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Animal Magnetism: 9 Critters that owe their names to celebrities

Having a street or a college dorm named after you has never seemed that impressive to me. You simply drop an overflowing briefcase on the right desk, and it's basically a done deal. And while having a theme park or a capital named after you (Dollywood? Monrovia?) is certainly more remarkable, nothing seems as impressive to me as winning the hearts of those surly biologists, who have the power to name a creature after you forever. The following are just a few of the lucky animals to have been blessed with celebrity names.

cover.gif1. Gary Larson
The Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson has a biting louse (Strigiphilus garylarsoni) named for him. According to Wikipedia, Larson wrote, "I considered this an extreme honor. Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along."

2. Bill Gates
Believe it or not, Microsoft's main man has a Costa Rican flower fly named for him (Eristalis gatesi). When I was thumbing through my internet, I saw several places claim inner_img_f8de6bbdc2ccf4af.pngthat the honor was thanks to his "contributions to dipterology." I'm guessing that means financial contributions, and not field work, or the effects of Microsoft Word on the discipline. But you can never be sure with these things.

3. Paul Allen

Not to be outdone, his sidekick Paul Allen also has a fly named for him (Eristalis alleni). Somehow Allen ended up with the prettier of the two species, perhaps in compensation for his slightly smaller bank account. [see pic at top]

4. Harrison Ford
If you're in the mood to catalog Harrison Ford's many accomplishments, you should know031212harrisonfordi.jpg that he has not one, but two species named for him. That's right, Han Solo himself lays claim to both a spider (calponia harrisonfordi) and an ant (pheidole harrisonfordi), thanks to his involvement in conservation work and narration of documentaries. As of yet, there's been no motion to name any snakes after him, though.

BECKER_Boris_1989_SF_L.jpg 5. Boris Becker

Being an Ivan Lendl fan, I was a little disturbed by Boris Becker's Bufonaria borisbeckeri, a bursid sea snail. Still, that was so many Wimbledons ago, and I can't hold a grudge forever. After all he's done for the game, I think the least he deserves is a sea snail.

6. James Brown

Talk about putting the might back in mites! Nothing shakes like the Funkotriplogynium iagobadius. james-brown.jpgAccording to my web research, the naming is definitely superbad: Iago = James, badius = brown. Who said taxonomists don't got soul?

7. Jerry Garcia

I wasn't that surprised to learn that Elvis has a wasp named after him, or that the Beatles have a shaggy nematode named after them thanks to their moptops, but whodathunk Jerry Garcia would have an insect in his honor? In any case, it's pretty funny that some pot-smokin' taxonomist decided to name the wood 'roach' cryptocercus garciai after the high-flyin' Grateful Dead guitarist.
Bush&Cheney&Rumsfeld.jpg8. The Current Administration
Apparently, these names aren't always flattering. I was kind of shocked to learn that some scientists wear their politics on their labcoat sleeves... and even worse, that they use their powers to poke fun! Such was the case with Agathidium bushi, A. cheneyi and A. rumsfeldi, which are now all scientific names for types of slime mold beetles.

9. Hugh Hefner
Of course, sometimes the admiration, the species and cleverness tie up really nicely, as in Hef's case. The Playboy magazine founder has an endangered rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) named for him. I once read an interview where Hugh Hefner revealed that his best pick-up line was "Hi, I'm Hugh Hefner." Perhaps the line will help the endangered bunnies mate like, well, rabbits.
hugh-hefner.jpg

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23 Things David Letterman Invented for Our Amusement
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This week, nearly three years after bidding farewell to Late Night, David Letterman is making his triumphant return to the small screen via Netflix with My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (where he'll interview two people who need no introduction: Barack Obama and George Clooney). If the series is anything like Letterman's career thus far, you can expect plenty of innovation.

Here are 23 recurring bits, features, and moments that the former Indiana weatherman (and his writers) invented for our amusement.

