Did Graham Greene Enter and Then LOSE a “Write Like Graham Greene” Contest?

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

NOVEL URBAN LEGEND: Graham Greene came in second in a contest to parody Graham Greene’s writing style.

Graham Greene was a popular and critically acclaimed novelist, playwright, screenwriter and critic during the 20th Century (he was born in 1904 and died in 1991).

Many of his works have been turned into films.

Perhaps the most famous movie based on a Graham Greene story is Carol Reed’s The Third Man…

While his works tended to be quite serious in nature, Greene also had a sense of humor about himself.

This was especially noted in 1949, when the British magazine, The New Statesman (below is a recent cover)…

ran a contest asking readers to submit their best parodies of Greene’s writing style.
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Did Kiefer Sutherland Add Lines to Episodes of 24 to Mess With Fans Playing 24-Based Drinking Games?

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: Kiefer Sutherland added lines to episodes of 24 just to mess with fans playing 24-based drinking games.

Something that often gets lost among fans, particularly on the internet, is the fact that writers, artists, directors and actors – they’re all just people. There is often a bit of a detachment when fans write about them, as if doesn’t matter what you say, since it is not like they are ever going to actually see what you write. But you’d be surprised by how often creative people do read the negative things said about them on the internet. Jimmy Kimmel has a whole bit on his show about celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves. It is not just fans, of course. Popular celebrity impersonators also speak of the odd feeling when you know that a celebrity has seen their (often mocking) impression of the celebrity. A particular amusing instance where celebrities sometimes “break the fourth wall,” in a way, is when they become involved in games revolving around them. Like Gwyneth Paltrow calling in to a radio contest about her (which I featured in a Movie Legends Revealed a while back). Or Kiefer Sutherland’s interesting response to learning about a drinking game based around his hit TV series, 24.

24-box-set
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Comic Book Legends Revealed #522

Welcome to the five hundred and twenty-second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, why did Nightwing and Oracle get engaged? What was the strange reason behind the Flash being called Flush Man in Argentina? Finally, did classic cartoonist Winsor McCay help inspire the United States to go to war with Germany with a famous animated film?

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.

Who, Exactly, Was the Song “Windy” About?

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: “Windy” was originally written about the hippie boyfriend of the songwriter, with the lyrics re-written by The Association to be about a woman.

The infectious pop classic, “Windy,” was released by the band The Association in 1967 and was a smash hit, going all the way to #1 on the Billboard charts.

The song is about an engaging young woman named Windy, about whom it was sung:

Who’s trippin’ down the streets of the city
smiling at everybody she sees
whose reaching out to capture a moment
everyone knows it’s Windy…

For years, the rumor was that while the character in the song is definitely a woman, that the song initially was written about a MAN, the hippy boyfriend of the songwriter, before the Association changed it.

For example, here’s a quote from the book, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader (a collection of interesting facts and lists):

Although the Association sang about a girl named Windy, the song was actually written about a man. The composer was Ruthann Friedman and Windy, her boyfriend, was an original hippie. In that context the lyrics make a lot more sense. Example: he’s “tripping” down the streets of the city.

Is it true?
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What is the Tragic Origin of “No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Film?”

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: A film that pushed a horse off of a cliff led to the film industry allowing the American Humane Association oversight over treatment of animals in films.

Any regular filmgoer is familiar with the tag at the end of film credits that states “no animals were harmed in the making of this film. This message is given with the approval of the American Humane Association, which has oversight over the treatment of animals in films (they actually own a trademark on the phrase “No Animals Were Harmed”).

no-animals-were-harmed

As you might imagine, wherever an organization has oversight over filmmakers (or any private industry), there assuredly was some sort of incident or legal ruling that led to them gaining that oversight. In other words, companies tend not to volunteer to be overseen by an outside group. So how did the filmmakers of the United States come to agree to have their treatment of animals overseen by the American Humane Association? Would you believe that it had to do with a horse being pushed off of a cliff?
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Did Robert Young Once Produce a Despotic Episode of Father Knows Best to Promote U.S. Savings Bonds?

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: Robert Young once made a particularly dark “episode” of Father Knows Best to help sell U.S. savings bonds.

Over the years, various television series have done special short episodes for the government to promote United States savings bonds.

The one that stands out the most in television history is definitely “24 Hours in Tyrantland,” a full 30-minute episode of “Father Knows Best” designed to sell U.S. savings bonds in a surprisingly dark fashion.

