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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.
    Image result for the lincoln bedroom, the white house
  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.
    tv reactions tina fey single valentine
  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.
    heart valentines day te amo steve urkel happy valentines day
  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.
    television heart peanuts charlie brown valentine
  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”.
    funny cartoons & comics heart charlie brown valentines day
  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.
    eating dating relationship dinner hamster
  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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The Wonder Years…Where Are They Now?

We all have TV shows that have changed our lives – shows that stick with us forever and that we can go back and re-watch over and over again without exhaustion.  When I think of shows under this category, a few come to mind…but none as prominent as The Wonder Years.

I don’t know if it’s because I was Kevin Arnold’s age when I started watching the show…or maybe it’s because it was a show my dad and I watched together, but The Wonder Years remains, to this day, one of the best series I’ve seen on television.  I identified with it when I was 10, and then fell in love with it in a completely different way when I watched the series again when I turned 30.  Though the music and the clothes might date it a little, the themes of this show still ring true even in today’s day and age.

Starring a very young Fred Savage, The Wonder Years tells the story of a boy named Kevin Arnold.  Together with his childhood friends, Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) and Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano), Kevin learns valuable lessons about love, loss, family, and understanding.  The show brings controversial themes to the forefront, including war, violence, death, abuse, drugs, and alcohol…and through the voice of a narrator, eventually revealed to be Kevin as an adult, we learn all about these magical years of wonder and adventure as we grow and learn with Kevin and his friends.

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The Wonder Years gained valuable praise during its run (1988 – 1993) and won a Primetime Emmy Award after only six episodes.  In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked it #63 on its list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and the cast of The Wonder Years has remained very close to this day…several of them even acting in other projects together.

It’s a format that worked well for TV, especially for Savage’s younger brother, Ben, and his successful show, Boy Meets World.  Though much more upbeat in nature, Boy Meets World has a similar makeup, with similar characters in similar situations.  Both shows are staples in the lineup of the best coming-of-age TV shows and both hold loyal and true fandoms made up of viewers of all ages.

It’s been about 24 years now since The Wonder Years ended…and the cast that once made up this groundbreaking show remains active.  Check in below to see what’s happening with Kevin, Winnie, Jack, Wayne, and the rest of the characters we’ve grown to know and love through this amazing television classic.

The Cast of The Wonder Years…Where Are They Now?

Fred Savage
Kevin Arnold

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OMG HE LOOKS THE SAME!!
Fred Savage, a native of Illinois, grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago before moving out to LA.  Before being cast in The Wonder Years, Savage had several small roles in movies and TV, perhaps most notably in The Princess Bride.  For his work on The Wonder Years, Savage received two Golden Globe nominations and two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and was the youngest actor ever to receive both honors (he was 13 at the time).  After The Wonder Years ended, he did mostly guest spots on TV and film, including a cameo on his younger brother’s show, Boy Meets World.  In 2015, Savage returned to acting with the FOX series, The Grinder.  Throughout the early 2000’s, Savage also dabbled in directing, standing behind the camera to produce several TV episodes, including work on the short-lived NBC sitcom, Working.  He’s also directed episodes of Modern Family and 2 Broke Girls.  Currently, Savage serves as a producer on the hilarious show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Unlike Kevin Arnold, Savage actually married his childhood sweetheart in 2004 and they have two children together.

Danica McKellar
Winnie Cooper

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Oh, Danica…the ultimate in beauty and brains.  Scoring the role of Winnie in The Wonder Years in her early teens, McKellar found it difficult to transition into adult acting after having so much of her childhood dedicated to one job.  After The Wonder Years ended, McKellar had several guest roles in various TV shows and appeared in a couple Lifetime TV movies.  She returned briefly to TV with roles on The West Wing and How I Met Your Mother and even did some work as a voice actress in a variety of video games.  Outside of acting, McKellar got her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, graduating summa cum laude, from UCLA in 1998.  She’s a huge proponent of the importance of mathematics in education, especially for young women, and has authored four books on the subject:  Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail (a New York Times bestseller), Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss, Hot X: Algebra Exposed, and Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape.  Her latest book, a children’s book titled Goodnight, Numbers, is available for pre-ordering now.  And for those who are obsessive like me, McKellar, Savage, and Saviano all still talk and keep in touch!

