The Quick 10: How 10 Celebrities Were Discovered

You always hear those amazing stories about how celebrities were discovered - they're just standing in line at the bank or sipping a milkshake at the drugstore, and next thing you know, they're making millions at the box office and living in the lap of luxury. Here are a few of those nobody-to-supernova stories.

1. Charlize Theron. This is our "standing in line at the bank" story. Charlize was trying to cash a check from her mother, who was in South Africa, but the L.A. bank refused to honor the international check. Charlize pitched a fit of epic proportions, really letting the bank teller have it. As luck would have it, an agent was in line behind her and was impressed by her passionate "performance." Although she later fired him because he kept sending her scripts for films like Showgirls, it was the break she needed.

2. Janet Leigh. Janet's parents worked at a ski resort in Northern California. Norma Shearer was staying at the resort, stopped into Mr. Morrison's office and spotted the picture of young Jeanette on her proud father's desk. She took the photo to agent Lew Wasserman. She later explained, "That smile made it the most fascinating face I had seen in years. I felt I had to show that face to somebody at the studio."

3. Tippi Hedren. Speaking of Hitchcock girls, Tippi Hedren went from diet soda to Bodega Bay thanks to Hitch. He spotted her in an ad for a diet drink called Sego and made the conscious decision that he wanted to make her into the next Grace Kelly. Prior to that, though, she was "discovered" getting out of a cab in Minneapolis by a woman scouting for modeling agencies, which led to a few small ads and commercials like the Sego ad.

4. Luther Vandross was already in the business when he was discovered by David Bowie. Luther had been making a modest living singing jingles and doing backup vocals for Chaka Khan, Bette Midler and Robert Flack. He was working on one of those latter jobs and was messing around with some arrangements in a recording studio in Philly when Bowie overheard him and invited him to work on his Young Americans album. It was his first big recording break.

5. Pamela Anderson. She was merely enjoying herself at a British Columbia Lions football game when her Labatt beer t-shirt-clad self was broadcast on the Jumbotron. People loved her and her photographer boyfriend produced a bunch of posters with her likeness on it. Labatt's ended up buying 1,000 of the posters to keep up with consumer demand. Anderson appeared in her first Playboy the same year and the rest is history.

6. Natalie Portman was just an 11-year-old girl enjoying some pizza in Long Island when a Revlon talent scout spotted her with marinara sauce smeared on her face. OK, I made that part up - as far as I know, Natalie's face was perfectly clean. But she was at a pizzeria, and the scout signed her to a modeling contract. After a couple of years of modeling, Natalie thought she would try branching out into acting just to try something different. She landed her first role in The Professional when she was just 13.

7. John Wayne was once just Marion Morrison, a guy loading props into a truck on the backlot of a film studio. Actor Tom Mix had gotten young Marion the summer job in exchange for USC football tickets - Morrison played there under coach Howard Jones. When director Raoul Walsh saw Morrison hard at work, he decided to cast him in a bit part in one of his films. The bit parts grew, and now John Wayne is one of the most iconic actors to ever grace the silver screen.

8. Peter Mayhew. That's Chewbacca to those of us who aren't huge Star Wars fans. Sometimes just having a distinctive build is enough to get noticed - Mayhew, an orderly, was featured in a silly newspaper article about men with gigantic feet. Not only did he have huge feet, at 7'3", he towered over the other man in the picture. The producer of the movie Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger saw the picture and just happened to need an extremely tall man to play the minotaur in his movie and cast him.

9. Lana Turner. Maybe this isn't a lesson you want to pass on to your kids, but sometimes skipping class pays off. Fifteen-year-old Judy (really Julia Jean, but she went by Judy) skipped her typing class at Hollywood High School and went to hang out at the Top Hat Cafe. She was spotted there by the publisher of The Hollywood Reporter, who referred her to actor and agent Zeppo Marx. Marx signed her and she had her first film role in 1937.
10. Will Smith. Maybe he's working on an album, but I'd say the Fresh Prince is more of an actor than a rapper these days. He had already made his name alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff and stopped a car in the Universal Studios parking lot to get directions to a nearby arena. The guy he stopped happened to be Benny Medina, who knew of Smith and thought his story would make a great sitcom. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - and Smith's acting career - was born.

Do you know of any other in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time success stories?

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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