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67 Awesome Halloween Costume Ideas

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Since way back in 2007, we've been rounding up our favorite Halloween costumes each year. If you're looking for a costume idea, here are some of the best!

1. Sputnik 2

In 2010, Flickr user vietnamted put together a costume that recreated Sputnik 2, the Soviet spaceship that took the dog Laika into space. As you can see, Laika is aboard and ready for liftoff. However, this Laika survived the mission. See the costume at a different angle at Flickr.

2. Yip Yips

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Sesame Street's popular aliens, the Yip Yips always appear in twos, so this is a costume that should be worn with a buddy. It take two people to properly fit one according to this Instructable, so you may as well help each other out and into a great costume!

3. Optimus Prime

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Instructables member dannyeurena turned cardboard, duct tape, and hot glue into a satisfyingly authentic Optimus Prime costume. According to the accompanying video, it was comfortable enough to dance in!

4. Death Becomes Her

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Evan Booth's costume for Halloween 2006 seemed to be a nondescript "dude in a wig" until you looked at the GAPING HOLE in his midsection! This was accomplished with a camera in the back of the shirt that recorded a background scene and fed it to a travel-size DVD player in the front that displayed the backdrop. In 2008, artist Nicole Magne used the idea for a costume recreating a scene from the movie Death Becomes Her where Goldie Hawn has a hole blown through her body. The creation process is detailed on her blog, and the Instructables version is available if you'd like to try this yourself.

5. Hovering Boba Fett

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Linkfilter member Reapre had considered a Rocketeer costume when he hit on the idea of Boba Fett Hovering on a Column of Flame. He used a purchased Boba Fett costume and converted it using a homemade jetpack. The column of flame below hid his legs. Reapre wore platform shoes made from roller blades to make himself several inches taller.

6. Helmet Cat

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Flickr user Alida Saxon's brother put this Helmet Cat costume together at the last minute. The helmet is a basketball painted green, and the fur was salvaged from a stuffed toy. Make your favorite internet meme into a Halloween costume and half the folks you encounter will laugh; the other half will scratch their heads and wonder.

7. The Wild Things

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A group of five friends dressed as the monsters plus Max from the Maurice Sendak's book Where The Wild Things Are for Halloween 2008. Craftster member sjeanette made papier mache heads of the monsters. The eyes glow in the dark! I can't really tell how one would see while wearing these, but I assume they made a great impression.

8. Mega Man

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Kevin made a Mega Man costume for his 3-year-old son a few Halloweens back. What made this so awesome is the Mega Buster with working lights and the authentic helmet fashioned from a bike helmet. See more pictures of the finished product.

9. Bender

Chris Miller made his own Bender costume back in 2005. The eyes moved by a servo controlled by his hands! He was a finalist in a costume contest, but I can't imagine what costume could beat this.

10. Emoticon

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The Mask of Emotion hides your face but displays emoticons instead. This helmet was created by the Digital Media Design Dept at Hongik University in Korea. What emoticon is shown is controlled by the wearer's body actions. If you want to make your own, the original website has design specifications and video. It will help if you can read Korean.

11. AT-AT

Katie Mello of LAIKA House in Portland made this AT-AT Costume for her dog Bones.
Bones has his own Facebook page, where you can see more pictures: in this costume, other clothing, and as nude as other dogs. In fact, there's a photoset that takes you through the process of building this costume.

12. Death Star

Darth Vader and the Death Star

Image by Flickr users Bob909 and Anditron.

Anditron always dresses up for Halloween, but when she was pregnant, she wanted to incorporate her bump without being too traditional. So she made a Death Star costume. Or rather, her round belly was the Death Star, with small x-wing fighters attached. The rest of her was dressed in black. The Darth Vader helmet was incidental, but worked well. Take a look at the Death Ray deployed:

The Death Star ready to destroy Alderaan

Image by Flickr user Bob909 and Anditron.

It appears to be some fiber optics and a few light sticks, but the effect is, um, not earth-shattering, but Alderaan-shattering!

13. Coppertone Girl

It's a logo everyone knows from as far back as we can remember. The little Coppertone girl's tan line is revealed when her puppy dog pulls on her swim pants. Anna at A. Party Style dressed her adorable daughter in a tan leotard and tights, then reconstructed the backside to reflect the logo, puppy dog and all!

14. Leg Lamp

You can buy a Leg Lamp Halloween costume referencing a prop from the movie A Christmas Story. But redditor mjr214 has a friend who has only one leg, which made her homemade costume so much more fitting -and awesome! You can see the comparison in this photo.

15. Walk the Dinosaur

Alison at Mod Mischief put together a dinosaur illusion costume a few years ago. She even wore stilts! The dino she is riding is an allosaurus made of papier-mâché. See some of the construction pictures in this post. Allison set the bar pretty high for herself after the kidnapped mermaid costume she posted at Instructables from the previous year.

