Was a Glee Plot Involving a Boy Not Being Allowed to Sing a “Girl” Song Drawn From Chris Colfer’s Life?

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: A plot line on Glee about a character not being considered for a “girl” song actually happened to one of the cast members in real life.

When it debuted, Glee was one of the most popular new series that television season, following the exploits of a high school glee club and their teacher…

One of the main cast members on the series (he was there the whole six season run of the show) was a teen named Kurt, played by Chris Colfer….

Kurt’s coming out to his father was one of the most touching moments in the first season of the show.

Early in the show’s run, Glee aired an episode about Kurt being irritated at not being considered to perform the song “Defying Gravity” from the 2003 Broadway musical, Wicked.

The song was originally performed by Idina Menzel (who appeared later that season on the show as the biological mother of the show’s other main star, Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry) and it has some very high notes in it, so it’s mostly considered a song that would be sung by a woman.

Of course, Kurt felt that this was unfair, and after challenging his Glee club teacher (with support from his father), he is given a chance to compete with the lead female singer of the group for the “right” to perform the song.

It was an interesting plot, but a plot made even MORE interesting when you hear that it was based on an ACTUAL incident in Colfer’s life!!
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Did Alec Guinness Come Up With the Idea for Obi-Wan Kenobi to Die in Star Wars?

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: Alec Guinness came up with the idea for Obi-Wan Kenobi to die in Star Wars.

An interesting but often misunderstood part of Star Wars lore is Sir Alec Guinness’ distaste for the Star Wars film franchise. The Academy Award-winning actor was the most famous member of the cast when the film was originally announced. Clearly, though, while he felt that the film would be a financial success, he never imagined that it would become so successful that later in his life he would be better known for playing Obi Wan Kenobi than for doing dozens of acclaimed films and many years of acclaimed Shakespeare productions on the stage (on top of his Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actor for playing Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai, Guinness also won a Tony Award playing Dylan Thomas in the play Dylan). He was certainly critical of the film (especially the dialogue) but he also praised it. When he first saw the film, he wrote in his diary:

It’s a pretty staggering film as spectacle, and technically brilliant. Exciting, very noisy and warm-hearted. The battle scenes at the end go on for five minutes too long, I feel, and some of the dialogue is excruciating and much of it is lost in noise, but it remains a vivid experience. The only really disappointing performance was Tony Daniels as the robot — fidgety and over-elaborately spoken. Not that any of the cast can stand up to the mechanical things around them.

In addition, he was thoroughly grateful to George Lucas for the financial windfall Guinness received from the film’s success. After all, he did return for both sequels. So it was not like he abhorred the films. His true ire seemed to be directed at people who couldn’t seem to see him as anything other than Obi-Wan Kenobi. In 1997, he wrote in his diary, “Was unpleasant to a woman journalist on Telegraph, who wanted to know how much I earned on Star Wars. Oh, I’m sick of that film and all the hype.”

That said, it is true that Guinness had a hard time on the actual filming of the first film. He wrote to a friend of his, Anne Kaufman, about the film:

Can’t say I’m enjoying the film. New rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper — and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable. I just think, thankfully, of the lovely bread, which will help me to keep going until next April . . . I must off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet — and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can’t be right) Ford. Ellison (? — no!) — well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But oh, God, God, they make me feel 90 — and treat me as if I was 106 — Oh, Harrison Ford, ever heard of him?

This has led to the legend that Alec Guinness was so sick of filming the movie that he came up with the idea that George Lucas should kill off Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Ben_Kenobi

Guinness himself claimed it to be true in 1999, noting that he convinced Lucas that it would make Obi-Wan a stronger character, adding “What I didn’t tell Lucas was that I just couldn’t go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I’d had enough of the mumbo jumbo.” Actors asking to be killed off is a popular area for possible legends, as we’ve already detailed in past Movie Legends Revealed whether Leonard Nimoy asked to be killed in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and whether Harrison Ford asked to be killed in Return of the Jedi. So what is the truth here – did Alec Guinness come up with the idea to kill off Obi-Wan Kenobi?
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August 26th, 2015 | Posted in Movie Urban Legends Revealed | No Comments

Was the Indie Rock Band Stiltskin Formed for a Jeans Commercial?