1. THE SHORT, NON-TOPICAL MONOLOGUE

Carson Productions, as in Johnny Carson’s production company, co-produced Late Night with David Letterman, and as the upcoming lead-out programming for The Tonight Show, it was important to Carson’s people that Letterman not copy Carson. Letterman’s people were told that among other things, they couldn’t have a sidekick sitting next to the host like Ed McMahon, a band with horns like Doc Severinsen’s, or a monologue. So instead, Letterman opened his show by standing in front of the audience and viewers at home with “opening remarks,” a monologue consisting of just one or two jokes with weird imagery, like tattoos melting in warm weather.

2. POST-INTERVIEW INTERVIEWS

On February 3, 1982—his third-ever broadcast—Late Night conducted two interviews with baseball hall-of-famer Hank Aaron: One was a standard talk show back-and-forth between host and guest. The other occurred after that conversation ended, where NBC Sports reporter Al Albert (son of Marv Albert) asked Aaron how he felt his last few minutes with Letterman went, with the idea that it was the equivalent of a post-game interview.

3. STUPID PET TRICKS

“Stupid Pet Tricks” began on Letterman’s short-lived but Emmy-winning morning show, and was a consistently popular segment on both Late Night and The Late Show. The idea came from original head writer Merrill Markoe, who "remembered how in college my friends and I would be hanging around in the evenings, talking, and drinking. One form of constant entertainment was to put socks on this one dog. Everyone I knew did some version of a silly thing like that with their pets, so we ran an ad to see if we could pull a segment together like that."

4. WORLD’S LARGEST VASE CONTESTS

After questioning people who claimed to have the “world’s largest vase” over the phone in what New York Magazine described as a “longish” segment, the vase was brought into the studio and displayed on Late Night from May 30 through June 2, 1983. On its third night, a 35-inch radio transmitting tower was added to the case when it was discovered that it was shorter than one in Canada. On its final night of national exhibition, Letterman read alleged letters from children addressed to the Vase, and the vase “spoke” to wish for peace for mankind.

5. CATCHPHRASE CONTESTS

Two on-air catchphrase contests, which aired a little over a month apart in the summer of 1984, gave lucky studio audiences the power to make “They pelted us with rocks and garbage” the first rallying cry, before it was displaced by "I do and do and do for you kids, and this is the thanks I get!"

6. A CAMERA FROM THE HOST'S P.O.V.

The February 15, 1982 installment of Late Night began with one continuous five minute and 17 second take through Letterman’s P.O.V. called “Dave Cam.” Cameos included that night’s guest Andy Rooney, Merrill Markoe, and Calvert DeForest, who played Larry “Bud” Melman on Late Night, as “Bert the Human Caboose.”

7. A CAMERA FROM THE GUEST’S P.O.V.

Letterman favorite Tom Hanks was the first wearer of the “Late Night Guest-Cam.” Hanks was on the show the night of December 12, 1985 to promote The Money Pit, which was initially supposed to debut the next day, but would be delayed until the following March. “The Late Night Sky-Cam” makes a cameo.

8. A CAMERA FROM A MONKEY’S P.O.V.

After a false start with a 30-year-old chimp named Bo, who was too small to handle the camera, “Monkey Cam” got its start on March 19, 1986. Zippy, who was on the cover of The Ramones' Animal Boy album, would return on roller skates with the “Late Night Monkey Cam Mobile Unit.”

9. PURPOSELY FUNNY TOP 10 LISTS

The very first Top Ten—“The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas"—aired on September 18, 1985, as a satire of the random lists publications like Good Housekeeping were starting to produce at the time. Credit for who thought up the idea for Late Night is disputed; over the years, head writer Steve O’Donnell, former head writer and longtime SNL scribe Jim Downey, Late Night writer Randy Cohen, and producer Robert Morton have all gotten some or all of the credit. Top Ten made it to the end of Late Show’s run, even though the writers were already tiring of it by the February 6, 1986 show, which had the Top Ten list “Top Ten Reasons to Continue the Top Ten Lists Just a Little Longer.”