See also: 12 Wordplay Halloween Costumes

16. Flying Genie

Allison also posted an Instructables guide to recreating this Genie on a Flying Carpet costume one of her friends pulled off. The secret to carrying this around all night is a walker on wheels that supports the carpet!

17. Zombie Cat

Cyriak Harris and Sarah Brown made an animation featuring zombie cats called Meow. Dawn Weast and Suzy Gruber were inspired by the video and made a Zombie Cat costume for Weast's 5-year-old daughter Bell. The handmade costume is a dead ringer for one of the cartoon cats that gets turned into a zombie.

18. Shark Attack

Redditor notsohipster has a young cousin who has no legs. He and his little sister trick-or-treated in these clever costumes portraying a shark and her surfboarding victim.

19. Pregnant Zombie

Pregnant Zombie

Image (cc) by Flickr user ian aberle

Amanda Fite was the pregnant zombie that stood out from the crowd at the 2009 Texas Frightmare Zombie Walk. Be assured, it was totally fake. A series of photos give you some idea of the work that went into this costume. See more photos from the 2009 Texas Frightmare Weekend Zombie Walk in Flickr user Ian Aberle's photo set.

20. Port-a-Potty

Sam's brother had a homemade illusion costume that set him in a Port-a-Potty in 2010. Seven-year-old Ben could walk around and "sit" at the same time! The brand name in their area is Honey Bucket, so Ben's door was labeled the same.

21. Chomping Pacman

Matthew Varas built a Pacman costume a few years ago, and this decided to improve upon the idea by building a Pacman with a Chomping Mouth! The project took six weeks, but as you can see, the results are awesome. See the building process at Make.

22. Robot Couple

Instructables member onebrokenneck made a robot couple for a costume competition. These classic Hollywood-style robots are made of aluminum, but according to the build process at Instructables, you can probably use cardboard instead if you don't have a metal shop. The arms and legs are dryer ducts, and various LED gizmos were used to give them an electric personality.

23. Halo

Shawn Thorsson has made a bunch of fantastic costumes. He planned a Halo-themed build for Halloween 2008, but then was deployed to Afghanistan. The project was finally completed the next year. Thorsson fabricated armor from the video game world of Halo, painted them in different colors, and dressed his friends as the characters from the Red vs. Blue series. He posted lots of pictures to show you the process.

24. The Birds

A few years ago, redditor CampingIsInTents posted a picture of her Tippi Hedren costume and got a rousing response. The idea references a popular movie, but you won't see other people wearing it at the same party. She bought the birds, but had to alter the wings to make them just right. The idea has been used by creative costume-makers a couple of times before, even on TV.

25. Krang

Melissa Dunphy made her husband a Krang costume for Halloween 2010. Krang is a cartoon villain who vexes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The costume required a lot of foam rubber, repurposed electronics, and duct tape. See some still photos at Flickr.

See also: 12 Halloween Ideas From 1884's Hottest Costume Guide

26. Headless Marie Antoinette

Nicole Magne, who wore a gaping abdominal hole in the Death Becomes Her costume above, made this awesome Marie Antoinette getup a few years ago. Of course, it wouldn't be so awesome if she hadn't been decapitated! See the process of building this costume at Etsy.

27. 8-bit Gary

Kiel Johnson and Klai Brown created this 8-bit costume out of foam cubes glued onto a cardboard suit for a Toshiba ad in which the "real" Gary was pixelated into a low-res version of himself. The process is documented in photographs.

28. LEGO Minifig

Instructables member Kaged Konbat made himself into a LEGO Minifig. The head is made from a tube sold as a form for concrete -strong but still lightweight. The wearer sees through the facial features, which are covered with mesh speaker fabric. Your buddy could accompany you as a LEGO brick.

29. Darth Vader TIE Fighter

(Image by Flickr user Kevin Tostado)

I was blown away by this Darth Vader costume spotted at Downtown Disney in Anaheim for Halloween 2007. Someone took a lot of care in constructing a TIE fighter around a wheelchair. See more Halloween costume ideas for children in wheelchairs.

30. Steampunk Iron Man

Image by Judy Stephens)

Steampunk Iron Man won the Marvel costume contest at Comic Con in 2010.

31. Double Rainbow

This costume was inspired by the double rainbow meme from Paul Vasquez's awe at seeing a double rainbow at Yosemite.

32. Mad Max

Karol Bartoszynski has been many of the characters from the Mad Max movies. He became a fan as a teenager, and over the next twenty years turned his enthusiasm for Mad Max into a career as a costume designer, and now organizes Mad Max fan gatherings and re-enactments. Bartoszynski runs the fan site Mad Max Costumes, where you can draw plenty of inspiration.  Imagine showing up looking like this at your local Halloween party!

