From his gigs at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and the Grand Ole Opry to his membership in the Highwaymen, the name “Willie Nelson” is almost synonymous with country music.
So what’s he doing playing a Martin N-20 classical guitar?
In 1969, Nelson played a Baldwin acoustic. He laid it on the floor of the stage while playing a gig one night, and, in his words, “a drunk stepped on it.” He sent the battered remains to music legend and guitar designer Shot Jackson to see if he could repair it, but the guitar was beyond saving. At least, most of it was. Jackson mentioned that he could probably save the Baldwin’s pickup, which Nelson favored because it gave him a much bigger sound onstage. Nelson needed something to play, so Jackson offered him a Martin classical guitar that he happened to have hanging out in the shop. For the low price of $750, Nelson agreed—and the most famous artist-guitar duo in the history of music (arguably) was united.
Because classical guitars are meant to be fingerpicked, not strummed, they don’t typically come with pickguards, the piece of plastic that protects the wood of the body from the constant wear and tear of playing. Nelson’s Martin was no exception—and that’s why a large hole has formed in the guitar over the decades. But the hole doesn’t bother Willie. In fact, he thinks it improves the sound, and Martin guitar designer Dick Boak agrees: “As you scratch away at the top, the diminished thickness of the membrane will most likely make the guitar sound better.”
Nelson is so attached to the guitar that he eventually gave it a name: Trigger, after Roy Rogers’ horse. During his infamous tax problems in the 1990s, Nelson had Trigger hidden away with his daughter to make sure that his most valuable asset wouldn’t be seized along with the rest of his property. Obviously, the guitar survived the raid—but if Trigger finally reports to that big tour bus in the sky, don’t be surprised if Willie retires. He has long said that he’ll quit playing when his guitar does, though he doesn’t believe that will happen, saying, “probably Trigger will outlast me.”
Though she’ll always be known as the little-black-dress-wearing big-screen incarnation of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about Audrey Hepburn, who passed away in Switzerland on January 20, 1993.
1. HER FIRST ROLE WAS IN AN EDUCATIONAL FILM.
Though 1948’s Dutch in Seven Lessons is classified as a “documentary” on IMDb, it’s really more of an educational travel film, in which Hepburn appears as an airline attendant. If you don’t speak Dutch, it might not make a whole lot of sense to you, but you can watch it above anyway.
2. GREGORY PECK WAS AFRAID SHE’D MAKE HIM LOOK LIKE A JERK.
Hepburn was an unknown actress when she was handed the starring role of Princess Ann opposite Gregory Peck in 1953’s Roman Holiday. As such, Peck was going to be the only star listed, with Hepburn relegated to a smaller font and an “introducing” credit. But Peck insisted, “You've got to change that because she'll be a big star and I'll look like a big jerk.” Hepburn ended up winning her first and only Oscar for the role (Peck wasn’t even nominated).
3. SHE’S AN EGOT.
In 1954, the same year she won the Oscar for Roman Holiday, Hepburn accepted a Tony Award for her title role in Ondine on Broadway. Hepburn is one of only 12 EGOTs, meaning that she has won all of the four major creative awards: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Unfortunately, the honor came to Hepburn posthumously; her 1994 Grammy for the children’s album Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales and her 1993 Emmy for Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn were both awarded following her passing in early 1993.
4. TRUMAN CAPOTE HATED HER AS HOLLY GOLIGHTLY.
Blake Edwards’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s may be one of the most iconic films in Hollywood history, but it’s a miracle that the film ever got made at all. Particularly if you listened to Truman Capote, who wrote the novella upon which it was based, and saw only one actress in the lead: Marilyn Monroe. When asked what he thought was wrong with the film, which downplayed the more tawdry aspects of the fact that Ms. Golightly makes her living as a call girl (Hepburn had told the producers, “I can’t play a hooker”), Capote replied, “Oh, God, just everything. It was the most miscast film I’ve ever seen. It made me want to throw up.”
5. HOLLY GOLIGHTLY’S LITTLE BLACK DRESS SOLD FOR NEARLY $1 MILLION.
Keystone Features, Getty Images
In 2006, Christie’s auctioned off the iconic Givenchy-designed little black dress that Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s for a whopping $923,187 (pre-auction numbers estimated that it would go for between $98,800 and $138,320). It was a record-setting amount at the time, until Marilyn Monroe’s white “subway dress” from The Seven Year Itchsold for $5.6 million in 2006.
6. SHE SANG “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” TO JFK IN 1963.
One year after Marilyn Monroe’s sultry birthday serenade to John F. Kennedy in 1962, Hepburn paid a musical tribute to the President at a private party in 1963, on what would be his final birthday.
7. THERE’S A RARE TULIP NAMED AFTER HER.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
In 1990, a rare white tulip hybrid was named after the actress and humanitarian, and dedicated to her at her family’s former estate in Holland.
Over the past 50-some years, Dolly Parton has gone from a chipper country starlet to a worldwide icon of music and movies whose fans consistently pack a theme park designed (and named) in her honor. Dolly Parton is loved, lauded, and larger than life. But even her most devoted admirers might not know all there is to this Backwoods Barbie.
