Original image

The Final Resting Places of 11 Childhood Icons

Original image

The news of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing probably didn’t come as a surprise to many this week, especially not creditors who are owed a total of $18 billion. What does come as a surprise is that the city may sell off some of its art collection to try to stop some of the bleeding—including Howdy Doody. Wait, what? How did Howdy Doody end up in Detroit? We have the answer, in addition to what happened to 10 other props you’ll remember from childhood.

1. Howdy Doody

So if you weren’t already aware, you now know that Howdy Doody (above), the beloved cowboy puppet from the 1950s-era children’s show of the same name, has called the Detroit Institute of Arts home for the last several years. But why? Howdy Doody host Buffalo Bob Smith was from Buffalo, New York (go figure). When he died in 1998, fights erupted between various groups of people who believed they had a claim to the marionette. The Detroit Institute of Arts—which has one of the largest collections of significant puppets in the world—eventually prevailed.

2. Hoggle

Unclaimed Baggage Center

Woe is Hoggle, the curmudgeonly dwarf from Labyrinth. Far from being carefully and lovingly preserved as our friend Howdy Doody was, Hoggle was just someone’s unwanted baggage. Literally. The foam puppet turned up in a crate at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. The folks there had the puppet restored to its former glory, so Hoggle now presides over the Unclaimed Baggage Museum as its rightful king. Take that, Jareth.

3. Rudolph and Santa

In 2005, a man cleaning out the family attic stumbled upon a couple of little puppets and recognized them from his childhood. And your childhood. And the childhood of anyone who has ever watched television. His aunt, a Rankin-Bass employee at the time Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was made in the early 1960s, took the wood, wool, and wire models home for her kids to play with. By the time the nephew discovered them and took them to Antiques Roadshow in 2005, Rudolph’s iconic nose was gone and Santa appeared to have waxed off both eyebrows and half of his mustache.

The toys have since been purchased by a private buyer and restored; they occasionally make appearances at Comic-Cons and museums across the country.

4. Kermit


You can gaze upon the original Kermit the Frog—complete with ping pong ball eyeballs—at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in D.C. The original puppet was made using an old green coat and was part of a show called Sam & Friends starting in 1955. The show, appropriately, was a local Washington D.C. news program.

5. Charlie McCarthy

If Toy Story is an accurate representation of what happens when toy owners aren’t looking, perhaps Kermit hops out of his case to go chat with Edgar Bergen’s sidekick Charlie McCarthy, who also calls the Smithsonian home these days. And if the image of a nearly 60-year-old Muppet coming to life to get up to some shenanigans in an empty museum with a wooden ventriloquist’s dummy gives you nightmares tonight, well, I guess we’ll both have something to discuss with our therapists.

6. Effie Klinker and Mortimer Snerd

Along with another version of Mr. McCarthy, a couple of Edgar Bergen’s other famous dummies live behind glass at the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago.

7. Shotgun Red

Back when I was but a little shaver, I watched a lot of TNN (The Nashville Network) when my grandma babysat. I didn’t care for the Grand Ole Opry, so much, but I was a big fan of Shotgun Red on Nashville Now. I’m slightly elated to know that Shotgun Red is still “alive” and well, touring with his own variety show and making appearances on TV. 

Here he is back in the day:

8. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Trolley

Getty Images

If this model train enthusiast is to be believed, all of the puppets and props, including the trolley that whisked us all to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make Believe, are just sitting in a box somewhere at PBS. Curious as to where the old trolley had ended up, Chris from Duluth emailed PBS several years ago. Their reply:

We received the email message you sent through our PBS Neighborhood web site. The Trolley from the Neighborhood program, along with all of the props and set pieces have been careful placed in storage. We have kept everything from the Neighborhood series in case we need it for future projects. We are continuing the work at the nonprofit company that Fred Rogers founded (Family Communications, Inc.) If you'd like to know more about the work of FCI, you can visit our web site at

We appreciate your interest (and that of the fellow members of your model RR forum) in the Neighborhood Trolley.

9. Lost in Space robot

If you’ve ever hoped to hear “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!” in person, you’ll need to take it up with NASA. After Lost in Space creator Irwin Allen died, his widow donated at least one version of the robot to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center. There’s another one in the Seattle Science Fiction Museum, and a private collector owns a costume version of the robot that was worn by an actor for shots that required a lot of movement.

10. ALF

We don’t know the exact location of everyone’s favorite cat-eating Melmackian, but as of a few years ago, Paul Fusco, the puppeteer and voice of ALF, assured People magazine that he was safe. “That would be a terrible thing, to tell the fans that he’s in a box somewhere!” Fusco said. Better a box than the Unclaimed Baggage Center, I always say.

11. E.T.

Now, take this with an Elephant Man-sized grain of salt, but it’s said that Michael Jackson purchased one of the original E.T. puppets. It wouldn’t really be a surprising purchase—Jackson very much identified with the adorable little alien, telling Ebony magazine, “Well, look at his story. He’s in a strange place and wants to be accepted—which is a situation that I’ve found myself in many times when traveling from city to city all over the world. He’s most comfortable with children, and I have a great love for kids. He gives love and wants love in return, which is me. And he has that super power which lets him lift off and fly whenever he wants to get away from things on Earth, and I can identify with that.”

Jackson won a Grammy for narrating the E.T. audio book, because of course he did.

Primary image courtesy of Sodahead.

Original image
Get Crazy With the Official Bob Ross Coloring Book
Original image

If you watched Bob Ross's classic series The Joy of Painting for hours on end but didn’t come away a terribly capable artist, you can still enjoy replicating the amazing public television personality’s work. You can now pretend you’re painting along with the late, great PBS star using a brand-new adult coloring book based on his art.