33. Reverse Trick-or-Treat

The greatest Halloween costume idea ever was one related in this story from Mefite np312. Apparently no pictures were posted from that Halloween long ago, but Doc Pop took the idea and illustrated it in a comic. You can see the whole thing at Flickr. I hope someone picks this up and runs with it this year.

34. Umbrella Bat

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Have you ever looked at a broken umbrella and thought about how it resembles a flailing bat? Lenore at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories made this Umbrella Bat costume out of one umbrella and a hoodie, and posted instructions so you can do the same.

35. Trash Can

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This Trash Can costume is also a prank!

When I was a kid there was a guy in our neighborhood that used to jump out of the bushes in a gorilla suit and scare the bejeezus out of us. It was one of my fondest memories of halloween. One year I decided to be that guy.

Unfortunately, I don't have any bushes. An alternative would be to build a trash barrel disguise. I built the disguise below and then sat in it right on the front lawn. Not one single kid realized that It wasn't a trash can and I scared so many of them that I lost count.

See also: 15 Halloween Costumes From the 1970s

36. Caterpillar Power Loader J-5000

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You might not recognize the name Caterpillar Power Loader J-5000, but surely you remember the mechanical power suit Sigourney Weaver used to fight the alien queen in Aliens. Ben Hallert built this one for Halloween in 2006. Read his story with links to photos and a video. Hallert previously made an APU costume from The Matrix, and a Mech Warrior costume.

37. Rubik's Cube

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Flickr user mcredis built a Rubik's Cube costume and posted the process in photographs. He wore it to a costume parade in New York, and heard "Can I solve you?" all night long.

38. Flaming Carrot

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The Flaming Carrot is one of the more bizarre comic book characters you'll ever encounter, but it's the look that makes a great costume, rather than the backstory. RoG posted details on how he contructed this one.

39. Tron Guy

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Jay Maynard, the Tron Guy, shows you step-by-step how he made the costume that made him an internet legend.

40. Ghostbusters

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Honus at Instructables posted instructions for making your own, complete with goggles and weapons. The backpack really makes this; I hope it isn't as heavy as it looks!

41. Big Daddy

Graphic designer Harrison Krix made a costume of the character Big Daddy from the video game Bioshock. This is a work of a serious propmaster. It took seven weeks of sculpting with foam, cardboard, and fiberglass. The finished product, complete with a working drill arm, is a work of art. The post includes many more pictures and a couple of videos of the drill arm in action.

Every year, people amaze me not only with their ideas, but with their talent and dedication at bringing the best costumes to life for Halloween (and other occasions). I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

42. Plastic Army Man

Rebekah Tennis made this costume for her son in 2011. He wanted to be an Army guy, but with a little work and a lot of green paint, he's a soldier straight out of Toy Story! She then posted the process of creating this costume.

43. Cherry Darling

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Photograph by Flickr user Cameron Yee.

The character Cherry Darling from the movie Planet Terror startled folks when they saw that one of her legs was a machine gun. Then it inspired some women to recreate the scene. Now, if you are a beautiful amputee like Lacey Henderson, who gained note as a college cheerleader a few years ago, you can make hay by cosplaying the character at fan events. Henderson has a webpage with instructions for those who aren't amputees on how to recreate the Cherry Darling look, and an annual competition is held for the best machine-gun-leg costume.

44. Jack Skellington

DeviantART member Mnemousyne created this super-tall Jack Skellington costume by making a suit that fits over stilts. The head is built over a helmet, making it more stable, but still a bit hard to see from. Her sister is modeling the costume here; Mnemousyne is in the Sally costume.

45. Weeping Angel

The Weeping Angel is a scary character from the Doctor Who episode "Blink." Livejournal user penwiper337 made this costume of the Weeping Angel to wear at DragonCon. You can follow the process of building it at her blog.

See also: 10 Last-Minute Ideas for Brilliant Halloween Costumes

46. The Ginger Bread Man

The costume was created for a career day fair, but would work for Halloween for any redheads out there.

47. Dorian Gray and his Picture

Heather and David as Dorian Gray and his Picture

The party was literary-themed, so Heather and David came up with a couple's costume right out of the novel The Picture of Dorian Grey. Heather is Dorian, of course, and David is aged up and framed to be …his picture! Photograph by Flickr user Jason Adams.

48. Mousetrap

Jeff from Ohio told the story of how he made this mousetrap costume for his 3-year-old daughter. Being trapped is a very good excuse for not walking house to house, but a set of wheels got her there anyway! He cut the wood and mounted it to a wagon, welded on the metal hardware, and made the back half of the mouse to work as a cushion for the child's back. Adorable!

