Not all cult villages lose touch with pop culture. Reports indicate that, strewn among the bodies of the 900-plus dead at the People’s Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, were cassette tapes featuring the vocal stylings of none other than Barry White.
Some sources claim that Adolf Hitler purposely styled his short mustache after film legend Charlie Chaplin’s. The silent film star wasn’t exactly impressed and responded by mocking Der Fuhrer in The Great Dictator, his first “talkie” film.
So, what were the Beatle’s demands after a grueling, fast-paced 1965 concert at New York’s Shea Stadium? Just a black-and-white TV and some Coca-Cola.
In 1994, computer users worldwide panicked over the “Good Times” virus, which was spread by an AOL user and was able to “erase your hard drive” if you even read the corresponding email message. Luckily, it was just a big hoax.
The anonymously published novels Zabeebah and the King and The Impregnable Fortress are thought to have been written by Saddam Hussein. Lackluster sales of the latter improved after Iraqi newspapers printed 200-plus glowing reviews that praised the book and its “prodigious author.”
In 1994, the $125 million Mars climate orbiter burned and disintegrated prior to landing. After NASA investigated, simple “bad data” was shown to have caused the mishap. The gaffe? Engineers accidentally mixed up metric units with English units in certain calculations.
Sociologists, historians, and cultural theorists have all written about the Soviet obsession with making things as big as possible, whether they be factories, vehicles, cities, dams, bombs, farms, or anything else. The large size was intended to convey the might, authority, and technical expertise of the Soviet Union, especially in comparison with capitalist countries.
In a 2003 episode of TV’s Mythbusters, New York Giants coach Jim Fassel revealed that there was a”bump” at the 10-yard line near the south end zone of Giants Stadium, where many thought that missing labor leader Jimmy Hoffa’s body had been buried. Radar indications showed nothing.
Many believe that stuffy old Richard Nixon won the 1968 presidential election largely due to four words he said on television. Those legendary words? “Sock it to me,” uttered on America’s counterculture comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
Southwest Airlines broke their pattern as the “fun airline” when they began enforcing a regulation (from 1980) charging hefty passengers for two seats. Despite pending lawsuits, the rule has now been adopted by other airlines. Don’t they know that human body swells at high altitudes.
While it’s said that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had many secrets, things started with the name on his birth certificate. It wasn’t Martin but Michael, which his father said was a mistake made by the attending physician.
It may not have been coincidence how Debbie Harry of the band Blondie resembled Marilyn Monroe. The adopted Harry used to dream that Monroe was her birth mother. Of unknown parentage herself, Marilyn would have been 19 when Debbie was born.
Meyer Lansky was the syndicate crime boss who financed Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. While his cohorts died or went to prison, Lansky eventually retired in Florida with a cool $400 million.
Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey claims to have been born with a vestigial tail that was surgically removed when he was an adolescent.
In 1987, Oral Roberts told viewers that he needed $8 million or God would “call him home.” He beat the deadline, thanks to a last-minute $1.3 million donation by dog track owner Jerry Collins, who admitted: “I think he [Roberts] needs psychiatric treatment.”
While they now do the healthy thing with Flintstone vitamins, when the Stone Age family originally appeared on television, old Fred and Barn were sponsored by (and appeared in commercials for) Winston cigarettes.
In April 2005, the New York Post reported that life & Style star Kimora Lee Simmons not only pilfered props from the show’s set, but also “made off with an entire rack of lamb from the lunch buffet table.”
In February 2005, two original Dogs Playing Poker paintings by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge went up for auction in New York. Estimated to bring in $50,000, they instead commanded a bid just short of $600,000.
Police admitted they probably would not have solved the Manson murders without the help of Susan Atkins, a Manson family member who spilled her guts to her cell mate.
The 1951 robbery of Boston’s Brink Express Company headquarters netted seven criminals more than $2.75 million. After the FBI spent nearly $30 million over six years to catch the crooks, less than 2% of the take was ever recovered.
Manhattan for beads? No. The worst trade made between the Europeans and the Native Americans was much more gruesome Europeans brought smallpox to America, which the Indians traded for syphilis!
The three generals who have the most impact on the Department of Defense? General Dynamics, General Electric, and General Motors, all of which are among the companies with the most money tied up in military contracts.
