This is the thirteenth in a series of examinations of legends from movies and the people who make them and whether they are true or false.
Click here to view an archive of the previous movie urban legends.
MOVIE LEGEND: Army of Darkness featured a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as a cameo/joke.
First off, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were very popular in the first couple of years of the 1990s.
They managed to get THREE films out between 1990 and 1993.
So when Sam Raimi began filming the third Evil Dead film, Army of Darkness, in 1991, the Turtles were definitely all over the place.
Army of Darkness saw our hero, Ash (played by Bruce Campbell) transported into medieval times (he still had to fight evil dead people, of course).
In any event, at the end of the film, when the bad guys are storming the castle in their attempt to capture the Necronomicon (the Book of the Dead), it appears as though someone dressed as a ninja turtle is sneaked into the background of a scene.
(Here are the Turtles from their film)
This has been repeated as an “Easter egg” (a term given to in-jokes that are hidden in films, as you have to “hunt” for them like Easter eggs) for years, but really, it’s not true.
The character in question is clearly just a certain type of knight.
We first see these knights when they’re shown guarding the Necronomicon…
Their helmets, when they tilt their heads down, appear to cover their face, but they don’t (not fully)…as shown here…
In any event, though, when we see them in later scenes, if you look quickly and just see the oddly shaped body (due to the armor) and the bandanas, it is sort of possible to see them as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…
But they’re clearly not, when you look closely.
In addition, on the director’s commentary, Raimi points out a TON of little bits about the movie, but doesn’t mention anything about these knights, so that really cinches it for me that this is not even meant as a Turtle homage or whatever.
MOVIE LEGEND: Don Ameche’s name used to be slang for “telephone.”
Don Ameche was a popular film star in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
He’s most known today, though, for his career resurgence late in his life, when he starred in the two Cocoon films…
and as one of the two villainous brothers in the Eddie Murphy hit, Trading Places…
Ameche died in 1993, leaving behind a legacy of many fine acting performances (this is not even mentioning his success on the radio, as well).
However, one thing folks probably DON’T remember about Ameche was that it was, for a time, a slang term!
You see, in 1938, Ameche starred in a film which told the story of the life of Alexander Graham Bell that was titled, appropriately enough, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (Henry Fonda played his assistant, the “Watson” part of “Watson, come here, I need you” fame).
The telephone was certainly not a new invention by 1938, but it was also not as prevalent as it soon became, so a major motion picture about the phone was quite notable in people’s minds, so Ameche’s name soon became synonymous with the telephone, to the point where it became a slang term FOR telephone during the late 30s and most of the 40s.
Nowadays, though, it, like Ameche in general, has faded from the popular consciousness.
Thanks to The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English for the confirmation that this was, indeed, a slang term used during the 1940s.
MOVIE LEGEND: Jean Acker sued for the right to call herself “Mrs. Rudolph Valentino.”
Jean Acker was a silent film actress whose career lasted well into the 1950s (okay, it lasted INTO the 50s, it was not doing “well” at that point, however).
After a quick courtship, she entered into basically a marriage of convenience (as Acker was a lesbian) with budding film star, Rudloph Valentino.
She locked him out of their hotel on the night of their marriage, and according to the court proceedings of their divorce, the marriage was never consummated.
Soon after, Valentino hit it big in the movie industry, with his roles in a few major films, including the Sheik…
Now that he was famous (and wealthy), Acker decided to sue him for divorce, with the knowledge that he actually married another woman while they were technically still married.
The battle was a rough one, with attempts on both sides to tear each other’s character apart.
In the end, Valentino basically won, although he still had to pay a settlement to Acker that he felt was too much.
Acker then actually sued for the right to use the name “Mrs. Rudolph Valentino” publicly!
She succeeded, and in the 1923 film The Woman in Chains, Acker was credited as “Mrs. Rudolph Valentino.”
The pair, surprisingly enough, reconciled soon afterward and became very good friends (this has led some folks to think that he voluntarily let her use the name).
In fact, when he died in 1926, Acker was by his side in the hospital. She said she loved him like a brother.
Acker met Chloe Carter (a former Ziegfield Follies dancer) in 1923, and the two were together for the rest of Acker’s life (Acker died in 1978).
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org