The Quick 10: 10 Mad Hatters

You may have already heard that Johnny Depp's surprise appearance to promote Alice in Wonderland at ComicCon has been the talk of the convention (video at the bottom of the story, if you haven't seen it). As a big fan of Burton/Depp collaborations, I have to say, I'm pretty amped to see the movie. But Depp is hardly the first to play the crazy chapeau creator - here are 10 other portrayals of the man who have donned the 10/6 Hat and asked "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

tenniel1. Theophilus Carter, maybe. He's one of the men speculated to have inspired Lewis Carroll's original Hatter. He does seem slightly eccentric - he invented an alarm clock that he exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London; at the designated time, the alarm clock tipped the sleeper out into a tub of cold water. After that he turned his attentions to furniture and cabinetry and operated a store on Oxford Street for nearly 20 years. It was here that he developed the habit of standing in the doorway with his top hat on, which is turn is said to have inspired Mr. Carroll. There's never been any proof, although many who knew the man said the John Tenniel engravings in the original book were near-perfect likenesses of Carter.

2. Ed Wynn. Wynn voiced the Mad Hatter for the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. You might recognize him from some of his other famous roles, though, including a couple of very memorable Twilight Zone episodes and as giggly Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins. The voice Wynn used for the Mad Hatter and other similar characters was called "The Perfect Fool" and has been much imitated ever since - ever notice that Wally Gator sounds suspiciously like the lispy, sputtering Hatter? That's because Daws Butler was doing an impression of Ed Wynn.

3. David Wayne. Wayne portrayed a disturbed genius named Jervis Tetch in the old Batman series (Tetch was in the comic books too, of course). His weapon of choice? His top hat, of course - when he took it off of his head, a set of hypnotic eyes appeared that would shoot a mind-controlling beam at the person staring into them.

americanmcgee4. Andrew Chaikin. In American McGee's Alice, a super-creepy computer game I own but haven't found the time to play (dangit), the Mad Hatter has completely and totally lost whatever shred of sanity he had previously been clinging to. He's now a mad scientist and has transformed the March Hare and the Dormouse into half-animal, half-robotic beings with gears and clockwork pieces sticking out of their bodies. We eventually find out that he has made himself into a cyborg as well. Chaikin provided the voice for this tall, thin, green version of the Hatter.

5. Martin Short. In a 1999 made-for-T.V. movie, the SCTV alum took over the famous role. His head was digitally enhanced to appear about three times bigger than normal so his portrayal would match Tenniel's illustrations. The rest of the cast included Tina Majorino as Alice, Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat (her head and voice, anyway "“ the rest was puppetry and CGI), Robbie Coltrane as Tweedledum, George Wendt as Tweedledee, Gene Wilder as the Mock Turtle and Miranda Richardson as the Queen of Hearts.

6. Anthony Newley. In another made-for-T.V. movie, this one from 1985, British singer and actor Anthony Newley stepped into the top hat. If you think the 1999 version was star-studded, check out this one:

"¢ Red Buttons as the White Rabbit
"¢ Sherman Hemsley as the mouse
"¢ Shelley Winters as the Dodo Bird
"¢ Scott Baio as the Pig
"¢ Sammy Davis, Jr., as the Caterpillar
"¢ Imogene Coca as the Cook
"¢ Telly Savalas as the Cheshire Cat
"¢ Roddy McDowall as the March Hare
"¢ Arte Johnson as the Dormouse
"¢ Jayne Meadows as the Queen of Hearts
"¢ Sid Caesar as the Gryphon
"¢ Ringo Starr as the Mock Turtle
"¢ Harvey Korman as the White King
"¢ Carol Channing as the White Queen
"¢ Merv Griffin as the conductor
"¢ Ann Jillian as the Red Queen
"¢ Pat Morita as the Horse
"¢ John Stamos as the messenger
"¢ Jonathan Winters as Humpty Dumpty

I think I just might have to add that one to the Netflix queue!

petty27. Tom Petty. The video for "Don't Come Around Here No More" came out in 1985, but it must have been in somewhat regular rotation in the early "˜90s when I was really into VH1 and MTV, because that video terrified me. I can't embed it, but you can check it out here to see how it might have given a little girl the willies. I think what really did the trick is when Alice somehow turns into a cake and they slice her up and eat her alive (3:58 or so, if you don't want to watch the rest of it). I guess I wasn't the only one who was disturbed "“ people protested because they thought the ending was glorifying violence against women, and as a result, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers filmed a different ending. Either way, Tom Petty was a pretty good Mad Hatter.

8. Edward Everett Horton's portrayal of the Hatter goes all the way back to 1933. His trademark was his quavering voice and fretful personality, so he was a natural choice for the character. The film was expected to be a smash hit at the box office "“ the lineup was full of stars and they released it just a year after what would have been Lewis Carroll's 100th birthday, but, sadly, it was a flop. Studio execs later decided that the reason the movie did so badly is because all of its top-tier celebrities were so obscured under tons of makeup and elaborate costumes. Although you may not know Horton's name, you've probably seen or heard him somewhere "“ he has been in everything from I Love Lucy to Rocky and Bullwinkle (he was the narrator for "Fractured Fairy Tales") to F Troop to Batman.

steventyler9. Steven Tyler is another rocker who picked up the top hat for a music video. For Aerosmith's 2001 song "Sunshine" from the Just Push Play album, Tyler plays a jewel-toned, cracked-out Hatter with an affinity for Siouxsie Sioux's eye makeup. And if it seems like this is a strange choice for a song called "Sunshine," consider that LSD is sometimes referred to as such.
10. Sir Robert Helpmann played the Mad Hatter in the 1972 musical version of Alice. Helpmann had been a staple on Broadway and in various dance tours (including Anna Pavlova's troupe) for decades; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland came kind of in the twilight of his career. In this particular production, Michael Crawford played the White Rabbit, Peter Sellers was the March Hare and Dudley Moore was the Dormouse (kind of perfect, don't you think?)

And, as promised, the video of Johnny's surprise visit to ComicCon:

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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