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How Ex-Vice Presidents Made Ends Meet

Now that Dick Cheney is winding down his second term as one of the more controversial Vice Presidents of the United States, what next? The post-White House lives of presidents have been intensely scrutinized, but what becomes of former vice presidents? Here's what happened to a few notable ones:

1. John C. Breckenridge, The Confederacy's Secretary of War

Breckenridge, who served under James Buchanan from 1857 to 1861, didn't rest on his laurels after his stint as VP. Instead, the Kentuckian became a United States Senator on the same day he left office. This arrangement didn't last long, though; in December of that year the Senate expelled Breckenridge for supporting the Confederacy. He then joined the Confederate States Army, where he rose to the rank of Major General and fought in several major conflicts, including the Battle of Shiloh. In 1865 he became the Confederacy's Secretary of War. After the Civil War, Breckenridge returned home to Kentucky and resumed his work as a lawyer.

2. Dan Quayle, I-Banker/Author

standing-firm.jpgAfter his stint as George H.W. Bush's second in command, Quayle returned to the private sector, most notably investment banking. He's the chairman of an international division of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private equity firm, and also spent a couple of years as a professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Quayle also made his mark as a writer by penning three books, including Standing Firm: A Vice Presidential Memoir, which spent 15 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, in addition to writing a nationally syndicated column.

His political record since leaving the vice presidential residence at Number One Observatory Circle has been less rosy, though. He supposedly mulled running for governor in both his home state of Indiana in 1996 and in Arizona, where he now resides, in 2002. Both times he ultimately kept his hat out of the ring, but he did make one real campaign attempt for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2000 election. Quayle's effort didn't last long, though. At the Ames Straw poll in August 1999, he came in a dismal 8th place and quickly scrapped his campaign.

3. John Nance Garner, FDR's VP & Opponent

Many Vice Presidents are probably appreciative that their running mate helped bring them to Washington. John Nance Garner wasn't one of them, though. Although he served as Franklin Roosevelt's Vice President during FDR's first two terms, Garner didn't always agree with the New Deal's policies. Some Democratic Party leaders agreed with Garner and convinced him to run for the presidency in 1940. Garner might have had a chance at winning the Democratic nomination if his boss hadn't decided to run for a third term. Garner, undeterred, decided to gun for FDR's job anyway. Roosevelt hammered Garner in the primaries and thumped him 946-61 in the balloting for the nomination at the Democratic Convention. Although Garner obviously couldn't return to his VP post, he maintained his role in the party by offering advice to sitting Democratic leaders until his death when he was nearly 99 years old.

4. Henry Wallace, Agriculture Pioneer

Garner's successor as Roosevelt's VP had an interesting post-Washington career, too. Wallace, who had previously served as Secretary of Agriculture under Roosevelt, returned to his farm in South Salem, New York, and started trying to develop new breakthroughs in agriculture science. In addition to pioneering hybrid corn, he also co-authored a history of the grain, Corn and Its Early Fathers. Wallace was most focused, though, on creating the "perfect chicken." He may have succeeded; as late as 1990 nearly half of the eggs consumed worldwide were from Wallace's new breed.

5. Thomas A. Hendricks, Coin Legend

Grover Cleveland's running mate in the 1884 served a fairly short term in office. He took office on March 4, 1885 and then fell ill in November of the same year. Hendricks quickly passed away, but he lives on in the hearts of coin collectors everywhere. He's the only Vice President who didn't later serve as President to have his likeness on American paper money, the 1886 $10 silver certificate.

6. Schuyler Colfax, Traveling Lecturer

Colfax, who had formerly been Speaker of the House, served as Vice President during Ulysses S. Grant's first term in office, but his stint as VP didn't end so well. Colfax got caught up in the Credit Mobilier scandal, a convoluted bit of graft that involved Congressmen granting subsidies to railroads in exchange for the right to buy cheap shares of stock. Colfax may have left office in shame, but he bounced back nicely and spent his last years as a traveling lecturer. Unfortunately, this lecturing also proved fatal to him: Colfax had to walk just under a mile in -30 degree weather in 1885 to make a train connection for a lecture. Colfax made it to the depot, but the terribly cold weather brought on a fatal heart attack.

7. Aaron Burr, Hamilton's Slayer

burr-duel.jpg

Aaron Burr's vice presidency was perhaps the most unusual example in American history. Burr ran with Thomas Jefferson in 1800, and in doing so helped accentuate one of the flaws in the Constitution.
According to the original Constitution, members of the Electoral College cast two votes, and whoever got the second-most votes became Vice President. Jefferson and Burr's Democratic-Republican Party had figured out the best way to vote to put the two candidates in their respective offices. Something got seriously screwed up, though, and Jefferson and Burr ended up tied with 73 votes apiece. Although Congress eventually voted Jefferson into the presidency, Jefferson didn't quite trust Burr any longer, and he never really regained his footing within the administration.