Benedict Arnold probably wished he could’ve had a do-over. He never got even half the money the British promised him for switching sides.
Columbia rejected a $10 million offer by the U.S. For rights to build a canal across its land, so a “rebel force” was quickly organized, which broke free and became the country of Panama (with U.S. Military support). The rebels got the bucks, and Teddy Roosevelt got his canal.
Tabloid and “yellow journalism” king William Randolph Hearst did more than buy flowers for his mistress, Marion Davies. He formed Cosmopolitan Pictures to make films starring only her, and put rave reviews in all his newspapers.
Know which Maruader helped the Allies win World War II? The B-26 Marauder bomber. Thousand of them combined to drop 150,000 tons of explosives on Hitler and his cohorts.
After the death of her husband, Marie Curie began a scandolous affair with her married lab assistant. Despite her two Nobels and everything she did for science, the tryst ultimately cost her admission into the prestigious Academie des Sciences.
A 1631 painting of the King James version of the Bible was missing a rather important word. It became known as the Wicked Bible for leaving “not” out of Exodus 20:14, which as a result read “Thou shalt commit adultery.”
Nizam Sir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur was perhaps the world’s richest man in the early 20th century. He ruled Hyderbad both independently and as part of India, and his fat wallet helped him collect an enviable 42 concubines.
The 12,000 citizens of Monaco are denied the right to enter Monte Carlo’s casino rooms; that privilege is only allowed to visitors. Of course, the income helps keep the locals free from paying taxes, so the trade-off isn’t that bad.
FDR seemed like a ripe fit for The Jerry Springer Show. Not only did he marry his cousin, but he was involved in multiple affairs, which his wife, Eleanor, countered by having a rumored 30-year lesbian affair with a reporter named Lorena Hickok.
Camilla Parker-Bowles’s family has been trying to get into the royal pants for decades. Her great-grandmother was reportedly the mistress of King Edward IW, Chuck’s great-grandfather.
It was suggested that Henry VIII marry Anne of Cleves to help form a bond between England and Germany. After viewing a flattering portrait of Anne he agreed, but upon first meeting her he made it clear that he was disappointed by her looks, saying she resembled “a horse.”
England’s King John battled his father, his brothers, and the pope, and was forced to sign the Magna Carta. He still had time, however, to connect with several mistresses and father illegitimate children, including Bartholomew, Eudes, Geoffrey, Joan, John, Maud, Oliver, Osbert, and Richard.
According to a medical study published by the University Hospital of Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Germany: “Over a period of 21 years (1972-1992), roughly 21,000 forensic autopsies revealed 39 cases (0.19%) of natural deaths occurring during sexual activity . . . In most cases sudden death occurred during the sexual act with a prostitute.
Sixteen-year-old Konrad Falkowski eloped with Joan Kenlay in 1952. But to avoid being tracked down by their parents, the young man changed his name, and it’s this moniker we still use to refer to the famous actor: Robert Conrad.
One radical cure for syphilitic patients was to give them malaria. The high fever worked to kill the syphilis, after which the malaria was easily cured with quinine.
Despite having the Victorian era named after her, Queen Victoria didn’t always act so Victorian. In fact, she was notorious for having a long-term out-of-wedlock relationship with her “personal attendant,” John Brown – lavishing him with expensive gifts and constant affection – after her husband, Prince Albert, passed away.
When Charles Darwin hesitated to obtain a degree in medicine, his dad enrolled him in the University of Cambridge to study divinity. It wasn’t long, though, before the “father of evolution” quit school (in 1831) to begin taking part in scientific expeditions around the world.
Before Horatio Alger’s rags-to-riches stories inspired a generation of youngsters, he was quietly dismissed as minister of the First Unitarian Church in Brewster, Massachusetts, for allegedly molesting two young boys who were members of the congregation.
Supposedly, a priest attending Napoleon’s autopsy ended up “saving” certain body parts, including the Bonaparte penis. Later bought by a collector and displayed in a New York museum, the organ wasw said to resemble “a shriveled sea horse.”
