Can Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe Never Be Depicted as Being a New York Yankees Fan?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about toys and whether they are true or false.

TOY URBAN LEGEND: G.I. Joe‘s Snake Eyes cannot be depicted as being a fan of the New York Yankees.

If you grew up in the United States during the mid-to-late 1980s it is unlikely that you do not have at least a passing familiarity with the animated series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, which was based on the Hasbro toy line of the same name about a special mission force who combats a terrorist group known as Cobra.

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One of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) parts of the show was how each episode would end with a public service piece where a member of the G.I. Joe team would give pretty common sense advice to young people. Stuff like “don’t pet strange dogs” or “don’t play with downed power wires.” The kid would invariably comment about how now they know what to do, and the G.I. Joe member would retort that “knowing is half the battle.”

Know

In keeping with that theme of “knowing is half the battle” (as well as Major League Baseball’s Opening Day last week) a reader wrote in to ask:

There’s a crazy rumor that Hasbro does not allow Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe to be portrayed as a Yankees fan in any form of media. True or False?

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Let’s find out!
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Did ‘N Sync Film Cameos as Jedi Knights in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: ‘N Sync filmed appearances as Jedi knights in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

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Perhaps the key moment in the second Star Wars prequel, Attack of the Clones, is what is known as “The First Battle of Geonosis,” where Mace Windu and a group of Jedi Knights are saved from Separatists led by former Jedi Knight Count Dooku by Yoda and the Republic’s new clone army. This was the first battle of what would become known as the Clone Wars and was also all part of then-Supreme Chancellor Palpatine’s secret plan to take complete control of the Republic by manufacturing a civil war that would require him to be given special powers that would lead to him becoming Emperor Palpatine. The battle featured a whole lot of Jedi Knights in the background.

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There were so many that it would be pretty easy to sneak some well-known faces into the background without any one noticing. Reader Chris B. wrote in to ask if that’s exactly what was done with the members of the pop group ‘N Sync. Chris asked:

I remember back when Star Wars Episode II was coming out I heard a rumor that the members of NSync would be playing Jedi Knights during the climatic final scene. You know, the one where Sam Jackson defiantly exclaims “This Party’s Over!” (hate that part). Anyhoo, if you could work some mojo and grab me an answer, I would be eternally grateful.

Read on for the answer!
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Did the Producers of Cagney and Lacey Keep an Actor’s Name in the Opening Credits Even After He Died to Help His Family Continue to Receive Royalties?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: The producers on Cagney and Lacey kept Sidney Clute’s name in the credits after his death to earn his family some royalties.

Reader Ben M. wrote in awhile back to ask:

I have a question that I would enjoy seeing investigated.

It’s to do with Sidney Clute, a supporting actor on the TV show Cagney & Lacey. I think he played a detective named LaGuardia. I recall when I was watching the show years ago that he continued to appear on the credits of the program long after he stopped appearing in the program itself. I believe that I later heard that he had actually died, but that perhaps he was kept on the credits out of some sort of respect? If I recall properly, he continued to appear even after another actor (Carl Lumbly) who left for conventional reasons was removed from the opening titles in the normal fashion. I always found this to be odd.

Is this something you could check out?

But of course, Ben!

Cagney and Lacey was a popular police drama during the 1980s that followed the adventures of two female detectives (Cagney and Lacey, natch) played by Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless, respectively.

Sidney Clute did, indeed, play Detective Paul La Guardia from 1982 until 1985, when the actor passed away.

However, even after his death, his name continued to play in the opening credits…

Ben’s question is the same that many fans have had, and in fact, a very popular theory was that his name was kept in the credits to perhaps keep the actor earning money from the show when it hit syndication.

Is it true?
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Did Oprah Winfrey Get Her Name From a Typo on a Birth Certificate?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Oprah Winfrey got her name via a typo on her birth certificate.

Talk-show-host turned actress and media mogul Oprah Winfrey is, of course, one of the most famous personalities in the world, let alone the world of television and film.

