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College Football Hoax 1941 In the autumn of 1941 many football fans began following the exploits of Plainfield (NJ) Teachers College. Too bad the school and its football team didn't really exist. It was an elaborate hoax that fooled hundreds of newspapers--even the New York Times' sports department--and thousands of college football fans. Stockbroker Morris Newburger and radio announcer Alexander (Bink) Dannenbaum concocted the idea of a mythical college football team. Using the name 'Jerry Croyden,' Newburger telephoned the New York City newspapers while Dannenbaum phoned the Philadelphia papers with fantastic stories of Plainfield's lopsided victories over nonexistent schools. With the newspapers printing Plainfield's scores week after week without question, Newburger and Dannenbaum got bolder. They began writing creative press releases about the new football powerhouse. One release praised Plainfield's star runningback, a 'full-blooded Chinese-American' sophomore named Johnny (The Celestial Comet) Chung. Chung's amazing abilities on the gridiron were credited to the handfuls of wild rice he ate during huddles. The Teachers' offense operated out of an innovative 'W' formation in which all the linemen but the center faced backwards. Colorful Hopalong Hobelitz was named as Plainfield's coach. Six weeks of spectacular Plainfield victories raised speculation that the team might secure a bid to a coveted bowl game. Curious journalist Red Smith of the Philadelphia Record journeyed to Plainfield to find the college. Of course, there wasn't one. Their fraud exposed, Newburger and Dannenbaum confessed--but only after Jerry Croyden issued one final bogus press release. It announced Plainfield was forfeiting its remaining games because Chung and several other players were declared academically ineligible after flunking their exams.
Tags: Plainfield  Teachers  College  football  hoax 
Added: 12th November 2009
Views: 1954
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Posted By: Lava1964
NBA Shot Clock Invented 1954 It was the innovation that saved professional basketball: The 24-second shot clock. Coach Howard Hobson came up with with the idea of a shot clock, but it was first used in 1954 in Syracuse, New York. There Danny Biasone, the owner of the National Basketball Association's Syracuse Nationals, experimented with a 24-second version during a scrimmage game. He then convinced the NBA to adopt it. In the pre-shot clock days, the NBA had problems attracting fans and television coverage. This was largely due to the stalling tactics used by teams once they took the lead. Without the shot clock, teams could pass the ball in the front court endlessly without penalty. If the team in the lead chose to stall, the trailing team was forced to commit fouls to get the ball back following the free throw. Low-scoring, boring games with many fouls were common. The most extreme case occurred on November 22, 1950, when the Fort Wayne Pistons defeated the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18. A few weeks later, the Rochester Royals and Indianapolis Olympians played a soporific six-overtime game with only one shot in each overtime. The NBA tried several rule changes in the early 1950s to speed up the game and reduce fouls before eventually adopting Biasone's idea. How did Biasone arrive at the strange figure of 24 seconds? According to Biasone, 'I looked at the box scores from games I enjoyed, games where they didn't screw around and stall. I noticed each team took about 60 shots. That meant 120 shots per game. So I took 48 minutes--2,880 seconds--and divided that by 120 shots. The result was 24 seconds per shot.' When the shot clock first came into vogue, it made players so nervous that it hardly came into play; players were generally taking fewer than 20 seconds to shoot. According to Syracuse player Dolph Schayes, 'We thought we had to take quick shots. But as time went on, we saw the inherent genius in Danny's 24 seconds. You could work the ball around for a good shot.'
