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: Universal Studios used to offer an incentive tied in with a joke from National Lampoon’s Animal House.
National Lampoon’s Animal House was director John Landis’ big break as a director, as it was his first film for a major studio, specifically, Universal Studios.
The film was a very big hit (especially considering it was a very low budget film).
At the end of the film, there is a bit of a “where are they now” for each of the main characters.
One of the “villains” in the film is the scheming sorority girl, Babs (played by Martha Smith, who is awesome), who hates the guys at Animal House and tries to worm her way into becoming the girlfriend of the rival fraternity, Omega House.
In any event, at the end of the film, she gets her comeuppance.
And for HER “Where are they now” bit, it is said that she’s now a tour guide at Universal Studios.
Well, after the closing credits finish, there is the Universal Studios logo and an old-fashioned ad saying “When in Hollywood, Visit Universal Studios.” Then, a second or so later, the parenthetical (Ask for Babs) appears on the screen.
Landis would go on to use this end joke after the closing credits on all of his films for Universal.
Including his next big hit (also with Animal House star John Belushi), the Blues Brothers…
What happened if you DID “ask for Babs?”
At the time, if you did, in fact, “Ask for Babs,” you were rewarded with some sort of an incentive. History has been very vague as to exactly what kind of incentive you received (a discount? a free entry?), but we know that SOME sort of incentive was attached to the phrase, because in 1989, Universal Studios announced that they would specifically no longer give out any incentive for the phrase.
My thinking is that it was never a clear-cut “you get X” for the phrase, but rather an informal type of situation, determined by whoever the manager was that day. And as time went by, it was likely decided that this was probably not something they wanted to encourage or make official, as if they made it official, clearly EVERYone would just use it.
What I wish someone could tell me, if they ever experienced it, is what exactly WAS the incentive? We know that there WAS one, I just can’t tell for sure what it was, and I’d appreciate anyone’s help who actually “asked for Babs.”
Landis came back to Universal to do the Blues Brothers sequel in 1998, and he brought the in-joke back with him!
As a final tie-in to the joke, in an anniversary edition of Animal House, they showed the actors and actresses in their aforementioned future roles, and Martha Smith is shown leading a tour guide at Universal Studios. Classic!
The legend is…
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