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: The indie rock band Stiltskin was formed for a Levi’s TV commercial.

In 1994, Levi’s debuted an ad campaign in the United Kingdom that gained a lot of attention. The TV spot showed a pioneer family in the Western United States…

When they stop for a picnic, the two daughters run off to play and they come across a handsome young man bathing in a body of water…

They see a pair of jeans so they presume that what they are seeing is a gorgeous man bathing in the nude…

As you might imagine, this titillates them…

but when he exits the water, the “money shot” is ruined for them as he is actually wearing a pair of jeans..

The jeans they have in their hands belong to some old guy…

Then the ad copy states that back in the old days, this was the only way to shrink your jeans to make them fit better…

Clever stuff and beautiful cinematography. However, the most notable part of the ad was the music used for the spot.
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Did the U.S. Military Buy A Hundred Thousand Viewmasters During World War II?

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

TOY URBAN LEGEND: The United States military purchased millions of View Master reels for training purposes during World War II.

Sawyers’ Photo Services was founded in 1911. In 1926, Harold Graves was brought into the company and was put in charge of photographs for postcards and collectible albums.

In the early 20th Century, postcards of famous places were often the only way people could ever see some of the world’s wonders like the Grand Canyon. In 1939, Graves formed a partnership with a man named Wilhelm Gruber to produce “stereo photographs.” These stereo photographs would be on film that would be put into discs (or “slides”) that you could then slide into a viewing device similar to a camera and then, well, view them. This viewing device was called the Viewmaster.

Here’s an early 1940’s Viewmaster (made out of metal)…

Viewmasters were used as replacements for scenic postcards. They allowed viewers to see all sorts of wonderful landscapes (the Grand Canyon was one of their most popular series of slides).

When World War II broke out, the United States military soon appreciated the utility of these devices for training purposes.
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Comic Book Legends Revealed #537

Welcome to the five hundred and thirty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, did Marvel have a smoking ban almost a decade before their official smoking ban? What was the reason behind Thor getting shot by a sniper in the pages of Black Panther? And wait until you see what Marvel turned a Psylocke figure into!

Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to access it to update it in a while).

Click here to read this week’s legends.

Did The Big Bang Theory Originate the Term “Bazinga”?

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 Big Bang Theory originated the term “bazinga.”

It is interesting just how long some TV shows take before “classic” attributes of the show actually first showed up. For instance, the Sheldon Cooper of the first episode of The Big Bang Theory is different in a lot of ways than the character he would eventually become (and that’s not even counting the dramatic differences between Sheldon and how he was depicted in the original The Big Bang Theory pilot episode, which we’ve detailed in a past TV Legends Revealed). For instance, Sheldon’s distinctive door knock and the accompanying “Penny. Penny. Penny.” did not come about until the tenth episode of the series. Amazingly enough, Sheldon did not actually use the term “bazinga” (sometimes spelled “buzzinga” in the closed captioning for the show), which he uses to denote that whatever he said before it was meant to be a joke, until the season finale of the second season of the series! It has become wildly popular ever since.

bazingasheldon

The origins of the term, though, are interesting in their own right. How did it work its way into the show? Did the show actually create the term (which it has been often credited as doing)? Read on to find out!
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Why Was There a Censored Song on the “Parental Warning – Explicit Content” Kanye West Album College Dropout?

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: “School Spirit” had to be censored for Aretha Franklin to agree to allow her song to be sampled on the track.

Like many rap albums, College Dropout was released in a “Clean” version and a “Parental Warning – Explicit Content” version. The former had the profanity of the album censored while the latter obviously did not.

