of the show cleverly found a loophole. The Fonz would be permitted to wear his leather if he was near his motorcycle. Putting the Fonz astride his hog changed the leather jacket from gang colors to “a piece of safety equipment” in the eyes of higher-ups. Producers sold executives on the idea that without his leather Fonzie would be in danger on his bike. Once they got the green light on that incredible sell job, they decided to simply always put him next to a motorcycle.
The Thuggish Hanson Brothers Of ‘Slap Shot’ Were Played By Real Life Hockey Thugs
What makes the 1977 hockey comedy Slap Shot so good isn’t Paul Newman, nor is it really the underdog sports story — it’s the outrageous trio of Jeff, Steve and Jack Hanson. They show up as unknown weirdos with obscure hockey backgrounds and turn out to be ruthless brawlers who help redefine the team’s persona. They play dirty, and they love it, and the audience loves them for it.
The Hansons were based on the Carlsons, an infamous and very real trio of brawlin’ hockey brothers — in fact, they weren’t just based on the Carlsons. Jeff and Steve Hanson were portrayed by Jeff and Steve Carlson, who took a break from playing for the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Jets to make the movie. The third Carlson brother, Jack, would have been in the movie too, but he was called up to play for the Edmonton Oilers, so Dave Hanson (another Johnstown Jet) filled in as Jack. The trios exploits on the ice in Slap Shot — talking trash, playing dirty, fighting and bleeding all over the place — bring an element of cinema veriteto the movie, mainly because they were just doing what they’d done all their lives as athletes.
‘Dr. Strangelove’ Originally Ended With A Massive Pie-Fight Scene That Was Scrapped
As the black comedy Dr. Strangelove is reaching its climax, a scuffle breaks out, and U.S. President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) delivers one of the movies most famous and ironic lines. “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here!” he says. “This is the War Room.” Viewers never really knew how much fighting they missed.
In the tense situation, with nuclear war imminent, those assembled in the War Room hatch a plan to wait out the decades of radiation in mine shafts — and then the movie ends, with nuclear bombs exploding to the tune of “We’ll Meet Again.”
But Kubrick had a more ridiculous ending in mind, and actually filmed it. When the Russian ambassador is threatened with a strip search, he throws a pie at President Muffley. “Our beloved president has been infamously struck down by a pie in the prime of his life!” exclaims General “Buck” Turgidson (George C. Scott), and a massive pie fight ensues. In test screenings, which took place right after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, viewers disliked the scene — so Kubrick removed it.
Animal Lover Eddie Albert Objected To Eva Gabor’s Furs And Feathers On ‘Green Acres’
Eddie Albert, who played the urbanite-turned-farmer Oliver Wendell Douglas on Green Acres, was a bit like his character, in that he was more suited to country life. “Everyone gets tired of the rat race,” he said when accepting the role. “Everyone would like to chuck it all and grow some carrots.” He was also known for growing corn in the front yard of his Pacific Palisades home.
His love of nature extended to animals, which caused some friction with his co-star Eva Gabor, who played Lisa Douglas. Lisa did not take to country life, and part of her shtick included her insistence on wearing very un-rural getups. At that time, high-class urban women were likely to wear furs and feathers. Albert protested, saying he did not want her to set a fashion example that might result in the sacrifice of more birds to make feather boas.
Gabor reportedly replied to him that feathers don’t come from birds — they come from pillows.
They Weren’t Having Such A Good Time On The ‘Good Times’ Set
The sitcom Good Times aired for six seasons, making a lot of viewers laugh along the way — but behind the scenes, it didn’t live up to its name. While many successful shows are notable for the camaraderie among cast members, Good Times was a businesslike and drab affair when the cameras weren’t rolling — at least that’s how Jimmie Walker, who played the outrageous son J.J., remembers it.
Walker says he was never friends with John Amos and Esther Rolle, who played J.J.’s parents. “I will honestly say, I don’t remember ever speaking a word to Esther the whole time she was there,” Walker recalled in a 2018 interview. “I think the same basically goes for John. We talk more now but very, very little. We were never friends, never talked. If you said at that time ‘Call Esther and ask her about [something],’ I wouldn’t even have her number. I couldn’t have called John. I wouldn’t have had his number … We never spoke to each other.”
