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Wikimedia Commons

How Baseball Owners Made Their Fortunes

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Baseball season is finally here, so let's take a look at the people profiting from $16 stadium beers.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Ken Kendrick (Part-Owner)

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: Forbes estimates the Diamondbacks are worth $447 million. Kendrick was a founding part-owner of the franchise in 1995 and became Managing General Partner in 2004.

Collector: Kendrick owns the most expensive baseball card in history, the T206 Honus Wagner. He paid $2.8 million for the card—dubbed the "Gretzky T206 Honus Wagner" because Wayne Gretzky was one of its previous owners—in 2007. Kendrick owns more than 10,000 baseball cards.

How He Got Rich: In the '70s, Kendrick merged his data technology firm with another to create Datatel, Inc. The company specializes in information processing and software products for higher education.

Atlanta Braves: Liberty Media (Chairman John C. Malone)

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Owners Since: 2007

The Numbers: The media group bought the Braves in 2007 for $450 million. The baseball franchise is worth around $508 million today. Forbes estimates the company's Chairman, John Malone, to be worth $7.1 billion.

Other Holdings: Liberty Media either owns or holds large shares of QVC, Expedia, Sirius XM Radio, and Barnes & Noble.

How He Got Rich: Malone started in telecomunications at AT&T and served as the President and CEO of TCI before becoming the Chairman of Liberty Media Group.

Baltimore Orioles: Peter Angelos

Owner Since: 1993

The Numbers: Angelos led a group of investors in the $173 million acquisition of the Baltimore Orioles. They were awarded the franchise in bankruptcy court.

Other Investors: Techno-thriller novelist Tom Clancy was a member of that investment group and made $230 million from his original $43 million stake in the team. That buys a lot of U.S. Navy baseball hats.

How He Got Rich: Angelos is a successful personal injury attorney. He represented the state of Maryland in their suit against Philip Morris and his firm also took on the manufacturers of the diet drug Fen-Phen.

Boston Red Sox: John W. Henry

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: After he sold the Florida Marlins, John W. Henry and his partner Tom Werner paid $380 million for the Red Sox in 2002. The team is now worth $1.3 billion.

Other Ventures: Henry is also the principal owner of the Boston Globe and Liverpool FC, and is a part-owner of NASCAR's Roush Fenway Racing team.

How He Got Rich: John Henry started a commodities management company in 1981. According to Forbes, he is "winding down" the "struggling" firm.

Chicago Cubs: Thomas S. Ricketts

Image courtesy of TonytheTiger, used under Creative Commons license.

Owner Since: 2009

The Numbers: The Ricketts family bought the Cubs for $700 million.

Wrigley Connection: After college, Ricketts lived with his brother in an apartment across the street from Wrigley Field. He also met his wife in Wrigley's bleachers during a game.

How He Got Rich: Tom Ricketts is a director of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (his father founded Ameritrade in 1983). He is also the chairman of Incapital LLC, an investment firm. The Ricketts family wealth is estimated at $1 billion.

Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf

Owner Since 1981

The Numbers: Reinsdorf bought the White Sox for $20 million. The team is now worth an estimated $695 million.

Other Ventures: Reinsdorf also owns the Chicago Bulls. He bought the then-financially struggling basketball team in 1985. The Bulls are now one of the most profitable franchises in sports.

How He Got Rich: Reinsdorf started his career as a tax attorney. He went on to specialize in real estate tax shelters and investments in properties that were under construction.

Cincinnati Reds: Robert Castellini

YouTube

Owner Since: 2006

The Numbers: Castellini led a group that purchased the team for $270 million from dairy billionaire Carl Lindner, Jr. in 2006.

Frequent Buyers Club: Robert Castellini was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals' ownership group as well as the investment group that purchased the Baltimore Orioles.

How He Got Rich: He is the president of a Cincinnati-based fruit and vegetable wholesaler.

Cleveland Indians: Larry Dolan

YouTube

Owner Since: 1999

The Numbers: Larry Dolan bought the team for $323 million. The Indians are now estimated to be worth $600 million.