The Bob Ross Coloring Book (Universe) is the first authorized coloring book based on Ross’s artistic archive. Ross, who would have turned 75 later this year, was all about giving his fans the confidence to pursue art even without extensive training. “There’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us,” the gentle genius said. So what better way to honor his memory than to relax with his coloring book?

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the Ross landscapes you can recreate, all while flipping through some of his best quotes and timeless tidbits of wisdom.

An black-and-white outline of a Bob ross painting of a mountain valley

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a house nestled among trees.

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a farm scene.

And remember, even if you color outside the lines, it’s still a work of art. As Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

You can find The Bob Ross Coloring Book for about $14 on Amazon. Oh, and if you need even more Ross in your life, there’s now a Bob Ross wall calendar, too.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli.

Original image
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
8 Movies That Almost Starred Keanu Reeves
Original image
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

He may not have the natural ease of Al Pacino, the classical training of Anthony Hopkins, the timeless cool of Jack Nicholson, or the raw versatility of Gary Oldman, but Keanu Reeves has been around long enough to have worked alongside each of those actors. Yet instead of Oscar nods, the actor whose first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian has a handful of Razzie nominations.

While critical acclaim has mostly eluded Reeves during his 30-plus years in Hollywood, his movies have made nearly $2 billion at the box office. Whether because of his own choosiness or the decisions of studio powers-that-be, that tally could be much, much higher. To celebrate The Chosen One’s 53rd birthday, here are eight movies that almost starred Keanu Reeves.

1. X-MEN (2000)

In Hollywood’s version of the X-Men universe, Hugh Jackman is the definitive Wolverine. But Jackman himself was a last-minute replacement (for Dougray Scott) and other, bigger (in 2000) names were considered for the hirsute superhero—including Reeves. Ultimately, it was the studio that decided to go in a different direction, much to Reeves’ disappointment. “I always wanted to play Wolverine,” the actor told Moviefone in 2014. “But I didn't get that. And they have a great Wolverine now. I always wanted to play The Dark Knight. But I didn't get that one. They've had some great Batmans. So now I'm just enjoying them as an audience.”

2. PLATOON (1986)

For an action star, Reeves isn’t a huge fan of violence, which is why he passed on playing the lead in Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Vietnam classic. “Keanu turned it down because of the violence,” Stone told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. “He didn’t want to do violence.”

3. THE FLY II (1989)

Few people would likely mistake Reeves for the son of Jeff Goldblum, but producers were anxious to see him play the next generation of Goldblum’s insectile role in the sequel to The Fly. But Reeves wasn’t having any of it. Why? Simple: “I didn't like the script,” he told Movieline in 1990.


Speaking of sequels (and bad scripts): Reeves was ready to reprise his role as Jack Traven in Jan de Bont’s second go at the series … then he read it. “When I was offered Speed 2, Jan came to Chicago and so did Sandra, and they said, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Reeves recalled to The Telegraph. “And I said, 'I read the script and I can’t. It’s called Speed, and it’s on a cruise ship.” (He's got a point.)

Even when the studio dangled a $12 million paycheck in front of him, Reeves said no. “I told [William Mechanic, then-head of Fox], ‘If I do this film, I will not come back up. You guys will send me to the bottom of the ocean and I will not make it back up again.’ I really felt like I was fighting for my life.”

5. HEAT (1995)

Reeves’ refusal to cave on Speed 2 didn’t sit well in Hollywood circles. And it didn't help that he also passed on playing Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer’s role) in Michael Mann’s Heat in order to spend a month playing Hamlet at Canada’s Manitoba Theatre Centre. From that point on, Reeves told The Telegraph that it’s been a struggle for him to book any studio movies. “That’s a good old Hollywood story! That was a whole, 'Hey, kid, this is what happens in Hollywood: I said no to the number two and I never worked with the studio again!’”

6. BOWFINGER (1999)

By the time Frank Oz’s Bowfinger rolled around, Eddie Murphy was pretty much the go-to guy for any dual role part, but the movie wasn’t always intended to play that way. Steve Martin, who both starred in and wrote the movie, had actually penned the part of Kit Ramsey for Reeves (whom he had worked with a decade earlier in Parenthood).

“When Steve gave me the script for Bowfinger, it wasn't written for Eddie Murphy,” producer Brian Grazer explained. “It was written for a white action star. It was written for Keanu Reeves, literally. I said, 'Why does it have to be an action star?' He said, 'That's the joke.' I said: 'What if it were Eddie Murphy, and Eddie Murphy played two characters? That could be really funny.' He said: 'You know, that'd be great—that'd be brilliant. Let's do that.' He processed it in about a minute, and he made a creative sea change.”

7. WATCHMEN (2009)

A year before Zack Snyder’s Watchmen hit theaters, Reeves confirmed to MTV what many had speculated: that he had turned down the chance to play Dr. Manhattan in the highly anticipated adaptation. But it wasn’t because of lack of interest on Reeves’ part; it just “didn't work out.” Still, he made it as far as a set visit: “They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming so I went over to the set to say, 'hi.' They showed me some stuff and it looks amazing! I can’t wait. It’s going to be so killer, man!”


By the time Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder made its way into theaters in the summer of 2008, the meta-comedy had been more than a decade in the making. So it’s understandable that the final product veered from Stiller’s original plan for the film, which included Reeves playing the role of Tugg Speedman (Stiller’s eventual part). Initially, Stiller had planned to cast himself as smarmy agent Rick Peck (Matthew McConaughey picked up the slack).


More from mental floss studios