10 Totally Awesome Facts About David Hasselhoff

Mark Mainz/Getty Images
Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Over the span of more than 40 years, David Hasselhoff—a.k.a. The Hoff—has inspired the world with his roles on The Young and the Restless, Knight Rider, Baywatch (the show, Baywatch Nights, and the recent movie) and also with his music career, which helped reunite Germany soon after the Berlin Wall fell. His self-deprecating humor has led to a variety of cameos (playing himself) in movies like Dodgeball, Killing Hasselhoff, and this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. To celebrate The Hoff's career—and his 65th birthday—here are some things you might not have known about the beloved pop culture icon.

1. HE BEGAN HIS MOVIE CAREER MAKING B-MOVIES.

In the 1970s, The Hoff had a thriving TV career playing Dr. William "Snapper" Foster on The Young and the Restless, but before he started talking to a car named KITT, his movie career was slowly taking off. According to IMDb, his first movie role was a guy named Boner in the 1976 movie Revenge of the Cheerleaders. Two years later he played Christopher Plummer’s son in the cult space opera Starcrash. In 1988, in a period between Knight Rider and Baywatch, Hasselhoff starred in the not-so-good horror film Witchery. Thank God Baywatch came along.

2. HE’S IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS FOR TWO ACHIEVEMENTS.

The Guinness Book of World Records anointed Hasselhoff the title of "The World’s Most Watched Man on Television" because of Baywatch’s more than 1 billion viewers in 140 countries. In 2011, Hugh Laurie took the title away from Hasselhoff, but in June of the same year The Hoff won another title: the highest height a human was catapulted using a reverse bungee system. He was thrown nearly 230 feet at London’s Battersea Power Station.

3. HE SAYS BAYWATCH’S SLO-MO SCENES DEVELOPED FROM A LACK OF FUNDS.

Much of Baywatch's popularity can be attributed to its frequent tendency to show its characters' bouncy body parts running in slow-motion—a camera technique that developed from a lack of money. “We didn’t have enough financing to finish the show,” Hassehoff told Men’s Health. “So we found a way to fill the hour by shooting people in slow motion. We said, ‘Well, girls in bathing suits look good running in slow motion, let’s just shoot that.’ And we found out that the audience kinda liked it.”

4. HE PLAYS A VERSION OF HIMSELF IN HOFF THE RECORD.

The British mockumentary series follows The Hoff as he tries to resurrect his career in England. The show premiered in 2015 and aired for two seasons (it’s available on Netflix). He wants people to watch the International Emmy Award-winning comedy so much that at a premiere for Baywatch the movie he kept mentioning the show to everyone he encountered. “I only got in a mention of the show about 10 times,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I was so overwhelmed at the beginning I forgot about it.”

5. WE HAVE AUSTRALIA TO THANK FOR "DON'T HASSLE THE HOFF."

Fifteen years ago, Hasselhoff found out secretaries in Australia were sending each other emails with puns on The Hoff (a.k.a “Hoffisms”) such as Some Like It Hoff, the Wizard of Hoff, Desperate Hoffwives. “I got an email from one of these women, asking me, ‘How does it feel to be a sex symbol at 50?’” he told Men’s Health. He thought the puns were funny, and went on television in Australia. “I was talking about the whole phenomenon and I said, like I was talking to the secretaries, ‘I have a saying for you: Don’t hassle the Hoff!’ And that’s when it all blew up and went crazy.”

6. HE WAS BIG IN AUSTRIA BEFORE HE BECAME A SUPERSTAR IN GERMANY.

During a low period for The Hoff in the mid-’80s—Knight Rider had been canceled, and he was going through a divorce—he received a phone call that a woman from Austria had won a contest to have lunch with him. He met with the girl and she said to him, “‘You know, your [debut] record’s number one in my country,” Hasselhoff recalled. “And I was like, ‘Night RockerNight Rocker sold seven copies and I bought six.’ She said ‘No, no, Night Rocker is number one in Austria.’ I said, ‘Where’s Austria?’” He then booked a music tour of Europe. In 1989, his song “Looking for Freedom” topped the West German charts for eight weeks, and he performed the song on New Year’s Eve at the Berlin Wall, shortly after it fell.