10. WEARING SUITS OF VELCRO, ALKA-SELTZER, MAGNETS, SPONGES, SUET, AND FOODS

On February 28, 1984, Letterman slipped into a “Suit of Velcro” and ushered in an era of strange outfits including a magnet get-up, which Letterman wore to attach himself to a huge GE fridge. Lowering himself into a 1000-gallon tank of water, Letterman’s suit of Alka-Seltzer fizzed and vaporized. There were also suits of suet, marshmallows, chips, and Rice Krispies, the latter of which made David “snap, crackle, and pop” in a large tub of milk. An influence was Steve Allen, the original host of The Tonight Show, who threw himself into Jell-O vats on television. Allen’s “Man on the Street” interviews were also something Letterman took to new levels of absurdity.

11. HOSTING A SHOW ABOARD AN AIRPLANE

Late Night’s fourth anniversary was celebrated onboard a flight from New York City to Miami.

12. AN EPISODE THAT ROTATES 360 DEGREES

Writers Randy Cohen and Kevin Curran came up with the unique way to celebrate the 800th episode of Late Night. NBC received “several hundred” phone calls about the December 9, 1986 show from viewers complaining that it was giving them headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Carson Productions executives were apparently not informed of the stunt beforehand and were reportedly “furious.”

13. FEUDING WITH BRYANT GUMBEL

After Letterman interrupted an August 19, 1985 broadcast of Today co-hosted by Bryant Gumbel, Gumbel called out the Late Night host for being “unprofessional” and didn’t publicly forgive him for four years. (Letterman claimed it was a Today producer who invited him to pull the stunt.)

14. FEUDING WITH OPRAH WINFREY

In the 16 years between Oprah's 1989 appearance on Late Night and her December 1, 2005 Late Show interview, rumors swirled about a feud between Winfrey and Letterman. The reasons why—and even if—there was a “feud” at all remain unclear.

15. CO-HOSTING AN EPISODE WITH A CORNY MORNING SHOW THEME

On February 27, 1985, Letterman shared hosting duties with “Tawny Harper Reynolds,” with guests Michael Palin, a Pet Psychic, and an exercise segment with Carol Channing.

16. AN HOUR-LONG PARODY OF 1970s PRIMETIME VARIETY SHOWS

“Dave Letterman's Summertime Sunshine Happy Hour” graced the NBC airwaves on the night of August 29, 1985. Early in his TV career, Letterman wrote and was a part of the cast of The Starland Vocal Band Show.

17. AN HOUR-LONG PARODY OF CHRISTMAS SPECIALS

December 19, 1984’s "Christmas With the Lettermans," featuring Pat Boone, won Late Night a 1985 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music or Comedy Program.

18. "CUSTOM-MADE" SHOWS

On November 15, 1983, Late Night relinquished control of the show to the audience, giving them a choice on everything from the furniture to the theme song. On March 27, 1984’s version, the show opened with the theme to Bonanza, the announcer was the New York Lieutenant Governor, and Jane Pauley was interviewed in a dentist's chair.

19. DUBBING A RERUN FROM ENGLISH TO ENGLISH

When the February 17, 1986 episode re-aired on September 25th of that year, 250 confused viewers called the network. After 60 hours and four professional dubbers, everyone on the episode (Raquel Welch was the main guest) magically had different voices. Even Letterman's voice was dubbed (by Speed Racer's Peter Fernandez).

20. 4 A.M. SHOWS

May 14, 2004’s Late Show was taped at four in the morning, on purpose. Amy Sedaris, rat expert Robert Sullivan, and Modest Mouse were the guests. Letterman rode a horse, Sedaris gave an unsafe late night tour of her neighborhood, and Modest Mouse played in their pajamas.