Josh Saviano
Paul Pfeiffer

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Josh Saviano, who played Kevin’s best friend, Paul Pfeiffer, throughout the series, grew up in New York and New Jersey before being cast in The Wonder Years.  His role as Paul is actually one of his few TV or movie roles.  He stopped acting after The Wonder Years to continue his education at Yale University, where he studied Political Science.  After graduating in 1998, he decided to enter Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in August of the same year.  He passed the bar and joined the law firm of Morrison Cohen LLP in New York, becoming a Senior Counsel in 2011 and Partner in 2013.  He left Morrison Cohen two years later and founded two start-up endeavors:  the JDS Legal law firm and the celebrity brand consulting agency, Act 3 Advisors.  Saviano returned to acting briefly in 2014 and 2015 to play a lawyer on the NBC series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Jason Hervey
Wayne Arnold

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Another actor who had various childhood roles before The Wonder Years, Jason Hervey got his start with small parts in several popular films, including Back to the Future, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and Diff’rent Strokes.  His big break came when he was cast as Kevin’s big brother, Wayne, on The Wonder Years, a role which helped Hervey launch a somewhat successful voice-acting career.  While his on-screen credits are few and far between these days, Hervey does maintain ties to the entertainment industry as the producer of various sports-themed videos and specials, most notably with the World Championship Wrestling channel.  From 2001 to 2003, Hervey served as the Senior Vice President of Media Communications for HealthSouth Corporation in Alabama.  He was involved in a fraud scandal and later sued his employer, demanding $300,000 in compensation.

Dan Lauria
Jack Arnold

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A Vietnam War veteran, Dan Lauria served as an officer in the US Marine Corps; ironically, he served at the same time his character on The Wonder Years was shipped off to serve in the Korean War.  Best known for his role as one of the greatest TV dads of our age, Lauria has also had several roles in various TV shows and on and off-Broadway stage productions.  In 2010, he appeared as Vince Lombardi in the Broadway play, Lombardi and was cast as Jean Shepherd in the 2012 Broadway production of A Christmas Story: The Musical.  Most recently, Lauria can be seen in the FOX series, Pitch.

Alley Mills
Norma Arnold

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Another native of Chicago, IL, Alley Mills starred as the loving mother, Norma Arnold, on The Wonder Years.  Since its end, Mills has had recurring roles in various soap operas, including Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and The Bold and the Beautiful.  Outside of her work on the soap opera circuit, Mills has been pretty quiet.  She married actor Orson Bean in 1993 and currently lives in LA.

Olivia d’Abo
Karen Arnold

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Known for her role as Kevin’s rebellious hippie sister, Karen, Olivia d’Abo is a British actress who starred on The Wonder Years for the first four of its six seasons.  She had two guest appearances in the final two seasons, as well.  After her work on The Wonder Years, d’Abo had a recurring role in the NBC series, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and has been cast in numerous supporting roles in other TV programs and films, including The Spirit of ’76, The Big Green, and The Twilight Zone.  She also appeared in the 2005 Broadway production of The Odd Couple alongside Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.  Like her fellow The Wonder Years cast members, d’Abo has also done a fair share of voice acting and has lent her voice to several video game characters.  Like Karen Arnold, d’Abo is also a singer-songwriter and guitarist.  She has composed music for several movie soundtracks, including the song “Broken” from the movie, Loving Annabelle.  Her debut album, Not TV, was released in July of 2008.  Most recently, d’Abo was in the 2016 films, Blue Weekend and the made-for-TV film, Inspired to Kill.

Daniel Stern
Narrator/Adult Kevin Arnold

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Yes, yes that’s Marv from Home Alone.  I know, I know!!  You’ll never look at The Wonder Years in the same way again!  After a variety of small successful films, Stern was cast as the narrator/adult Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years.  Ironically, both he and Fred Savage appeared in the film, Little Monsters, with Stern playing Arnold’s father.  Stern also directed several episodes of The Wonder Years and would go on to direct other shows, including the CBS series, Danny.  Currently, Stern works as an artist, specializing in bronze sculpture.  He’s created art for public projects in San Diego, Agoura Hills, and Pasadena.  He is also the artist in residence at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo.  Him and his wife have started several arts commissions and clubs and, in 2009, President Barak Obama awarded him the highest honor for volunteerism, the President’s “Call to Service” Award.  Stern now owns a 500-acre cattle ranch in California’s central valley.

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 Gone with the Wind

On January 17, 1940, the town of Atlanta, Georgia became a hub of activity. Some of the wealthiest families of the day, including the Vanderbilts, the Rockerfellers, and the Astors, flocked to the Loew’s Grand theater to be a part of what would become a historic evening.

