CLOSE
Original image

Ho-Ho-Ho: The People Behind 4 More Famous Sounds

Original image

On Tuesday, David Israel introduced us to the people behind 10 famous disembodied voices. Today let's put names and faces to four more seemingly anonymous sounds.

1. Ho-Ho-Ho

Three little words paved the road to higher education for two young girls. Those words were, simply, "Ho-ho-ho." No, we're not talking about Santa Claus. We are speaking of the Jolly Green Giant, who was named by Advertising Age magazine as the third most recognizable advertising icon of the 20th century (after Tony the Tiger and the Marlboro Man). Baritone singer Elmer "Len" Dresslar, Jr. stepped into a Chicago recording studio in 1959, sang his "ho-ho-ho" and left. "I'm the king of minimalists," he would later say in an interview. Dresslar recorded 15 albums with the jazz group Singers Unlimited and appeared in a touring production of South Pacific. He also provided the voices for "Snap" of Rice Krispies fame, and Dig "˜Em frog. It was also his deep voice that admonished listeners "When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer." But it was his Jolly Green Giant work that was beamed into households for 40-some years, earning him hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties every year. His elder daughter, Teri Bennett, said at the time of his death (at the age of 80) that her father never got tired of "ho-ho"-ing for fans. "If nothing else, it put my sister and I through college," she added.

2. Snap, snap

snap-snapVic Mizzy is something of a legend when it comes to TV and film music; he's the man responsible for both the Green Acres theme and the spooky organ theme from the Don Knotts film The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. But his most popular composition is also the one song in which the audience actually hears him - The Addams Family theme. Filmways was operating on a very tight budget, so Mizzy ended up not only composing the tune, but also singing it. (He recorded his vocals on three separate tracks and then blended them together in the final mix.) Once the song was in the can, it came time to film the opening credits. Mizzy approached director Sidney Lanfield and explained his vision of close-ups of the various cast member snapping their fingers. He mentioned that a "click track" (the steady beat of a metronome on tape) would be required so that the actors could snap on cue. Lanfield basically replied, "What do I know from click tracks? Do it yourself." So Mizzy ended up directing the opening scenes where the cast members stared impassively at the camera while snapping their fingers as prompted.

3. The Partridge Family Drummer (not Chris 1 or Chris 2)

blaineYou cannot deny that "I Think I Love You" is a pretty catchy song. Even though a disclaimer in the end credits of each Partridge Family episode noted that the music featured on the show was augmented by other musicians, I always pictured little Chris Partridge pounding the skins on the group's hits. Peek behind the scenes, however, and you'll find session drummer Hal Blaine. And for those who dismiss the Partridge Family songs as disposable "bubblegum," the musicians involved were strictly A-list. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Blaine has played drums on a vast array of hits including Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night," Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" and Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were."

4. All Hits, All the Time!

PAMSRadio station ID jingles gained popularity in the early 1950s, when stations were still broadcasting live and had in-house singers and orchestras to perform local advertisements. Around that same time, the company that would eventually become Arbitron started compiling audience ratings for radio stations. Statistics showed that stations needed to frequently announce themselves in order to keep their name/dial position in the listener's mind. Bill Meeks, who worked for KLIF in Dallas, came up with the concept of having the studio singers and musicians perform a musical station identification, and the radio jingle was born. Meeks went on to form Production Advertising Marketing Service (PAMS) in Dallas, which provided customized jingles for radio stations. Eventually several competing companies opened up in the area (yep, the hotbed of the radio jingle business is not Los Angeles or New York, but the Lone Star state), and most all of them have utilized the Johnny Mann Singers at one time or another. They are a group of studio professionals who know the difference between a "shotgun," a jock-name jingle, and a Pepper. The faces (not that you've ever seen them) have changed over the years, but their voices can still be heard on Adult Contemporary and Oldies stations across the country.

twitterbanner.jpg

shirts-555.jpg

tshirtsubad_static-11.jpg

Original image
IFC Films
arrow
entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
Original image
IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

Original image
Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images
arrow
Space
NASA Is Posting Hundreds of Retro Flight Research Videos on YouTube
Original image
Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images

If you’re interested in taking a tour through NASA history, head over to the YouTube page of the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, in southern California. According to Motherboard, the agency is in the middle of posting hundreds of rare aircraft videos dating back to the 1940s.

In an effort to open more of its archives to the public, NASA plans to upload 500 historic films to YouTube over the next few months. More than 300 videos have been published so far, and they range from footage of a D-558 Skystreak jet being assembled in 1947 to a clip of the first test flight of an inflatable-winged plane in 2001. Other highlights include the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final flight over Los Angeles and a controlled crash of a Boeing 720 jet.

The research footage was available to the public prior to the mass upload, but viewers had to go through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the research center’s website to see them. The current catalogue on YouTube is much easier to browse through, with clear playlist categories like supersonic aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. You can get a taste of what to expect from the page in the sample videos below.

[h/t Motherboard]

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios