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45 Fun Facts About Breaking Bad

Let’s face facts…Breaking Bad is easily one of the best TV shows ever.

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Starring Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad was part of the golden age of AMC, airing alongside such classics as The Walking Dead and Mad Men.  A story with a simple plot (a cancer patient decides to make meth to raise money for his treatments), Breaking Bad set the bar for amazing television programming, combining tormented characters with intoxicating storylines to keep viewers addicted to the program week after week.

Set and filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad was a modern day western, complete with good guys, bad guys, and a heavy dose of casualties.  In its short 5 seasons, Breaking Bad took viewers from this…

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…to this…

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…and by the end, we were just hoping we’d make it out alive.

I’m currently rewatching Breaking Bad for the 3rd or 4th time now, and thought I’d share some interesting facts I’ve learned about this amazing show.  If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen Breaking Bad, note that there are spoilers ahead…you’ve been warned!

With a large fandom that continues to binge watch this amazing series, I think it’s safe to say that Breaking Bad will continue to be a cultural phenomenon for years to come…and whether you love Walt or you hate him, you can’t deny that man’s got us all by the…well, you know…

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45 Fun Facts About Breaking Bad

The name Walter White gives to his alter ego, “Heisenberg”, is a shout out to Werner Heisenberg, one of the most important physicists of the 20th century.  He won the Nobel Prize for developing the theory of quantum mechanics.

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The cast of Breaking Bad is filled with comedians. Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman), Bill Burr (Kuby), Lavell Crawford (Huell), Steven Michael Quezada (Steve Gomie), and Javier Grajeda (Juan Bolsa) have all done stand-up or comedic acting.  Even front-runner Bryan Cranston (Walter White) spent a few years doing stand-up before making it in Hollywood.

Gus Fring’s death was actually based on a real story. Rocket scientist John Parsons came to an unfortunate end when he was making up a batch of mercury fulminate for a special effects project.  Something went wrong and the batch blew up in his face.  He supposedly survived several hours with half of his face peeled off before finally succumbing to his injuries.

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Lovers of Breaking Bad and AMC’s other amazing show, The Walking Dead, know that there are several parallels between the two shows…one being that famed zombie artist, Greg Nicotero, who is the mastermind behind the zombies on TWD, was brought on to help create the final look of Fring’s blown off face. According to producer Vince Gilligan, it took months to get it right.

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Actress Julia Minesci, who plays the meth addict and hooker Wendy, is actually much healthier than she looks. She’s done the Hawaii Ironman six times, the Germany Ironman once, and has run countless marathons in between.

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Gale’s complete karaoke video is on YouTube.

Several of the residences in Breaking Bad are real family homes, including the homes of Walter White and Hank and Marie Schrader. You can see both homes, and many other famous Breaking Bad filming locations, on the Albuquerque Breaking Bad tour.

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The coordinates that Walt hides on a Lotto ticket reminding him of where his money is buried actually point to Q Studios in Albuquerque, where Breaking Bad was filmed.

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Los Pollos Hermanos, the restaurant of Gus Fring, is actually a real chicken restaurant in Albuquerque. Named Twisters in real life, the restaurant still sports the painted chicken brothers logo on the inside.

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Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston actually first met on the set of The X Files. Gillian wrote an episode called “Drive” and he needed to cast an actor who “could be scary and kind of loathsome but at the same time had a deep, resounding humanity”…hmmm…sound familiar?  Cranston got the part and Gilligan would later approach him again to star in his new show, Breaking Bad.

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The now famous Heisenberg Hat was originally given to Cranston to prevent sunburn on his shaved head.

Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn (Skyler White), Bob Odenkirk, and Jessica Hecht (Gretchen) were all guest-stars on Seinfeld.

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The science behind Breaking Bad is flawed for a reason. Show creators felt that viewers might try to emulate Walter’s recipe based on what happens in the show, so Gilligan had a real DEA crew on set to advise him on what science to include and what to leave out.

Besides the popular Breaking Bad tours, New Mexico also offers blue meth candy, blue meth doughnuts, locally brewed Heisenberg beer, Heisenberg Pez dispensers and much more.

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After watching Season 5, Episode 14 – “Ozmandias” – George R.R. Martin called Walter White “a bigger monster than anyone in Game of Thrones”.

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Besides winning three Primetime Emmy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, A Critics’ Choice Award, and having slew of other wins and nominations under his belt, actor Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) has never had one acting class…just a natural heart-breaker!

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Nearly two decades before Breaking Bad, Cranston was in the original Power Rangers!, voicing the character of the Twin Man. The Blue Ranger (Billy Cranston) was also named after him…kind of had to be the blue one, right?

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Jesse Pinkman was actually supposed to be killed off at the end of the first season…however, the chemistry between Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston was so strong and Paul was such a joy to work with that Gillian said it would be a “colossal mistake to kill off Jesse”. Yeah, bitch!

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On the final day of filming the show, Cranston got a Breaking Bad tattoo on the inside of his finger. Aaron Paul also has “No Half Measures” tattooed on his arm.

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According to Anna Gunn, Cranston cried for 15 minutes after filming the scene in which Walt watches Jesse’s girlfriend Jane die.

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The first, fourth, tenth, and thirteenth episodes of season 2 all have black and white teaser intros. When you combine the titles for those episodes, you get Seven Thirty-Seven/Down/Over/ABQ – foreshadowing the plane crash at the end of the season.

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The iconic “roof pizza” scene was shot on the very first take.  #pro

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Ironically, Christopher Cousins (Ted Beneke) needed a stunt man to film his neck-breaking scene because Cousins himself was recovering from spinal surgery.

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While RJ Mitte (Walt Jr.) does have cerebral palsy, he walks without crutches and had to learn how to walk with them for his role on the show.

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There are 62 episodes total of Breaking Bad. The 62nd element on the periodic table is Samarium, which is used to treat pain in lung cancer patients.

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Walt Jr. is the only major character that Jesse Pinkman never meets or encounters throughout the entire series.

