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Where Are They Now? The Original Six American Gladiators

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Have you ever noticed that the best originals always seem to come in groups of six? Hockey teams. Nike Air Force Ones. United States frigates. But the title of best original six-pack "“ quite literally "“ belongs to the muscle-bound men and women who made up the first cast of American Gladiators. (I'll award a six-second head start in the Eliminator to anyone who can name all six off the top of his or her head right now.)

If you somehow came up with Malibu, Lace, Gemini, Zap, Nitro, and Sunny, please stop reading this and immediately Facebook friend me, as you are my new hero(es).

There are all sorts of interesting where-are-they-now stories about former Gladiators and contenders from the show. Kristi Kropp-Wagner, the former contender wearing yellow in this video, is now the faculty advisor for the co-ed badminton team at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. On a sadder note, season four women's champion Cheryl Wilson was murdered by her husband in 1997.

As for the Original Six Gladiators, here's what we know:

1. Deron McBee (Malibu)

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Emperor Commodus probably would've given the laid-back surfer dude with the flowing blonde locks two thumbs down for his pretty boy appearance, and most film critics did just that in their reviews of 1997's Mortal Combat: Annihilation, in which McBee starred as Motaro. McBee, who trained at the Billy Blanks World Karate Studio, has appeared in more than 30 other movies, including such blockbusters as The Killing Zone and Enter the Blood Ring. Curb Your Enthusiasm fans might remember McBee's guest appearance during the second season as former pro wrestler Thor Olson, who Larry becomes convinced slashed his tires after the two men got into an argument. McBee's late wife, Drzan, an aspiring professional wrestler, reportedly died after complications from surgery in 2003.

2. Marisa Pare (Lace)

After appearing in 59 episodes from 1989-1993, the ironically Canadian-born Pare, or Lace #1 to American Gladiator fans, made one appearance on the TV show Renegade with fellow former Gladiator Michael Horton. According to imdb.com, she resurfaced in 1997 on an episode of Clueless. Pare, whose given name is Roebuck, married actor Michael Pare in 1986. In 1987, she appeared as a fashion show coordinator in The Women's Club, a movie in which her then-husband starred, before the two were divorced in 1988. Pare was one of two Gladiators to pose nude in Playboy.

3. Michael Horton (Gemini)

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Creatively named for his split personality "“ calm one minute, violent the next "“ Horton served as team captain of the American Gladiators during his 80-episode stint on the show, which spanned four years. His greatest claim to fame since hanging up his spandex "“ besides his aforementioned appearance in Renegade, of course "“ was his role as the security guard in Night at the Roxbury. What is love? Pounding the living daylights out of a contestant with a foam jousting stick.

4. Raye Hollitt (Zap)

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The Wilkes-Barre native played a reporter in 1997's Letters From a Killer, starring Patrick Swayze. She has scored several other small roles in movies and television shows, which, coupled with her 1996 appearance in Playboy, make Hollitt one of the more ubiquitous American Gladiators. She runs an online florist business from her personal Web site, rayehollitt.com, which is borderline NSFW and states: "Sex, drugs, rock and roll....Isn't that part of life. Well, it was for me!" At one point, Hollitt hosted a women's strength competition called Radiant Pro at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. The overall winner received $3,500.

5. Dan Clark (Nitro)

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The former San Jose State standout defensive lineman announced the plans to revive American Gladiators during a chat on ESPN.com in 2007. For more than five years, Clark has been a mentor in the Young Story Tellers Foundation, an organization dedicated to increasing literacy among inner city youths. Born in Toma, Japan, Clark was a contestant on Ty Murray's Celebrity Bullriding Challenge on CMT, riding for 8 seconds with a strained groin during one episode. He also appeared on Walker, Texas Ranger and his voice is featured in the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Want to know more about Clark's life? Visit his MySpace page here.

6. Cheryl Barldinger (Sunny)

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Barldinger is like the Chicago Blackhawks of this original six in that she kind of disappeared after suffering an injury during her first and only season. A post on an American Gladiators message board indicated that she recently worked as a spokeswoman for Up-time Nutrition.

Did anyone catch tonight's relaunch of the American Gladiators franchise? What'd you think?

Scott Allen is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
A Chinese Museum Is Offering Cash to Whoever Can Decipher These 3000-Year-Old Inscriptions

During the 19th century, farmers in China’s Henan Province began discovering oracle bones—engraved ox scapulae and tortoise shells used by Shang Dynasty leaders for record-keeping and divination purposes—while plowing their fields. More bones were excavated in subsequent years, and their inscriptions were revealed to be the earliest known form of systematic writing in East Asia. But over the decades, scholars still haven’t come close to cracking half of the mysterious script’s roughly 5000 characters—which is why one Chinese museum is asking member of the public for help, in exchange for a generous cash reward.

As Atlas Obscura reports, the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan Province has offered to pay citizen researchers about $15,000 for each unknown character translated, and $7500 if they provide a disputed character’s definitive meaning. Submissions must be supported with evidence, and reviewed by at least two language specialists.

The museum began farming out their oracle bone translation efforts in Fall 2016. The costly ongoing project has hit a stalemate, and scholars hope that the public’s collective smarts—combined with new advances in technology, including cloud computing and big data—will yield new information and save them research money.