49 & 50. Bob Ross and the Orbit Gum Lady

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Jake Meek said his Bob Ross attire was purchased in the ladies department at a local thrift store, "which I can only assume is where all men's clothing from the '70s currently resides." He's posing with the Orbit Gum Lady.

51 & 52. The Hamburgler and the Sunmaid Raisins Lady

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Here's that same pair, this time as The Hamburgler and the woman on the Sunmaid Raisins box.

53. The DC Metro

Scott-Allen

Longtime mental_floss contributor Scott Allen won season tickets to the Washington Wizards for this!

54. The Firefox Logo

You can even dress up as a browser logo. Firefox is the preferred costume, as it has recognizable features. This Firefox costume was entered in Crunchgear's contest last year.

55. Rock & Roll Witch

Or you could go as me! (Going as a rock & roll witch.)

56. Cheshire Cat

scarystitcher at Etsy

Etsy member scarystitcher made an award-winning costume for her daughter last year and posted it at reddit. She gave us the short version of how it was made. 

The gray and blue fur are two separate materials from Joanns. The gray was much longer and I had to trim all of it down, but it really was the best match for Cheshire. I used a pattern to make the body then altered it to fit her measurements. The blue stripes were cut, placed, pinned and hand-stitched one by one. The mask has a paper mâché base with upholstery foam to widen his face. The eyes are lenses from a pair of sunglasses that I painted w/ just turquoise acrylic paint. The blacks of the eyes are what she sees through. Narrow, but it works well enough. The mouth and nose are thick card-stock also painted and attached with a glue gun and the whiskers are actually twigs I spray painted and glued in under the fur. Took about a month to make but probably would've been less if I didn't have FT work + FT school

She gives more information about the costume construction at the Etsy listing. Yes, last year’s costume is for sale. Here’s another picture.

57. Darla

jarrettbraun, imgur

Darla is the bratty dentist’s niece in the movie Finding Nemo. The bag is crucial for this costume, otherwise people would assume she’s just an orthodontically-challenged kid. But with the bag, it’s perfect! Redditor jarrettbraun posted a picture of redditor neuhani’s clever Halloween costume from last year. 

58. Hannibal Lecter

Andy Pixel, Imgur

Andy Pixel made himself into Hannibal Lecter last year. You might think this costume would be difficult with cars, stairs, or the restroom, but he thought about that ahead of time. The hand cart comes apart, so he can ditch it and the extra legs when needed, and still be left with a full costume. He’s not really in a straitjacket; crossed arms just give him the look.

59. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Alanna George made this Very Hungry Caterpillar costume for just a couple of dollars, and it looks just like the caterpillar in the book! Her then-2-year-old son was delighted to be the character from his favorite story. It's just one of many literary costumes that put kids in their favorite books that you can see in this bigger list

60. The Governor and His Daughter

TriforceKing, imgur

Fans of the TV show The Walking Dead will recognize the Governor and his undead daughter. Redditor TriforceKing and his sister wore this last Halloween. It helped that he already resembled the actor David Morrissey somewhat. A few people pointed out that the Governor didn’t lose his eye until after his daughter was gone, but who cares? It’s Halloween!

61. Baby Can't Wait

BAOUWS, imgur

It’s not really a new picture, but this photo was posted just last week showing a baby who can’t wait until he’s born to go trick-or-treating. Redditor Ghost0_ told us how he and his wife used that idea for Halloween a couple of years ago, and what went into making it. You don’t really have to be pregnant to pull this off, but it’s funnier to people who know you if you are.  

62. Man Being Carried Illusion

QuaziLogical made a classic illusion costume a couple of years ago. It cost him about $30 and took about 30 hours of work. This version of the trick looks better than most because the “dummy” is covered by a surgical mask, obscuring its fakery, and QuaziLogical wore a mask, too, to make his face look artificial. See a closer image of the legs he made.

63. Snow Globe

jpotisch via Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Flickr user jpotisch made this snow globe costume by hand! The globe is fashioned from clear acetate, and the snow is made from bits of foam hanging by thread. He posted the building process in a Flickr album with some commentary along the way. He said it took about three days to build, but the finished product is a work of art! He also made the banana costume his son is wearing in the background—and it has a photo tutorial, too. 

64. Major Toht

Cameron Stewart, imgur

Few will ever forget the climactic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark is opened up and Gestapo agent Arnold Toht's face is melted off. Comic book artist Cameron Stewart recreated that look for Halloween one year, at the last moment

I made the Major Toht costume in a single afternoon. I woke up that morning thinking I was going to skip Halloween (too much work in my day job as a comic artist) but all of my friends flipped out and pressured me into it. I managed to scrape all of the props together by chance. The melty face is a Captain America movie Red Skull mask with flesh-coloured paint dribbled over it.