21. DEDICATING MOST OF AN EPISODE TO A DECEASED COMEDIAN AND HIS FAMILY

Letterman invited Bill Hicks’s mother, Mary, to appear on the January 30, 2009 episode to apologize face-to-face for not airing Hicks’s controversial October 1, 1993, stand-up performance. In February of 1994, Hicks passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 32. After talking to Mary, Letterman finally presented Bill’s set.

22. DEDICATING AN ENTIRE EPISODE TO A COMEDY HERO

On the first new Late Show after Johnny Carson's passing, Letterman's monologue was filled with jokes that the retired Carson had anonymously submitted to David over the years. Long-time The Tonight Show executive producer Peter Lassally and bandleader Doc Severinsen were that night's only guests.

23. THE ‘WILL IT FLOAT?’ GAME

The first installment of “Will It Float?” was on February 6, 2002. A brick of Velveeta cheese sank. Dave got it right, whereas Paul got it wrong.

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25 Fun Facts About the Hollywood Walk of Fame
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The Hollywood Walk of Fame may have begun its life as a Chamber of Commerce marketing tactic, but today it’s one of Los Angeles’s most famous tourist attractions, drawing an estimated 10 million visitors each year. As a host of new celebrities, from Minnie Mouse to Mark Hamill, get ready to make their (permanent) mark along Hollywood Boulevard in 2018, here are 25 things you might not know about the world’s most star-studded sidewalk. 

1. THE IDEA FIRST CAME ABOUT IN 1953.

The original idea for the Walk of Fame came from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s volunteer president E. M. Stuart in 1953, a full seven years before construction began. According to a press release issued that year, he proposed the idea as a marketing tactic to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” It wasn’t until January 1956 that an official proposal was submitted to the Los Angeles City Council.

2. THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT INCLUDED CARICATURES.

It took a while to settle on a concept and color scheme. Among the renderings put forth were a star that included a caricature of the honoree, planted along brown and blue sidewalks. Both ideas were eventually nixed—the caricatures because of the difficulty involved and the colors because they clashed with a building that real estate developer C.E. Toberman, a.k.a. Mr. Hollywood, was erecting on Hollywood Boulevard.

3. ONLY FOUR TYPES OF INDUCTEES WERE ORIGINALLY CONSIDERED.

Though today there are five categories of inductees, in the Walk of Fame’s earliest days there were just four: Motion Pictures, Television, Recording or Music, and Radio. It wasn’t until 1984 that a category for Theatre/Live Performance was added.

4. THE PUBLIC GOT A SNEAK PEEK OF THE WALK IN 1958.

Photo of a time capsule on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
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In order to drum up excitement for the endeavor, eight stars—for Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, Ernest Torrence, and Joanne Woodward—were unveiled (temporarily) to the public on August 15, 1958.

5. TWO LAWSUITS DELAYED THE WALK’S CONSTRUCTION.

Though construction on the official Walk was set to begin shortly after the sneak peek of those first eight stars, two lawsuits prevented that from happening. The first came courtesy of a group of nearby property owners who did not take kindly to the $1.25 million tax assessment that came with the Walk’s construction. The judge ruled against them. The second came from Charlie Chaplin, Jr., who demanded $400,000 in damages because his father was not chosen as an honoree. The case was dismissed in 1960, though the elder Chaplin did finally get a star in 1972 (the same year he won an honorary Oscar). 

6. STANLEY KRAMER’S STAR CAME FIRST.

After all of the delays, construction on the Walk of Fame officially began on February 8, 1960. Filmmaker Stanley Kramer—director of The Defiant Ones, Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World—was the first honoree to have his star laid. It was installed on March 28, 1960. 

7. MOVIE STARS MAKE UP THE BULK OF THE WALK.

Of the 2,600-plus stars that currently make up the Walk of Fame, 47 percent of them are in the Motion Pictures category, followed by Television (24 percent), Music (17 percent), Radio (10 percent), and Live Performance (less than 2 percent).