7. HE'S A BROADWAY STAR.

In 2000, he played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical. He also played Billy Flynn in Chicago, Roger De Bris in The Producers during its 2007 Vegas run, and a recurring role as Captain Hook in Peter Pan. In 2015, in Manchester, England, he performed in Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, a musical about Ibiza. Apparently, he’s big in England, too.

8. HE HOSTED TALK SHOWS IN SWEDEN AND FINLAND.

As if his international star status wasn’t already impressive enough, in 2014 he hosted a talk show, en svensk talk show, in Sweden. A year later he filmed 10 episodes of the Finland-based The David Hasselhoff Show.

9. SCIENTISTS NAMED A CRAB AFTER HIM.

In 2012, scientists discovered a new kind of crab, one with a hirsute chest—just like The Hoff. The scientists dubbed their Antarctic discovery "The Hoff Crab." The binomial name is Kiwa tyleri from the family Kiwaidae. The crab is a species of the squat lobster. “I think it's quite an honor to be named for a crab,” Hoff told Men’s Health. “It’s white and it’s got a hairy chest. I remember thinking, this Hoff thing is getting out of control.”

10. THIS NOVEMBER, YOU CAN CRUISE TO ITALY, FRANCE, AND SPAIN WITH THE HOFF.

The six-day David Hasselhoff – The Official World Fan Cruise sets sail on November 4, 2017. Travelers will cruise along the Mediterranean Sea with The Hoff, who will sign autographs and maybe sing to you. Pricing starts at about $900 (and tickets are still available).

10 Things You Might Not Know About Robert De Niro

RALPH GATTI, AFP/Getty Images
RALPH GATTI, AFP/Getty Images

Robert De Niro is part of the pantheon of independent-minded filmmakers who cut through Hollywood noise in the 1970s with edgier fare to create what became known as “The New Hollywood.” Following stints with Brian De Palma and Roger Corman, De Niro teamed up with Martin Scorsese for the first time with 1973's Mean Streets, which launched a fruitful artistic collaboration that has produced some of the best movies of the past half-century.

Even after his shift into commercial comedies like Meet the Parents, “dedication” has remained De Niro’s watchword. The two-time Oscar winner has earned Hollywood legend status with panache and bone-deep portrayals. Here are 10 facts about the filmmaker on his 75th birthday. (Yes, we’re talkin’ to you.)

1. HIS FIRST ROLE WAS IN A STAGING OF THE WIZARD OF OZ—AT AGE 10.

Robert De Niro got bit by the acting bug early. He threatened to thrash a hippopotamus from top to bottom-us as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at the tender age of 10. (This is the remake and casting the world needs right now.)

2. HE DROPPED OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL TO PURSUE ACTING.

Robert De Niro arrives at the UK premiere of epic war drama film 'The Deer Hunter', UK, 28th February 1979
John Minihan, Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

De Niro’s mother, Virginia Admiral, was a painter whose work was part of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and his father, Robert De Niro, Sr., was a celebrated abstract expressionist painter. So the apple falling into drama school instead of the art studio still isn’t that far from the tree. Having already gotten a youthful dose of stage life, De Niro quit his private high school to try to become an actor. He first went to the nonprofit HB Studio before studying under Stella Adler and, later, The Actors Studio.

3. HE’S A DUAL CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES AND ITALY.

De Niro is American, Italian-American, and, as of 2004, Italian. The country bestowed honorary citizenship upon De Niro as an honor in recognition of his career, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing to the passport office. A group called the Order of the Sons of Italy in America strongly protested the Italian government’s plan due to De Niro’s frequent portrayal of negative Italian-American stereotypes.

4. HE GAINED 60 POUNDS FOR RAGING BULL.

Preparing to play the misfortune-laden boxing champ Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull required two major things from De Niro: training and gaining. For the latter, De Niro ate his way through Europe during a four-month binge of ice cream and pasta. His 60-pound-gain was dramatic enough that it concerned Martin Scorsese. It was one way to show dedication to a role, but the training element was even more impressive. De Niro got so good at boxing that when LaMotta set up several professional-level sparring bouts for the actor, De Niro won two of them.