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Winfrey has had one of the most difficult roads to stardom imaginable, as she grew up in poverty for most of her life (when she was a child she would often have to wear dresses made out of potato sacks) and had a very poor relationship with her mother, Vernita Lee, throughout most of her life (Winfrey has even cited her relationship with her mother as a reason she has never pursued having children of her own), who had Winfrey when she still a teenager. Perhaps due to the rough surroundings of her childhood, a strange legend has persisted surrounding Winfrey’s famous first name. The legend is that Oprah’s name came about via a typo on her birth certificate. In fact, on the website oprah-winfrey.com (not affiliated with Oprah Winfrey – I’m just pointing it out as a notable source for a commonly told story – I have also seen it told in at least six different biographies of Oprah Winfrey), it says:

She was originally named Orpah after a woman from the “Book of Ruth” but a spelling mistake on the birth certificate changed it to Oprah.

Is that true?
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Are All the Timepieces in Pulp Fiction Really Set to 4:20?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: All of the timepieces in Pulp Fiction are set to 4:20.

A very popular “true movie fact” is that all of the clocks in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction are set to 4:20.

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4:20, of course, is a popular reference for marijuana enthusiasts (the term has evolved from a meeting time for a group of teens in California in pursuit of marijuana to a code term used to refer to marijuana in general – a term popularized by the magazine High times – to the point where April 20th has practically become a holiday for fans of marijuana).

Is that true? Are all of the clocks in Pulp Fiction set to 4:20?
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Was Cher One of the Fake Crystals That Sang On “He’s a Rebel”?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: Cher was one of the fake Crystals on the hit song “He’s a Rebel.”

A while back, I wrote about how the 1962 hit song by The Crystals, “He’s a Rebel,” was not actually sung by The Crystals.

Reader JeffM asked me, “I’ve often heard that one of the “fake Crystals” who sang on this record was Cher, who was a frequent background singer on Spector sessions. True or no?”

Let’s find out!
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Were the Little House on the Prairie Sets Destroyed So That No One Else Could Use Them?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Michael Landon had the set for Little House on the Prairie destroyed so that no one other shows could re-use the set and that there could be no future reunions for the show.

The Western has long had a significant presence on American television. It doesn’t seem as though a single television season passes without at least one Western show on the air (AMC currently airs Hell on Wheels, for instance). However, by the time that Little House on the Prairie debuted in 1974 (first with a popular TV movie in the spring that worked as a pilot for the series and then the series proper that fall), westerns had fallen from the prominent spot that they once held, where shows like Gunsmoke and Bonanza were regular features in the top 10 of the weekly Nielsen TV ratings. So it was somewhat surprising to see former Bonanza star Michael Landon do a new series about a group of settlers in Walnut Grove, Minnesota (based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s best-selling Little House series of children’s books, which were based on her own life as a settler) become such a popular series.

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Little House on the Prairie lasted for nine seasons, with Landon starring and producing the first eight seasons before going fully behind the scenes for the final season, which saw a new family take over the “Little House,” while Melissa Gilbert’s Laura (now married) took over as the main lead of the series from Landon. The show’s ratings dipped in the final season and the show was canceled. Landon, though, was given a chance to wrap the series up with a series of three television movies. Oddly enough, through a bit of a scheduling fluke, the second film (a Christmas story) ended up running a year after it was originally intended to run, in December of 1984. So the third film, which worked as a finale to the series, was not actually the last to air. The third film, “The Last Farewell,” was very much a finale. In the episode, the citizens of Walnut Grove discover that a land developer has bought up all of their land. They try to fight his claim but fail. Laura inspires the citizens to make a stand against the developer by actually blowing up all of the property in Walnut Grove. So yes, the last episode of Little House on the Prairie ended with them destroying the town that fans had grown to love over nine seasons. Why the set was destroyed has been a matter of contention ever since. Here are two various ways I’ve seen the story repeated over the years:

Did Michael Landon really burn down the Little House on the Prairie sets after the series wrapped so he’d never have to do a reunion movie/series?

and

The primary reason Michael Landon blew up the town was because he was mad they canceled the show and did not want anybody to use his set.