8. MUHAMMAD ALI IS CONSIDERED A “LIVE PERFORMER.”

Eric Obeng, attending university in the U.S. from Ghana, poses for a friend while paying respect to the late Muhammad Ali at his star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 4, 2016 in Hollywood, United States
David McNew, Getty Images

In 2002, Muhammad Ali was given a star when it was determined that boxing was indeed a form of live performance. Ali’s star is the only one on the Walk of Fame that you cannot step on; at the athlete’s request, it was installed in the wall of the Dolby Theatre (then the Kodak Theatre) because, according to The Guardian, the legendary athlete didn't want his name walked on by “people who have no respect for me.”

9. ANYONE CAN NOMINATE A CELEBRITY FOR A STAR—BUT THE STAR MUST AGREE.

It takes more than just talent to be nominated for a star on the Walk of Fame—and the nomination process is no joke. Though anyone, including a fan, can nominate his or her favorite celebrity for inclusion on the Walk of Fame, there’s an entire application process that must include a letter of agreement from the nominee or his or her manager.

10. THERE’S ALSO THE MATTER OF A $40,000 FEE.

Stars on the Walk of Fame don’t grow on trees. Nor do they come free. Every nomination application must also list a sponsor for said nominee, who agrees to cover the $40,000 [PDF] it costs to create, install, and maintain the star, which is made of terrazzo and brass. 

11. POSTHUMOUS NOMINATIONS ARE ALLOWED, BUT THERE'S A CATCH.

Of the approximately 24 stars dedicated each year, one is given posthumously—but only if the star in question has been deceased for a minimum of five years.

12. ATTENDING THE STAR’S UNVEILING IS A REQUIREMENT.

James Brolin and singer and actress Barbra Streisand pose for the media during the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony for Brolin.
FREDERICK M. BROWN, AFP, Getty Images

Since 1968, the honoree’s attendance at his or her star’s unveiling is required. The only person to have challenged this rule is Barbra Streisand, who was awarded a star in 1976. (Rumor has it that she wasn’t comfortable with the crowds?) With no Babs in sight, one reporter took it upon himself to instead interview her wax figure at the nearby Hollywood Wax Museum. In 1998, Streisand did show up to support her husband, James Brolin, when he received his own star. 

13. IN 1994, 450 STARS WERE REMOVED DURING SUBWAY CONSTRUCTION.

In 1994, the stars of approximately 450 celebrities—Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Gene Kelly, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that pesky Charles Chaplin among them—were packed up and put away into storage for approximately three years to allow for the construction of two new subway stations on Hollywood Boulevard. 

14. MULTIPLE STARS ARE ALLOWED.

Celebrities are not limited to just one star: Bob Hope, Roy Rogers, Mickey Rooney, and Tony Martin each have stars in four categories. More than 30 people have stars in three categories, including Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Jack Benny.

15. GENE AUTRY HAS FIVE STARS.

Legendary entertainer Gene Autry is the only celebrity to have a star in all five Walk of Fame categories.

16. THERE ARE TWO HARRISON FORDS AND TWO MICHAEL JACKSONS.

Fans of pop star Michael Jackson mourn his death at talk radio host Michael Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California
Michael Czerwonka, Getty Images

And no, they’re not the same people: Silent film actor Harrison Ford earned a star in 1960 while Harrison “Han Solo” Ford got his in 2003. Radio personality Michael Jackson and the King of Pop both earned a star in 1984. When Jackson (the Thriller one) passed away in 2009, a huge crowd of fans gathered to pay tribute to him ... at the wrong star.