Tags: NBA  shot  clock 
Added: 15th November 2009
Views: 2216
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Posted By: Lava1964
Mysterious Life of Rudolf Hess One of the strangest stories of the Second World War was the bizarre flight of Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy, who unexpectedly parachuted into Scotland on May 10, 1941 on a mysterious mission, apparently undertaken on his own. (This photo shows the wreckage of his plane.) The details of Hess' mission are still shrouded in mystery; the British government will not release its official documents until 2016. Historians tend to believe that Hess boldly 'dropped in' on Britain to negotiate a separate peace with the western Allies so Nazi Germany would not have to fight a two-front war. (Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union would begin six weeks later.) Hess was promptly captured by locals and imprisoned for the remainder of the war. An enraged Hitler ordered that Hess be shot on sight if he ever again set foot in Germany. The British believed Hess was mad. His initial behavior at the Nuremburg Trials in 1946 seems to confirm this: Hess constantly counted on his fingers and laughed for no apparent reason. He claimed no knowledge of his days in Nazi Germany. His antics so unnerved fellow defendant Hermann Goring that Goring asked not to be seated beside Hess in the prisoners' box. Later in the tral, Hess' sanity seemed to return. Hess and six others were given life sentences, to be served in Spandau Prison in West Berlin. By 1966 the other six prisoners had been released. As Hess aged, the western Allies repeatedly asked for Hess to be released on humanitarian grounds. The Soviet Union always vetoed the request. Hess was the only prisoner at Spandau for 21 years until his curious death on August 17, 1987. He was found hanging in a garden house, strangled by an electrical wire. It was ruled a suicide. Family members doubted the accuracy of the report because by 1987 the 93-year-old Hess was so enfeebled that he could no longer tie his own shoes. Further conspiracy theories state that the man in Spandau Prison was not even Hess at all, but in fact a double. Spandau Prison was demolished after Hess' death so it would not become a shrine for Nazi sympathizers.
Tags: Nazi  Rudolf  Hess  mysteries 
Added: 14th December 2009
Views: 837
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Posted By: Lava1964
Life With Lucy - 1986 Lucille Ball had 23 years of successful sitcoms from 1951 through 1974. During the next dozen years, Ball appeared only in specials and did the occasional game show. In 1986, after some serious negotiating, ABC persuaded the 75-year-old Ball to come out of retirement and do another sitcom, Life With Lucy, alongside 80-year-old Gale Gordon. Lucy would be paid for 22 episodes even if the series was cancelled before they aired or were even made. She also insisted that Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh--her two primary writers from I Love Lucy--would have final script approval. Lucy played a widow who moves in her with daughter's family. The first episode aired on Saturday, September 23, 1986. It ranked 23rd for the week. The reviews were not kind. Critics felt the scripts were old-fashioned and predictable. Some Lucy fans cringed watching the elderly Lucy and Gale perform stunts they did years earlier. Lucy’s timing was a bit off as well because she now needed cue cards to remember her lines. As the weeks went on, Life With Lucy steadily fell in the ratings. Within two months, it was among the lowest-rated shows on television. Lucy was shocked because she had never failed in a series before. There were occasional bright spots, though: Lucille Ball was likely at her personal best in an episode featuring John Ritter. (Each was a huge fan of the other.) An episode titled 'Mother of the Bride,' in which Audrey Meadows (of The Honeymooners) appeared as Lucy's sister, probably was the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, nothing could save what was becoming a major disappointment for ABC. Even though 13 episodes were filmed, only eight made it to the airwaves before the series was axed. 'Mother of the Bride' was the last one to air on November 15, 1986. Lucy was apparently devastated by the show's cancellation, tearfully declaring to longtime friend Ann Sothern that TV viewers only accepted a younger Lucy--not Lucy as a grandmother. ABC never aired any reruns. Life With Lucy has not yet been made available on DVD.
Tags: Life  With  Lucy  Sitcom 
Added: 21st March 2010
Views: 1318
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Posted By: Lava1964
Art Linkletter Passes at age 97 Art Linkletter, whose "People Are Funny" and "House Party" shows entertained millions of TV viewers in the 1950s and '60s with the funny side of ordinary folks and who remained active as a writer and speaker through his ninth decade, died Wednesday. He was 97. Linkletter died at his home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, said his son-in-law, Art Hershey, the husband of Sharon Linkletter. "He lived a long, full, pure life, and the Lord had need for him," Hershey said. Linkletter had been ill "in the last few weeks time, but bear in mind he was 97 years old. He wasn't eating well, and the aging process took him," Hershey said. Linkletter hadn't been diagnosed with any life-threatening disease, he said.