Stewart is a master of movie costumes, as you can see in an imgur gallery featuring Toht, Jack Torrance, Patrick Bateman, and other characters.

65. Captain Hook

Rachael K, Instructables

Here’s one trick-or-treater that takes the classic pirate costume to the next level. This toddler is Captain Hook being eaten by the crocodile from Peter Pan! Instructables member Rachael K explains how she made the costume, which won the Judges Prize for Sewing in the Instructables Halloween Costume Contest last year.

66. Mad Max

bloody_ben via Instagram

Ben Carpenter is a cosplayer who uses a wheelchair. For this year’s Tampa Bay Comic Con, he and his group became the cast of Mad Max: Fury Road. Ben was Max in the scene where he was strapped to the front of a vehicle in order to supply blood to the driver. He used his wheelchair in the upright position for the vehicle, driven by a friend and accompanied by other characters from the movie. They won the award for Best Group Cosplay. Of course they did.

67. Taco Belle

AvantGeek, DeviantART

Olivia Mears is a cosplayer and costumer extraordinaire. Her Taco Belle dress decorations are made from card stock, tissue paper, felt, and Taco Bell wrappers. The inspiration came from a previous costume event, when she went for some fast food and contemplated the inadvertent pun.

See More:

11 Additional Pun-tastic Halloween Costumes

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Food
15 Fascinating Facts About Julia Child
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TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

Julia Child was much more than just a bestselling cookbook author and chef. Over the course of her life, she was also a breast cancer survivor, a TV trailblazer, and a government spy. It's the famed chef's spy game that will be the focus of Julia, a new series being developed by ABC Signature and created by Benjamin Brand.

The project will draw its inspiration from Child's PBS program, Cooking for the C.I.A. “I was disappointed when I learned that in this case, the C.I.A. stood for the Culinary Institute of America,” Brand told Deadline. “Cooking Secrets of the Central Intelligence Agency always seemed like a more interesting show to me. Many years later, when I read a biography of Julia Child and learned about her experiences during World War II, working for the Office of Strategic Services—the precursor to the C.I.A.—the story of Julia quickly fell into place.”

Though Julia will be a work of fiction, here are 15 facts about the beloved cook.

1. SHE MET THE INVENTOR OF THE CAESAR SALAD WHEN SHE WAS A KID.

As a preteen, Julia Child traveled to Tijuana on a family vacation. Her parents took her to dine at Caesar Cardini’s restaurant, so that they could all try his trendy “Caesar salad.” Child recalled the formative culinary experience to The New York Times: “My parents were so excited, eating this famous salad that was suddenly very chic. Caesar himself was a great big old fellow who stood right in front of us to make it. I remember the turning of the salad in the bowl was very dramatic. And egg in a salad was unheard of at that point.” Years later, when she was a famous chef in her own right, Child convinced Cardini’s daughter, Rosa, to share the authentic recipe with her.

2. THE WAVES AND WACS REJECTED HER BECAUSE SHE WAS TOO TALL.

Like so many others of her generation, Child felt the call to serve when America entered World War II. There was just one problem: her height. At a towering 6'2", Child was deemed “too tall” for both the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and Women’s Army Corps (WAC). But she was accepted by the forerunner to the CIA, which brings us to our next point.

3. SHE WAS A SPY DURING WORLD WAR II.

Child took a position at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was basically the CIA 1.0. She began as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division, where she worked directly for the head of the OSS, General William J. Donovan. But she moved over to the OSS Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, and then took an overseas post for the final two years of the war. First in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) and later in Kunming, China, Child served as the chief of the OSS Registry. This meant she had top-level security clearance. It also meant she was working with Paul Child, the OSS officer she would eventually marry.

4. SHE HELPED DEVELOP A SHARK REPELLENT FOR THE NAVY.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

While Child was in the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, she helped the team in its search for a suitable shark repellent. Several U.S. naval officers had been attacked by the ocean predators since the war broke out, so the OSS brought in a scientist specializing in zoology and an anthropologist to come up with a fix. Child assisted in this mission, and recalled her experience in the book, Sisterhood of Spies: “I must say we had lots of fun. We designed rescue kits and other agent paraphernalia. I understand the shark repellent we developed is being used today for downed space equipment—strapped around it so the sharks won’t attack when it lands in the ocean.”

5. SHE GOT MARRIED IN BANDAGES.

Once the war ended, Paul and Julia Child decided to take a “few months to get to know each other in civilian clothes.” They met with family members and traveled cross-country before they decided to tie the knot. The wedding took place on September 1, 1946. Julia remembered being “extremely happy, but a bit banged up from a car accident the day before.” She wasn’t kidding; she actually had to wear a bandage on the side of her face for her wedding photos. The New York Review of Books has one of those pictures.

