Did Universal Studios Sue Nintendo Over Donkey Kong Infringing on Their King Kong Trademark?

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/VIDEO GAME URBAN LEGEND: Universal Studios sued Nintendo over Donkey Kong infringing on their King Kong trademark.

One of the most interesting aspects of trademark law is that cases involving trademark infringement rarely actually make it to trial. This is because it is almost always more cost-effective for a person or a company to simply change the trademark that they are using when they receive a cease and desist letter from a large company asserting trademark infringement rather than spending the money to go to trial to defend their use of the mark. If you follow that train of thought to its logical conclusion, then, you will realize then that it is possible for large companies to successfully argue trademark infringement even if they don’t have a legal leg to stand on, simply because they have enough money to threaten smaller entities into backing down. They are essentially the 300-pound gorilla in the room and everyone has to get out of their way. When one of those small companies does choose to fight back, though, the results can be surprising. An excellent example of this is when Universal City Studios (“Universal”) decided to sue Nintendo over Donkey Kong infringing upon Universal’s King Kong trademark.

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Were Life Magazine’s Famous Photos of the D-Day Invasion Blurry Because the Photographer’s Hands Were Shaking?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to the world of magazines and whether they are true or false.

MAGAZINE URBAN LEGEND: A series of photos of the Normandy landing during D-Day by famed war photographer Robert Capa for Life Magazine were blurry because Capa’s hands were shaking as he took the shots.

Robert Capa (born Endre Friedmann in Austria-Hungary in 1913) was a famous war photographer, active from 1933 until his death in 1954, while photographing the conflict in Indochina (he tragically stepped on a landmine).

Capa was particularly well-known for how close to the action he got. He had a saying that, effectively, if your photos weren’t good enough it was because you weren’t close enough.

Capa was with the invading troops on Normany, and he took close to four full rolls of film of the invasion.

But what came next was a minor tragedy in and of itself.
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Was The Da Vinci Code Nearly Adapted Into the Third Season of 24?

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 Da Vinci Code was nearly adapted for the third season of 24.

One of the great characteristics of 24 is that every season could tell a dramatically different type of story. The character of Jack Bauer gives the producers a major advantage as he works in all sorts of different plots, so you can essentially just place Bauer in the middle of any kind of plot and he’ll adapt to it.

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This is what 20th Century Fox does with their popular film character John McClaine. As we’ve previously featured in Movie Legends Revealed, the first three sequels to Die Hard were based on existing stories with John McClaine just added to them. Heck, the third Die Hard film, Die Hard With a Vengeance, was nearly Lethal Weapon 4 before it became Die Hard 3. So with that in mind, Fox could easily adapt another story for 24. In fact, that’s what they tried to do years ago with the third season of 24. The story they tried to adapt? The Da Vinci Code!
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How Did a Mistaken Translation Lead to the Hit Song “The Poor People of Paris”?

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 LEGEND: The hit song “The Poor People of Paris” got its name through a mistaken translation.

Talking about the lyrics of a song that is most famous as an instrumental is a bit funny, but hey, it’s still a good story!

In 1956, Les Baxter and his orchestra had a #1 hit single with the song “The Poor People of Paris.”

It was an instrumental piece (back when instrumental pieces being #1 hits on the Billboard charts was not at all uncommon) and it lasted as #1 for six weeks!

A few weeks into Baxter’s run on the top of the US charts, Winifred Atwell began a three-week run of her own at the top of the BRITISH charts with a piano version of the instrumental piece…

However, the song was originally written in 1954 with lyrics by Jack Lawrence, best known for writing the English lyrics to the song that became “Beyond the Sea.”

Here, Lawrence was again writing the English lyrics to a French song. However, the name of the song (and basically all of Lawrence’s lyrics) were affected by a translation screw-up!
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Comic Book Legends Revealed #499-519

Here is a collection of Comic Book Legends Revealed from the last few months.

Click on any one to go to that column!
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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.”

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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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