Tags: Art  Linkletter  Passes  at  age  97  kids  say  the  darndest  things  Bill  Cosby 
Added: 26th May 2010
Views: 793
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Posted By: Old Fart
Lolita Controversy Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita deals with a middle-aged writer's sexual infatuation with a 12-year-old girl. Due to its shocking and risque subject matter, Nabokov was unable to find an American publisher for Lolita after finishing his manuscript in 1953. After four refusals, he finally resorted to Olympia Press in Paris in September 1955. (The photo below shows a copy of a first edition.) Although the first printing of 5,000 copies sold out quickly, there were no substantial reviews. However, at the end of 1955, Graham Greene, in an interview with the Times of London, called Lolita one of the best novels of 1955. This statement provoked a response from London's Sunday Express, whose editor called it 'the filthiest book I have ever read' and 'sheer unrestrained pornography.' British Customs officers were then instructed by a panicked Home Office to seize all copies entering the United Kingdom. In December 1956, the French followed suit and the Minister of the Interior banned Lolita. (The ban lasted for two years.) Its eventual British publication by Weidenfeld and Nicolson caused a scandal that contributed to the end of the political career of one of the publishers, Nigel Nicolson. In contrast, American officials were initially nervous, but the first American edition was issued without problems by G.P. Putnam's Sons in 1958, and was a bestseller--the first book since Gone with the Wind to sell 100,000 copies in the first three weeks of publication. Today Lolita is widely considered to be one of the finest novels of the 20th century. In 1998, it was named the fourth greatest English language novel of the 20th century by the Modern Library.
Tags: fiction  Lolita  publishing  controversy 
Added: 8th July 2010
Views: 1785
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Posted By: Lava1964
Troubled Actress Gail Russell Gail Russell was a dark-eyed beauty who starred with some of the most popular leading men in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s, including John Wayne, Joel McCrae and Alan Ladd. Born in Chicago on September 21, 1924, Russell was a shy child and often hid beneath her parents' piano when they entertained. The family moved to Los Angeles when she was 14. Even though art was Russell’s passion, her mother convinced her to audition at Paramount Studios. Gail was offered a standard seven-year contract at $50 a week. Upon graduating from high school, she signed with Paramount. Russell suffered terribly from stage fright. She made her first film appearance at 19 in Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour. The following year she appeared in Lady in the Dark. Although Russell’s role was minor, the film was nominated for three Oscars, which boosted her career. Russell's raven hair and enigmatic beauty was particularly suited to the ghost story plot of The Uninvited, her second film of 1944. During filming, Russell’s stage fright was so great that one of her co-stars suggested alcohol as a means to calm her nerves. Russell completed the film, but lost 20 pounds and later suffered a nervous breakdown. This film was also nominated for an Oscar, drawing even more attention to the young starlet. Russell played Emily Kimbrough in the 1944 comedy Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. The following year she starred as a schoolteacher opposite Alan Ladd in Salty O'Rouke, another Oscar-nominated film, then with Joel McCrae in the supernatural tale The Unseen. In 1946 she starred in Our Hearts Were Growing Up, a sequel with Diana Lynn. Before the year was over she completed yet another movie, The Bachelor’s Daughters, with Adolphe Menjou. Still, Russell continued to experience stage fright, liberally using alcohol to deal with it. In 1947, Russell performed one of her most famous roles as the innocent Quaker love of John Wayne in The Angel and the Badman. Rumors circulated that Russell and Wayne were having an affair, though they both denied anything more than friendship. In 1949, Russell once again starred as John Wayne's love interest in Wake of the Red Witch. When she learned that her husband had cast Russell in this role, John Wayne’s wife, actress Esperanza (Chata) Bauer, exploded in an alcoholic, jealous rage. When Wayne returned home late from the cast party, Bauer aimed a gun at her husband and pulled the trigger. The bullet barely missed Wayne’s head. Months later, Russell married her long-time boyfriend, television actor Guy Madison. In 1953, Russell was called to testify in John Wayne’s divorce trial and once again, Russell and Wayne both denied the affair. Two weeks later Russell was arrested for drunk driving, which fueled more rumors about an affair and caused serious damage to her marriage. Her alcoholic reputation so troubled Paramount executives they refused to renew her contract. Then Russell and Madison divorced, adding to her despair. In 1955, Russell left the scene of the crime after rear-ending another vehicle while intoxicated. In 1957 she drove her new convertible through the glass windows of Jan's Restaurant in Beverly Hills, pinning the janitor beneath her vehicle. Russell was picked up by Universal Studios and continued to star with some of the most famous names in Hollywood, including Randolph Scott. However, in August of 1957, when she failed to appear in court, officers were sent to her home and found her drunk and unconscious. The hearing was held at General Hospital where she was bedridden with severe effects from alcoholism. She joined Alcoholics Anonymous and stayed with this organization for a year, to no avail. In 1961, Russell starred in her last movie, The Silent Call. When filming was completed, she locked herself in her Los Angeles studio apartment, sketching and drinking. On August 27, 1961 Russell died from an alcohol-induced heart attack. She was just 36.
