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13 Phenomenal Facts About Juno

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Made for only $6.5 million, Juno defied expectations when it grossed $231 million worldwide and earned four Oscar nominations, including a nod for Best Picture. (It was the first Fox Searchlight film to surpass $100 million at the box office.) Jason Reitman directed Ellen Page as the titular teenager who gets impregnated by her friend, Paulie (Michael Cera). She decides to carry the baby to full term and then adopt it to married couple Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner).

Diablo Cody, a one-time stripper who wrote the 2005 book Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, wrote the screenplay (her first) and won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The film became a pop culture phenomenon, largely because of its strong cast, witty dialogue, catchy soundtrack, and how it depicted teen pregnancy as something positive instead of life-destroying. Here are 13 facts about the hit indie dramedy.

1. THE SCRIPT WAS "DEEPLY PERSONAL" FOR DIABLO CODY.

The scribe based the story on her own life and wanted to tell a story that was “different” from the rest of Hollywood movies. “Juno is like a personal, emotional scavenger hunt for me," Cody told The Telegraph. "I dragged so many of my own experiences into it that I'm shocked the movie is so coherent. I managed to get every person, quirk, and object that has meaning in my life into the script. I wanted to make it deeply personal. I didn't want it to be generic."

2. MICHAEL CERA LIKED THE FORMAT OF THE SCRIPT.

In an interview with Collider, Michael Cera said that one reason he wanted to star in the movie was because the script was written like a book. “I remember certain paragraphs were just broken up oddly and that kind of … I was like, oh, it’s not like reading a script,” he said. “It’s more like a book. That kind of made me want to do the movie. I thought, well, if it’s written oddly, if it’s not written like a script, then it’s got to be a good movie.”

3. ELLEN PAGE DOESN’T CONSIDER IT A PRO-LIFE MOVIE.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

The film takes an apolitical stance on teen pregnancy, but Page gets upset when “people call it a pro-life movie,” she told the Toronto Star. “In other words, that it’s anti-abortion,” she said. “That’s just not true. To me, it’s not a political film. I never thought about that when we were making it. Sometimes I even forget she’s pregnant. The most important thing is the choice is there and the film completely demonstrates that. It allows a scene in an abortion clinic, for goodness sake. A lot of films probably wouldn’t do that.”

At a live reading of the movie earlier this year, Cody told Vanity Fair that it “disturbed” her how people considered Juno to be “an anti-choice movie. In a way, I feel like I had a responsibility to maybe be more explicitly pro-choice, and I wasn’t … I think I took the right to choose for granted at the time."

4. ALLISON JANNEY APPRECIATED THE NON-STEREOTYPICAL STEPMOTHER ROLE.

The actress plays Juno’s stepmother, Bren, who surprisingly supports her stepdaughter’s pregnancy and then forms a relationship with her. “I kept waiting for the Evil Stepmother to make it hard for Juno, and then she didn't,” Janney said. “Diablo herself was a stepmother, too, and I think she wanted to debunk the Evil Stepmother myth and take that in a whole new direction.” Janney references Juno’s ultrasound scene, when Bren becomes protective of her daughter. “There's something wonderful about Diablo; she does not seem to judge any of her characters. And then the one woman who crosses a line is the one I get to tear into, which is always fun to do as an actor.”

5. THE “JUNO EFFECT” MAY OR MAY NOT BE REAL.

Around the time the movie was released, Gloucester High School in Massachusetts noticed an increase in teen pregnancies. The school’s principal, Dr. Joseph Sullivan, told TIME several young women “made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together.” The media dubbed it “The Juno Effect.” In 2008, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told Entertainment Weekly the teen birthrate was increasing. However, since then, teen pregnancies have been on the decline.

6. JUNO IS SORT OF AN ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT REUNION.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

Cera and Bateman played father-son on Arrested Development. In the movie they do not share any scenes together, but Bateman joked to MTV that it would’ve been strange “if I were adopting my son’s child ... At one point we were joking that Michael would walk by in the background of a scene and I would do a double-take as if to be like, ‘I know that guy from somewhere!’ But we never ended up doing that.”