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There are 270 deaths throughout the five seasons of Breaking Bad.

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Walt Jr.’s site, http://www.savewalterwhite.com, is a real website. Donations made on the site go to the National Cancer Coalition.  Click on the banner to check it out!

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The final episode of the series, “Felina”, can be broken up into three elements: Fe, Li, Na – iron, lithium, and sodium…or blood, meth, and tears.

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In the premiere episode of the 5th and final season, the camera lingers on Walt’s New Hampshire plate, showing the state motto, “Live Free or Die”. This is the name of the season 5 premiere and also foreshadows the outcome of the two main characters.

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Before signing with AMC, a lot of networks passed on Breaking Bad, including HBO, Showtime, TNT, and FX.

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Whenever you see the blue meth on screen on Breaking Bad, what you’re actually seeing is blue rock candy…specifically blue rock candy from The Candy Lady, a boutique candy store in Albuquerque. They now have a whole line of Breaking Bad-inspired treats, which they sell under The Bad Candy Lady line.

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Jesse Pinkman says his famed “Bitch!” 54 times throughout the series. That’s roughly once per episode.

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Marius Stan, who played Walter’s boss, Bogdan, at the car wash, has a PhD in chemistry and is a Senior Computational Energy Scientist at Argonne National Lab.

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Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut) was beloved by cast and crew alike. On his last day on set, everyone wore black armbands in his memory.

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Gilligan’s one regret about the show: Jesse’s teeth.  Jesse took a lot of beatings throughout the show and obviously used meth and other drugs.  In real life, Jesse’s teeth would have probably been terrible.  But…dat smile…SWOON.

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Aaron Paul was once a contestant on The Price is Right. Hold on to your ovaries, ladies…

Aaron Paul also auditioned for the role of Francis in Malcolm in the Middle, meaning he would have played Bryan Cranston’s son 8 years before Breaking Bad.

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Another Walking Dead Easter egg…The car that Walt buys Walt Jr. is the same car Glenn drives in The Walking Dead.

Furthermore, the general manager who sold Walt the car was named Glenn.

There are also a bunch of fan theories that Jesse Pinkman was the drug dealer for The Walking Dead character, Merle Dixon.

Shooting the series in New Mexico pumped about $1 million per episode into the local economy.

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The term “breaking bad” is a southern colloquialism, referring to someone who has taken a turn off the path of the straight and narrow.

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Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris (Hank Schrader) also appeared in Little Miss Sunshine, which was also filmed on location in Albuquerque.  Cranston was the agent Stan Grossman and Norris was the police officer that investigated the bus after the horn on the bus broke.

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It should come as no surprise that the bromance between Cranston and Paul is alive and stronger than ever.  They still talk often and Cranston was even a groomsmen in Aaron Paul’s wedding.

Breaking Bad guys:

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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35 Fun Facts About The Wonder Years

Ask me what my favorite movie is and I’ll have to list at least two or three.  There are just so many factors!!  But when it comes to my favorite TV show, hands down, every time…it’s The Wonder Years.

What I love about The Wonder Years is that it’s not neat and tidy.  Things do not end the way you may think they will…or the way you want them to…and that’s just how life is, honestly.  People don’t live happily ever after.  People die.  People break up and get divorced.  Our first loves, our true loves, are not always the ones we end up with…and this show does an amazing job of bringing that to life in the most relatable, honest and heartfelt way.

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I’ve watched The Wonder Years a ridiculous amount of times.  I’m actually watching it now as I write this post!  I watched it for the first time with my dad when it was on ABC, then again when it was on Nick at Nite.  I watched it when it was released on Netflix a good handful of times and then again after my dad died…and apparently here I go again!  No other show, movie, play, or book has touched my life the way this show has…and, much like an old friend I know I can count on when times get tough, it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Even now, all these years later, certain episodes still make me laugh.  A lot make me cry…and some just hit home in a way that nearly knocks me off my feet.  I had a romance like Kevin and Winnie’s…I knew people like Paul and Becky Slater.  I had teachers like Mr. Collins and my grandpa was so much like Mr. Arnold.  These were real people to me…they were a part of my story.  I’ve never experienced anything like that before or since, and I will forever be grateful to the cast and production team for telling their story the way they did…in a manner that was honest and true.

The Wonder Years recently had a 25 year anniversary…and was finally released on DVD not too long ago after an epic battle to obtain music rights to several of the songs that helped make this show so great.  A few days ago I did a post on Where The Wonder Years Cast is Now, and now I bring you a few fun facts about the making of this iconic American TV show!

35 Fun Facts About The Wonder Years

Kevin Arnold’s (Fred Savage) and Winnie Cooper’s (Danica McKellar) first kiss was also Savage and McKellar’s first kiss! Savage was just 11 and McKellar was 12 when they shot that scene.
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Actress Danica McKellar was up against her sister, Crystal, for the part of Winnie Cooper. Producers finally decided on Danica the day before the pilot began shooting because she was older and her hair color better complimented Fred Savage’s hair.
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But Crystal got her chance in the spotlight, too. You can see Crystal McKellar play the role of Becky Slater throughout the series.  Ironically she’s the one Kevin dates early on to make Winnie jealous.  Cold move, Kev…cold move.
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Olivia D’Abo, who played Kevin’s sister Karen, had hair extensions put in to complete her ‘flower child’ look.
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After its first season, which was only 6 episodes, The Wonder Years took home an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1988.
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If that chemistry between Kevin and Winnie looked like the real deal, it’s because it was! McKellar has said that both she and Savage had crushes on each other in the early days of filming, but their relationship eventually turned into a more brother-sister bond…as is the case with most of these young folk!  Savage was quoted as saying, “I was in love with her for the same reasons every other boy fell in love with her.  You won’t meet a sweeter, nicer girl – and she’s gorgeous.”  STOP IT.
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The city where The Wonder Years took place is never mentioned, but the Arnold’s house was located in Burbank, California and the interior was replicated on a soundstage.
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Many fans have tried to debunk this and search the series for clues…including zooming in on the license plate of the family car and the shot of Wayne’s (Jason Hervey) driver’s license. Both ground the series in California, but it’s never explained exactly where it takes place.
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A TON of actors made guest appearances on The Wonder Years, including Juliette Lewis, Jim Caviezel, Alicia Silverstone, Giovanni Ribisi, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, David Schwimmer, Robin Thicke, John Corbett and several more.
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Ben Savage, Fred Savage’s younger brother, even made a little guest appearance in the Valentine’s Day episode! Look at him!!