Family Business: His brother Charles founded Cablevision, which controls the Madison Square Garden company. That entity, which is now run by Larry's nephew James, owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

How He Got Rich: Dolan was a successful lawyer and is a managing partner of a large Ohio-based firm.

Colorado Rockies: Charles and Richard Monfort

Owners Since: 1992

The Numbers: The Monfort brothers bought a controlling interest in the expansion team in 1992, paying $92 million. The Rockies are now worth an estimated $575 million.

They Don't Quite Agree With Those Numbers Above: Dick Monfort thinks the club is worth a little more than Forbes' estimate. In an email to the Denver Post, he wrote, "The Astros sold for $600 million, as did the Padres, so I would guess that is the realm of our value. Then you do balance sheet adjustment. Forbes is close."

How They Got Rich: Their father sold his meat processing and distributing company for $365.5 million to ConAgra Foods in 1987. Both brothers work as executives there.

Detroit Tigers: Mike Ilitch

Owner Since: 1992

The Numbers: Ilitch bought the Tigers in 1992 for $82 million. The team is worth an estimated $680 million.

Second Baseman: He played minor league ball for four years before injuring his knee.

How He Got Rich: Pizza pizza. In 1959, Ilitch opened Little Caesars Pizza in Garden City, Michigan. A massive franchise followed, and Illitch is worth an estimate $2.7 billion today.

Houston Astros: Jim Crane

Owner Since: 2011

The Numbers: Crane paid $465 million for the Astros in 2011.

Scratch Golfer: Golf Digest ranks Crane as the world's best CEO golfer. As of 2006, he had a 0.8 handicap.

How He Got Rich: Crane founded Eagle Global Logistics, Inc., a worldwide transportation and supply management company, in 1984. He served as CEO until it merged with CEVA Logistics in 2007.

Kansas City Royals: David Glass

Owner Since: 2000

The Numbers: Glass was the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Royals in 1993 and eventually bought the team in 2000 for $96 million. They are now worth an estimated $490 million.

How He Got Rich: From 1988 to 2000, Glass served as CEO of Wal-Mart.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Arturo Moreno

Owner Since 2003

The Numbers: Moreno bought the Angels from The Walt Disney Company in 2003 for $180 million.

Pioneer: Moreno is the first ever Mexican American owner of a major U.S. sports team.

How He Got Rich: He started his career in advertising and eventually became the CEO of Outdoor Systems, a billboard company. Moreno sold Outdoor Systems in 2008 for a reported $8 billion. He is now worth an estimated $1.15 billion.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Guggenheim Baseball Management (CEO: Mark Walter)

Owner Since: 2012

The Numbers: Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group let by Mark Walter (Magic Johnson is another notable member), purchased the Dodgers in 2012 for $2 billion—a record amount for a sports team.

How He Got Rich: Walter is a founder and CEO of Guggenheim Partners, LLC, a financial and investment firm based in New York and Chicago.

Miami Marlins: Jeffrey Loria

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: Loria had become majority owner of the Montreal Expos in 1999. After a series of miscues (some accuse these of being deliberate), Loria couldn't secure English-language television rights and demanded tax funds for a new stadium (the request was denied). In 2002, with the help of commissioner Bud Selig, Loria sold the Expos to MLB for $120 million. John W. Henry, the owner of the Marlins at the time, then sold the Florida team to Loria for $158.5 million, making it possible for Henry to buy the Red Sox. The Expos were then moved to D.C. to become the Nationals. All three moves happened almost simultaneously, with all parties working closely together on the switches.

Nice Painting, Can it Play Third?: In 2013, Loria sold one Alberto Giacometti painting for $32.6 million. As Yahoo! notes, that's over $6 million less than the Marlins' payroll at the time.

How He Got Rich: After studying art in college, Loria became head of the Vincent Price Collection of artwork at Sears (yes, this was a thing). After leaving the department store, he opened his own gallery and became a successful art dealer.

Milwaukee Brewers: Mark Attanasio

Owner Since: 2005

The Numbers: Attanasio led a group that purchased the Brewers from the Selig family for $223 million.

