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The Few, The Proud…Bea Arthur? 15 Celebrity Marines

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When you think “amphibious warfare,” is the first person that comes to mind Ed McMahon? Can you picture Bozo the Clown with a buzz cut? Say hello to these (mostly) fine men and women you might not have known were Marines.

1. Agent Maxwell Smart

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Don Adams was best known for his portrayal of the bumbling Agent 86 in the classic sitcom Get Smart. However, his stint as a Marine wasn’t quite as fun: After being shot during WWII’s Battle of Guadalcanal, Adams contracted a case of blackwater fever (a severe strain of malaria with a 90 percent mortality rate). He made a full recovery, and spent the rest of his military career rectifying the bumbling of others … as a drill instructor.

2. Shaggy

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The dance-hall superstar also known as Orville Burrell joined the Marines because it was “the one job I could get.” He served in Desert Storm, and it was his stint in the Corps that gave him the inspiration for his breakout hit, 1991’s “Boom-bastic.” Which makes sense, considering his role as a Field Artillery Cannon Crewman.

3. Bea Arthur

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She may have been one of the few, but she was not so proud: Toward the end of her life, Bea actually denied having any experience in the military. The whole truth didn’t come out until 2010, a year after she passed away, when it was revealed that Private Frankel worked as a truck driver and later married a fellow private, Richard Arthur.

4. Bozo the Clown


One of them, anyway. Bob Bell enlisted with the Marines in the early days of WWII, despite lacking vision in one eye (he’d skirted this by memorizing the eye chart). Bell was given a medical discharge within a year and never saw action. Bell had a bit more success being in a clown outfit than a military one: He portrayed Bozo on Chicago’s WGN from 1960 to 1984.

5 and 6. Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans

While better known for his persona as a Captain, Bob Keeshan only made it as far as Sergeant while in the Corps. As for his future co-star Mr. Green Jeans, Hugh “Lumpy” Brannum distinguished himself as an upright bassist in a Marine Corps band.

The two children’s show legends didn’t meet until after WWII.

7. Ed McMahon

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The world’s most famous sidekick grew up with a different ambition in mind: He had long dreamed of being a fighter pilot. He enlisted in the Marines during WWII, serving for 23 years, primarily as a reservist, before retiring as a Colonel in 1966.

8. Don Imus

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Before embarking on a long and occasionally controversial career in radio, the I-Man joined the Marines at the behest of his mother, who hoped it would keep him out of jail. He served from 1957-60, most notably as a bugler in the Marine Corps band.

9 and 10. The Everly Brothers

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The legendary rock duo enlisted in the Marines reserves in 1961 (they even went to basic training together). During their two-year stint with the Corps, two of their songs—“Crying in the Rain” and “That’s Old Fashioned”—cracked the Top 10, but they were unable to tour or otherwise capitalize on their success, due to their military commitments. They never cracked the Top 10 again.

11. Lee Harvey Oswald

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The Kennedy assassin joined the Corps in 1956, reportedly to follow in his brother’s footsteps, and to escape his overbearing mother. While there, he received lackluster grades in marksmanship, and was once court-martialed for accidentally shooting himself. Unfortunately, his aim improved by the time he got to Dallas.

12. C.J. Ramone

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When forced to replace founding bassist and legendary drug addict Dee Dee Ramone, The Ramones turned to an unlikely source: Christopher James Ward, a 22-year old Long Islander who was AWOL from the Marines at the time. Seeking a discharge from the Corps, he was first imprisoned for five weeks before serving a 7-year tour of duty with the seminal punk band.

13. Nate Dogg

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Best known for his guest appearances on pretty much every G-funk track known to man, the singer otherwise known as Nathaniel Hale had one life to give to his country. Which he did, dropping out of high school at age 16 for a three-year stint in the Corps.

14. Ed Wood Jr.

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The cross dresser and B-movie legend signed up for the Marines in 1942, two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal, and later claimed he was terrified not of death, but of being injured … because he didn’t want anyone to know he was wearing a bra and panties underneath his military fatigues.

15. Drew Carey

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The comedian and Price Is Right host was a reservist in the 1980s.

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A Brief History of Time
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You may have heard that time is a social construct, but that doesn’t stop it from having consequences in the real world. If you show up to a party 10 minutes before it’s scheduled to start, you’ll likely be the first one there, and if you arrive to an interview 10 minutes late, you likely won’t get the job. But how did humanity agree on when and how to observe certain times of day?

In their new video, the It’s Okay to Be Smart team explains how humans “invented” the modern concept of time. The increments we use to measure time, like seconds, minutes, and hours, come from the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Early clocks, like sundials and water clocks, were pretty crude, so people couldn’t pinpoint a time like noon down to the second even if they wanted to. But as clocks became more accurate, the problem wasn’t being unable to tell time accurately, but deciding which clocks qualified as “accurate” in the first place.

In 1884, President Chester A. Arthur organized the International Meridian Conference with the intention of deciding on a uniform definition of time to be followed around the world. The attendees ended up choosing the meridian running through Greenwich, England as the official Prime Meridian, and all clocks would be measured against the clock in the town’s observatory. Greenwich Mean Time is still used as the standard world time today.

Check out the full story below.

[h/t It’s Okay to Be Smart]

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

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