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Yes, the entire cast is still super close to this day (which makes me happier than you will ever know), but the moms of all the kids also really hit it off…since they were all on set with their kids all the time. Joanne Savage, Mahalia McKellar, Marsha Hervey, and Jane Saviano (Josh Saviano’s (Paul) mom) still talk and get together.  How precious is that?!

The Wonder Years was partly inspired by film, A Christmas Story. From the coming-of-age theme to the use of narration, the two cultural staples had quite a lot in common.  Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) even made an appearance in the final two episodes of The Wonder Years as one of Kevin’s roommates.

The Wonder Years also was pretty revolutionary for its time in terms of production value. The dramedy only used one camera to film the entire series and the use of a narrator and lack of a laugh track was a bit unheard of for the time.

Casting a lead is never easy…especially when your lead is an 11-year-old boy. So producers Carol Black and Neal Marlens interviewed five casting directors for recommendations on who should play Kevin Arnold.  Every single one of them said Fred Savage.  Boy’s got skillz!

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Perhaps the success of The Wonder Years has to do with the fact that it premiered after the 1988 Super Bowl. More than 80 million viewers tuned in that year to watch the Washington Redskins crush the Denver Broncos and were then treated to a bit of Americana television.

In 1989, at the tender age of 13, Savage became the youngest actor to be nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category. He was nominated again in 1990.
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A lot of the dialogue between Kevin and Winnie was picked up from conversations that Savage and McKellar would have off-screen.

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The on-again, off-again romance between Kevin and Winnie was an integral part of the series…but between the third and fourth seasons, the split was solely because McKellar had experienced a huge growth spurt, leaving her little 5-foot co-star in the dust. The two remained separated just long enough for Savage to catch up in height!

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It was Dan Lauria’s idea to make his character, Jack Arnold, a veteran of the Korean War. Lauria himself was a marine and Vietnam War vet and he wanted to bring that part of his life into his character.  It certainly helped and added much-needed dimension to Mr. Arnold.

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Daniel Stern narrates the series as grown-up Kevin Arnold. You might know Stern from a little movie called Home Alone.

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Stern also directed several episodes of The Wonder Years.

In the series finale, it’s mentioned that Kevin’s friend Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano) goes off to Harvard and becomes a lawyer. In real life, actor Saviano actually attended Yale to become a lawyer.  He’s a lawyer to this day, working to protect, build and exploit celebrity and corporate brands.

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The little boy’s voice in the finale asking grown-up Kevin to come outside and play catch is actually Stern’s real life son.

The reason it took so long to release The Wonder Years on DVD was because it was near impossible to get all the music rights for the songs that really brought this series to life, including the title song, “I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends”. Eventually, about 96% of the original music was cleared, and The Wonder Years has finally made it to DVD!  WISH LIST!!!!!

The Wonder Years: Complete Series (slipcase)(26DVD)

Since the actors on The Wonder Years were all so young, they often had to balance filming with school…therefore a lot of scenes were actually shot separately. For example, in the scene where Kevin climbs into Winnie’s bedroom after she is in a car accident and they say “I love you” FOR THE FIRST TIME, it was actually each actor saying “I love you” to a piece of tape!

Though he played a total nerd in the series, Saviano was actually a varsity athlete. McKellar, who was a bit of an athlete in the series, was actually a total book nerd and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics…with honors, no less.

Savage, McKellar, and Saviano have all said that the episodes that feature Mr. Collins, the stern and fair math teacher, were their favorite episodes in the series.

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Lauria and Alley Mills (Norma Arnold), who played Kevin’s parents on the show, didn’t have any real life children of their own; therefore, they basically adopted all the kids on set and the vibe was very much that of a tight family unit.

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Paul’s bar mitzvah episode was one of the first depictions of Judaism on mainstream prime-time television. Savage was invited to Saviano’s real life bar mitzvah, but couldn’t go because he was filming a movie.  However, both Saviano and McKellar attended Savage’s bar mitzvah.  OMG THE CUTENESS…I CAN’T TAKE IT MUCH LONGER.

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In order to make it easier for Savage to react to the voiceover, there was a real narrator on set reading the lines out loud.

Young actors of today, look to Savage, Saviano, and McKellar as gleaming examples of child actors going on to live pretty amazing lives. Savage attended Stanford and is now directing movies and TV (including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Modern Family), Saviano is a Yale graduate practicing law, and McKellar graduated from UCLA with honors and has written four books about mathematics, one of which made it to the New York Times Best Seller List.

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The house used for exterior shots of the home throughout the series is 516 University Ave., Burbank, CA.

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After the series ended, Savage’s mom kept the New York Jets jacket worn by Kevin during the show’s first few seasons. In October 2014, Savage donated the jacket to the Smithsonian.

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Fred Savage, Blake Sennett, and Dan Lauria all guest-starred on Ben Savage’s show, Boy Meets World.

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Savage is also the only cast member to appear in every episode of the series.

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Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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The Little Rascals…Where Are They Now?

The 90’s were a time of amazing music, fantastic TV shows, and adorable kid-friendly movies.  Home Alone, Matilda, The Lion King, Homeward Bound, Free Willy, Hook, Jumanji, Space Jam, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hocus Pocus, Toy Story, My Girl, Good Burger, Fern Gully, The Sandlot, and Aladdin were just SOME of the movies that came out between 1990 and 1999…and nestled comfortably between classics like The Lion King and Home Alone sat a little movie about “The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club” that brought to life the characters from the old program, Our Gang.