Collector: After his collection of Yankees Topps cards was stolen from a cousin's house, Attanasio tried to replenish the entire set by buying replacements on eBay.

How He Got Rich: Attanasio co-founded Crescent Capital Group, an investment firm, in 1991. The group was sold to the Trust Company of the West in 1995, and he stayed on as an executive.

Minnesota Twins: Jim Pohlad

Owner Since: 1984

The Numbers: Carl Pohlad purchased the Twins in 1984 for $44 million. After his death in 2009, his son Jim inherited the team, which is now worth an estimated $605 million.

Number Cruncher: When his father bought the Twins, Jim Pohlad worked as an analyst and made payroll projections for the team.

How He Got Rich: Pohlad's father got into the banking industry after the great depression and became a successful investor in industries like aviation and soft-drink bottling. At the time of his death, Carl Pohlad's net worth was estimated at $3.6 billion.

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon (Majority Owner)

Owner Since: 2002

The Numbers: In 2002, Wilpon and his family became the majority owners of the Mets for a total sum of $391 million.

Madoff Money: Wilpon invested heavily with Bernie Madoff. After Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme fell apart, victims sued Wilpon and other Mets owners for knowingly supporting the fraud. They agreed on a settlement of $162 million, as well as the acknowledgment that Wilpon and the Mets' ownership had no clue about the scheme.

How He Got Rich: In the 1970s, Wilpon and his brother started Sterling Equities, a real estate development company. They focused on real estate at the bottom of the market and the business soon boomed.

New York Yankees: Hal Steinbrenner

Owner Since: 1973

The Numbers: George Steinbrenner led a group that purchased the Yankees from CBS for under $10 million in 1973. They are now worth $2.5 billion, making them the most valuable team in baseball and the fourth most valuable franchise in all of sports.

How He Got Rich: Hal was given control of the Yankees in 2007 by his father, George, as his health began to wane. The family's money originally came from the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, a shipping business purchased by George's great-grandfather in 1901.

Oakland Athletics: Lewis Wolff and John L. Fisher (Co-Owners)

Owner Since: 2005

The Numbers: Wolff led the ownership group that bought the A's for $180 million in 2005. The majority owner is John J. Fisher, who staked most of the money.

Soccer Side Projects: Fisher has small ownership investments in the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS and Scottish side Glasgow Celtic.

How He Got Rich: Wolff made his fortune in real estate. He began as an appraiser in St. Louis before moving west and becoming a development mogul in San Diego. His companies now manage hotel properties around the world.

Fisher is an heir to the Gap clothing fortune. He is worth an estimated $2.8 billion.

Philadelphia Phillies: David Montgomery (Managing Group Partner)

Owner Since: 1981

The Numbers: David Montgomery is managing partner of the group that bought the Phillies from the Carpenter family for $30 million in 1981.

Heckling the Team He'd One Day Run: As a teenager, Montgomery would attend Phillies games with friend (and future Pennsylvania Governor) Ed Rendell. One time, after ribbing Phillies reliever Turk Farrell, Rendell recalls, “[Farrell] got so mad he looked like he was going to throw a ball at us, and Turk could really hum the ball. We were scared to death.”

How He Got Rich: Montgomery's wealth comes from within the franchise—he was the team's director of sales and marketing before becoming its business director shortly before the purchase.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Robert Nutting

Owner Since:1996

The Numbers: Robert Nutting purchased the team for $92 million. The Pirates are now evaluated to be worth $572 million.

Air Pirate: Nutting is a licensed commercial pilot and flight instructor.

How He Got Rich: Nutting is the President and CEO of Ogden Newspapers, a publisher of over 40 newspapers and media outlets across the U.S. that was started by his great-grandfather in 1890.

San Diego Padres: Ron Fowler

Image courtesy of Bagumba, used under Creative Commons license.

Owner Since: 2012

The Numbers: Fowler was a member of the minority ownership group of the Padres and organized a new group that bought full ownership of the team in 2012 for $800 million (as much as $200 million of the sale included the rights to Fox Sports San Diego).

Other Ventures: Fowler used to own the San Diego Shockers, an indoor soccer team that dissolved in 1996.

How He Got Rich: Fowler is the chairman of Liquid Investments, a West Coast beer distribution company.

San Francisco Giants: Charles Bartlett Johnson (Principal Owner)

YouTube

Owner Since 1992

The Numbers: In 2012, Charles B. Johnson upped his stake in the Giants' ownership group and became principal owner (the group had purchased the team in 1992 for $100 million).

Low-Visibility Owner: Johnson watched the Giants' 2010 World Series victory at home on TV and he sent his daughter to represent him during the parade.

How He Got Rich: Johnson was the Chairman of Franklin Resources, which controls mutual fund purveyor Franklin Templeton. His father founded Franklin Distributors in 1947. Charles B. Johnson's net worth is estimated at $7.7 billion.

Seattle Mariners: Nintendo (represented by CEO Howard Lincoln)

Owner Since: 1992

The Numbers: Gaming giant Nintendo bought the Mariners in 1992 in a deal worth $100 million. The team is now worth $710 million. Howard Lincoln became the CEO of the Mariners after the death of majority shareholder and former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Baseball?: When he bought the Mariners, Yamauchi admitted that he had never been to a baseball game in his entire life. Despite owning the team for 20 years until his death, Yamauchi never attended a single game.

How He Got Rich: Lincoln started his career with Nintendo as a lawyer before eventually working his way up to Chairman in 1994.

St. Louis Cardinals: William DeWitt, Jr.

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: DeWitt and his partners purchased the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch for $150 million.

Serial Investor: Before buying the Cardinals, DeWitt was a member of groups that invested in the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

How He Got Rich: DeWitt is a founder of the investment firm Reynolds, DeWitt & Co., which owns various properties such as the U.S. Playing Card Company and dozens of Arby's franchises.

Tampa Bay Rays: Stuart Sternberg

Owner Since: 1995

The Numbers: Sternberg is the Rays' principal owner—he bought a controlling interest in the team for $200 million.

Adios, "Devil": In 2007, Sternberg oversaw the team's name change from "Devil Rays" to, simply, "Rays": "We were tied to the past, and the past wasn't necessarily something we wanted to be known for."

How He Got Rich: Sternberg started investing in the stock market and worked in the industry until 2002, when he retired from Goldman Sachs as a partner. According to the New York Times, "he cashed out...for a reported $400 million."

Texas Rangers: Ray Davis

YouTube

Owner Since: 2010

The Numbers: Davis bought the Rangers for $593 million. The team is now valued at $825 million.

Invisible Owner: After the (suspected) ousting of team CEO Chuck Greenberg, the notoriously hard-to-find Davis talked to reporters to answer questions. Davis quickly reminded them not to get used to it: "Neither Bob [Simpson] or I expect ever to do another press conference."

How He Got Rich: Ray Davis's estimated net worth is around $1.9 billion. He made his money in the energy sector, acting as CEO of Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. until 2007.

Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Communications (Chairman: Alan Horn, CEO: Guy Lawrence)

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Owner Since: 2000

The Numbers: Rogers Communications acquired the Blue Jays in 2000 for $137 million.

Company Ownership: The Blue Jays are one of three Major League Baseball teams to be owned by a company (The Braves and Seattle Mariners are the other two).

Washington Nationals: Ted Lerner

Owner Since: 2006

The Numbers: The Lerner Family bought the Nationals from MLB for $450 million.

Other Ventures: Lerner is a partner in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Verizon Center and the Washington Wizards and Capitals.

How He Got Rich: Lerner, a real estate mogul, began by building shopping centers in rural Maryland. His net worth is estimated to be around $4 billion.

See Also:

How NBA Owners Made Their Money
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How NFL Owners Made Their Money

All images courtesy of Getty Images unless otherwise stated. Financial numbers are from Forbes unless otherwise stated.

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entertainment
15 Things You May Not Know About Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

We are not alone. Here are a few facts about Steven Spielberg’s 1977 UFO classic, on its 40th anniversary.

1. IT WAS INITIALLY A VERY DIFFERENT FILM.

Spielberg’s initial story outline involved UFOs and shady government dealings following the Watergate scandal, which became a script entitled “Watch the Skies.” The idea involved a police or military officer working on Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s official study into UFOs in the 1950s and 1960s, who would become the whistleblower on the government cover-up of aliens. There were numerous rewrites—Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader even took a crack at it, penning a political UFO thriller titled “Kingdom Come” that Spielberg and the movie studio rejected—before the story we know today emerged.

2. IT’S NAMED AFTER LEGITIMATE UFO RESEARCH.


Columbia Pictures

Spielberg partly based his idea on the research of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a civilian scientific advisor to Project Blue Book who eventually admitted that 11 percent of the study’s findings about unidentified flying objects could not be explained using science.

The title (which is never specifically explained in the movie) is actually derived from Hynek’s own alien close encounter classification system: A close encounter of the first kind is sighting of a UFO; the second kind is physical evidence to prove the existence of an alien; and the third kind is actual contact with alien life forms.

3. THERE’S A CAMEO FROM THE GODFATHER OF UFO RESEARCH.

Hynek, who also served as a technical advisor on the movie, makes an uncredited cameo in the final scene of the movie. You can spot him pretty easily—he’s the goateed man smoking a pipe and wearing a powder blue suit who pushes through the crowd of scientists to get a better look at the aliens.

4. NOBODY WANTED THE STARRING ROLE.

Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Columbia Pictures

The director first offered the part of Roy Neary to actor Steve McQueen, who turned it down because he said he couldn’t cry on cue, something he saw as essential to the character. Spielberg then went to Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, and James Caan who all turned him down as well before asking his friend Richard Dreyfuss, who previously worked with Spielberg on Jaws, to take the part.

5. BUT IT WASN'T THE MOST DIFFICULT ROLE TO CAST.

Spielberg approached French actors like Lino Ventura, Yves Montand, and Jean-Louis Trintignant to play Claude Lacombe—who was based on famous UFO researcher Jacques Vallée—before settling on director and sometimes-actor François Truffaut. The initially skeptical Truffaut, who was nervous about appearing in a big budget Hollywood movie, accepted the role because he wanted to compile research for a book about acting (he never did write the book).

6. MERYL STREEP COULD HAVE PLAYED ROY'S WIFE.

Many actresses—including a then-unknown Yale Drama School grad named Meryl Streep—auditioned for the part of Roy’s wife Ronnie, but he ultimately cast actress Teri Garr because he saw her in a coffee commercial and loved the way she was able to convey a wide range of emotions in a 30-second clip.

7. THEY SHOT IN A DISUSED AIR FORCE HANGAR.


Columbia Pictures

Spielberg wanted to shoot in real suburban locations rather than studio backlots, but the production had trouble finding locations. The biggest question: Where could Spielberg shoot the climactic canyon sequence with the mothership?

The production looked for huge indoor enclosures that would allow for the massive scale of the scene, though they only found ones with center support dividers that spoiled the openness Spielberg wanted for the UFO runway. The only location producers found without center dividers was a 300 foot by 300 foot disused hangar that had been used for dirigibles during World War II at Brookley Air Force base in Mobile, Alabama.

8. THE TEAM BOUGHT A HOUSE FOR THE PRODUCTION—AND SOLD IT FOR A PROFIT.

The Nearys' house, which is located at 1613 Carlisle Drive East in Mobile, was actually purchased by the production for $35,000 so they could do whatever they wanted with the interiors. It was later sold for $50,000 after production wrapped, netting a $15,000 surplus that went back into the film’s budget.

9. THE MEMORABLE 5-NOTE TONES TOOK A LONG TIME TO FIGURE OUT

Composer John Williams worked with Spielberg to come up with the movie’s distinct five-note musical method of communication between humans and aliens—which Spielberg partly based on the Solfège system of musical education—a year before shooting began.

Williams initially wanted a seven-note sequence, but it was too long for the simple musical “greeting” Spielberg wanted. The composer enlisted a mathematician to calculate the number of five-note combinations they could potentially make from a 12-note scale. When that number proved to be somewhere upwards of 134,000 combinations, Williams created 100 distinct versions, and they simply whittled the combinations down one by one until they had a winner.

10. SPIELBERG USED TRICKS TO GET THE PERFORMANCE OUT OF HIS CHILD ACTOR.


Columbia Pictures

Cary Guffey, who plays little Barry Guiler, had never acted before, so Spielberg set up ways to coax a performance out of the 3-year-old. To get a shot of Guffey reacting to the aliens first approaching the Guiler house, Spielberg slowly unwrapped a present for the young actor just off camera, making him smile. Guffey even exclaims “Toys! Toys!” in the final take.

To get the boy to react to the aliens offscreen, Spielberg had Guffey walk up to his mark where—unbeknownst to the little actor—two crewmembers were dressed as a gorilla and a clown standing behind cardboard blinds. When Guffey entered the kitchen, Spielberg dropped the first blind revealing the clown to scare him, and then dropped the other blind to reveal the gorilla, which scared him even more. The gorilla then took off his mask, revealing the film’s makeup man, Bob Westmoreland, who Guffey recognized, causing him to laugh and smile in the final take.

11. THE MOVIE NEARLY FEATURED VERY EARLY CGI.

Spielberg originally toyed with the idea of using computer generated images to create the aliens and their ships, even going so far as to have animator Colin Cantwell create a CGI test of three UFOs floating over a stadium. The single-shot test, which took three weeks to complete and was one of the first computer generated images ever created for a film, proved to be unfeasible for the whole movie—so the idea was dropped.

12. THERE WERE SOME UNORTHODOX IDEAS FOR CREATING THE ALIENS.

Spielberg wanted the aliens to be non-human beings that glided instead of walked, and he had a weird idea to pull it off: An orangutan dressed in a specially-made suit. For a screen test, the production team outfitted an orangutan in grey spandex and strapped it into roller skates. The orangutan immediately took off the skates and crawled to its owner, so a full test couldn’t be completed, and the team scrapped the idea. The majority of the small aliens in the final movie were played by local elementary school girls from Mobile in specially made grey suits and masks who were heavily backlit to create the final alien silhouette effect.

13. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS FEATURES A PRECURSOR TO E.T.


Columbia Pictures

To create the alien who bids farewell using the musical hand signals at the end of the film, Spielberg enlisted the help of Italian special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, who designed a fully articulated steel, aluminum, and fiberglass animatronic puppet that Spielberg nicknamed “Puck.” Puck’s expressions were based on photos of Guffey. The puppet was operated by a crew of seven puppeteers, with Spielberg himself controlling the final articulation before the alien leaves to go to the mothership.

Puck would help inspire E.T. after Spielberg asked himself, “What if this little guy didn’t get back on the mothership?” Rambaldi would also go on to design the character of E.T.

14. SPIELBERG BET AGAINST HIS OWN MOVIE—AND REALLY CASHED IN.

Spielberg and his buddy George Lucas both had new movies coming out in 1977; Lucas’s was a little movie called Star Wars. Lucas thought his ramshackle space movie wouldn’t make back its budget, and he knew his friend’s new movie would break box office records just like Jaws had done, so he offered Spielberg a friendly wager. Both agreed to give the other 2.5 percent of the profits of their respective films. Lucas grossly underestimated his movie, which went on to become the second highest grossing movie of all time if adjusted for inflation (in comparison, Close Encounters is #71). The difference ended up being $40 million.

15. SPIELBERG DIDN'T LIKE THE VERSION THAT WAS INITIALLY RELEASED.

Spielberg wanted to release Close Encounters in the summer of 1978, which would have given him ample time to edit the film and finish its special effects—but Columbia Pictures, which was going through major financial troubles, insisted he have it ready for a November 1977 release, leaving the director with a final cut on a movie he didn’t feel was completely ready. 

Three years later, the company allowed Spielberg to “finish” the movie under one condition: That he show the inside of the mothership, which would give the studio’s marketing department an angle to sell this new version. The director capitulated, adding new scenes and cutting others to create a “Special Edition.” The director was unhappy with the scene, though, and later cut it for the Collector's Edition home video release.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:Blu-ray special features; Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic FilmClose Encounters of the Third Kind Diary.

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Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library
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History
10 Treasures From the New York Academy of Medicine Library
A urine wheel from Fasciculus Medicinae
A urine wheel from Fasciculus Medicinae
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Tucked away on a side street near Central Park, the New York Academy of Medicine Library is one of the most significant historical medical libraries in the world. Open to the public by appointment since the 19th century, its collection includes 550,000 volumes on subjects ranging from ancient brain surgery to women's medical colleges to George Washington's dentures. A few weeks ago, Mental Floss visited to check out some of their most fascinating items connected to the study of anatomy. Whether it was urine wheels or early anatomy pop-up books, we weren't disappointed.

1. FASCICULUS MEDICINAE (1509)

The Fasciculus Medicinae is a compilation of Greek and Arabic texts first printed in Venice in 1491. While it covers a variety of topics including anatomy and gynecology, the book begins with the discipline considered most important for diagnosing all medical issues at the time: uroscopy (the study of urine). The NYAM Library's curator, Anne Garner, showed us the book's urine wheel, which once had the various flasks of urine colored in to help aid physicians in their diagnosis. Each position of the wheel corresponded to one of the four humors, whether it was phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, or melancholic. The image on the left, Garner explains, "shows the exciting moment where a servant boy brings his flasks to be analyzed by a professor." Other notable images in the book include one historians like to call "Zodiac Man," showing how the parts of the body were governed by the planets, and "Wound Man," who has been struck by every conceivable weapon, and is accompanied by a text showing how to treat each type of injury. Last but not least, the book includes what's believed to be the first printed image of a dissection.

2. ANDREAS VESALIUS, DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA (1543)

Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica
Frontispiece of Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Andreas Vesalius, born 1514, was one of the most important anatomists who ever lived. Thanks to him, we moved past an understanding of the human body based primarily on the dissection of animals and toward training that involved the direct dissection of human corpses. The Fabrica was written by Vesalius and published when he was a 28-year-old professor at the University of Padua. Its detailed woodcuts, the most accurate anatomical illustrations up to that point, influenced the depiction of anatomy for centuries to come. "After this book, anatomy divided up into pre-Vesalian and post-Vesalian," Garner says. You can see Vesalius himself in the book's frontispiece (he's the one pointing to the corpse and looking at the viewer). "Vesalius is trying to make a point that he himself is doing the dissection, he believes that to understand the body you have to open it up and look at it," Garner explains.

3. THOMAS GEMINUS, COMPENDIOSA (1559)

Flap anatomy from Thomas Geminus's Compendiosa
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

There was no copyright in the 16th century, and Vesalius's works were re-used by a variety of people for centuries. The first was in Flemish printer and engraver Thomas Geminus’s Compendiosa, which borrowed from several of Vesalius's works. The first edition was published in London just two years after the Fabrica. Alongside a beautiful dedication page made for Elizabeth I and inlaid with real gemstones, the book also includes an example of a "flap anatomy" or a fugitive leaf, which was printed separately with parts that could be cut out and attached to show the various layers of the human body, all the way down to the intestines. As usual for the time, the female is depicted as pregnant, and she holds a mirror that says "know thyself" in Latin.

4. WILLIAM COWPER, THE ANATOMY OF HUMANE BODIES (1698)

Illustration from William Cowper's The Anatomy of Humane Bodies
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

After Vesalius, there was little new in anatomy texts until the Dutch anatomist Govard Bidloo published his Anatomia humani corporis in 1685. The work was expensive and not much of a financial success, so Bidloo sold excess plates to the English anatomist William Cowper, who published the plates with an English text without crediting Bidloo (a number of angry exchanges between the two men followed). The copperplate engravings were drawn by Gérard de Lairesse, who Garner notes was "incredibly talented." But while the engravings are beautiful, they're not always anatomically correct, perhaps because the relationship between de Lairesse and Bidloo was fraught (Bidloo was generally a bit difficult). The skeleton shown above is depicted holding an hourglass, by then a classic of death iconography.