7. DIABLO CODY APOLOGIZED FOR THE DIANA ROSS LINE.

Juno says that her dad named her after Zeus’ wife. She tells him Juno “was supposed to be really beautiful but really mean, like Diana Ross.” At an April all-female cast live reading of the script, Cody told Vanity Fair she “felt bad” about the line, and when she wrote it she thought celebrities didn’t have feelings. “I want to apologize,” she said. To make things weirder, Ross’ daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, also participated in the reading. “My God! You couldn’t cut it out for the reading? Seriously? That’s my mom for God’s sake,” Ellis Ross joked after Page read the line.

8. THE SOUNDTRACK SOLD MORE THAN 1 MILLION COPIES.

Kimya Dawson—along with Sonic Youth, The Kinks, Belle and Sebastian, Cat Power—had songs featured on the film's two soundtracks (the second one being Juno B-Sides: Almost Adopted Songs). The first one was a big hit—it went platinum. Dawson, who plays in The Moldy Peaches, was discovered through her paintings. Three years before the movie came out, Dawson painted a picture for future Juno casting director Kara Lipson. Page was a big fan of The Moldy Peaches and recommended the band to Reitman. Lipson heard he was trying to track Dawson down. “So she just e-mailed me and was like, ‘Hey, remember me? I ordered a painting,’” Dawson told Entertainment Weekly. “She sent me a copy of [Reitman’s first feature] Thank You for Smoking and the [Juno] screenplay. And then, once I’d watched Thank You for Smoking and read the screenplay, I was like, ‘Okay, cool.’ I liked that movie, and this is a nice story about family and pregnancy and all that business that I like.”

9. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE INFLUENCED CODY, BUT NOT THE DIRECTOR.

Four years before Juno was released, Napoleon Dynamite, another micro-budgeted film that grossed a lot of money, inspired Cody. “Napoleon Dynamite was the successful indie movie. And I saw it, and I went, okay, I’ll write something like that. But I’ll make Napoleon a girl,” she told Vanity Fair.

But Reitman didn’t understand the Napoleon comparisons. “I actually see none of Napoleon Dynamite in this,” he told ComingSoon.net. “There’s a realness to this movie that Napoleon never had.” In fact, he’d compare it to Election. “I think there’s a lot of Mark stuff that’s drawn from Matthew Broderick’s character in Election—the humiliation."

10. JENNIFER GARNER’S CHARACTER WASN’T THAT COLD.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

Garner’s Vanessa wants to adopt Juno’s baby. At first she comes across as cold, but eventually softens. “There’s somebody I was basing it on who maybe came across as cold or controlling, but was really just trying so hard to do the right thing,” Garner told Entertainment Weekly. “What happens in this movie forces the character to open up bit by bit. I think she just wants this baby, and she thinks the way to go about it is to be as appealingly Leave It to Beaver as possible. And she just forgets to add the human being in there.”

11. THE MOVIE ISN’T REALLY ABOUT TEEN PREGNANCY.

“We didn’t intend to make a movie about teen pregnancy and the options available to people who find themselves in that situation,” Cody told NPR. “We just wanted to tell a personal story about maturity and relationships. And the pregnancy just kind of motivates the story."

12. NEITHER PAGE NOR CODY WAS FAMILIAR WITH SOUPY SALES.

Juno references the famous comedian in the movie, even though Page—and possibly Cody—had no idea who he was. “I always wonder about that line because I think, 'No way would any teenager reference Soupy Sales,'” Cody told PopMatters, “but it always gets a laugh. I’m always aware of my own failings as a writer. I’m not even quite sure who Soupy Sales is.” Page said, “I had no idea it was even someone.”

13. HAMBURGER PHONE SALES INCREASED.

Because Juno liked to talk on a hamburger phone, the studio thought it would be a fun marketing ploy to send out promotional hamburger phones. Australians sold the phones on eBay, and eBay in the U.S. said demand for the phone jumped 759 percent right after Juno was released in theaters. The phone currently sells on Amazon for $14.95.