Read on for the bizarre little tale!
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Did Jack Lawrence Write “Linda” About a One-Year-Old Linda McCartney?

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: Jack Lawrence wrote a song for a one-year-old little girl who grew up to marry Paul McCartney.

I just featured a legend about the great songwriter Jack Lawrence a couple of weeks ago, but I came across another good one and I just had to use it.

During World War II, Lawrence’s lawyer was also a good friend of his, so he asked Lawrence for a favor – he said that there plenty of songs featuring the names of the rest of his family, but not his one-year-old daughter, Linda. So could Lawrence write a song about her?

Lawrence obliged, but the song did not find too much success until after the war ended, when TWO competing versions of the tune rode up the charts!

Ray Noble and his Orchestra, with Buddy Clark on vocals, went to #1…

but there was a competing version by Buddy Spivak that went to #6 on the charts!

Anyhow, that’s pretty much it for the story, except for WHO the “Linda” in the song was!
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Did the CIA Really Help the Author of Doctor Zhivago Win a Nobel Prize?

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

NOVEL URBAN LEGEND: The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aided Boris Pasternak’s Nobel Prize chances in 1958 for his novel Doctor Zhivago.

While he began work on it decades earlier, it was not until after World War II that Boris Pasternak seriously began to devote time to finishing his novel, which ultimately became known as Doctor Zhivago, about a man torn between two women during the Russian Revolution and the Civil War that followed.

The story is now best known for the epic film adaptation by David Lean during the 1960s…

but in 1958, the year following its release, it was also noteworthy for winning its author the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Sadly, due to disapproval from the Soviet Union, where Pasternak and his family lived, Pasternak was forced to turn down the Nobel Prize.

Initially, he received the news of his award with great interest, sending a telegram (after being informed of his victory) that he was “Immensely thankful, touched, proud, astonished, abashed” but a few days later he wrote another one, “Considering the meaning this award has been given in the society to which I belong, I must reject this undeserved prize which has been presented to me. Please do not receive my voluntary rejection with displeasure.”

This was because the novel was seen as somewhat derogatory toward the Communist view on life. It was banned from the Soviet Union, and in fact, after Pasternak’s death in 1960, his mistress, Olga Ivinskaya (who may have been the inspiration for the Lara character in Zhivago), and their daughter, were later sent to prison for allegedly receiving money from the sale of Doctor Zhivago outside the Soviet Union. That’s how hardcore the Soviets were about this book.

So, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was that interested in helping the book get MORE notice outside the USSR!
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Comic Book Legends Revealed #521

Welcome to the five hundred and twenty-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, in honor of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, this week is an all-Avengers edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed! Did Crisis on Infinite Earths spin out of the aborted JLA/Avengers crossover? Did the Scarlet Witch originally have a GREEN costume? Was Captain America and Scarlet Witch’s ill-fated romance not originally part of Avengers Disassembled?

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 B.A. Baracus Never Actually Say “I Pity the Fool” On The A-Team?

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: B.A. Baracus never actually said “I pity the fool” on The A-Team.

The A-Team was a fascinating hit TV series in that it was absurd even for the era in which it aired (1983-1987). The cartoon violence on the program was evident when, in the very first episode, a jeep carrying soldiers pursuing the team flips over spectacularly and crashes (it’s an impressive enough shot that the show continued to use it in the opening credits for pretty much the entire run of the series). Voice overs, of course, quickly assure viewers that both the driver and the passenger of the jeep were fine after the crash. That was The A-Team in a nutshell – spectacular violence but people almost never actually got hurt, despite the A-Team’s extensive use of explosives and automatic weapons. The A-Team was about a team of soldiers who were falsely accused of a crime that they did not commit in the closing days of the Vietnam War. Now on the run from the U.S. Military, they work as mercenaries helping out people in need while also trying to clear their names.

TheATeam-77904-4

The team was led by Col. John “Hannibal” Smith (played by George Peppard), whose trademark phrase was “I love it when a plan comes together.” The team consisted of Smith plus Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck (played by Tim Dunigan in the first two episodes and Dirk Benedict going forward), Capt. H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock (Dwight Schultz) and, of course, Sgt. Bosco Albert “B.A.” Baracus (Mr. T). Mr. T’s B.A. Baracus quickly became the most popular character on the series (much to the annoyance of George Peppard).

ba-baracus

Fans of The A-Team were quite familiar with Mr. T.’s trademark phrase “I pity the fool.” However, is it really true that the phrase was never used on The A-Team?
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