After General Leopoldo Galtieri seized control of Argentina in 1981, he ill-advisedly took the nearby Falkland Islands by force – a foolish move. Britain’s Margaret Thatcher wasted no time regaining the land, and the general was quickly disposed of in a follow-up coup.
It was a fascinating story how struggling musician Charles Manson auditioned for The Monkees back in 1965. Fascinating, and false! Mansion was behind bars when the tryouts took place.
As America’s fifth president, James Monroe was so flattered by comments about his resemblance to George Washington that he dressed in the same style the Father of Our Country did. Sadly, that style was way out of date by then.
Before making a bang with dynamite and creating his famous prizes, Alfred Nobel lost his company to bankruptcy and his brother to a nitroglycerine explosion.
In 1821, the politically powerful American Colonization Society literally bought what would become a country. The land purchase in western Africa provided a home for freed slaves from America, and the citizens formed the independent republic of Liberia in 1847.
As founder and original lead singer of The Supremes, Florence Ballard was more than a little peeved when Berry Gordy moved Diana Ross into the front spot. So, what good did her tantrums do? Ballard was ultimately fired and faded into obscurity, while lady Di became a Motown legend.
In 1950, 12-year-old Kathryn Johnston tucked her hair under a cap and tried out for the King’s Dairy Little League team of Corning, New York, under the androgynous handle Tubby Johnston. She made the cut and clued her coach in to her secret two weeks into the season.
Italian porn star Ilona Staller tried to save everyone a peck of trouble back in 1990 when she told Newsweek magazine that she’d sleep with Saddam Hussein “to achieve peace in the Middle East.”
Some believe that “sore loser” Richard Nixon might have been in on the plot to assassinate John F. Kennedy. The flimsy theory is based on the fact that Tricky Dick was actually in Dallas at a Pepsi-Coal board meeting mere hours before the tragic event occurred.
In 1990, Guinness World records stopped listing records for gluttony or eating contests. They later ended “heaviest pets” records, too, as demented folk were over-stuffing Fido and Fluffy to try to gain entry into the book.
The Labrador duck went extinct not only because of its meat, but also because of its eggs. The bird could lay up to an egg per day, but that didn’t stop humans and other predators from wiping them out by 1875.
Mariah Carey wore a $25,000 gown for her wedding to Sony Music Entertainment boss Tommy Mottola, an event that featured fifty flower girls and cost more than half a million bucks. If only the investment had paid off; the couple separated before celebrating their fourth anniversary.
Romans were too posh to commit bulimia themselves, so they actually employed slaves to tickle their throats. Once their systems were clear, they could go back for round two.
The Summer of 1983 issue of Mothering magazine featured recipes for the human placenta, including placenta stew, placenta cocktails, placenta lasagna, and placenta pizza. Some believe that ingesting the organ is natural and healthy.
The word “cannibal” comes from Christopher Columbus’s Journeys to the New World. He described the Caribs of Cuba and Haiti, whom he saw making meals of their own kind, as “Canibalis.”
Legend has it that the last words of heavy-drinking poet Dylan Thomas before his 1953 death were: “Eighteen straight whiskies . . . I do believe that’s a record.” Natural causes? Probably not.
Some acupuncturists perform “ear stapling,” in which a surgical staple is placed partially inside the ear. Why exactly? Because rubbing the device supposedly curbs hunger pangs.
In the Soviet Union, the role of Santa Claus was usurped by candy fan Joseph Stalin. Uncle Joe loved sweets so much that they were distributed to schoolchildren all across the country on his birthday (celebrated on December 21).
The Armour brand actually evolved from real pork barrel politics. Taking advantage of artificially high food prices, P.D. Armour sold futures to pork barrels he didn’t own, gambling that the Civil War would end in a year, in which case prices would drop dramatically. The gamble paid off and he netted more than $2,000,000 leaving a bunch of disgruntled traders and government officials in the wake.
Realizing that all-you-can-eat buffets would attract customers (who would then pay to be entertained in other ways), the El Rancho casino in Las Vegas began to offer a smorgasbord with lobster, shrimp, roast beef, turkey, and more in 1946.
The most deadly digestive problem of all may prove to be bovine in nature. Cows emit so much methane in their flatulence that some experts claim to be a contributing factor to the erosion.