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Check Out These 10 Fun Facts About Supermarket Sweep
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Thanks to a recent deleted SNL scene in which host Melissa McCarthy lost her mind on a segment of Supermarket Sweep, we started reminiscing about the heart-pumping, family-friendly game show back in early 2016. Back in the day, you couldn’t watch the show—which debuted in 1965—without fantasizing about reenacting it at your local grocery store. On it, pairs of contestants would race through supermarket aisles, attempting to pack their carts full of the most valuable items, in between quiz-style segments. Revivals of the series stopped filming in 2003, but there's good news for fans who can't let the dream of appearing on the game show die: Deadline reports that it's about to make a television comeback. Relive the high of Supermarket Sweep with these fun facts about the game show.

1. THE MEAT WAS FAKE.

In a special for Great Big Story, former host David Ruprecht confirmed, “All the meat was fake.” Former contestant Mike Futia reaffirmed the fact to The A.V. Club saying, “Everything that was meat, cheese—all that was fake because they’d get the meat juices on their sweaters. And that’s not telegenic, so they wanted to get rid of that.”

2. A LOT OF THE FOOD WAS EXPIRED.

“We shot for about five months every year and they used the same food over and over again,” Ruprecht admitted to Great Big Story. “A lot of the food, having been thrown in and out of the carts for three, four months had gotten pretty beaten up.”

3. WINNERS DIDN’T GET TO KEEP THE FOOD.

Given what Ruprecht said above, contestants were probably thankful that they didn’t get to keep the food. And according to Great Big Story, they didn’t get to keep their sweatshirts either. “They got $5000 but they didn’t get their sweatshirts,” said Ruprecht.

4. BEAUTY PRODUCTS COULD WIN YOU THE GAME.

Pro tip: Heading for the beauty aisle instead of the meat freezer could very well have won you the game. “Those who [used this strategy] won,” Ruprecht told Great Big Story. “Instead of five hams and five turkeys that load up your cart, you ... get five hair colorings ... get five of all these expensive health and beauty products. With one cart, you could beat everybody.”

5. FOR CONTESTANTS, PERSONALITY WAS KEY.

Supermarket Sweep was a TV show, after all, and vibrant personalities have always made for good television. “When we were going through the process, they put you in a room with a few other people and ask you sample questions,” former contestant Mike Futia recalled to The A.V. Club. “And you could sense it was because they wanted to see if you were slouching and things like that ... I felt pretty confident that we’d get the callback to have a taping.”

6. WINNING DURING THE TAPING DIDN’T GUARANTEE YOU’D ACTUALLY COLLECT YOUR WINNINGS.

“It was a syndicated show,” Mike Futia explained to The A.V. Club, “so they taped all the episodes, and you didn’t even know if you were going to get the money if you won unless it aired, which could be six months later, because they then had to sell it.” On the bright side: Even if you didn’t collect, at least you could always say you played Supermarket Sweep.

7. SHOOTING DAYS LASTED 12 TO 14 HOURS.

Most of that time consisted of waiting around. “We literally got in a room when we got called back for the actual taping, and they said, ‘Be prepared to be here. It could be a 12- to 14-hour day because there are three pairs of people on each show,’” Futia explained to The A.V. Club. “That day, I want to say they were taping something like eight shows. So you had 48 people just in a room, and the first thing they tape is your introduction where you run down to the camera and everybody gets introduced to [host] David Ruprecht ... Then they call you back and you tape the first segment.”

8. CONTESTANTS WORE DICKEYS.

Talk about dated fashion: “By winning, we didn’t get to keep the sweaters because we got paid,” Futia recalled to The A.V. Club. “But if you lost, your consolation prize was that you got to keep the sweater—but you didn’t get to keep the dickey.”

9. CONTESTANTS GOT TO MAP OUT THEIR ROUTES.

To prevent contestants from looking like chickens running around with their heads cut off, the show allowed them some time to strategize. “When you’re taping the show before the …  Supermarket Sweep round, you get about 10 minutes or so to walk around the supermarket so you can see the prices,” Futia told The A.V. Club. “Everything has a price on it, so ... you map out what you’re going to do. And it’s the weirdest things that were expensive, like hoses.”