5. 17TH-CENTURY IVORY MANIKINS

17th Century Ivory Manikin
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

These exquisite figures are a bit of a mystery: It was originally thought that they were used in doctors’ offices to educate pregnant women about what was happening to their bodies, but because of their lack of detail, scholars now think they were more likely expensive collector's items displayed in cabinets of curiosity by wealthy male physicians. The arms of the manikins (the term for anatomical figures like this) lift up, allowing the viewer to take apart their removable hearts, intestines, and stomachs; the female figure also has a little baby inside her uterus. There are only about 100 of these left in the world, mostly made in Germany, and NYAM has seven.

6. BERNHARD SIEGFRIED ALBINUS, TABULAE SCELETI (1747)

Illustration from Bernhard Siegfried Albinus's Tabulae Sceleti
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

One of the best-known anatomists of the 18th century, the Dutch anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus went to medical school at age 12 and had a tenured position at the University of Leiden by the time he was 24. The Tabulae Sceleti was his signature work. The artist who worked on the text, Jan Wandelaar, had studied with Gérard de Lairesse, the artist who worked with Bidloo. Wandelaar and Albinus developed what Garner says was a bizarre method of suspending cadavers from the ceiling in the winter and comparing them to a (very cold and naked) living person lying on the floor in the same pose. Albinus also continued the dreamy, baroque funerary landscape of his predecessors, and his anatomy is "very, very accurate," according to Garner.

The atlas also features an appearance by Clara, a celebrity rhinoceros, who was posed with one of the skeletons. "When Albinus is asked why [he included a rhinoceros], he says, 'Oh, Clara is just another natural wonder of the world, she's this amazing creation,' but really we think Clara is there to sell more atlases because she was so popular," Garner says.

7. FERDINAND HEBRA, ATLAS DER HAUTKRANKHEITEN (1856–1876)

Circus performer Georg Constantin as depicted in Ferdinand Hebra's dermatological atlas
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

By the mid-19th century, dermatology had started to emerge as its own discipline, and the Vienna-based Ferdinand Hebra was a leading light in the field. He began publishing this dermatological atlas in 1856 (it appeared in 10 installments), featuring chromolithographs that showed different stages of skin diseases and other dermatological irregularities.

"While some of the images are very disturbing, they also tend to adhere to Victorian portrait conventions, with very ornate hair, and [subjects] looking off in the distance," Garner says. But one of the most famous images from the book has nothing to do with disease—it's a depiction of Georg Constantin, a well-known Albanian circus performer in his day, who was covered in 388 tattoos of animals, flowers, and other symbols. He travelled throughout Europe and North America, and was known as "Prince Constantine" during a spell with Barnum's Circus. (The image is also available from NYAM as a coloring sheet.)

8. KOICHI SHIBATA, OBSTETRICAL POCKET PHANTOM (1895)

19th century Obstetrical Pocket Phantom
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Obstetrical phantoms, often made of cloth, wood, or leather, were used to teach medical students about childbirth. This "pocket phantom" was originally published in Germany, and Garner explains that because it was made out of paper, it was much cheaper for medical students. The accompanying text, translated in Philadelphia, tells how to arrange the phantom and describes the potential difficulties of various positions.

9. ROBERT L. DICKINSON AND ABRAM BELSKIE, BIRTH ATLAS (1940)

Image from Robert Dickinson's Birth Atlas
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Robert Dickinson was a Brooklyn gynecologist, early birth control advocate, and active member of NYAM. His Birth Atlas is illustrated with incredibly lifelike terracotta models created by New Jersey sculptor Abram Belskie. The models were exhibited at the 1939 New York World's Fair, where they became incredibly popular, drawing around 700,000 people according to Garner. His depictions "are very beautiful and serene, and a totally different way of showing fetal development than anything that had come before," Garner notes.

10. RALPH H. SEGAL, THE BODYSCOPE (1948)

The Bodyscope
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

This midcentury cardboard anatomy guide contains male and female figures as well as rotating wheels, called volvelles, that can be turned to display details on different parts of the body as well as accompanying explanatory text. The Bodyscope is also decorated with images of notable medical men—and "wise" sayings about God's influence on the body.

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