After Jefferson declined to put Burr on his ticket in 1804, Burr ran unsuccessfully for governor in New York. Burr felt his old rival Alexander Hamilton was responsible for this loss, and while still serving as Vice President, famously killed Hamilton in a duel in New Jersey.

Shooting a key founding father in a duel would have ended the careers of many politicians, but Burr decided to up the ante. Instead, Burr, along with General James Wilkinson, hatched an absurdly ambitious plan to launch a military attack on Mexico, where he hoped to establish an independent country. Unfortunately, Wilkinson realized this plan was doomed and tipped off President Jefferson about what Burr was up to. Although Burr beat a treason rap for plotting the war (partially thanks to the fleet-footed legal work of his lawyer, Henry Clay), he became a much-vilified character in the U.S. He fled to Europe for four years, where he supposedly tried to talk Napoleon into invading Florida with him, and died relatively penniless in 1836.

8. Hubert H. Humphrey, Encyclopedia Man

Lyndon B. Johnson's Vice President made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1968, at which point he returned home to Minnesota to serve as a professor. Humphrey held a more unusual job after leaving Washington, though; he was also chairman of the Encyclopaedia Britannica's board of consultants. Humphrey eventually got back into the political game, though, and in 1971 went back to the Senate for seven more years until his death.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 


PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios

"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole

How Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad Was Almost Canceled

More than 30 years ago, Apple defined the Super Bowl commercial as a cultural phenomenon. Prior to Super Bowl XVIII, nobody watched the game "just for the commercials"—but one epic TV spot, directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott, changed all that. Read on for the inside story of the commercial that rocked the world of advertising, even though Apple's Board of Directors didn't want to run it at all.

THE AD

If you haven't seen it, here's a fuzzy YouTube version:

"WHY 1984 WON'T BE LIKE 1984"

The tagline "Why 1984 Won't Be Like '1984'" references George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984, which envisioned a dystopian future, controlled by a televised "Big Brother." The tagline was written by Brent Thomas and Steve Hayden of the ad firm Chiat\Day in 1982, and the pair tried to sell it to various companies (including Apple, for the Apple II computer) but were turned down repeatedly. When Steve Jobs heard the pitch in 1983, he was sold—he saw the Macintosh as a "revolutionary" product, and wanted advertising to match. Jobs saw IBM as Big Brother, and wanted to position Apple as the world's last chance to escape IBM's domination of the personal computer industry. The Mac was scheduled to launch in late January of 1984, a week after the Super Bowl. IBM already held the nickname "Big Blue," so the parallels, at least to Jobs, were too delicious to miss.

Thomas and Hayden wrote up the story of the ad: we see a world of mind-controlled, shuffling men all in gray, staring at a video screen showing the face of Big Brother droning on about "information purification directives." A lone woman clad in vibrant red shorts and a white tank-top (bearing a Mac logo) runs from riot police, dashing up an aisle towards Big Brother. Just before being snatched by the police, she flings a sledgehammer at Big Brother's screen, smashing him just after he intones "We shall prevail!" Big Brother's destruction frees the minds of the throng, who quite literally see the light, flooding their faces now that the screen is gone. A mere eight seconds before the one-minute ad concludes, a narrator briefly mentions the word "Macintosh," in a restatement of that original tagline: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'" An Apple logo is shown, and then we're out—back to the game.

In 1983, in a presentation about the Mac, Jobs introduced the ad to a cheering audience of Apple employees:

"... It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

After seeing the ad for the first time, the Apple audience totally freaked out (jump to about the 5-minute mark to witness the riotous cheering).

SKINHEADS, A DISCUS THROWER, AND A SCI-FI DIRECTOR

Chiat\Day hired Ridley Scott, whose 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner had the dystopian tone they were looking for (and Alien wasn't so bad either). Scott filmed the ad in London, using actual skinheads playing the mute bald men—they were paid $125 a day to sit and stare at Big Brother; those who still had hair were paid to shave their heads for the shoot. Anya Major, a discus thrower and actress, was cast as the woman with the sledgehammer largely because she was actually capable of wielding the thing.

Mac programmer Andy Hertzfeld wrote an Apple II program "to flash impressive looking numbers and graphs on [Big Brother's] screen," but it's unclear whether his program was used for the final film. The ad cost a shocking $900,000 to film, plus Apple booked two premium slots during the Super Bowl to air it—carrying an airtime cost of more than $1 million.

WHAT EXECUTIVES AT APPLE THOUGHT

Although Jobs and his marketing team (plus the assembled throng at his 1983 internal presentation) loved the ad, Apple's Board of Directors hated it. After seeing the ad for the first time, board member Mike Markkula suggested that Chiat\Day be fired, and the remainder of the board were similarly unimpressed. Then-CEO John Sculley recalled the reaction after the ad was screened for the group: "The others just looked at each other, dazed expressions on their faces ... Most of them felt it was the worst commercial they had ever seen. Not a single outside board member liked it." Sculley instructed Chiat\Day to sell off the Super Bowl airtime they had purchased, but Chiat\Day principal Jay Chiat quietly resisted. Chiat had purchased two slots—a 60-second slot in the third quarter to show the full ad, plus a 30-second slot later on to repeat an edited-down version. Chiat sold only the 30-second slot and claimed it was too late to sell the longer one. By disobeying his client's instructions, Chiat cemented Apple's place in advertising history.

When Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak heard that the ad was in trouble, he offered to pony up half the airtime costs himself, saying, "I asked how much it was going to cost, and [Steve Jobs] told me $800,000. I said, 'Well, I'll pay half of it if you will.' I figured it was a problem with the company justifying the expenditure. I thought an ad that was so great a piece of science fiction should have its chance to be seen."

But Woz didn't have to shell out the money; the executive team finally decided to run a 100-day advertising extravaganza for the Mac's launch, starting with the Super Bowl ad—after all, they had already paid to shoot it and were stuck with the airtime.

1984 - Big Brother

WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE THOUGHT

When the ad aired, controversy erupted—viewers either loved or hated the ad, and it spurred a wave of media coverage that involved news shows replaying the ad as part of covering it, leading to estimates of an additional $5 million in "free" airtime for the ad. All three national networks, plus countless local markets, ran news stories about the ad. "1984" become a cultural event, and served as a blueprint for future Apple product launches. The marketing logic was brilliantly simple: create an ad campaign that sparked controversy (for example, by insinuating that IBM was like Big Brother), and the media will cover your launch for free, amplifying the message.

The full ad famously ran once during the Super Bowl XVIII (on January 22, 1984), but it also ran the month prior—on December 31, 1983, TV station operator Tom Frank ran the ad on KMVT at the last possible time slot before midnight, in order to qualify for 1983's advertising awards.* (Any awards the ad won would mean more media coverage.) Apple paid to screen the ad in movie theaters before movie trailers, further heightening anticipation for the Mac launch. In addition to all that, the 30-second version was aired across the country after its debut on the Super Bowl.

Chiat\Day adman Steve Hayden recalled: "We ran a 30- second version of '1984' in the top 10 U.S. markets, plus, in an admittedly childish move, in an 11th market—Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters for IBM's PC division." Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld ended his remembrance of the ad by saying:

"A week after the Macintosh launch, Apple held its January board meeting. The Macintosh executive staff was invited to attend, not knowing what to expect. When the Mac people entered the room, everyone on the board rose and gave them a standing ovation, acknowledging that they were wrong about the commercial and congratulating the team for pulling off a fantastic launch.

Chiat\Day wanted the commercial to qualify for upcoming advertising awards, so they ran it once at 1 AM at a small television station in Twin Falls, Idaho, KMVT, on December 15, 1983 [incorrect; see below for an update on this -ed]. And sure enough it won just about every possible award, including best commercial of the decade. Twenty years later it's considered one of the most memorable television commercials ever made."

THE AWFUL 1985 FOLLOW-UP

A year later, Apple again employed Chiat\Day to make a blockbuster ad for their Macintosh Office product line, which was basically a file server, networking gear, and a laser printer. Directed by Ridley Scott's brother Tony, the new ad was called "Lemmings," and featured blindfolded businesspeople whistling an out-of-tune version of Snow White's "Heigh-Ho" as they followed each other off a cliff (referencing the myth of lemming suicide).

Jobs and Sculley didn't like the ad, but Chiat\Day convinced them to run it, pointing out that the board hadn't liked the last ad either. But unlike the rousing, empowering message of the "1984" ad, "Lemmings" directly insulted business customers who had already bought IBM computers. It was also weirdly boring—when it was aired at the Super Bowl (with Jobs and Sculley in attendance), nobody really reacted. The ad was a flop, and Apple even proposed running a printed apology in The Wall Street Journal. Jay Chiat shot back, saying that if Apple apologized, Chiat would buy an ad on the next page, apologizing for the apology. It was a mess:

20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

In 2004, the ad was updated for the launch of the iPod. The only change was that the woman with the hammer was now listening to an iPod, which remained clipped to her belt as she ran. You can watch that version too:

FURTHER READING

Chiat\Day adman Lee Clow gave an interview about the ad, covering some of this material.

Check out Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld's excellent first-person account of the ad. A similar account (but with more from Jobs's point of view) can found in the Steve Jobs biography, and an even more in-depth account is in The Mac Bathroom Reader. The Mac Bathroom Reader is out of print; you can read an excerpt online, including QuickTime movies of the two versions of the ad, plus a behind-the-scenes video. Finally, you might enjoy this 2004 USA Today article about the ad, pointing out that ads for other computers (including Atari, Radio Shack, and IBM's new PCjr) also ran during that Super Bowl.

* = A Note on the Airing in 1983

Update: Thanks to Tom Frank for writing in to correct my earlier mis-statement about the first air date of this commercial. As you can see in his comment below, Hertzfeld's comments above (and the dates cited in other accounts I've seen) are incorrect. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Frank, in which we discuss what it was like running both "1984" and "Lemmings" before they were on the Super Bowl!

Update 2: You can read the story behind this post in Chris's book The Blogger Abides.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

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