Starring newcomers Bug Hall, Travis Tedford, and Brittany Ashton Holmes, as well as several familiar faces like Whoopi Goldberg, Reba McEntire, Mel Brooks, Lea Thompson, and…yes…Donald Trump, The Little Rascals was a sweet and adorable movie that was a favorite in our household, for sure!  With plenty of kid and adult humor jam-packed into an hour and change, The Little Rascals was a movie our whole family could enjoy year after year (especially as us kids understood more and more of the adult humor!).

While some of the stars of The Little Rascals had a successful career in Hollywood after the film ended, others decided to retire and focus more on their education.  Here’s a look into what the cast of The Little Rascals has been up to recently!

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The Little Rascals…Where Are They Now?

Bug Hall
Alfalfa

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Brandon “Bug” Hall is perhaps best known for his role as Alfalfa in The Little Rascals.  After winning over young hearts as the little lover with the cowlick, Hall went on to appear in a few more 90’s movies, including The Stupids and The Big Green.  From there his work was limited, mostly appearing in direct-to-DVD films and TV movies.  He’s also had guest spots on several popular TV shows, including Charmed, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, and 90210.  Most recently he appeared as Arthur Davidson in the TV miniseries Harley and the Davidsons.  He also has two movies due to release soon, The Shadow People and The Long Run.

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Travis Tedford
Spanky
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Travis Tedford is also best known for his role as Spanky in The Little Rascals.  He became the spokesperson for Welch’s Grape Juice when he was just 5 years old, the same year he was in The Little Rascals.  After The Little Rascals, Tedford was in a few more films, including A Bug’s Life (1998) and Freaky Friday (2003).  In 2006 he graduated from Athens High School in Texas and went to Trinity Valley Community College, where he got an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts.  He currently is employed at Texas Trust Credit Union as a marketing specialist.

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Brittany Ashton Holmes
Darla
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Brittany Holmes retired from acting about two years after crushing that can like a pro in The Little Rascals.  She currently resides in Los Angeles and is working on getting a degree in political science.

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Blake McIver Ewing
Waldo

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Starring as the little kid we all loved to hate, Blake McIver Ewing has gone on to do quite a lot since his role in The Little Rascals.  A talented singer, actor, and pianist, Ewing co-wrote and performed the song, “Along the River”, the end credit song for the 2005 film, End of the Spear.  To help raise money as he was growing up in LA, Ewing performed as a go-go dancer throughout 2013…he actually raised so much money that he was able to release his debut album, The Time Manipulator, in May 2014.  A graduate of UCLA, Ewing was nominated for an Ovation Award for his role as “The Little Boy” in the LA production of Ragtime went on to release another song, “This is Who We Are” in July 2015.

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Ross Bagley
Buckwheat
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Ross Bagley is definitely that actor with the familiar face.  Getting his start in acting alongside Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Bagley portrayed Nicky Banks from 1994 to 1996.  During his work on Fresh Prince, Bagely was the loveable Buckwheat in The Little Rascals and soon after appeared with Will Smith again in the 1996 blockbuster, Independence Day.  In 2005, Bagely enrolled at California State University, seeking a degree in cinema and television arts.  Most recently, he appeared in the 2015 horror film, Gnome Alone.

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Kevin Jamal Woods
Stymie
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Always wearing his black derby hat, Kevin Jamal Woods got his start in acting playing Stymie in The Little Rascals.  Following the film, he had a recurring role as Frank in the TV series, Blossom, and had various guest roles on Walker, Texas Ranger and Sons of Thunder.  Recently, Woods has been pursuing comedy and music and occasionally posts to his YouTube channel, ThaRealKWoods.

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Zachary Marby
Porky
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Zachary Marby, who played Spanky’s younger brother, Porky, in The Little Rascals, ultimately gave up acting after this movie and decided to go into accounting.  Like his co-star Brittany Ashton Holmes, he found that acting just wasn’t for him and wanted to focus on his studies.

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Sam Saletta
Butch
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Every gaggle of goofy kids needs a bully, right?  Well, in the case of The Little Rascals, that bully was Butch, played by tough guy Sam Saletta.  Since teasing all the members of the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club, Saletta has spent a good portion of his time focusing on acting and music.  He’s appeared in several TV shows, including Recess, 7th Heaven, and Rocket Power.  For a while he was a member of the band “Jubala” and, in 2010, did some voiceover work for the Call of Duty: Black Ops videogame.

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Jordan Warkol
Froggy
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Playing the kid with the crazy voice, Jordon Warkol went on to appear in several TV shows and TV movies after his work on The Little Rascals, including Thunder Alley, Walker, Texas Ranger, 7th Heaven, Judging Amy, The X-Files, Hey Arnold!, and Rocket Power.  In 1996 he was in the movie, Carpool and also lent his voice to a character in A Bug’s Life.  Currently Warkol is trying to pursue a career in stand-up comedy.

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Courtland Mead
Uh-Huh
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Having to only say about one word throughout the duration of the movie, Courtland Mead had it pretty easy as Uh-Huh in The Little Rascals.  After his work on the film, Mead joined forces with Jonathan Taylor Thomas in the Disney film, Tom and Huck.  Like a few of his other co-stars on The Little Rascals, he also did some voiceover work as the character, Gus Griswald, on the animated series, Recess.  In recent years, Mead has appeared in the TV series Lloyd in Space, as well as the 2010 film, Mean Parents Suck.

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Blake Jeremy Collins
Woim
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Butch’s sidekick, Woim, was brought to life by funny kid Blake Jeremy Collins.  Minor roles followed his work on The Little Rascals, including appearances in the TV shows Minor Adjustments and Men Behaving Badly.  In 1998 he was in the film Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish and then disappeared from the big screen.  Most recently, Collins actually did some work behind the camera working as an assistant cameraman on the TV series, Sons of Anarchy.