Roxie Roker Of ‘The Jeffersons’ Was In An Interracial Marriage (Which Gave Us Lenny Kravitz)
Roxie Roker played Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, and as a black woman married to a white character (played by Franklin Cover) she broke the TV taboo against interracial couples. It was a case of art imitating life: Roker herself was married to Sy Kravitz, a white Jewish TV producer.
When Roxie Roker was auditioning for the show, the producer raised the bizarre concern that she didn’t look like she could be married to a white man. She countered this view by whipping out a family photo that showed yes, she could be married to a white man, and here he was.
Roker and Kravitz had a child together — the rock star Lenny Kravitz.
Florence Henderson Got The ‘Brady Bunch’ Job Because She Was Boring
During casting of The Brady Bunch, Florence Henderson (Carol Brady) was a last-minute replacement. Actress Joyce Bulifant was all but set to play the role and had participated in screen tests with young actors hoping to play the Brady offspring. Bulifant’s Carol Brady would have been much zanier than Henderson’s — but when Ann B. Davis was enlisted to play Alice, the housekeeper, that presented a problem.
Alice was definitely going to be wacky, and Davis, an Emmy-winning actress, was a catch. Producers went looking for an actress who could give a more sober portrayal of Carol Brady — and ultimately Henderson was their choice for a dependable mom who wouldn’t steal every scene. Casting the kids was a longer and more complex process — in all, 464 boys and girls auditioned to play Marcia, Jan, Cindy, Greg, Peter, and Bobby.
Garrett Morris Of ‘Saturday Night Live’ Is An Opera Singer
Though he’s famous for his playing Chico “Baseball been berry berry good to me” Escuela and delivering “News For The Hard Of Hearing” on Saturday Night Live, Garrett Morris expected to find his entertainment career in music. His grandfather, a Methodist minister who raised him, noted young Garrett’s singing talent and encouraged it. Morris went on to study at Dillard University and trained vocally at Juilliard. This formal training boosted Morris into a blooming and successful career as a musical arranger and soloist before finding acting.
As a trained tenor, capable of singing opera in Italian and German, Morris often sang on Saturday Night Live in segments that had a funny concept while showing off his singing chops. He has also released a handful of albums, including Saturday Night Sweet(1980) and Black Creole Chronicles (2014). The latter explores the music of his hometown, New Orleans, Louisiana.
George Harrison Played Mr. Papadopolous In ‘Life Of Brian’ (And Also Financed The Film)
The late George Harrison, of Beatles fame, had a keen interest in movies and was also a huge Monty Python fan. In fact, it’s thanks to Harrison that the British comedy troupe’s third film, Life of Brian, exists at all. His good friend and Python principal Eric Idle called his last-minute backing the “highest price ever paid for a cinema ticket.”
Monty Python And The Holy Grail, made on a shoestring budget and released in 1975, had been a raging financial success, so the group’s production company EMI Films signed on to finance another movie. Just days before Life Of Brian shooting was to start, EMI’s executive producer John Goldstone actually read the script — and EMI promptly backed out, fearing the subject matter would be too controversial. In a desperate move, the Pythons called a meeting with George Harrison and asked him to read the script. He loved it, and felt the movie absolutely had to be made. Harrison put up 4 million pounds to fund the movie, and for his largesse was given the small role of Mr. Papadopoulos.
Jay Thomas Was Kicked Off Cheers When He Complained About Kissing Rhea Perlman
Jay Thomas was no stranger to the sitcom life — his first job as a TV actor was playing Remo DaVinci on 46 episodes of Mork and Mindy. In 1987, he began appearing on Cheers as Eddie LeBec, a hockey player who dates and eventually marries Carla Tortelli, the waitress played by Rhea Perlman. It was a good role on a very popular show — better not screw it up, Thomas.