10. THE “SUPERMARKET” WAS REALLY, REALLY SMALL.

“A little bit bigger than a bodega in the city” was how Futia described the supermarket set that was built for the 1990s revival of the series. “It’s very tiny. It looks huge, but it’s small. Even in the aisles, you had to be careful if you and your cameraman were running and another group was coming down that aisle. You had to make sure you were all the way to the side or there could have been an accident.”

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15 Fascinating Facts About Candyman
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Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is a Chicago graduate student with a deep fascination with urban legends, which she and her friend Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons) are using as the basis for a thesis project. After they stumble across the local legend of Candyman, a well-to-do black artist who fell in love with a white woman in the late 1800s and was murdered for it, Helen wants to learn more. When she’s told that Candyman still haunts Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project, and that his spirit can be summoned by repeating his name into a mirror five times, Helen does just that … and all hell breaks loose.

What began as a low-budget indie film has morphed into a contemporary classic of the horror genre, and essential Halloween viewing. In 1992, English filmmaker Bernard Rose—who got his start working as a gopher on The Muppet Show—turned Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden” into Candyman, which was released in theaters 25 years ago today. In honor of the film’s anniversary, here are 15 things you might not have known about Candyman.

1. EDDIE MURPHY WAS CONSIDERED FOR THE LEAD.

Though the role of Candyman turned Tony Todd into a horror icon, he wasn’t the only actor in consideration for the film’s title role: Eddie Murphy was also reportedly a contender for the part. Though it’s unclear exactly why he wasn’t cast, sources have reported that it had to do with everything from his height (at 5 feet 9 inches, he wouldn’t seem nearly as intimidating as the 6-foot-5 Todd) to his salary demands.

2. AN UNEXPECTED PREGNANCY LANDED VIRGINIA MADSEN THE LEAD.

Virginia Madsen stars in 'Candyman'
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

When asked by HorrorNewsNetwork about how she got the role of Helen in Candyman, Virginia Madsen shared that it was almost by accident: She was supposed to play Bernie, Helen’s friend and classmate, the role that eventually went to Kasi Lemmons.

“I was actually very good friends with Bernard [Rose] and his wife Alexandra,” Madsen said. “She is a wonderful actress, who actually brought Clive Barker’s short story ‘The Forbidden’ to her husband. She thought this would be a great film, and he could direct her. She was supposed to be Helen. I was going to play [Kasi Lemmons'] part, until they made the character African American. Then I was out.

“Right before shooting, Alexandra found out she was pregnant. It was great for me, but it was so sad for her because this was her role; she found this story and really wanted it. So when I was asked to step in I felt like ‘I can’t take my friend’s role.’ She actually came over one day and said ‘It would just kill me to see someone else play this role, you have to be the one who plays it.’ So with her blessing I took on the role. I really tried to work my butt off just to honor her.”

3. IT COULD HAVE STARRED SANDRA BULLOCK.

On the film’s DVD commentary, producer Alan Poul said that had Madsen been unable to step into the role of Helen, the part would have likely been offered to Sandra Bullock, who was still a relative unknown actress at that point. Though she had played the role of Tess McGill in the television adaptation of Working Girl, she was still a couple of years away from Speed (1994), the role that launched her into stardom.

4. ITS OPENING SHOT WAS GROUNDBREAKING.

The film’s opening credits feature a great aerial view of Chicago, which was pretty revolutionary for its time. “We did that with an incredible new machine called the Skycam, which can shoot up to a 500mm lens with no vibration,” Rose told The Independent. “You've never seen that shot before, at least not done that smoothly.”

5. NOT ALL OF THE FILM’S CREEPY DETAILS SPRUNG FROM CLIVE BARKER’S IMAGINATION.

While investigating one of Candyman’s crime scenes, Helen and Bernie discover that the design of the apartment’s medicine cabinet made it a possible point of entry for an intruder. This was not a made-up piece of horror movie fiction. While researching the film, Rose learned that a series of murders had been committed in Chicago in this very way.