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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25 Fun Facts About Alan Rickman

To think that I even have to write about Alan Rickman in the past tense is breaking my heart.  A true gem of a human being and one of the finest actors the stage and screen has ever seen, Alan Rickman was a brilliant and talented performer.  On the day he died, I just sat in my car and cried a long, ugly cry…for what was, what will never be…

Most people today know Alan Rickman from the Harry Potter franchise, but those die-hard (see?  See what I did there??) Rickman fans know he’s been around long before Severus Snape.

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A product of the theater, Rickman started acting in various plays in England before moving to America to star in his first Hollywood movie, Die Hard.  His deadpan humor, sultry voice, and Jimmy Stewart-like charm made him a favorite among his fans and colleagues.

I have been a fan of Rickman since I first saw him in Sense and Sensibility (easily one of my favorites!).  I loved his sad and loveable portrayal of one of my favorite Austen men, Colonel Brandon.  After SaS, he blew me away in Snowcake and, of course, there was no better choice for Snape in the Harry Potter films!

An actor who loved what he did because of the true passion of telling a story, Rickman wasn’t in it for the money or the fame…he didn’t care about the show or the awards or the hullabaloo of it all…he just truly, and honestly, loved acting.  He was selective with his roles, picking parts that meant something to him and that challenged him as a performer.  He was often typecast as a villain, which was ironic considering he was a man with a loving and giving heart.

Several of Rickman’s fellow actors and friends, namely Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, and Daniel Radcliffe, to name just a few, do nothing but sing his praises.  He was a man who loved fully and gave back in any way he could.  He was honest and true and grateful for what he was able to achieve in his short life.

Two days ago would have been Alan Rickman’s 70th birthday.  He had an all-too short acting career that only spanned about 30 years.  He brought some of our most memorable characters to life and he will remain in the hearts of those that loved and respected him…always.

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I’M NOT CRYING…YOU’RE CRYING!

 

25 Fun Facts About Alan Rickman

Rickman studied graphic design at The Royal College of Art in London in the late 1960’s.  He opened a studio in SoHo, called Graphiti, where he helped design book jackets, album sleeves, ads, and layouts for magazines.

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Rickman rarely, if ever, watched his own performances on screen.

He’s quoted as saying the Australian outback is the most beautiful place he’s ever visited.

Rickman was an avid bird lover.

Before his first motion picture role in Die Hard, Rickman was an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in The Tempest and Love’s Labour’s Lost.

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Rickman earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985.  When the play hit the big screen three years later as Dangerous Liaisons, John Malkovich played the role of Valmont.

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Rickman dated his teenage sweetheart, Rima Horton, from 1965 until 2012, when they got married in a super-secret ceremony, followed by a lunch date and a walk around New York.

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Horton was adamant against having children, though Rickman has stated several times that he would have liked to have had a family.

Rickman’s final job was doing a voiceover for the short film, This Tortoise Could Save a Life, for the Save the Children and Refugee Council.

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Rickman was also the Honorary President of the International Performers Aid Trust, an organization assisting artists and performers challenged by poverty.

In 1995, Rickman was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History (#34) and was ranked again at #83 in 2007.

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Rickman did not start acting until he was almost 30 years old.

For his role as Severus Snape, J.K. Rowling told Rickman the fate of Snape’s character and of his love for Lilly before anyone else in the world knew.

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The sexy, languid tone of Rickman’s voice was the result of a speech impediment, caused by not being able to move his jaw properly.

Though several fans believe Rickman deserved at least ONE Oscar nomination, he never got one…and he didn’t care.  “Parts win prizes, not actors,” he said.  Rickman did, however, win a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award and several others throughout his career.

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Even though he appeared in several plays in his lifetime, Rickman suffered from crippling stage fright.

Rickman was a student at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, the same school attended by fellow Brit, Hugh Grant.

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Like his character in Bottle Shock, Rickman was a win connoisseur.

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Actor Tom Burke is Rickman’s Godson.

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Though J.K. Rowling has said that she even had Rickman in mind when writing the character of Severus Snape, Warner Brothers preferred Tim Roth for the role and only agreed to cast Rickman after Roth backed out in order to do Planet of the Apes.

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Rickman and Warwick Davis both starred in the Harry Potter films together (Warwick was Professor Flitwick).  The two also played the part of Marvin in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 2005, Davis wearing the suit and Rickman providing the voice.

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His first role as Hans Gruber in Die Hard earned him a spot on the American Film Institute’s list of the “100 Best Villains” (he came in at #46).

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J.K. Rowling wasn’t the only one inspired by Rickman.  Author Angela Pell stated that she wrote the role of Alex Hughes in Snowcake with Rickman in mind.  The character’s name was actually originally Alan, but Rickman convinced her to change it to Alex.

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Rickman said that the film Nashville was the one that ultimately changed his life and made him decide to be an actor.

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Rickman and fellow Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe remained very close up until Rickman’s passing.  Rickman would attend all of Radcliffe’s shows in London and New York and kept in touch with his co-star long after his filming on the series ended.

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Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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29 Fun Facts about Abraham Lincoln

Besides Frank Sinatra, Abraham Lincoln was probably one of the most influential people in my life.  Of course I didn’t know him personally, but my deep desire to learn everything I could about this mysterious man shaped my life in ways I never thought possible.

It was my love of Lincoln that motivated me to watch a 90’s made-for-TV movie called Tad, starring Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Lincoln, Jane Curtin as Mary Todd, and a very young Bug Hall as Lincoln’s son, Tad.  At the beginning of the movie, there is a solo trumpet playing “Hail to the Chief”.  It was that rendition that inspired my 10-year-old self to take up trumpet…an instrument that would stay a part of my life throughout my entire education and beyond.  It became my goal to one day play “Hail to the Chief” for the President one day…still workin’ on that one 😉

My love of Lincoln also got me interested in history education and The Civil War, an educational path I almost took in college before switching to literature.  He got me interested in presidential history and the history of my own home state.  And, as an added little how do ya do, the most recent Lincoln movie starring Daniel Day Lewis hit theaters on my birthday.  Ka-wink-ee-dink?  I think not.