On that cool day in January, the streets of Atlanta became a buzz with locals and tourists, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars soon to be walking into the theater. Afer days of parades and parties, the moment had finally arrived…the premier of the grand and anticipated classic, Gone with the Wind.

Thought to be one of the best movies of all time, Gone with the Wind opened to massive success. When the novel was released in June of 1936, it sold millions of copies within months of hitting the shelves. When word spread that it would be turned into a movie, it became the talk of the country…and celebrities of all kinds flocked to the studio to try to become a part of this soon-to-be classic.

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Now, near 77 years later, the movie still continues to draw in large crowds whenever it’s brought back to the theaters. It sits comfortably on several top movie lists and shot front-runners Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable into Hollywood stardom. It won several Oscars, including the first Oscar to be awarded to a black actor, and instantly became a record-setter that wouldn’t be touched for nearly 20 years.

Like most classic epics, Gone with the Wind is a commitment, clocking in at about 4 hours long…but it was a monumental achievement in its time. It tired out 3 directors, 16 writers, and every actor in the Screen Actor’s Guild at the time.

In my life, I’ve made it through Gone with the Wind twice, once on my own time and once in the theaters. It’s an amazing film and worth seeing just for the costumes alone! With amazing acting, beautiful cinematography, and elegant prose, Gone with the Wind is sure to stay a classic for years to come!

To help honor this film and shed some light onto what it cost, both financially and emotionally, to create this epic piece of cinematic history, here are 35 Fun Facts about Gone with the Wind…all of which will certainly make you give a damn the next time you watch it!

35 Fun Facts About Gone with the Wind

The original director of Gone with the Wind was George Cukor, who had spent more than two years in planning and developing the film.  However, there was friction on the set when it became public knowledge that Cukor was gay.  Clark Gable (Rhett Butler) voiced concern in working with Cukor for a variety of reasons…one being that Gable himself had been a homosexual hustler in his youth and didn’t want Cukor to expose him…the other being that Cukor had a reputation for making “woman’s films” and therefore Gable would lose the spotlight.  Whatever the reason, Cukor wasn’t the only one to walk.  The film actually had three directors throughout the course of its production (Cukor filmed 18 days, Victor Fleming filmed 93, and Sam Wood filmed 24).

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Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes) absolutely hated his role in the film.  He felt his slender 40-year-old frame wasn’t believable as a handsome 21 year-old, as Ashley was supposed to be.  He felt he was “not nearly beautiful or young enough to play Ashley”.

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Producer David Selznick wanted no less than 2,500 extras to lie in the dirt, portraying the dead and wounded Confederate soldiers toward the end of the war.  However, the Screen Actors Guild only had 1,500 to offer at the time.  Therefore Selznick ordered 1,000 dummies to round out the scene.

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It took 16 different writers to make the screenplay a viable length.

Selznick used all 7 Technicolor cameras in existence for the filming of Gone with the Wind.

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Author Margaret Mitchell started writing Gone with the Wind out of boredom.  She was recovering from an injury when she decided to dabble in writing.  Her project would take her 10 years to complete.  You’re not alone, GoT fans!

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Old West gunslinger Doc Holliday was Mitchell’s cousin…and many believe he was the inspiration for the character of Ashley Wilkes.

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It is estimated that if Selznick included all the dialogue from the book in the movie, Gone with the Wind would be about 168 hours long!

Selznick bought the movie rights from Mitchell for $50,000.  At the time, it was the highest price ever paid for a first novel.

The novel Gone with the Wind had been a phenomenal best seller upon its release…and the movie was hotly anticipated.  Over 1 million people poured into Atlanta to witness the premier of the movie.  The Governor of Georgia declared the day a state holiday and the mayor of Atlanta organized three days of parades and parties.

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Attendees of the premier included the Vanderbilts, the Rockerfellers, the Astors, J.P. Morgan, and all the Govenors of what used to be the Confederacy.

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In fact, there were more people at the premier of Gone with the Wind than there were in Atlanta at the height of the Civil War.

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The title Gone with the Wind comes from the poem “Cynara!” by Ernest Dowson.

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Half a million feet of film were shot for this near 4-hour movie.  It was cut down to only 20,000 feet in the end.