Tags: actress  Gail  Russell 
Added: 18th December 2010
Views: 2052
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Posted By: Lava1964
Daddy Cool Boney M Passes At Age 61 Bobby Farrell, whose group Boney M topped the 1970s European charts with its glittering showmanship and blend of disco and Calypso music, was found dead in his hotel bed Thursday while on tour in Russia, his agent said. He was 61. The frontman appeared as scheduled in St. Petersburg Wednesday night, but complained of breathing problems before and after his show, said the agent, John Seine. The group had 38 top 10 hits, including 15 number ones in Germany. They included "Brown Girl in the Ring" and "Mary's Boychild." Their version of "By the Rivers of Babylon" sold nearly 2 million records in Britain alone, keeping it No. 1 for five weeks in 1978.
Tags: Daddy  Cool  Boney  M  Passes  At  Age  61 
Added: 31st December 2010
Views: 479
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Posted By: Old Fart
Eric Campbell - Chaplin Nemesis If you've seen any of Charlie Chaplin's best comedy shorts, you've probably seen Eric Campbell. Campbell, a native of Scotland, played opposite Chaplin in a dozen films in 1916 and 1917. Campbell's daunting 6-foot-5, 300-pound frame made him perfect as a foe for the diminutive Chaplin. Despite his menacing figure, Campbell was a gentle soul whose final year was marred by terrible tragedy. On July 9, 1917, Campbell's wife died suddenly of a heart attack after dining at a Santa Monica restaurant near their home. Walking to a nearby store to buy a mourning dress, Campbell's 16-year-old daughter, Una, was hit by a car a seriously injured. That September, Campbell met Pearl Gilman, a vaudeville comedienne with a family reputation for gold-digging. Just five days after they met, Campbell and Gilman were married. (Daughter Una, still recuperating at a friend's home in Santa Monica canyon, was not told of the wedding for several weeks.) Less than two months after marrying the gentle giant, Gilman sued him for divorce, claiming her new husband abused her with his heavy drinking and profanity. Campbell moved into the Los Angeles Athletic Club, taking a room next to his best friend Chaplin. At a cast party Campbell got drunk. Driving home on December 20, 1917 at 4 a.m., Campbell crashed his car and was killed. He was 39. Campbell's ashes remained unclaimed for more than 30 years.
Tags: Eric  Campbell  actor  silent  films  Chaplin 
Added: 9th February 2011
Views: 871
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Posted By: Lava1964
Wings - First Best Picture Winner The first movie to win the coveted Best Picture Oscar was Wings, a silent masterpiece from 1927. Starring Buddy Rogers, Richard Arlen and Clara Bow, Wings is a drama about two American aviators who enlist in the First World War. The film's aerial shots of dogfights were revolutionary for the time. Gary Cooper, at the beginning of his great career, has a small role as a pilot who is killed in a training flight crash. The film also has some surprising nudity for its time: Clara Bow's breasts are shown for a fraction of a second in a scene where she is surprised while dressing. There is also a long shot through a door of nude army recruits preparing to undergo their physical exams. The movie was incredibly popular in its day. It ran for 63 weeks (with several showings each day) at New York City's Criterion Theater--a major venue that seated about 3,000 people--before it was released to smaller movie houses. Wings was considered a lost film for many years until a copy was discovered in a film archive in Paris. It is the only Best Picture-winning film not currently available on DVD, although is can be obtained on videotape. A very good organ score accompanies the VHS copy of Wings I bought many years ago.
Tags: Wings  Oscar  Clara  Bow  silent  film 
Added: 21st February 2011
Views: 871
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Posted By: Lava1964

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