For as famous and well-known as Lincoln is today, he was a very secluded man, prone to depression and large bouts of sadness.  He was instrumental in shaping several of today’s laws and government organizations, and has been named several times as one of the best presidents the US has ever had.

He holds the record for many strange accolades, including being the tallest president, the president with the biggest feet, the only president to hold a patent, the first president to be photographed at his inauguration, the first president to be added to the US currency, the first president with a beard, and was the first president to be born outside the original 13 colonies.

He fought for women’s rights…he fought for equal rights…he fought against slavery and he fought for the common man.  He honored education, loved his children dearly, and served his country not just as the President, but in local government as well.  A few days ago we celebrated Lincoln’s 208th birthday…and as a little celebration, here are 29 Fascinating Facts about our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.

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29 Fun Facts about Abraham Lincoln

  1. Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender.
  2. Abraham’s son, Robert, was saved from a train accident by Edwin Booth, brother of his father’s killer, John Wilkes Booth.
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  3. Robert was also the only son of Abe Lincoln to live to adulthood.
  4. About 60 years ahead of his time, Abe was a firm believer that women should have the right to vote.
  5. Abe is among a large assortment of brilliant minds that do not own a college degree.  Others include Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs.
  6. Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day.
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  7. According to his own journals, Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his assassination before it happened…as did Martin Luther King, Jr.
  8. When he was running for president, Abe received a letter from a young 11-year-old girl named Grace Greenwood.  In the letter, she told Abe that he would look much more dignified and presidential with a beard.  He took her advice…and won.
    Image result for abraham lincoln, with and without a beard
  9. Abraham Lincoln has no confirmed living descendants.  The last known one, a great-grandson, died in 1985.
  10. So far, Lincoln is the tallest US president, standing at 6 foot 4 inches.  He also has the biggest feet of any US President, wearing a size 14 shoe.
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  11. Lincoln did indeed hold important documents and speech notes inside his tall black hat.
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  12. After being shot, Lincoln remained in a coma for 9 hours before succumbing to his injuries.
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  13. Though today his views would be considered more democratic, Lincoln was actually the first Republican elected to the US Presidency.
  14. Abe was also the first US President to be born outside one of the original 13 colonies.
  15. Lincoln was the first President to be photographed at his inauguration.
  16. He was also the first to appear on a US coin.
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  17. Lincoln was a huge fan of Shakespeare and quoted him often.  John Wilkes Booth, the man who killed Lincoln, was a famous Shakespearean actor and a personal favorite of Lincoln’s.
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  18. Lincoln is the only President to hold a patent.  He invented a device to free steamboats that ran aground.
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  19. He was also a man of simple tastes.  He didn’t drink, smoke, or chew tobacco…and he never drank inside The White House.
  20. It was Honest Abe himself who officially established Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
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  21. Lincoln loved cats.  His own cat, Tabby, had a place at The White House dinner table.  He also had a dog named Fido.
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  22. Defeated only once in about 300 matches, Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler in his day.  He’s enshrined as an “Outstanding American” in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.
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  23. The last piece of legislation Lincoln signed before his assassination was the creation of the Secret Service.
  24. Illinois may be known as “The Land of Lincoln”, but he didn’t move here until he was 21.  He was born in Kentucky and spent time in Indiana before eventually settling in Illinois.
  25. The Lincoln Bedroom in The White House was never really Lincoln’s bedroom.  He used the space as his personal office, meeting with Cabinet members and signing documents, including The Emancipation Proclamation.
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  26. There are more books written about Abraham Lincoln than any other American to date.
  27. Tom Hanks is a descendent of Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks.  Abe and Tom are very, very, very distant cousins.
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  28. Lincoln’s heterosexuality has been disputed on numerous occasions, as various biographers have claimed that Lincoln may have been homosexual or bisexual.  There are several stories about Lincoln sleeping in the same bed as some of his mail friends, though no actual concrete proof of Lincoln’s preferences have been unearthed as of yet.
  29. There are SEVERAL weird coincidences between Abe Lincoln and later President, John F. Kennedy.  Both were shot in the head on a Friday, both were elected to Congress exactly 100 years apart (1846/1946), both were elected to the presidency 100 years apart (1860/1960), both men’s successors were named Johnson (Andrew Johnson/Lyndon Johnson), both Johnson’s were born 100 years apart (1808/1908), both Lincoln and Kennedy were shot by a man with thee known names (John Wilkes Booth/Lee Harvey Oswald), both Lincoln and Kennedy contain seven letters, the names of both their assassins contain 15 letters, and Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theatre while Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln town car, made by Ford.
    Image result for abe lincoln, john f kennedy

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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33 Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day

Whether you love it or ya hate it, Valentine’s Day is coming nonetheless.

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A holiday with a very confusing and questioned history, Valentine’s Day is supposedly named after St. Valentine, who performed secret marriages and was executed for his crime on February 14th.

Now both celebrated and loathed by people all over the world, Valentine’s Day is a $17 billion a year industry and is easily the lifeblood for companies such as American Greetings, Hallmark, Hersheys, and – believe it or not – a WIDE assortment of home pregnancy test companies.

So, whether you indulge in flowers and chocolates or you hide under a blanket and wait for all the ooy gooy stuff to end, here are 33 Fun Facts (you’re sure to LOVE!) About Valentine’s Day!