5. HE AND MARLON BRANDO ARE THE ONLY ACTORS TO WIN OSCARS FOR PLAYING THE SAME CHARACTER.

De Niro won his first Oscar in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II, for portraying the younger version of Vito Corleone—the wizened capo played by Marlon Brando, who also won an Oscar for the role (Brando’s came in 1973, for The Godfather). No other pair of actors has managed the feat, although Jeff Bridges came close in 2010 when he was nominated for playing Rooster Cogburn in Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit (a role originated by John Wayne in Henry Hathaway’s 1969 movie of the same name). Oddly enough, Bridges was in contention for the role of Travis Bickle, the role that earned De Niro his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

6. HE DROVE A CAB TO PREPARE FOR TAXI DRIVER.

If you’re looking for commitment to a role, ask Hack #265216. De Niro got a taxicab driver’s license to study up to play Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and spent several weekends cruising around New York City picking up fares. It’s possible that having his teeth filed down for Cape Fear is the most intense transformation he’s undergone for a role, but picking up a part-time job to live the lonely life of Bickle is more humane.

7. ONE OF HIS FILMS POSTPONED ONE OF HIS OSCAR WINS.

The 53rd Academy Awards—where De Niro won for playing Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull—were originally scheduled for March 30, 1981 but were postponed until the following day because of an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. The would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr., claimed the attack was intended to impress Jodie Foster, who Hinckley grew obsessed with after watching Taxi Driver.

8. HE LAUNCHED THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL IN THE WAKE OF 9/11.

Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal speak onstage at the 'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives' Premiere during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City
Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Producer Jane Rosenthal, philanthropist Craig M. Hatkoff, and De Niro founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2001 as a showcase for independent films that would hopefully “spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan” after the devastation of the 9/11 terror attacks. With its empire state of mind, the inaugural festival in 2002 featured a “Best of New York Series” handpicked by Martin Scorsese and drew an astonishing 150,000 attendees.

9. HE WAS ONCE INTERROGATED BY FRENCH POLICE CONCERNING A PROSTITUTION RING.

One of the most bizarre chapters in De Niro’s life came when he was publicly named in the investigation of a prostitution ring in Paris. The 1998 incident included a lengthy interrogation session (De Niro filed an official complaint) and a pile of paparazzi waiting for him when he left the prosecutor’s office. De Niro railed against the entire country, vowing to return his Legion of Honour and telling Le Monde newspaper that, "I will never return to France. I will advise my friends against going to France.” (He had cooled off enough by 2011 to act as the Cannes Film Festival’s jury president.)

10. HE LOVED THE CAT(S) IN MEET THE PARENTS.

Meet the Parents’s Mr. Jinx (Jinxy!) was played by two Himalayans named Bailey and Misha, and De Niro fell in love with them. He played with them between scenes, kept kibble in his pocket for them, and asked director Jay Roach to have Mr. Jinx in as many scenes as possible.

National Portrait Gallery Celebrates Aretha Franklin With Week-Long Exhibition

Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA
Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA

With the passing of Aretha Franklin on August 16, 2018, the world has lost one of its most distinctive voices—and personalities. As celebrities and fans share their memories of the Queen of Soul and what her music meant to them, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery will pay tribute to the legendary songstress's life with a week-long exhibition of her portrait.

Throughout her career, Franklin earned some of the music industry's highest accolades, including 18 Grammy Awards. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nearly 30 years later, in 2015, the National Portrait Gallery fêted Franklin with the Portrait of a Nation Prize, which recognizes "the accomplishments of notable contemporary Americans whose portraits reside in the National Portrait Gallery collection." (Madeline Albright, Spike Lee, and Rita Moreno are among some of its recent recipients.)

Milton Glaser's lithograph of Aretha Franklin, which is displayed at The National Portrait Gallery
© Milton Glaser

Franklin's portrait was the creation of noted graphic designer Milton Glaser, who employed "his characteristic kaleidoscope palette and innovative geometric forms to convey the creative energy of Franklin's performances," according to the Gallery. The colorful lithographic was created in 1968, the very same year that the National Portrait Gallery opened.

Glaser's image will be installed in the "In Memoriam" section of the museum, which is located on the first floor, on Friday, August 17 and will remain on display to the public through August 22, 2018. The Gallery is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and admission is free.

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