As of today, more than 200,000 oracle bones have been discovered—around 50,000 of which bear text—so scholars still have a lot to learn about the Shang Dynasty. Many of the ancient script's characters are difficult to verify, as they represent places and people from long ago. However, decoding even just one character could lead to a substantial breakthrough, experts say: "If we interpret a noun or a verb, it can bring many scripts on oracle bones to life, and we can understand ancient history better,” Chinese history professor Zhu Yanmin told the South China Morning Post.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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6 Eponyms Named After the Wrong Person
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Salmonella species growing on agar.

Having something named after you is the ultimate accomplishment for any inventor, mathematician, scientist, or researcher. Unfortunately, the credit for an invention or discovery does not always go to the correct person—senior colleagues sometimes snatch the glory, fakers pull the wool over people's eyes, or the fickle general public just latches onto the wrong name.

1. SALMONELLA (OR SMITHELLA?)

In 1885, while investigating common livestock diseases at the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington, D.C., pathologist Theobald Smith first isolated the salmonella bacteria in pigs suffering from hog cholera. Smith’s research finally identified the bacteria responsible for one of the most common causes of food poisoning in humans. Unfortunately, Smith’s limelight-grabbing supervisor, Daniel E. Salmon, insisted on taking sole credit for the discovery. As a result, the bacteria was named after him. Don’t feel too sorry for Theobald Smith, though: He soon emerged from Salmon’s shadow, going on to make the important discovery that ticks could be a vector in the spread of disease, among other achievements.

2. AMERICA (OR COLUMBIANA?)

An etching of Amerigo Vespucci
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451–1512) claimed to have made numerous voyages to the New World, the first in 1497, before Columbus. Textual evidence suggests Vespucci did take part in a number of expeditions across the Atlantic, but generally does not support the idea that he set eyes on the New World before Columbus. Nevertheless, Vespucci’s accounts of his voyages—which today read as far-fetched—were hugely popular and translated into many languages. As a result, when German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller was drawing his map of the Novus Mundi (or New World) in 1507 he marked it with the name "America" in Vespucci’s honor. He later regretted the choice, omitting the name from future maps, but it was too late, and the name stuck.

3. BLOOMERS (OR MILLERS?)

A black and white image of young women wearing bloomers
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dress reform became a big issue in mid-19th century America, when women were restricted by long, heavy skirts that dragged in the mud and made any sort of physical activity difficult. Women’s rights activist Elizabeth Smith Miller was inspired by traditional Turkish dress to begin wearing loose trousers gathered at the ankle underneath a shorter skirt. Miller’s new outfit immediately caused a splash, with some decrying it as scandalous and others inspired to adopt the garb.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was editor of the women’s temperance journal The Lily, and she took to copying Miller’s style of dress. She was so impressed with the new freedom it gave her that she began promoting the “reform dress” in her magazine, printing patterns so others might make their own. Bloomer sported the dress when she spoke at events and soon the press began to associate the outfit with her, dubbing it “Bloomer’s costume.” The name stuck.

4. GUILLOTINE (OR LOUISETTE?)

Execution machines had been known prior to the French Revolution, but they were refined after Paris physician and politician Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin suggested they might be a more humane form of execution than the usual methods (hanging, burning alive, etc.). The first guillotine was actually designed by Dr. Antoine Louis, Secretary of the Academy of Surgery, and was known as a louisette. The quick and efficient machine was quickly adopted as the main method of execution in revolutionary France, and as the bodies piled up the public began to refer to it as la guillotine, for the man who first suggested its use. Guillotin was very distressed at the association, and when he died in 1814 his family asked the French government to change the name of the hated machine. The government refused and so the family changed their name instead to escape the dreadful association.

5. BECHDEL TEST (OR WALLACE TEST?)

Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Bechdel Test is a tool to highlight gender inequality in film, television, and fiction. The idea is that in order to pass the test, the movie, show, or book in question must include at least one scene in which two women have a conversation that isn’t about a man. The test was popularized by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and has since become known by her name. However, Bechdel asserts that the idea originated with her friend Lisa Wallace (and was also inspired by the writer Virginia Woolf), and she would prefer for it to be known as the Bechdel-Wallace test.

6. STIGLER’S LAW OF EPONYMY (OR MERTON’S LAW?)

Influential sociologist Robert K. Merton suggested the idea of the “Matthew Effect” in a 1968 paper noting that senior colleagues who are already famous tend to get the credit for their junior colleagues’ discoveries. (Merton named his phenomenon [PDF] after the parable of talents in the Gospel of Matthew, in which wise servants invest money their master has given them.)

Merton was a well-respected academic, and when he was due to retire in 1979, a book of essays celebrating his work was proposed. One person who contributed an essay was University of Chicago professor of statistics Stephen Stigler, who had corresponded with Merton about his ideas. Stigler decided to pen an essay that celebrated and proved Merton’s theory. As a result, he took Merton’s idea and created Stigler’s Law of Eponymy, which states that “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer”—the joke being that Stigler himself was taking Merton’s own theory and naming it after himself. To further prove the rule, the “new” law has been adopted by the academic community, and a number of papers and articles have since been written on "Stigler’s Law."

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