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33 Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day

  1. There are several theories as to how Valentine’s Day started, the most popular being that when Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to bolster his army, he forbade young men to marry (apparently single men make better soldiers). In the spirit of love, St. Valentine defied the ban and performed secret marriages.  He was imprisoned for his actions and was executed on February 14th.
  2. Supposedly while St. Valentine was in jail, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and wrote her a love letter before his execution. He signed it, “from your Valentine”.
  3. Adding to the confusion is that there have been approximately eight St. Valentines throughout history. The two most likely to have inspired Valentine’s Day are Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome, though some scholars speculate that they are actually the same person.
  4. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would wear this name pinned to their sleeves for one week for everyone to see.  This is supposedly the origin of the expression, “to wear your heart on your sleeve”.
  5. According to several sources, it was Henry VIII – the same man who would behead all his wives for not giving him sons – who officially declared February 14th the holiday of St. Valentine in 1537.
  6. Apparently girls have been playing love games around Valentine’s Day since the holiday’s inception! In England around 1700, girls would pin four bay leaves to their pillows and eat a hard-boiled egg, including the shell, the night before Valentine’s Day.  If she dreamed of a boy that night, she would soon marry him.
  7. Girls would also write boys’ names on small pieces of paper and cover them with clay. They’d drop them in the water and, when the clay broke, the papers would float to the top.  The first name the girl could read would predict who she would marry.
  8. Based on retail statistics, about 3% of pet owners (or at least 9 million people) will give Valentine’s Day gifts to their pets.
  9. About 15% of US women will send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.
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  10. On average, about 196 million red roses are produced for Valentine’s Day each year.
    celebrities norman reedus valentines day happy valentines day
  11. Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day in the late 1800’s.
  12. Today, over $1 billion worth of chocolate is purchased for Valentine’s Day…and more than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold for Valentine’s Day.
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  13. The first recorded Valentine card sent was in February 1415 by the English Duke of Orleans. He sent a love letter to his wife from his jail cell in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt.  The letter is currently on display in The British Museum.
  14. Teachers will receive the most Valentine’s Day cards, followed by children, mothers, wives, sweethearts, and pets.
  15. About 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year around February 14th. This makes Valentine’s Day the second-largest card holiday behind Christmas.
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  16. In totality, Valentine’s Day is a $17.4 billion holiday.
  17. Hallmark produced its first Valentine card in 1913.
  18. Lace is often used on Valentine’s Day decorations. The word ‘lace’ comes from the Latin laques, meaning “to snare or net”, or to catch a person’s heart.
  19. Some of the oldest handmade Valentine cards are rebuses, or a puzzle or riddle using pictures. For example, a picture of a bee and a picture of a gold mine would indicate the sentiment, “Be Mine”.
  20. Esther Howland was the first person to create Valentines to sell in the US. She patented a lacy Valentine in 1844 – making well over $100,000 by 1860.
  21. On average, about 11,000 children are conceived on Valentine’s Day each year.
  22. So, not surprisingly, more at-home pregnancy tests are sold in March than any other month of the year.
  23. Penicillin, a popular treatment for venereal diseases such as syphilis, was introduced to the world on February 14, 1929.
  24. February 14th is also V-Day, a day meant to help raise awareness to end violence against women and girls. It started as a benefit back in 1998 inspired by the work of Eve Ensler, the playwright and activist behind The Vagina Monologues.
  25. There are about 8 billion candy hearts made each year…enough to stretch from Valentine, Arizona to Rome, Italy about 20 times back and forth.
    Salih! love art heart candy
  26. Nearly 10 new candy heart sayings are introduced each year. Recent additions have included “Yeah Right”, “Puppy Love”, and “Call Home”.
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  27. Those little conversation hearts also have a shelf life of about 5 years.
  28. In terms of gifts, about 65% of the US will receive at least one greeting card. Other popular gifts include date nights (44%), candy (38%), flowers (32%), gift cards (29%), and plush toys (21%).
  29. The average consumer spends about $100 on Valentine’s Day gifts, meals, and entertainment.
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  30. Roughly 63% of men and 69% of women think it’s cliché to get engaged or married on Valentine’s Day.
  31. However, roughly 4 million Americans expect to propose or to be proposed to over Valentine’s Day.
  32. In the 1900’s, the Chicago Post Office refused to deliver about 25,000 Valentine postcards because the messages were not nice. These cards came to be known as “vinegar Valentines”.
  33. Valentine Writers were booklets written in 1823 to help those who couldn’t think up Valentine verses on their own.

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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28 Fun Facts About Gene Kelly

The first time I ever watched Gene Kelly dance was in Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  A wonderfully cheesy picture starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Esther Williams, TMOTTBG is about a terrible baseball team that is instantly improved when their new coach, (A WOMAN), whips them into shape.  Featuring lovely dance numbers, including several where Esther Williams is in the water, of course, Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a gem of a film, and happened to be one of my grandma’s favorites.

I was at her house when we watched it together for the first time.  She knew I loved Sinatra and thought this would be a great way for us to spend some time together.  Granted, I did love Sinatra’s numbers, but I remember my 10-year-old self being completely mystified and enchanted by Gene Kelly.

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After TMOTTBG, I dove into Gene’s other films, including the other two he made with Frank (Anchors Aweigh and On the Town), as well as the films that shot him into stardom, including An American in Paris, Cover Girl, and of course, Singin’ in the Rain.  I was glued on him.  He made it look so easy!  The fluidity of his movements and his drop-dead gorgeous smile…he lit up the screen in every way possible and to this day he remains as one of my favorite performers.

On this day 21 years ago, Gene Kelly passed away from complications from a stroke.  He was 83 years old and had nearly 30 movies under his belt by the time he passed.  He was a powerhouse both on stage and on screen and completely changed the way theater and moviegoers reacted to tap, ballet, and modern dance.  Many of his methods are still used to this day and his impact on Hollywood certainly does not go unnoticed.

Unlike his colleagues of the day, Gene didn’t actually get his start until much later in his life and was near 40 years old when he had his breakthrough role in Singin’ in the Rain.  But despite his late start to the game, Gene turned MGM and Hollywood upside down when he started dancing…and his dedication, near obsession, to his craft has earned him a glowing star amidst the glamour and glitz of the golden age of Hollywood.

If you’re looking to learn a little bit more about Gene Kelly, here are about 28 fun facts about the man who taught the world to love dance.