About 1,100 horses were used in the making of this film…oh the days before CGI…

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Gone with the Wind was the first film to receive more than five Academy Awards, receiving eight regular and two special Oscars.  The record stood for 20 years until Ben-Hur won 11 in 1959.

Among its accolades, Gone with the Wind took home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Set Decoration, and Best Editing.  Both Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton) were nominated, but lost their categories.

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Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) became the first black actor to win an Academy Award for her part in the film; however, she and her fellow black actors were banned from attending the film’s Atlanta premier.

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About 1,400 candidates were interviewed for the part of Scarlett, and of those, only 90 were given screen tests.  Selznick had Katharine Hepburn as his front-runner, but in the end thought she wasn’t sexy enough for the role.

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Unable to make a decision, Selznick turned the search for Scarlett into a publicity stunt.  He asked the public who they thought should score the role.  Top choices included:  Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner, and Tallulah Bankhead.

Despite not having Scarlett cast, Selznick went on with filming.  Legend has it that during the filming of the great “Burning of Atlanta” scene, actress Vivien Leigh was just being introduced to the producer by Selznick’s brother.  She beat out about 1,400 other girls for the role of Scarlett O’Hara.

The Florida chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy were greatly offended that a British actress had been chosen to play such an iconic southern character; however, when they learned the role was close to going to Katharine Hepburn, they stopped their protest.  Better a Brit than a Yankee!

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In an epic example of fair wage rights, Gable was paid $120,000 to work on the film, working about 70 non-consecutive days.  Leigh, on the other hand, worked 125 days and received about $25,000.

Despite their steamy on-screen romance, Leigh has said that kissing Gable wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  He wore false teeth and smoked a lot and she was quoted as saying, “his dentures smelled something awful”.

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The “Burning of Atlanta” scene was actually the first scene they filmed, as it would be the most expensive and they really only had one shot to make it work.  They actually made it quite successful by burning old sets on the backlot.

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It took 15,000 gallons of water to douse the flames after filming ended.

The character of Ashley Wilkes was one of the few countrymen to survive the war.  Ironically, the man who played him (Leslie Howard) died as a soldier in WWII.

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Unlike other epic war movies, Gone with the Wind doesn’t actually show any battles…only the effects of the war.

At auction, Michael Jackson paid $1,542,500 for David Selznick’s Best Picture Oscar for Gone with the Wind.

A Brazilian woman, who claims to have seen Gone with the Wind 8,000 TIMES, bought Scarlett’s pink dress worn during the “Burning of Atlanta” scene for $95,500.

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If Gone with the Wind were to be made today, it’s estimated it would come with a $40 million price tag.

Three of the four principal actors playing southerners (Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, and Vivien Leigh) were British.

Overall, Gone with the Wind cost about $4.25 million to make.  In its initial run, the film grossed $21 million in North America alone and a total of $32 million worldwide.

When adjusted for inflation, Gone with the Wind is the highest grossing film ever made, grossing about $390 million worldwide.  In today’s money, that’s about $3.3 billion, more than today’s two biggest blockbusters, Avatar ($2.8 billion) and Titanic ($2.7 billion).

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It’s also believed to be the most watched film of all time, meaning more people bought tickets, regardless of price, to this film than any other.

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 The Big Lebowski

Get in your comfy clothes.  Pour yourself a White Russian and lay out on that rug that really ties the room together…because today, we’re diving into 25 fun facts about The Big Lebowski!

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Named to tons of top 10, top 100, and even top 1,000 lists, The Big Lebowski is easily one of the best comedies of our time.  Directed by The Coen Brothers (Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, Fargo, Raising Arizona, True Grit, Burn After Reading) and starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Elliott, and John Turturro, TBL has not only given birth to an amazing and loyal cult following, but has inspired an international Lebowski Fest and has even resulted in the creation of a new religion.

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Not too bad for a movie about a rug!

Even if you haven’t seen the movie all the way through, chances are you’d recognize some of the popular lines or scenes from the film.  I mean, who doesn’t start dancing like this when “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” comes on the radio?

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So whether you think The Dude is a prophet or a bum, you’re sure to get a kick out of these 25 Fun Facts About The Big Lebowski!

 

25 Fun Facts About The Big Lebowski

In December 2014, The Big Lebowski became one of 650 movies preserved for future generations in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.  Saving Private Ryan, Rosemary’s Baby, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are a few of the other films that share the same honor.