6. SHE WAS A TERRIBLE COOK WELL INTO HER 30S.

Child did not have a natural talent for cooking. In fact, she was a self-admitted disaster in the kitchen until she began taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she and Paul lived for several years. Prior to her marriage, Child simply fed herself frozen dinners. It was probably the safest choice; one of her earliest attempts at cooking resulted in an exploded duck and an oven fire.

7. A LUNCH IN ROUEN CHANGED HER LIFE.

Child repeatedly credited one meal with spurring her interest in fine foods: a lunch in the French city of Rouen that she and Paul enjoyed en route to their new home in Paris. The meal consisted of oysters portugaises on the half-shell, sole meunière browned in Normandy butter, a salad with baguettes, and cheese and coffee for dessert. They also “happily downed a whole bottle of Pouilly-Fumé” over the courses.

8. IT TOOK HER NINE YEARS TO WRITE AND PUBLISH HER FIRST COOKBOOK.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking revolutionized home cooking when it was published in 1961—but the revolution didn't happen overnight. Child first began work on her famous tome in 1952, when she met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The French women were writing a cookbook aimed at teaching Americans how to make French cuisine, and brought Child onboard as a third author. Nine years of research, rewrites, and rejections ensued before the book landed a publisher at Alfred A. Knopf.

9. SHE GOT FAMOUS BY BEATING EGGS ON BOSTON PUBLIC TELEVISION.

Child’s big TV break came from an unlikely source: Boston’s local WGBH station. While promoting Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child appeared as a guest on the book review program I’ve Been Reading. But rather than sit down and discuss recipe semantics, Child started cracking eggs into a hot plate she brought with her. She made an omelette on air as she answered questions, and viewers loved it. The station received dozens of letters begging for more demonstrations, which led WGBH producer Russell Morash to offer Child a deal. She filmed three pilot episodes, which turned into her star-making show The French Chef.

10. ALL HER ESSENTIAL UTENSILS WERE KEPT IN A “SACRED BAG.”

According to a 1974 New Yorker profile, Child carried a large black canvas satchel known as the “sacred bag.” Rather than holy artifacts, it contained the cooking utensils she couldn’t live without. That included her pastry-cutting wheel, her favorite flour scoop, and her knives, among other things. She started using it when The French Chef premiered, and only entrusted certain people with its care.

11. SHE SURVIVED BREAST CANCER.

Child’s doctors ordered a mastectomy in the late 1960s after a routine biopsy came back with cancerous results. She was in a depressed mood following her 10-day hospital stay, and Paul was a wreck. But she later became vocal about her operation in hopes that it would remove the stigma for other women. She told TIME, “I would certainly not pussyfoot around having a radical [mastectomy] because it’s not worth it.”

12. HER MARRIAGE WAS WELL AHEAD OF ITS TIME.

As their meet-cute in the OSS offices would suggest, Paul and Julia Child had far from a conventional marriage (at least by 1950s standards). Once Julia’s career took off, Paul happily assisted in whatever way he could—as a taste tester, dishwasher, agent, or manager. He had retired from the Foreign Service in 1960, and immediately thrust himself into an active role in Julia’s business. The New Yorker took note of Paul’s progressive attitudes in its 1974 profile of Julia, noting that he suffered “from no apparent insecurities of male ego.” He continued to serve as Julia’s partner in every sense of the word until his death in 1994.

13. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN INDUCTED INTO THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA'S HALL OF FAME.

Child spent her early years working for what would become the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1993, she joined another CIA: the Culinary Institute of America. The group inducted Child into its Hall of Fame that year, making her the first woman to ever receive the honor.

14. SHE EARNED THE HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONORS FROM THE U.S. AND FRANCE.

Along with that CIA distinction, Child received top civilian awards from both her home country and the country she considered her second home. In 2000, she accepted the Legion D’Honneur from Jacques Pépin at Boston’s Le Méridien hotel. Just three years later, George W. Bush gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

15. HER KITCHEN IS IN THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 2001, Julia donated the kitchen that Paul designed in their Cambridge, Massachusetts home to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Although it’s not possible to walk directly through it, there are three viewports from which visitors can see the high counters, wall of copper pots, and gleaming stove. Framed recipes, articles, and other mementos from her career adorn the surrounding walls—and, of course, there’s a television which plays her cooking shows on loop.