17. FICTIONAL STARS COUNT.

There are 16 fictional celebrities with Walk of Fame stars (more if you count The Muppets as multiple characters); Mickey Mouse was the first to be inducted in 1978. Bugs Bunny, Snow White, Woody Woodpecker, Big Bird, The Simpsons, Rugrats, Kermit the Frog, Donald Duck, Godzilla, Winnie the Pooh, The Munchkins, Shrek, Tinker Bell, The Muppets (meaning that Kermit and Big Bird actually have two stars apiece), and Snoopy followed. By the end of this year, that number will be up to 17: Minnie Mouse will be getting her own star in 2018.

18. FOUR STARS HAVE BEEN STOLEN.

In 2005, Gregory Peck became the fourth celebrity to have his star stolen from the Walk of Fame. Though it was replaced immediately, the original star has never been recovered. Five years prior to the Peck theft, Jimmy Stewart and Kirk Douglas’s stars disappeared; they were recovered from the home of a construction worker who had been tasked with securing them. One of Gene Autry’s stars was also stolen (but he had stars to spare).

19. THERE’S A TIME CAPSULE UNDER THE WALK OF FAME.

As part of the Walk of Fame’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2010, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce buried a time capsule in the same place the Walk originated, at the corner of Hollywood and Highland. Price is Right icon Bob Barker was on hand to help bury the capsule, which contains various items that commemorate the landmark, plus a note from Barker himself that reads: “Have your pets spayed and neutered.” Here’s hoping the people of 2060—the year the time capsule is set to be opened—get the reference.

20. THE DERN-LADDS ALL RECEIVED A STAR AT THE SAME TIME.

Bruce Dern, Laura Dern, and Diane Ladd each received a star on the Walk of Fame on the same day.
Valerie Macon, Getty Images

Also as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, three members of a single Hollywood family received stars at the same time when Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, and Laura Dern were feted—a first for the Walk of Fame.

21. THE BARRYMORES HAVE THE NUMBERS.

As far as acting dynasties go, the Barrymores will be tough to beat. There are six stars among the family, including one each for John, Ethel, John Drew, and Drew and two for Lionel. 

22. TYPOS HAPPEN.

There have been a couple of typos in the Walk of Fame's more than 50 years. In 2010, Julia Louis-Dreyfus showed up to smile over a star dedicated to “Julia Luis Dreyfus.” The Veep star, unsurprisingly, was rather amused by the mix-up, telling reporters, “The misspelling was so perfectly apt, a great metaphor for show business. Right when you think you've made it, you get knocked down. It's an ideal metaphor for how this business works.” The star was quickly replaced and the typo version was sent to Louis-Dreyfus as a souvenir.

Dick Van Dyke had a similar experience in 1992 when his last name was spelled as “Vandyke” (that error, too, was quickly rectified). 

23. SOME TYPOS WERE PROPHETIC.

Confusion arose when actor Don Haggerty was awarded a star in 1960 that was engraved as Dan Haggerty. Though it was eventually replaced with a corrected version, in 1994 Grizzly Adams actor Dan Haggerty received his own star.

24. HONOREES HAVE FIVE YEARS TO SCHEDULE THEIR CEREMONIES.

As such, some people use their dedication ceremonies as a way to promote an upcoming project. “Stars like to make it a big deal,” Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president/CEP Leron Gubler told The Huffington Post. “That's the way they are. They get a little more bang for their buck out of it when they time it right.”

25. GILLIAN ANDERSON, MARK HAMILL, SNOOP DOGG, LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, AND JENNIFER LAWRENCE ARE AMONG THIS YEAR'S INDUCTEES.

Gillian Anderson is presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018
FREDERIC J. BROWN, AFP, Getty Images

In June 2017, the Walk of Fame's class of 2018 was announced. Among the folks getting a star to go with their famous names: Mark Hamill, Jeff Goldblum, Jennifer Lawrence, Gillian Anderson, Lynda Carter, Taraji P. Henson, Shonda Rhimes, Carrie Underwood, Mary J. Blige, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bernie Mac, Snoop Dogg, Weird Al, and Minnie Mouse.

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