And yet, screw it up he did. Thomas was a radio broadcaster in addition to being an actor, and one day on his radio show a listener called in and asked Thomas what it was like being on Cheers. Thomas said something to the effect of “It’s brutal. I have to kiss Rhea Perlman.” Perlman was listening to the show, and did not like the comment — not at all. Thomas never appeared on the show again, and the following season, Eddie LeBec was killed off in a freak Zamboni accident.
Card Game On Set Of ‘Planet Of The Apes’ Shows Humans And Apes Can Get Along After All
In Planet Of The Apes, human space explorers find themselves on a planet that is very like Earth, but for a couple of details. It’s inhabited by intelligent apes, who are the alpha species, and the humans there are seen as brutes. The evolutionary story has a different ending, and the tables have been turned.
The humans must fight for their dignity in the film, whereas the apes are hard pressed to see them as anything but inferior. But when the cameras aren’t rolling on a movie set, everyone has to find something to do to pass the time. That’s how we end up with this scene, which could never occur in the movie, as the intelligent apes wouldn’t deign to play cards with humans any more than you would play cards with your cat.
‘Daggit’ On ‘Battlestar Galatica’ Was Played By A Chimpanzee In A Costume
What was Muffit the daggit on the original Battlestar Galactica, anyway? Well, a “daggit” is a dog in the Galactican language, so that begins to explain it. But the daggit you see on Battlestar Galactica isn’t played by a dog. The actor inside the costume was actually a chimpanzee named Evolution, or Evie for short.
Evie was one of two chimps enlisted to bring Moffit the daggit to life; the other was named Doc. But Evie did much more of the work. The suit she had to wear was cumbersome and uncomfortable, and it’s a miracle that she even consented to wear it at all. But she was a professional by then, having already acted in five commercials, two TV shows and three movies.
Quentin Tarantino Played An Elvis Impersonator On ‘Golden Girls’ In 1988
Once upon a time, in Hollywood — we’ll call this time the ’80s — Quentin Tarantino was a director who had yet to hit it big. He’d made a short (“Love Birds In Bondage”) and a feature (My Best Friend’s Birthday) and had acted in both of them. Then he got a very small part in a memorable episode of Golden Girls.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Tarantino played one of many Elvis impersonators in the episode “Sophia’s Wedding: Part I.” And that gig paid — and kept paying. “It became a two-part Golden Girls,” he told Jimmy Fallon:
So I got paid residuals for both parts. And, It was so popular they put it on a Best of The Golden Girls, and I got residuals every time that showed. So I got paid maybe, I don’t know, $650 for the episode, but by the time the residuals were over, three years later, I made like $3,000. And that kept me going during our pre-production time trying to get Reservoir Dogs going.
So if you like Reservoir Dogs — you can thank Golden Girls.
Yul Brynner Wasn’t Bald
Like most people, Yul Brynner had hair — but in 1951, he decided to shave his head for a Broadway play. The play was The King And I, and it was very successful — and it was made into a movie, in which Brynner also starred, which was also very successful. In fact, The King And I set Brynner up to be a big star, and he was identified with the role of King Mongkut for the rest of his career.
When something’s working for you — stick with it. That’s a lesson Brynner seems to have taken to heart. When he moved on to other roles, Brynner continued to shave his head. In fact, since Brynner was one of the few celebrities with a bald head in that era, baldness itself was seen as the Yul Brynner look. He continued to shave his head for the rest of his career, and the Yul Brynner look made him one of the most iconic stars of his day.
A Young Peter Falk Played A Castro-Like Dictator On ‘The Twilight Zone’
The Twilight Zone specialized in eerie tales with unexpected endings, and most of them had a timeless quality. They may have been veiled critiques of human issues such as prejudice and conformity, but they weren’t generally ripped from the headlines. “The Mirror,” which aired on October 20, 1961, was a little different, as it was very clearly based on a world leader who was in the news — and had a distinctive look.
Yes, this bearded revolutionary in military garb is modeled on Fidel Castro, and the episode relates his rise to power and subsequent abuse of that power. Seven years after “The Mirror,” the actor who played the character of Ramos Clemente would become one of the most popular TV detectives of all time. Give him a shave, a trench coat, and a cigar, and you’d recognize him as Peter Falk, star of Columbo.