In 1963, Timothy Leary was fired from his job as a psychology professor at Harvard University due to continued experiments with psychedelic agents.
Way back in 1984, a Japanese show called Za Gaman (“Endurance”) broke open the whole Fear Factor TV genre by rewarding contestants who could withstand the most punishment. Physical and mental tortures included events with hot coals, snakes, cacti, and a wide range of scary implements.
Al Capone was impressed with a story about his new trigger man, Tony Accardo, who took a liking to going to town on his rivals with a baseball bat. “That kid’s areal Joe Batters,” Capone said approvingly, and Accardo lived up to the moniker.
Elizabeth I had known and loved Robert Devereux, the second Earl of Essex, since he was a child. And while she had no choice but to put him to death in 1601 after he had taken part in an uprising against her, the event triggered a bitter depression from which she never recovered.
In 1982, laid-off Detroit autoworker Ronald Ebens literally beat a Chinese-American man to death after mistaking him for Japanese and blaming him for the loss of jobs stateside. In the judicial farce that followed, Ebens pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received three years’ probation.
Twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray, two of England’s most infamous gangsters, loved a good punch-up at the local pub. Reggie spent hours perfecting his “sucker punch,” whereby he’d offer a man a cigarette with one hand, and crack the guy’s jaw with the other.
David “Moses” Berg, founder of the Children of God, developed “flirty fishing” to support his flock. Female acolytes had sex with wealthy men for money to earn funds for the church. Of course, any detractors who cried “Prostitution!” were labeled as not having enough faith.
Western intelligence analysts believe that by the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union – shortly before it went broke – was spending approximately $350 billion, or a third of its gross national product (GNP), on military spending. The United States, by comparison, was spending only 6 to 7% of its GNP at that time.
After e.e. cummings’ poetry collection was rejected 14 times, he borrowed $300 from his mom and printed it himself. Titled No Thanks, the book’s dedication listed all the publishers that had turned him down, arranged on the page in the shape of a funeral urn.
“Typhoid Mary” Mallon wasn’t quite the walking natural disaster she was made out to be. Although she did spread typhoid to 33 known victims, only three of those died from the disease. The 1903 spread of typhoid through New York was caused by several different carriers.
Calvin Coolidge took the oath of office at 2:00 in the morning following Warren Harding’s death, but he was rarely up that late during any other night of his term. In fact, he was publicly reported to sleep an average of eleven hours every single day.
Xaviera Hollander, famous prostitute and author of The Happy Hooker, still makes her living in the sack, kinda. She owns a bed-and-breakfast in Amsterdam.
Original KISS drummer Peter Criss won an out-of-court settlement after the Star depicted him as a homeless drunk living under a Santa Monica bridge in 1991. The person photographed wasn’t Criss but a look-alike alcoholic.
Less than three years after appearing on the “state quarters” series, the New Hampshire natural rock formation known as the “Old Man of the Mountain” crumbled. Of course, the same force that originally crafted the site was to blame for its collapse: Mother Nature.
Before his death, George V predicted that once his son took the throne, he would “ruin himself in 12 months.” He was wrong, however, as Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson two months before the full year was up.
Were King Kong of normal size, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so hyper. Gorillas sleep about 13 hours a night, and sometimes nap during the day as well.
“I am apt to believe it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” John Adams wasn’t talking about July 4, though, but July 2, when the Continental Congress first actually declared American Independence.
While the Beach Boys “Surfin USA” seemed like an obvious update of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen,” Berry was only credited on the label after initiating a lawsuit.
Cyril Evans, the wireless operator aboard the Californian, forgot to set the automatic signal detector in his haste to catch some shut-eye. As a result, the ship didn’t receive any warnings from the nearby Titanic, and (despite being the closest to the wreck) failed to lend a hand until far too late.
The flags of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are all nearly identical in design: each depicts a cross with its intersection in the first third of the field.
No one blinked when Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius predicted a global warming scenario that would cause problems around the world. Maybe it’s because his alert came about a hundred years too early, in 1896.
After Hank Ballard failed to show up on American Bandstand to promote “The Twist,” host Dick Clark asked his protege, Chubby Checker, to record the tune for the program. He did, and it became the biggest dance record of its era.