6. BERNARD ROSE SEES CANDYMAN AS A ROMANTIC FIGURE.

Tony Todd stars in 'Candyman'
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

Viewers may think of Candyman as one of the horror genre’s most terrifying villains, but Rose said that “the idea always was that he was kind of a romantic figure. And again, romantic in sort of the Edgar Allan Poe sense—it's the romance of death. He's a ghost, and he's also the resurrection of something that is kind of unspoken or unspeakable in American history, which is slavery, as well. So he's kind of come back and he's haunting what is the new version of the racial segregation in Chicago.

“And I think there's also something very seductive and very sweet and very romantic about him, and that's what makes him interesting. In the same way there is about Dracula. In the end, the Bogeyman is someone you want to surrender to. You're not just afraid of. There's a certain kind of joy in his seduction. And Tony was always so romantic. Tony ties him in so elegantly and is such a gentleman. He was wonderful.”

7. THE BEES IN THE FILM WERE BRED SPECIFICALLY TO APPEAR ONSCREEN.

No, that is not CGI! The bees that play a key role in Candyman are indeed real. So that they looked appropriately terrifying, but were less dangerous to the cast and crew, the filmmakers used newborn bees—they were just 12 hours old—so that they looked fully grown, but had less powerful stingers.

8. TONY TODD WAS STUNG 23 TIMES, AND GOT A BONUS EACH TIME IT HAPPENED.

Photo of Tony Todd in 'Candyman'
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

In addition to allowing the filmmakers to cover his face with bees, Todd actually agreed to film a scene in which he had a mouthful of bees—and that, too, was all real. He told TMZ that he wore a dental dam to prevent any bees from sliding into his throat—which doesn’t mean that he didn’t suffer a sting or two … or 23, to be exact, over the course of three Candyman movies. Though it might have been worth it. “I had a great lawyer,” he told TMZ. “A thousand dollars a pop.”

9. THE BEES WEREN’T GREAT NEWS FOR MADSEN, EITHER.

Madsen, too, had to get up close and personal with those bees—a fact that almost forced her to pass on the role. “When Bernie was first asking me to do the role I said, ‘Well, I can’t. I’m allergic to bees,’” she told HorrorNewsNetwork. “He said ‘No you’re not allergic to bees, you’re just afraid.’ So I had to go to UCLA and get tested because he didn’t believe [me]. I was tested for every kind of venom. I was far more allergic to wasps. So he said, ‘We’ll just [have] paramedics there, it will be fine!’ You know actors, we’ll do anything for a paycheck! So fine, I’ll be covered with bees.

“So we a had a bee wrangler and he pretty much told us you can’t freak out around the bees, or be nervous, or swat at them, it would just aggravate them. They used baby bees on me. They can still sting you, but are less likely. When they put the bees on me it was crazy because they have fur. They felt like little Q-tips roaming around on me. Then you have pheromones on you, so they’re all in love with you and think you’re a giant queen. I really just had to go into this Zen sort of place and the takes were very short. What took the longest was getting the bees off of us. They had this tiny ‘bee vacuum,’ which wouldn’t harm the bees. After the scene where the bees were all over my face and my head, it took both Tony and I 45 minutes just to get the bees off. That’s when it became difficult to sit still. It was cool though, I felt like a total badass doing it.”

10. PHILIP GLASS COMPOSED THE SCORE, BUT WAS DISAPPOINTED IN THE MOVIE.

When Philip Glass signed on to compose the score for Candyman, he apparently envisioned the final film being something totally different. According to Rolling Stone, “What he'd presumed would be an artful version of Clive Barker's short story ‘The Forbidden’ had ended up, in his view, a low-budget slasher.” Glass was reportedly disappointed in the film, and felt that he had been manipulated. Still, the haunting music is considered a classic score—and Glass’s own view of it seems to have softened over time. “It has become a classic, so I still make money from that score, get checks every year,” he told Variety in 2014.

11. MANY OF THE FILM'S SCENES WERE SHOT AT CABRINI-GREEN.

In 2011, the last remaining high-rise in the Cabrini-Green housing project was demolished. Over the years, the property—which opened in 1942—gained a notorious reputation around the world for being a haven for violence, drugs, gangs, and other criminal activities. While the project’s real-life history weaves its way into the narrative of Candyman, it only makes sense that Rose would want to shoot there. Which he did. But in order to gain permission to shoot there, he had to agree to cast some of the residents as extras.