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The Dude (Jeff Bridges), or the essence of The Dude, is present in EVERY scene in the film, including when the Nihilist crew are ordering pancakes (The Dude’s van can be seen through the diner window in the background).

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The Big Lebowski is one of the few Coen Brothers movies that does not feature Frances McDormand.  McCormand is married to Joel Coen and has appeared in seven Coen Brothers films to date.

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If you’re obsessed with The Big Lebowski, you’re in good company.  Several other celebrities have named it as one of their top five favorite films, including:  Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Jane Lynch, Eva Mendes, and Nick Offerman, to name a few.

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Not surprisingly, The Big Lebowski is one of the most f-bomb-laden feature films ever made, with the f-word being uttered, in a variety of variations, about 292 times throughout the film.

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The word “Dude” is not too far behind, being mentioned a total of 161 times.

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The Dude says the word “man” about 147 times throughout the movie.

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The Coen Brothers have said that The Dude is based in part on Jeff Dowd, a film producer they met while working on their directorial debut, Blood Simple.  Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) is also based on writer/director, John Mulius, who had a hand in the making of Dirty Harry, Apocalypse Now, Jaws, and many others.  He sports glasses, a beard, and a figure similar to Walter, and claims to even be obsessed with the Vietnam War.

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The Big Lebowski has spawned its own festival.  Starting in Kentucky in 2002, Lebowski Fest has been held in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Chicago, London, and Edinburgh.  John Goodman, Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, and Julianne Moore have all attended at least one Lebowski Fest.

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The cult film has also given birth to a religion:  Dudeism.  It has ordained more than 130,000 ‘Dudeist Priests’.

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Despite being part of the bowling league, The Dude is never actually seen bowling throughout the film.

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A lot of The Dude’s clothes came directly from Jeff Bridges’ own wardrobe, including his Jellies sandals, which he still owns and uses today.  #thedudeabides

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When writing the script, the Coen Brothers created roles specifically for John Goodman and Steve Buscemi, but did not know who would play the leading role of The Dude.

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The coffee shop where The Dude and Walter discuss the severed toe is called Johnie’s Coffee Shop and can be found in Los Angeles, though it is only used as a filming location and is not a functioning diner.

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Donny (Steve Buscemi) gets a strike with every bowl in the film except the last, moments before he dies.

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The west coast chain, In-n-Out Burger is referenced in the film.  John Goodman actually did a radio advertisement for the brand as well.

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Jeff Bridges plays guitar in a band called The Abiders, named after the popular “The Dude Abides” line from the movie.

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In an early draft of the film, it was revealed that The Dude’s money came from his status as an heir to the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube; however the directors decided to keep the audience guessing as to the source of his money.

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When The Dude writes his check for $0.69, the date on the check is September 11, 1991, exactly 10 years before the US terrorist attack.  President George Bush Sr. can also be heard saying “this aggression will not stand” on the TV in the background.

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In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, John Goodman said that The Dude’s reference to The Big Lebowski as a “human paraquat” was the only improvised line to make it into the film.  Every other line, including every ‘man’ and ‘dude’, was scripted.

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The Big Lebowski is John Goodman’s favorite of his own films.

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In every bowling scene, Walter, The Dude, and Donny bowl in lane 23.

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Walter’s ex-wife’s Pomeranian’s name is Thurston.

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The gun Walter pulls out in the bowling alley is a Colt model 1911 .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun, which was a standard US military side arm during the Vietnam War.

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And just in case you’re feeling a bit “un-Dude”, here’s the recipe for the famed White Russian/Caucasian:  2 parts vodka, 1 part Kahlua, 1 part cream.  Serve with ice in a low ball glass.

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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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Mad Men…Where Are They Now?

It’s been a little over a year now since AMC’s Mad Men went off the air.  An amazing period drama about an advertising firm in the 1960’s, Mad Men starred such beautiful people as Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, and January Jones.  Taking place in a fictional firm in New York, Mad Men helped bring to life some of the most popular advertising campaigns of the time.  Complete with period references, characters, and costumes, Mad Men celebrated a wide span of critical acclaim, including winning 16 Emmy Awards and 5 Golden Globe Awards.  The show was also the first basic cable series to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in each of its first four seasons.  By both critics and fans alike, it’s widely regarded as one of the greatest television series of all time.

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Though she may have played one of the least-liked characters on the show, January Jones (Betty Draper) is actually quite a peach…and it’s her birthday today!!  To help celebrate her birthday and perhaps the role that brought her into the spotlight, here’s a look at what the cast of Mad Men has been up to since the show ended in May of 2015.