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entertainment
15 Surprising Facts About Steve Carell
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From the seven seasons he spent as the star of NBC’s The Office to leading man roles in comedy classics like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Steve Carell has become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand funnymen. But he has proven his dramatic chops, too, particularly with his role as John du Pont in Foxcatcher, which earned Carell an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in 2015. Even if you’ve seen all of his movies, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about the Massachusetts native, who turns 55 years old today.

1. HE THOUGHT HE WANTED TO BE A LAWYER.

Steve Carell attended Ohio’s Denison University, where he received a history degree in 1984, and had planned to move on to law school. But when it came time to apply, he found himself stumped by the first question on the application: Why do you want to be a lawyer?

“I had never considered acting as a career choice, although I’d always enjoyed it,” Carell told NJ.com in 2011. “I enjoyed hockey and singing in the choir, and I didn’t think of them as potential careers, either … But I began to realize I really loved acting, and telling stories. Reading a book, watching a movie, going to a play, it’s transporting, and very, very exciting. And to be a part of that, creating things with your imagination, whoa."

2. HE WORKED AS A MAILMAN.

Shortly before he moved to Chicago and performed with The Second City, Carell worked as a postal carrier in the tiny town of Littleton, Massachusetts. Because the post office didn’t have its own mail vehicles, Carell had to use his own car. He kept the gig for just four months, then took off for the Windy City. “And months later, I found mail under the seat of my car,” he admitted. Carell also said it was the hardest job he has ever had.

3. HE WAS HIS WIFE’S TEACHER.

No, it’s not as risqué as it sounds. Carell met his wife, Nancy Walls, through an improv class at Second City; he was the teacher, she was one of his students. “I beat around the bush [before asking her out] and said something stupid like, ‘Well, you know, if I were to ever ask someone out, it would be someone like you,’” Carell told Details of his earliest attempts at flirting. “It’s so stupid, but it was all self-protection. She was the same way: ‘If somebody like you were to ask me out, I would definitely go out with him. If there was a person like you.’” The couple married in 1995 and have appeared in several projects together.

4. THE COUPLE HAD TO BREAK UP (ON CAMERA) ON THEIR 17TH ANNIVERSARY.

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For Lorene Scafaria’s underrated 2012 end-of-the-world dramedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Steve and Nancy played a married couple who split up when it’s announced that an asteroid heading toward Earth will obliterate the planet in three weeks. Their break-up scene happens very early on in the movie, and they ended up filming it on their 17th wedding anniversary.

“She gets to leave me right at the beginning,” Carell told Parade. “They used the take where her shoe came off in the car, and she bolted across that field with one shoe on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her run that fast. We shot the scene on our 17th anniversary. [The director] got us a cake and the crew sang ‘Happy Anniversary’ to us. It was very sweet, a very special night."

5. HE AND HIS WIFE AUDITIONED FOR SNL TOGETHER; ONLY ONE OF THEM MADE IT.

In 1995, the same year they married, both Carell and Walls auditioned for Saturday Night Live. Walls made it but Carell didn’t, which must have made for one awkward celebratory dinner. But it all turned out well in the end; Carell went on to become a household name and has hosted the show on two occasions.

6. HE WAS ONE HALF OF “THE AMBIGUOUSLY GAY DUO.”

Though he missed out on the chance to become a regular SNL cast member, there was a silver lining: He was free to say “yes” to taking a role on The Dana Carvey Show, a sketch show that SNL alum Dana Carvey created for ABC. Though it was short-lived, the show was full of amazing comedic talent; in addition to Carvey and Carell, the show featured Stephen Colbert, Bob Odenkirk, and Robert Smigel and a writers room that included Louis C.K., Charlie Kaufman, and Robert Carlock. The show marked the debut of Smigel’s recurring animated sketch, “The Ambiguously Gay Duo,” which followed the adventures of Gary and Ace, who were voiced by Carell and Colbert, respectively. After the show was cancelled, Smigel brought the “Duo” over to Saturday Night Live.

7. HE OWNS A GENERAL STORE IN MASSACHUSETTS.

While many A-list stars run side businesses—restaurants, wine companies, clothing lines, etc.—the Carells' second gig is a little less glamorous. In 2009, they bought the Marshfield Hills General Store in Marshfield, Massachusetts—where they spend their summers—in order to preserve it as a local landmark. 

“The main impetus to keep it going is that not many of those places exist and I wanted this one to stay afloat,” Carell told The Patriot Ledger. “Just generally speaking, there are not that many local sort of communal places as there used to be ... I think it’s nice for people to actually go and talk and have a cup of coffee and communicate with one another."

8. HE PLAYS THE FIFE.

Yes, Carell has got some musical talent and can actually play the fife. It’s a skill he acquired early in life, and shares with several of his family members. And it came in handy when he joined a reenactment group that portrayed the 10th (North Lincoln) Regiment of Foot, a line infantry regiment with the British Army.