However, there was a curiosity on the album. On BOTH versions of the album, the song “School Spirit” was censored…

As you would imagine, this confused people a lot. It is weird to buy an album that specifically warns about explicit content and then have a song be censored on it.

As it turns out, it had to do with a song that was sampled on the track.
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Is Kanye West’s “Homecoming” About a Girl Named “Wendy”?

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: “Homecoming” is about a woman named Wendy.

This one is pretty close to being too silly to even feature here, but what can I say? It surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) comes up a LOT. Just do a search on the internet, you’ll find a bunch of references to people asking about who “Wendy” is on the Kanye West song “Homecoming.”

So what’s the deal?
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Were Lincoln Logs Not Actually Named After Abraham Lincoln?

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

TOY URBAN LEGEND: Lincoln Logs were named after the middle name of the father of the inventor of Lincoln Logs.

Lincoln Logs are a famous children’s toy that consists of miniature logs with notches on them that can be connected and used to build forts and whatever other type of building your heart desires (perhaps a log cabin, even!). They were first designed in 1916 by John Lloyd Wright, son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, first marketed in 1918, patented in 1920 and first sold a few years later.

Wright claimed at the time that he was inspired by his father’s design for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan (Wright was in Japan with his father at the time of the design and construction of the Imperial Hotel). I can’t speak to the veracity of that statement, especially since there were a goodly amount of similar block-building toys in the 19th Century.

However, one point that I believe I can speak to is the slight confusion brought about by the great website Mental Floss. The site had a feature on Lincoln Logs awhile back that has caused a bit of confusion with regards to the origins of the name “Lincoln Logs.” In an article about the secrets behind famous toys, writer Tim Moodie wrote in regards to Lincoln Logs:

But here’s the strangest part: the naming of the toy might not have been a tribute to Honest Abe. Here’s the scoop: Frank Lloyd Wright was born Frank Lincoln Wright, but he legally changed his name when his parents split. So, Lloyd Jones was his mother’s maiden name and Frank’s name change was to honor her. In any case, whichever Lincoln the toy was honoring, we’re pretty sure Honest Abe would have gotten a kick out of the little logs.

To Moodie’s credit, all he does here is point out that Wright’s original middle name was Lincoln. He does not explicitly state that the younger Wright did use that as the impetus for the name of his toy. It is just that Moodie’s “hey, did you know?” piece has since been translated, Telephone Game-style, into a definitive “Lincoln Logs were not named after Abraham Lincoln” statement, which does not appear to be Moodie’s intent at all.

Anyhow, is it true?
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Did Hormel Foods Sue the Muppets For Making Fun of Spam?

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: Hormel Foods sued the Muppets over making fun of Spam.

In the world of big business, there are few things quite as powerful as a well-known brand name. Because of this, companies will often go out of their way to defend their brands from being diluted by other companies. Heck, as we pointed out in an old Movie Legends Revealed, Nintendo is so protective of its Super Mario Brothers brand that it actually purchased the rights to a Super Mario Brothers porn parody to keep it off of the market. That strategy is all well and good when your brand name is a respected one, but what if your brand is one that has negative connotations? What if your brand is Spam? Spam is a brand name for a canned meat product by Hormel Foods consisting of pre-cooked pork shoulder with some ham mixed in there, as well. A lot of people have made fun of Spam over the years and it eventually became so stereotypically associated with an unwanted food product that people began to use the term in reference to unwanted e-mails and the term stuck. Today, people might very well associate the word “spam” more with junk e-mail than with the original meat product. In recent years, Hormel has gotten in on the joke themselves by strategically using humor to promote their famous product. For instance, in 2005, rather than taking issue with the Broadway musical Spamalot (by the folks form Monty Python, who famously mocked Spam on their television series during the 1970s), Hormel actually helped promote the hit musical.

spamlot

This was not always Hormel’s approach, though. In the 1990s, they actually sued the Muppets for making fun of Spam!
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