The Cast of Mad Men…Where Are They Now?

Jon Hamm
Don Draper
don-mad-menThough Jon Hamm has been acting in small films for a while now, it wasn’t until his role as Don Draper that he started to get noticed.  His performance in Mad Men earned him Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award and opened the door for him to do full-length feature films and projects.  After his run on Mad Men, Hamm appeared in a remake of the science fiction film, The Day the Earth Stood Still.  He finally got his first leading role in a film two years later when he starred in the independent thriller, Stolen.  Throughout 2010 and 2011, he had various supporting roles in The Town, Sucker Punch, and Bridesmaids.  Most recently, you can see him on the Netflix original series, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and in the animated films, Shrek Forever After and Minions.

Christina Hendricks
Joan Holloway
joan-mad-menCurvy and sassy, Christina Hendricks became an instant role model for curvy women after her role as Joan Holloway in Mad Men.  Her performance as a strong female employee in a company dominated by men earned her critical praise, resulting in six Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.  After Mad Men, Hendricks appeared in the action-thriller, Drive, alongside Ryan Gosling.  She also appeared in the thriller Dark Places.  Just like her character in Mad Men, Hendricks is a gifted accordion player.  Currently, Hendricks can be seen in the film, Bad Santa 2 and has two films as of now coming out in 2017.

January Jones
Betty Draper
betty-mad-menBefore her role as the tortured Betty Draper, January Jones appeared in a few films, including Anger Management and Love Actually.  She was cast as Betty Draper and appeared as the character throughout the run of the series, a role that gave her two Golden Globe nominations and one Emmy nomination.  After Mad Men, Jones appeared in a handful of other productions and can currently be seen in the Fox series, The Last Man on Earth.  She is also a member of Oceana as a celebrity spokesperson, working to save endangered sharks.

Elisabeth Moss
Peggy Olson
peggy-mad-menBefore her amazing and historical role as Peggy Olson in Mad Men, Elisabeth Moss starred as the youngest daughter of President Josiah Bartlet on the NBC series, The West Wing.  Her part on Mad Men earned her six Emmy Award nominations and one Golden Globe nomination, though she never won either award for her role on Mad Men (though she did eventually win a Golden Globe in 2013 for her part in the miniseries, Top of the Lake).  Since the ending of Mad Men, Moss has performed in several theater productions, including a role in The Heidi Chronicles that awarded her a Tony nomination.  Currently Moss is working on a biopic of the Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, titled Mad to Be Normal, and is in a film adaptation of The Seagull by Chekov due out in 2017.

John Slattery
Roger Sterling
rodger-mad-menAnother well-loved actor, John Slattery was the comic relief of Mad Men, playing the womanizing but loveable Roger Sterling.  A long and successful career got Slattery into the spotlight and he continues to celebrate success with almost everything he does.  After Mad Men ended, Slattery went back to film acting, cast as a journalist in the Oscar-winning film, Spotlight.  He also appeared in the Netflix comedy series, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp with his buddy, Jon Hamm.  An avid athlete, Slattery is a gifted skier and surfer.  Most recently, Slattery played Dwight Eisenhower in the film Churchhill and had a small arc on the TV series, Veep.

Vincent Kartheiser
Pete Campbell
pete-mad-menAdmittedly my favorite character in Mad Men, Vincent Kartheiser played the slimy ad man, Pete Campbell…a role which earned him two Screen Actors Guild Awards.  After Mad Men ended, Kartheiser starred in a film titled A Kind of Murder, but for the most part stayed out of the spotlight.  He sold his penthouse and removed himself from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood and now enjoys what he calls, “simple living”.  He has two movies as of now coming out in 2017 and has appeared on stage in several theatrical productions, including playing Mr. Darcy in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.  He’s married to his Mad Men co-star, Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) and they have one son together.

Kiernan Shipka
Sally Draper
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A native of Chicago, Illinois (REPRESENT!!), Kiernan Shipka blew minds with her performance as Don and Betty’s troubled daughter, Sally Draper.  Initially a recurring guest star, Shipka was upgraded to series regular at the end of the third season, due to her well-received performance.  She was named one of “The Most Influential Teens” in 2014 by Time magazine and received two Screen Actors Guild Awards for her performance as Sally.  Most recently, Shipka appeared in an episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and voiced a couple characters in the video game, Marvel Avengers Academy.

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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