9. HE WAS NOT THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY MICHAEL SCOTT IN THE OFFICE.

Though Michael Scott, the clueless manager of paper company Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton, Pennsylvania branch in The Office, is still probably Carell's best-known role, he wasn’t the first choice for the part. Paul Giamatti was reportedly the first choice, but he declined. Hank Azaria and Martin Short were also in the running. Bob Odenkirk was actually cast in the role because Carell was committed to another series, Come to Papa. But when that show was cancelled after just a few episodes, the role of Michael Scott was recast with Carell. (Odenkirk appeared in one of the series’s later episodes, playing a boss who was eerily similar to Carell’s Scott.)

10. WHEN CARELL LEFT THE OFFICE, THE CAST AND CREW “RETIRED” HIS NUMBER ON THE CALL SHEET.

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When Carell left The Office after seven seasons to focus on his film career, the cast and crew continued one tradition in his honor. “Steve was No. 1 on the call sheet because he was the lead of the show,” co-star Jenna Fischer told TV Guide. “And when he left, we retired his number. No one, ever since he left, was allowed to be No. 1."

11. HE WAS IN TALKS TO PLAY RON DONALD ON PARTY DOWN.

Before Party Down made its premiere on Starz with Adam Scott playing failed actor Henry Pollard, it was supposed to be an HBO series with Paul Rudd in the lead. And Rudd was pushing for Carell to play bumbling catering manager Ron Donald, as The Office didn’t get off to a great start and looked to be in danger of getting cancelled. Ultimately, HBO ended up abandoning the project, which Starz scooped up—with Scott as Pollard and Ken Marino as Ron Donald.

12. JAMES SPADER REALLY WANTED TO PLAY BRICK TAMLAND IN ANCHORMAN.

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Though it was The 40-Year-Old Virgin that turned Carell into a leading man on the big screen, his role as oddball meteorologist Brick Tamland in Anchorman brought him a lot of attention. But if James Spader had his way, Carell would never have appeared in the role at all. In a 2013 interview with Baller Status, director Adam McKay shared that before the film was even cast:

“I get a phone call and I hear that James Spader is obsessed with Brick's character. I say ‘James Spader? That is insane, will he come in and read?’ They say, ‘No, he's not going to come in and read; he's James Spader!’ James Spader and I end up talking and he called it about the Brick character. He thought it was one of the funniest character he ever read and we weren't even sure if it was going to work. He literally said, ‘I will do anything to get this role.’ Eventually, we were just like, ‘This is James Spader; he is too good for this role.’ But, he was right about how funny it was. The movie studio even questioned us and said how bizarre Brick is, and it wouldn't work. I felt bad we didn't cast James, but Carell was so good.”

Spader proved his comedic chops in 2011, when he was cast as Robert California, Michael Scott’s replacement on The Office (who quickly manages to convince the company owner to appoint him as CEO).

13. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS' EXECUTIVES WERE CONCERNED THAT CARELL WAS COMING OFF AS A SERIAL KILLER IN THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN.

Though it turned out to be one of 2005’s biggest hits, getting the tone right on Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin proved to be a fairly difficult task. At one point, executives at Universal Studios expressed their concern to Apatow that Carell might come off as a serial killer to viewers.

"There is a fine line," producer Mary Parent told the Los Angeles Times. "Men and women alike could look at him and if he's too much of a sad sack, they will think, 'Dude, get a life.’” Apatow ended up adding several lines about the fact that Carell’s character could be a serial killer.

14. HE LEARNED MAGIC FROM DAVID COPPERFIELD.

In 2013, Carell played a magician in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. In order to get the role just right, he went straight to the top: David Copperfield. The famed illusionist taught Carell and co-star Steve Buscemi a trick called “The Hangman,” and they were both sworn to secrecy. “I actually had to sign something that I would not divulge,” Carell told The Hollywood Reporter. “So that was kind of cool.”

15. HE OFFERED PRINCETON'S 2012 CLASS SOME TIPS FOR SUCCESS.

In 2012, Carell delivered a speech to Princeton University graduates—which included his niece—during Class Day. He ended his talk by offering some tips to the grads:

“I would like to leave you with a few random thoughts. Not advice per se, but some helpful hints: Show up on time. Because to be late is to show disrespect. Remember that the words 'regime' and 'regimen' are not interchangeable. Get a dog, because cats are lame. Only use a 'That's what she said' joke if you absolutely cannot resist. Never try to explain a 'That's what she said' joke to your parents. When out to eat, tip on the entire check. Do not subtract the tax first. And every once in a while, put something positive into the world. We have become so cynical these days. And by we I mean us. So do something kind, make someone laugh, and don't take yourself too seriously.”

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