28 Fun Facts About Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly was one of five children born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Like most young boys at the time, Gene’s dream was to be a professional baseball player for his hometown.  He’s quoted as saying he “wanted to be a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.”

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Gene entered Pennsylvania State College as a journalism major, but the 1929 Stock Market Crash forced him to work to help his family.  He and his brother Fred would earn money creating dance routines for local talent contests and nightclubs.

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Two years after he left Penn State, Gene enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh to study economics and received a degree in the subject.

While at University, Gene joined the Cap and Gown Club, which staged original musical productions.  After graduating in 1933, he continued to work with the Cap and Gown Club, serving as their director until 1938.

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Gene’s family opened a dance studio in Pittsburgh titled The Gene Kelly Studio of the Dance.  Gene taught there while attending college and working towards a law degree, a path he had to drop after two months when he decided to move to New York and pursue dancing full time…But NY was a bust.  Gene decided to move back to PA and teach dance wherever he could, as well as perform in a few local shows.

His first career breakthrough came in 1939 at the age of 27 when he was cast in the Pulitzer-Prize winning Broadway show, The Time of Your Life.

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The following year, Gene was cast as the lead role in the stage production of Pal Joey, a role that shot him into stardom.

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After Pal Joey, offers from Hollywood began pouring in…and in 1941, Gene decided to move back to New York and try his luck on the big screen.

Gene’s first movie was For Me and My Gal in 1942, starring box-office champion, Judy Garland.  Judy and Gene would go on to be very close friends the rest of their lives.

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He achieved another successful breakthrough in 1944 for his work with Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl.  This film features one of Gene’s most memorable scenes, where he dances with himself – NO CGI USED HERE – to highlight his characters internal struggle.

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At the end of the same year, Gene enlisted in the US Naval Air Service and was stationed in Washington DC, where he was involved in writing and directing a range of documentaries.

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Ironically Gene’s next film, Anchors Aweigh, cast him and heartthrob Frank Sinatra as two young and strapping Navy men.  MGM gave Gene a free hand to devise a range of dance routines, including one of Gene’s most popular dance scenes with Jerry the Mouse.  Though the scene only lasts about 4 minutes, it took months to complete.  Kelly’s movements were filmed first, then there were 10,000 painted frames of Jerry the mouse to synchronize with Kelly’s movements.

This scene was recreated recently on Family Guy with Stewie acting the part of Jerry.  Gene lives on!

Anchors Aweigh (one of my personal favorites!) was one of three movies starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra and was one of the most successful films of 1945.  It garnered Gene his first and only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, which he lost to Ray Milland for The Lost Weekend.

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After a few flops, Gene wanted to return to safer and more commercial projects.  After a few smaller roles here and there, Gene starred in Take Me Out to the Ball Game, another film with Sinatra, in 1949.

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Their final pairing was in On the Town, a breakthrough in the musical film genre and probably one of my favorite musicals.  It has been described as “the most inventive and effervescent musical thus far produced in Hollywood.”  Great music, amazing dancing, and an all-star cast helped turn this film into Hollywood gold.

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If Gene wasn’t comfortable enough at the top, by 1952, he was a Hollywood All-Star.  In early 1951, Gene starred in the breathtaking An American in Paris, a film which won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

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An American in Paris also starred newcomer Leslie Caron, who Gene spotted in Paris and brought to Hollywood specifically for this role.  Their dream ballet sequence, lasting an unprecedented 17 minutes, was the most expensive production number ever filmed at the time.

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The following year, Gene was cast in what may be his most iconic role.  As co-director, lead, and choreographer, Gene was a driving force behind Singin’ in the Rain and several of his numbers from this movie cemented his place at the top among filmgoers and critics alike.

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Unfortunately his time at the top was short-lived.  After Singin’ in the Rain, Gene was in a few more movie musicals, including Invitation to Dance and Brigadoon, as well as a few non-musical pictures; however, the decline of the Hollywood musical left Gene in the dust…and after a handful of box office bombs, Gene decided to return to the stage.

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Into the 60’s, Gene made a handful of movie appearances, but most of his efforts were concentrated on production and directing.  He was asked to direct the film version of The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews, but told the producer to “go find someone else to direct this piece of shit.”  Oops.

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After a few years acting in and directing some TV specials and shows, Gene was commissioned to direct Hello, Dolly! starring Barbara Streisand, Walter Matthau, and Louis Armstrong.  It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including a Best Picture Oscar in 1969, but lost to Midnight Cowboy.

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By the 70’s and 80’s, Gene’s work was few and far between.  He was in a few TV specials and variety shows, and appeared in the surprising hits, That’s Entertainment!, That’s Entertainment, Part II, and That’s Entertainment, Part III, all a collection of amazing musical numbers from some of MGM’s best musicals of the time.

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His final film project was in 1994 for the animated film Cats Don’t Dance, released in 1997 and dedicated to him.

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Not surprisingly, Gene’s influence on the art of dance is monumental.  He brought the art of ballet to the big screen, created some of the most amazing dance numbers we’ve seen in film, and even coined his own type of dance, appropriately named “cine-dance”.

To help add to his on-screen performances, Gene wanted to make the camera movements serve the choreography, thus coining the term, “cine-dance”.  He defined cine-dance (cinema + dance) as “any dancing choreographed specifically and particularly to be filmed or televised.”  This meant that not only did Kelly’s movements have to be choreographed, but the camera movements had to be choreographed as well.  This was showcased several times in his career, notably in this number from Singin’ in the Rain.  The zoom of the camera onto Kelly’s face as he sings, “I’ve a smile on my face” is a movement that is specifically choreographed as part of the dance to add to the number and would be near impossible to do on stage…thus, cine-dance.

By the late 1980’s, Gene’s health was declining.  He had a stroke in 1994, and another in 1995, leaving him mostly bedridden.  He passed away on February 2, 1996 and was cremated, without funeral or memorial services.

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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