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The Quick 10: People With the Same Names

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The inspiration for today's Quick 10 comes from mental_floss collaborator A.J. Jacobs. I recently read his book The Know It All: One Man's Humble Quest to become the Smartest Person in the World. He noted the George Harrison connection, and for some reason I knew the Jack Black connection. Thus, a post was born. Enjoy!

blacks1. Jack Black the actor (one of my favorites, I must say "“ I'm a big Tenacious D fan) shares his name with a famous rat catcher from London. The other JB was Queen Victoria's personal rat catcher and nearly died on many occasions due to infection from his numerous rat bites. He didn't kill them all, though "“ when he caught unusually-colored rats, he would keep them and breed them as pets. Queen Victoria even had a couple of pet rats, and it's thought that Beatrix Potter bought rats from Jack Black as well. The full name of Jables, by the way, is actually Thomas John Black, so technically the two of them don't share a name at all. Sorry to start this post with a farce.

2. George Harrison the Beatle shares his name with George Harrison the organ designer. He's known for creating organs with best tonal design ever. An example of his work is the organ at the Morman Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. So, this George Harrison probably isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he definitely made some major contributions to music, too.

3. David Jones, AKA Davy Jones of the Monkees, shares his name with David Jones, AKA David Bowie. Since Davy Jones was famous first, David Jones changed his name to David Bowie to avoid confusion. I completely understand that; it would be super embarrassing to be onstage as Ziggy Stardust and having people shout, "DO DAYDREAM BELIEVER!!" at you. There's also David Jones the scientist (he studied aluminum) and David Jones the writer (The Anathemata). Actually, there are a lot of David Joneses, but I'll just stop there.

4. Likewise, there are lots of semi-famous William Baileys. There's Bill Bailey the English comedian, two major league baseball player Bill Baileys, Bill Bailey the dancer, Bill Bailey the Spanish Civil War Veteran and Will Bailey from the West Wing. But I'd be willing to bet that the most famous William Bailey (to most of us, anyway) is the William Bailey who is actually Axl Rose. He was born as William Bruce Rose, Jr., but when his mom remarried L. Stephen Bailey, she changed little Axl's last name, too.

5. Leslie Hope is a Canadian actress "“ 24 fans might remember her from the first season when she player Teri Bauer. She's been on various other T.V. shows with bit parts here and there. So, it's probably safe to say that the other Leslie Hope is a lot more famous. You just know him better as Bob Hope.

6. Michael Moore, the director/producer of Bowling for Columbine; Fahrenheit 9/11; and Sicko, shares his name with a ton of other somewhat well-known Michael Moores. First, there's Michael Moore the baseball player (he used to be a pitcher who played for the Mariners, the Tigers and the A's). Then there's Michael Moore the evangelist, and Michael Moore the Contemporary Christian musician. And Michael Moore the former New Zealand Prime Minister. And two Michael Moore jazz musicians (one played clarinet and sax, the other played bass). And there's a lot Moore where that came from. Ha.

thomases7. No doubt even people who aren't sports fans know the NBA's Isiah Thomas, formerly of the Pistons. But how about Isaiah Thomas, the revolutionary-era newspaper publisher? He performed the first public reading ever of the Declaration of Independence and was the founder of the American Antiquarian Society. Sounds like these two would have really hit it off.

8. Back on the Jones front, we have Brian Jones the Rolling Stones guitarist, who died at the age of 27 in 1969. However, there's also Brian Jones, the hot air balloonist, who is still alive and co-piloted the first successful, uninterrupted trip around the world in 1999. It took 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes.

9. Growing up in the "˜80s, I'm most familiar with Alfred E. Neuman, the MAD magazine mascot (I used to love the MAD magazine board game). But there's also Alfred Newman the composer, who received 45 Academy Award nominations before his death in 1970. He scored films such as How the West Was Won, Gunga Din, All About Eve and The Greatest Story Ever Told. And yes, the name Newman as a composer should ring a bell "“ he's Randy Newman's uncle. But that's not the only other famous composer in the family "“ two of his brothers, two of his sons and his daughter all did or do write music for the big screen. I'm partial to his son, David Newman, because he composed the music for Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

jacksons10. Michael Jackson. I'll refrain from personal commentary, but needless to say, there's a certain Michael Jackson that jumps to the forefront when you hear that name. But preceding him were Michael Jackson, a Massachusetts soldier injured at Bunker Hill; Michael Jackson, the head of the British army; Michael Jackson, the British software designer and computer scientist; and Michael Jackson, an industry expert in the fields of beer and whisky. That's him in the picture on the left, next to the other MJ.

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Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi
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Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On October 20, 1882—135 years ago today—one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Eighty-five years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?


To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.


The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.


In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.


The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.


The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.   


Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.


It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”


In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]


Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.


The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.


Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956;  he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.


Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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Live Smarter
How to Carve a Pumpkin—And Not Injure Yourself in the Process
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Wielding a sharp knife with slippery hands around open flames and nearby children doesn't sound like the best idea—but that's exactly what millions of Halloween celebrations entail. While pumpkin carving is a fun tradition, it can also bring the risk of serious hand injuries. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), some wounds sustained from pumpkin misadventure can result in surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to minimize trauma. Both ASSH and CTV News have compiled safety tips for pumpkin carvers intended to reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room.

First, it's recommended that carvers tackle their design with knives made specifically for carving. Kitchen knives are sharp and provide a poor grip when trying to puncture tough pumpkin skin: Pumpkin carving knives have slip-resistant handles and aren't quite as sharp, while kitchen knives can get wedged in, requiring force to pull them out.

Carvers should also keep the pumpkin intact while carving, cleaning out the insides later. Why? Once a pumpkin has been gutted, you’re likely to stick your free hand inside to brace it, opening yourself up to an inadvertent stab from your knife hand. When you do open it up, it's better to cut from the bottom: That way, the pumpkin can be lowered over a light source rather than risk a burn dropping one in from the top.

Most importantly, parents would be wise to never let their kids assist in carving without supervision, and should always work in a brightly-lit area. Adults should handle the knife, while children can draw patterns and scoop out innards. According to Consumer Reports, kids ages 10 to 14 tend to suffer the most Halloween-related accidents, so keeping carving duties to ages 14 and above is a safe bet.

If all else fails and your carving has gone awry, have a first aid kit handy and apply pressure to any wound to staunch bleeding. With some common sense, however, it's unlikely your Halloween celebration will turn into a blood sacrifice.

[h/t CTV News]


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