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20 Fun Facts About Mean Girls

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Paramount Pictures

Netflix just announced that Mean Girls will be available for streaming on January 1, 2015. Here are 20 things you might not have contemplated about this already cult-status classic.

1. MEAN GIRLS WAS INSPIRED BY A SELF-HELP BOOK FOR PARENTS.

Tina Fey was inspired to write Mean Girls, her very first screenplay, after reading Rosalind Wiseman’s bestselling book Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence. As the book’s title suggests, Wiseman offers advice and strategies to parents on how to help their daughters navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. Much of the book contains anecdotes culled from Wiseman’s time spent leading workshops in schools nationwide through Empower, a non-profit anti-violence program she cofounded.

“You may feel that it’s not worth making a federal case of not getting invited to a birthday party or letting your daughter blow off one friend for another,” Wiseman writes. “But these aren’t trivial issues; they lay the groundwork for girls faking their feelings, pretending to be someone they’re not, pleasing others at their own expense, or otherwise sacrificing self-esteem and authenticity.”

2. LINDSAY LOHAN’S CHARACTER IS NAMED AFTER TINA FEY’S COLLEGE ROOMMATE...

While studying drama at the University of Virginia in the early ’90s, Tina Fey and her college buddy Cady Garey shared what sounds like a rather squalid apartment in Charlottesville: “We really didn’t have any furniture,” Garey told U.Va’s alumni magazine. “ [We had] just mattresses on the floor and a bean bag in the living room.”

Still, It must have been a pretty great bonding experience; according to the magazine, Cady Garey is the namesake for Mean Girls’ main heroine, Cady Heron.

3. … AND (POSSIBLY) ELIZABETH CADY STANTON.

Wikimedia Commons

IMDb’s Mean Girls trivia page points out that “Cady” also keeps with the spelling of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s maiden name, in a possible shout-out to female empowerment.

4. TINA FEY HAD TROUBLE WITH MS. NORBURY’S MATH-RELATED LINES.

Fey chose to play a math teacher in an attempt to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math, she told the New York Times back in 2004. However, she admitted that she did not understand any of the lines she was reciting. So how did she get the dialog? “My friend’s boyfriend is a calculus teacher in the Bronx,” Fey said. “I took his lesson plans.”

5. THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF COURTNEY LOVE AND ALEC BALDWIN IN REGINA GEORGE.

“At the heart of Regina George was a really angry kid who had no boundaries or guidance,” Rachel McAdams says in the New York Times’ recent oral history of the film. To channel Regina’s fury, director Mark Waters encouraged McAdams “to listen to Courtney Love at a high volume” (we’re assuming McAdams means she listened to Love’s band Hole) as well as to watch Alec Baldwin’s notoriously menacing, expletive-laden scene in Glengarry Glen Ross.

6. “DAMIAN” INSTILLED SERIOUS COURAGE IN ACTOR DANIEL FRANZESE.

“When I was cast in the role of ‘Damian’ in Mean Girls, I was TERRIFIED to play this part,” Franzese wrote last month on the queer-culture blog Bent. However, in the next sentence, Franzese captures what was so refreshing about Damian: “This was a natural and true representation of a gay teenager—a character we laughed with instead of at.” Franzese says that years after Mean Girls, grown men—some of them in tears—approached him on the street to thank him for being a role model.

Though Franzese says his friends and family have known that he is gay, he decided a decade later to come out publicly. “Perhaps this will help someone else,” he writes at the letter’s conclusion. “I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means ‘God is my judge.’ So, I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian.”

7. THE DOWNSIDE OF DAMIAN: FRANZESE IS CONSTANTLY BOMBARDED WITH HIS MOST FAMOUS LINE.

Ever since Mean Girls, Franzese is often recognized. “It doesn’t matter where I am; you know it’s me. I don’t really blend,” he told Cosmopolitan. “And sometimes it’s nerve-wracking. I can be talking to someone in a bar and it’s chill, and then they’re like, ‘YOU GO GLEN COCO!’”

Glen Coco was, of course, a minor, if not virtually nonexistent, Mean Girls character. In fact, the back of Glen Coco’s head seems to appear in only the one scene (above) in which he does nothing more than receive four candy canes from an encouraging Damian. Glen Coco, however, has, awesomely and inexplicably, become a meme.

8. THE STRANGELY NOTORIOUS GLEN COCO WAS PLAYED BY A CANADIAN ACTOR NAMED DAVID REALE.

Last year, BuzzFeed’s Jessica Misener conducted an important investigation into Glen Coco and discovered that, though his role was uncredited in the film, his face is actually fully visible in the scene in which Gretchen reads her impassioned essay on Julius Caesar (he’s sitting directly in front of Lindsay Lohan). Misener did some further digging and discovered that Glen Coco was played by David Reale, a Canadian actor who has also appeared on Suits, the U.S. version of Skins, and on a couple episodes of Queer as Folk.

9. GLEN COCO SPEAKS (!!!).

via

After the Mean Girls anniversary hullabaloo simmered down, Dazed magazine found David Reale and interviewed him about his experience on set 10 years ago. Reale said he had auditioned for another part in the film, but didn’t get it. Still, the next day he wandered over to the set, which was right across the street from his apartment in Toronto, to see if he could score some free food. The director saw him, recognized him from his failed audition the day before, took pity on him, and gave him the tiny non-speaking part of Glen Coco.

“Tina Fey wrote the line, Daniel Franzese spoke the line … I just sat in a chair and tried not to stare at Lindsay Lohan,” Reale recalls. “But I guess it was the first time somebody pointed to me on the street and shouted, ‘YOU GO, GLEN COCO!’ that I knew I was involved in something with a beauty and power that surpassed the mere proliferation of four candy canes to an accidental movie extra.”

10. AMANDA SEYFRIED ALMOST PLAYED AN ETHEREAL YET FRIGHTENING REGINA GEORGE.

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Last year, right after playing challenging roles in Les Miserables and Lovelace, Amanda Seyfried told IndieWire that she still looked back at her role as Mean Girls’ rather, um, simple Karen Smith as her best work. “I was so innocent. I was so green,“ she says. “I look back and I’m like, ‘Really, I thought I was doing a terrible job.’ But it was written so well and so wonderfully directed. Mark Waters (the director) made me look good; he made me funny. And Tina Fey wrote the coolest script of all time.”

Seyfried almost played the role of Regina George, director Waters told Vulture. "She tested for Regina and was kind of brilliant, and very different than Rachel's approach,” Waters says. “She played it in a much more ethereal but still kind of scary way. She was more frightening, but oddly, less intimidating."

11. THERE'S A REAL JANIS IAN.

She was the first musical guest on SNL. Ian won a Grammy for her song “At Seventeen,” which is all about Mean Girls’ main theme: the insecurities that go along with being a teenager.

In 2008, she told TIME that she bonded with her friend Janis Joplin over similar feelings. “I loved her. I think we fell in together because we had things in common. We both felt fat. We both had bad skin. We both felt like nothing we wore looked right. We were both outsiders, and she was very protective of me in a really nice way.”

12. LACEY CHABERT HEARS "FETCH" AT LEAST A HUNDRED TIMES A DAY

Perhaps even more iconic than “You Go, Glen Coco!” in the world of Mean Girls is, of course, anything related to “fetch,” as in “That’s so fetch!” (Gretchen Wieners) and “Stop trying to make fetch happen” (Regina George). The whole “fetch” thing is so enduring that even the White House made a fetch-inspired joke involving Bo the First Dog on Twitter this past summer.

The Prez and Co. are not the only ones still cracking fetch jokes. “People tweet at me every day hundreds of times, if not thousands of times [with] lines from the movie: ‘That’s so fetch!’,” Lacey Chabert, who played Toaster Strudel heiress Gretchen Wieners, told Entertainment Weekly. In fact, “fetch” has even followed Chabert offline, to the unlikeliest of places. “I was at the pharmacy and I was sick and trying to get medicine, and the pharmacist just looked at me and goes, ‘You don’t look like you feel very fetch today.’”

13. IT’S APPARENTLY FUN TO TWEET “YOU GO, GLEN COCO!”

Twitter crunched some numbers and “You Go, Glen Coco!” is in the lead for the most-referenced Mean Girls lines since 2010. Glen Coco is followed by “So fetch,” “It’s October 3rd,” and “On Wednesdays we wear pink.”

14. AARON SAMUELS (A.K.A. JONATHAN BENNETT) STILL LOOKS SEXY WITH HIS HAIR PUSHED BACK...

MovieClips, YouTube

While teaching spinning classes at FlyWheel Sports in Los Angeles.

15. ...THOUGH HE MIGHT BE TIRED OF HEARING IT.

Bennett’s Twitter tagline reads, “I get it … my hair looks sexy pushed back.”

16. AMY POEHLER SCHOOLED KEVIN G. ON HOW TO RAP.

Though Tina Fey wrote the Mean Girls script, she left the penning of mathlete Kevin Gnapoor’s talent-show rap to her pal Amy Poehler. “Amy definitely coached him on how to do the rap, and she actually gave him some of the moves and choreography for it,” Waters told Vulture. In fact, an amazing YouTube video (above) exists of Poehler performing the rap circa 2004, with Fey and Lohan as her hype women.

17. KEVIN G. (A.K.A RAJIV SURENDRA) IS NOW A PROFESSIONAL CALLIGRAPHER

He creates beautiful chalk walls, logos and invitations. His Twitter profile reads, “Don’t let the haters stop you from doin’ your thang.”

18. ROSALIND WISEMAN THINKS TINA FEY MOSTLY GOT HER BOOK RIGHT.

Wikimedia Commons

Except in her workshops, Wiseman doesn’t do trust falls. “I do not do trust falls, I have never done trust falls, I will never do trust falls,” Wiseman tells The Wire.

Still, she wouldn’t change anything. “Both Tina and I seem to be trying to carve out space of how to give women [a] voice in public,” Wiseman says. “So it’s pretty cool to have a collaboration between two people who say, 'Yeah, let’s work together to do this, because you’re smart, you’re funny, I think you’re going to do a good job, let’s try.'"

19. SADLY, THERE WILL BE NO MEAN GIRLS SEQUEL.

Though Lohan hinted to Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show that there might be a Mean Girls part deux, Fey told Access Hollywood that it’s not happening. “At most, it would be a panel discussion with a plate of hot wings,” Fey said of any future plans for the Mean Girls film franchise. [Editor's Note: We completely forgot about this, which aired on ABC Family in 2011.]

20. BUT THERE WILL BE A BROADWAY MUSICAL.

Fey, her husband Jeff Richmond, and Tony award-nominated lyricist Nell Benjamin are currently working on a Broadway version of Mean Girls, according to an article in Playbill last summer. (The play will take at least a couple of years to write, according to Richmond in an earlier interview with Vulture.)

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10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers
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Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.

In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”

3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.

Michael Ochs Archives/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.

4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.

Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”

5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.

Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.

6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.

World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually break away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.

7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.

Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write the “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.

8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.

With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”

9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.

10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.

Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”

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12 Facts About the Smithsonian's Collections
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With 19 museums spread along the East Coast, the Smithsonian Institution has become the country’s richest repository of American history. From culture to science, zoos to space exploration, the federally-backed archive has spent nearly 200 years preserving and educating. Check out some facts on its history, how a new species of dolphin was found hiding in its archives, and how the founder eventually became part of the collection.

1. ITS FOUNDER NEVER SET FOOT IN THE STATES.

Wealthy British globe-trotter James Smithson (1765-1829) had acquired an estate worth roughly $500,000 at the time of his death and ordered that all of his assets be inherited by his nephew, Henry James Dickinson. There was one twist: The estate was to be turned over to the United States in the event Dickinson died without an heir of his own so the country could build a hub for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Henry, then 18, died just six years later, and so President James Polk signed the act approving the Smithsonian Institution into law in 1846. Curiously, Smithson had never even visited the U.S. Why leave such a legacy to a foreign nation? Smithson never commented on his decision, leaving people to guess that it was either because he was impressed by democracy or because he wanted to enrich a country that, at the time, had only a few educational hubs.

2. NO ONE WAS REALLY SURE WHAT SMITHSON WANTED.

A portrait of James Smithson

“Increase and diffusion of knowledge” can be interpreted pretty broadly, and it took the United States a long time—roughly 10 years—before anyone could agree on what to do with Smithson’s gift. Educators, politicians, and civilians all had a unique notion of how to spend his fortune, including opening a university, a library, or an observatory. Ultimately, the Smithsonian Institution was a compromise, involving many of these ideas. By 1855, construction on the main building was complete at the National Mall in Washington; it was designated as a National Museum in 1858 [PDF].

3. THEY HAD TO HIDE THEIR COLLECTION FROM AXIS FORCES.

At the height of U.S. involvement in World War II, museum curators knew that Axis forces would have designs on destroying the vibrant culture housed at the museum’s main location at the National Mall. To protect these irreplaceable items, the Smithsonian arranged to have them shipped to an undisclosed location—now known to be near Luray, Virginia—and stored in a climate-controlled warehouse. They didn’t return until 1944.

4. SMOKEY BEAR LIVED AT THEIR ZOO.

Smokey Bear takes a bath at the National Zoo

Yes, that Smokey Bear. (And there’s no “the” in his name.) In 1950, a bear cub that survived a raging forest fire in Capitan, New Mexico, was adopted by the U.S. Forest Service and named Smokey after the popular ad campaign mascot of the era. As a living symbol of the effort, he spent his remaining 26 years at the National Zoo, a constant recipient of visitor attention and hundreds of jars of honey.

5. THEY DISPLAY JUST ONE PERCENT OF THEIR COLLECTION.

In order to execute Smithson’s mission statement, the Smithsonian has had to morph into the greatest display of hoarding the world has ever seen. All told, the Institution’s various artifacts, specimens, and other arcana is believed to number in the neighborhood of 137 million, with an official museum estimate of 154 million. Just 1 percent of that is available for viewing at any given time.

6. ONE CATEGORY IS USUALLY OFF-LIMITS FOR VIEWING.

17th century human remains found in Jamestown, Virginia

Evolving public attitudes over the decades have prompted the Smithsonian to be very wary of displaying human remains. While they’ve collected everything from shrunken heads to the “soap man”—a corpse whose body turned to a soap-like substance thanks to a chemical reaction to soil—most of it remains out of public view.

7. AN EXHIBIT ON NUCLEAR WAR STIRRED CONTROVERSY.

For a planned exhibit of the Enola Gay, the bomber plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II, museum organizers drew criticism in 1994 for presenting material that some veterans groups and members of Congress felt was politically charged. The museum agreed to omit text near the display that some felt dwelled on the horrific effects of the bomb, as well as references estimating the U.S. and rival casualties that might have been suffered if the bomb had not been deployed.

8. THE WEIRDEST ITEM THEY’VE CATALOGED IS A CRAPPY VIDEO GAME.

The box art for the Atari 2600 game E.T.

Amidst many internet lists of strange Smithsonian catalog items—taxidermied animals, beards, and other miscellanea—nothing seems more incongruous than the 2014 inclusion of a 1982 Atari video game based on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Renowned for being produced quickly and for helping to fuel the video game crash of the early 1980s, supplies of the cartridge were buried in a New Mexico landfill and only recently excavated. One went into the museum's archives.

9. THEY TURNED DOWN JIMMY DURANTE’S NOSE.

In the 1950s, actor and comedian Jimmy Durante was easily identified by his bulbous nose, a three-inch-long (from bridge to tip) feature that led to his nickname, “the Great Schnozzola.” Sensing a publicity opportunity, Durante’s management arranged for a makeup artist to create a plaster cast of Durante’s nose and offer it up to the Smithsonian as a piece of Americana. Frank Setzler, the museum’s head of anthropology was unimpressed. “Heavens, no,” he was quoted as saying. “Who would want that? The only place we could use it would be in the elephant display.”

10. AN UNDISCOVERED SPECIES OF DOLPHIN WAS LURKING IN THEIR INVENTORY.

A dolphin skull from a recently-discovered species

With so many specimens, the bowels of the Smithsonian almost certainly harbor secrets that can surprise even scientists. In 2016, two researchers in search of fossilized marine mammals stumbled across the skull of a 25-million-year-old river dolphin they named Arktocara yakataga. Said to have been found in Alaska, the dolphin may have dwelled in the Arctic. It was estimated that the skull—plucked from obscurity because one of the researchers found it “cute”—sat on the shelf for 50 years before being identified.

11. THEY’RE COMMITTED TO PRESERVING DOROTHY’S SLIPPERS.

Possibly the most iconic pair of footwear in pop culture, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz have become a Smithsonian trademark. In 2016, the Institution successfully raised over $300,000 on Kickstarter to build a state-of-the-art preservation case to protect the kicks from deterioration. While star Judy Garland wore several pairs during filming and the Smithsonian’s are mismatched, it’s clear that visitors want to keep them in condition for any future travels along the yellow brick road.

12. SMITHSON EVENTUALLY BECAME PART OF THE COLLECTION.

James Smithson's final resting place within the walls of the Smithsonian

In 1904, some 75 years after his death in Italy, Smithson’s remains were about to be disturbed. U.S. Smithsonian officials were alerted that his grave site would be displaced because of a nearby stone quarry expansion. The Institution took the opportunity to have his casket shipped to America so he could be interred at the site of his legacy—the Smithsonian itself. Escorted by Alexander Graham Bell, the casket traveled 14 days by sea. The body was entombed and topped off by a marker in the Smithsonian, where it remains viewable by the general public.

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