“I went to Chicago on a research trip to see where it could be done and I was shown around by some people from the Illinois Film Commission and they took me to Cabrini-Green,” Rose said. “And I spent some time there and I realized that this was an incredible arena for a horror movie because it was a place of such palpable fear. And rule number one when you're making a horror movie is set it somewhere frightening. And the fear of the urban housing project, it seemed to me, was actually totally irrational because you couldn't really be in that much danger. Yes, there was crime there, but people were actually afraid of driving past it. And there was such an aura of fear around the place and I thought that was really something interesting to look into because it's sort of a kind of fear that's at the heart of modern cities. And obviously, it's racially motivated, but more than that—it's poverty motivated.”

12. THE FILM’S PRODUCERS WERE WORRIED THAT THE FILM WOULD BE CONSIDERED RACIST.

During pre-production, Candyman’s producers began to worry that the film might draw criticism for being racist, given that its villain was black and it was largely set in an infamous housing project. “I had to go and have a whole set of meetings with the NAACP, because the producers were so worried,” Rose told The Independent. “And what they said to me when they'd read the script was 'Why are we even having this meeting? You know, this is just good fun.' Their argument was 'Why shouldn't a black actor be a ghost? Why shouldn't a black actor play Freddy Krueger or Hannibal Lecter? If you're saying that they can't be, it's really perverse. This is a horror movie.'”

13. STILL, SOME FILMMAKERS COMPLAINED THAT IT WAS RACIST.

In a 1992 story in the Chicago Tribune, some high-profile black filmmakers expressed their disappointment that the film seemed to perpetuate several racist stereotypes. “There’s no question that this film plays on white middle-class fears of black people,” director Carl Franklin (Out of Time, Devil in a Blue Dress) said. “It unabashedly uses racial stereotypes and destructive myths to create shock. I found it hokey and unsettling. It didn't work for me because I don’t share those fears, buy into those myths.”

Reginald Hudlin, who directed House Party, Boomerang, and Marshall, described the film as “worrisome,” though he didn’t want to speak on the record about his specific issues with the film. “I've gotten calls about [the movie], but I think I'm going to reserve comment,” he said. “Some of my friends are in it and I may someday want to work for TriStar.”

For Rose, those assessments may have been hard to hear, as his goal in adapting Barker’s story and directing it was to upend the myths about inner cities. “[T]he tradition of oral storytelling is very much alive, especially when it's a scary story,” he told The Independent. “And the biggest urban legend of all for me was the idea that there are places in cities where you do not go, because if you go in them something dreadful will happen—not to say that there isn't danger in ghettos and inner city areas, but the exaggerated fear of them is an urban myth.”

14. IT’S STILL THE ROLE THAT MADSEN IS MOST RECOGNIZED FOR (ESPECIALLY AT AIRPORTS).

Kasi Lemmons and Virginia Madsen in 'Candyman'
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

Though she earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination in 2005 for Alexander Payne’s Sideways, in 2012 Madsen said that Candyman is still the role she is most recognized for—especially at airports.

“More people recognize me from that movie than anything I’ve done,” she told HorrorNewsNetwork. “It means a lot to me. It was after years of struggling. As an actor, you always want a film that’s annual, like It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story. I just love that I have a Halloween movie. Now it’s kind of legend this story. People have watched it since they were kids, and every Halloween it’s on, and they watch it now with their kids. That means a lot to me. The place I get recognized the most is the airport security for some reason. Every person in airport security has seen Candyman. Maybe it makes them a little afraid of me.”

15. THERE WAS AN ACTUAL CANDYMAN KILLER.

Though the Chicago-based legend of Candyman is a work of fiction, there was an actual serial killer known as “Candyman” or “The Candy Man.” Between 1970 and 1973, Dean Corll kidnapped, tortured, and murdered at least 28 young boys in the Houston area. Corll earned his sweet nickname from the fact that his family owned a candy factory.

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