What is the truth?
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What Famous Talk Show Host Wouldn’t Appear on the Simpsons if They Made Fun of Him?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Johnny Carson wouldn’t guest star on The Simpsons if they made fun of him.

The Simpsons have had a long history of celebrities making cameo appearances on the show, but what is sometiems forgotten due to the sheer longevity of the series is how different things were in the early years of the show. In a TV Legend a while back about Michael Jackson’s appearance in The Simpsons‘ third season premiere, I explained that in the early days of the show, while celebrities would occasionally lend their voices to the show, they would often use pseudonyms in the credits. In the beginning, there really weren’t celebrity cameos, though. Dustin Hoffman and Michael Jackson played other characters, not themselves. The episode that really changed everything was the third season episode, “Homer at the Bat,” where Mr. Burns decides to fill his company softball team with a group of ringers made up of famous Major League Baseball players. The episode was a major success and some of the players (like Darryl Strawberry and Wade Boggs) credit the episode with making them even more well known. A year later, when writer John Swartzwelder pitched the idea of Krusty the Clown getting canceled and then having a comeback special, showrunners Al Jean and Mike Reiss saw this as an opportunity to do another version of “Homer at the Bat,” only with other kinds of celebrities instead of baseball players. However, they soon learned that The Simpsons in their fourth season did not yet have the cachet that they hoped for when it came to get celebrities to sign on to do cameos on the show. A whole pile of celebrities backed out of appearing on the show, some of them doing so at the last minute. Before the Red Hot Chili Peppers signed on to perform in the episode, both the Rolling Stones and Wynonna Judd turned the show down (years later, when The Simpsons had become a standard place for celebrities to do cameos, the Stones appeared. I think Judd blew any chance she had of being on the show). Because they were so desperate to add celebrities, the show ended up making a notable concession with one of the possible celebrities, Johnny Carson – they agreed NOT to make fun of him!

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Read on to see how they got Johnny Carson to appear on the show!
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Was the First Interracial Kiss on a TV Drama Originally Going to be Between Uhura and SPOCK?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: The first interracial kiss on a TV drama was originally going to be between Mr. Spock and Lt. Uhura.

While the current Star Trek film series is a dramatic departure from the old Star Trek set-up in a number of ways (primarily the fact that the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise all took on their respective jobs on the ship at a much younger age than they did in the regular timeline) the interpersonal relationships among the crew are roughly the same as they were in the original stories featuring them. A notable exception, however, is in the romance between the half-Vulcan first officer Mr. Spock and the ship’s communications officer, Lt. Uhura.

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The two did not have many scenes together during the original Star Trek series. However, did they almost share a notable piece of television history? Was the famous interracial kiss during “Plato’s Stepchildren” in the last season of the original Star Trek television series originally going to take place between Uhura and Spock rather than Uhura and Captain Kirk?

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Did Michael Jackson Actually Sing in His Guest Appearance on The Simpsons?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Michael Jackson didn’t actually do any singing in his guest appearance on The Simpsons.

Celebrities guest-starring on The Simpsons has become almost a right of passage for celebrities. You haven’t truly “made it” until you have appeared as a guest voice on The Simpsons (a while back, we featured a TV legend about Justin Timberlake’s ill-fated first appearance as a guest voice on The Simpsons). However, in the early days of celebrity guest voices on the show, the producers allowed their guest stars to use pseudonyms. Dustin Hoffman was the first guest actor to do so, using the credit “Sam Atic” (get it?) for his appearance in the late second season episode, “Lisa’s Substitute.” For the season three premiere, “Stark Raving Dad,” Michael Jackson appeared on the show as “John Jay Smith.” Jackson played Leon Kompowsky, a man that Homer Simpson meets in an asylum after Homer is accidentally committed. Kompowsky believes himself to be Michael Jackson. During the episode, Kompowsky sings the Jackson hit “Man in the Mirror” as well as an original song, “”Happy Birthday Lisa,” as a birthday present from Bart Simpson to his sister, Lisa. However, while Michael Jackson did appear on the episode, did he actually not sing on it? Find out!
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