1. YOU WON'T FIND HER ON A DOLLYWOOD ROLLER COASTER.
Her theme park Dollywood offers a wide variety of attractions for all ages. Though she's owned it for more than 30 years, Parton has declined to partake in any of its rides. "My daddy used to say, 'I could never be a sailor. I could never be a miner. I could never be a pilot,' I am the same way," she once explained. "I have motion sickness. I could never ride some of these rides. I used to get sick on the school bus."
2. SHE ENTERED A DOLLY PARTON LOOK-ALIKE CONTEST—AND LOST.
Apparently Parton doesn't do drag well. “At a Halloween contest years ago on Santa Monica Boulevard, where all the guys were dressed up like me, I just over-exaggerated my look and went in and just walked up on stage," she told ABC. "I didn’t win. I didn’t even come in close, I don’t think.”
3. SHE SPENT A FORTUNE TO RECREATE HER CHILDHOOD HOME.
Parton and her 11 siblings were raised in a small house in the mountains of Tennessee that lacked electricity and indoor plumbing. When Parton bought the place, she hired her brother Bobby to restore it to the way it looked when they were kids. "But we wanted it to be functional," she recounted on The Nate Berkus Show, "So I spent a couple million dollars making it look like I spent $50 on it! Even like in the bathroom, I made the bathroom so it looked like an outdoor toilet.” You do you, Dolly.
4. SHE WON'T APOLOGIZE FOR RHINESTONE.
Parton is well-known for her hit movies Steel Magnolias and 9 to 5, less so for the 1984 flop Rhinestone. The comedy musical about a country singer and a New York cabbie was critically reviled and fled from theaters in just four weeks. But while her co-star Sylvester Stallone has publicly regretted the vehicle, Parton declared in her autobiography My Life and Other Unfinished Business that she counts Rhinestone's soundtrack as some of her best work, especially "What a Heartache."
5. SHE IS MILEY CYRUS'S GODMOTHER, SORT OF.
"I'm her honorary godmother. I've known her since she was a baby," Parton told ABC of her close relationship with Miley Cyrus. "Her father (Billy Ray Cyrus) is a friend of mine. And when she was born, he said, 'You just have to be her godmother,' and I said, 'I accept.' We never did do a big ceremony, but I'm so proud of her, love her, and she's just like one of my own." Parton also played Aunt Dolly on Cyrus's series Hannah Montana.
6. SHE RECEIVED DEATH THREATS FROM THE KU KLUX KLAN.
In the mid-2000s, Dollywood joined the ranks of family amusement parks participating in "Gay Days," a time when families with LGBT members are encouraged to celebrate together in a welcoming community environment. This riled the KKK, but their threats didn't scare Dolly. "I still get threats," she has admitted, "But like I said, I'm in business. I just don't feel like I have to explain myself. I love everybody."
7. TO PROMOTE LITERACY, SHE STARTED HER OWN "LIBRARY."
In 1995, the pop culture icon founded Dolly Parton's Imagination Library with the goal of encouraging literacy in her home state of Tennessee. Over the years, the program—built to mail children age-appropriate books—spread nationwide, as well as to Canada, the UK, and Australia. When word of the Imagination Library hit Reddit, the swarms of parents eager to sign their kids up crashed the Imagination Library site. It is now back on track, accepting new registrations and donations.
A stone's throw from Dollywood, Sevierville, Tennessee is where Parton grew up. Between stimulating tourism and her philanthropy, this proud native has given a lot back to her hometown. And Sevierville residents returned that appreciation with a life-sizedbronze Dolly that sits barefoot, beaming, and cradling a guitar, just outside the county courthouse. The sculpture, made by local artist Jim Gray, was dedicated on May 3, 1987. Today it is the most popular stop on Sevierville's walking tour.
In 1995 scientists successfully created a clone from an adult mammal's somatic cell. This game-changing breakthrough in biology was named Dolly. But what about Parton inspired this honor? Her own groundbreaking career? Some signature witticism or beloved lyric? Nope. It was her legendary bustline. English embryologist Ian Wilmut revealed, "Dolly is derived from a mammary gland cell and we couldn't think of a more impressive pair of glands than Dolly Parton's."
10. SHE TURNED DOWN ELVIS.
After Parton made her own hit out of "I Will Always Love You," Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, reached out in hopes of having Presley cover it. But part of the deal demanded Parton surrender half of the publishing rights to the song. "Other people were saying, 'You're nuts. It's Elvis Presley. I'd give him all of it!'" Parton admitted, "But I said, 'I can't do that. Something in my heart says don't do that.' And I didn't do it and they didn't do it." It may have been for the best. Whitney Houston's cover for The Bodyguard soundtrack in 1992 was a massive hit that has paid off again and again for Parton.
11. SHE JUST EARNED TWO GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS.
Parton is no stranger to breaking records. And on January 17, 2018 it was announced that she holds not one but two spot in the Guinness World Records 2018 edition: One for Most Decades With a Top 20 Hit on the US Hot Country Songs Chart (she beat out George Jones, Reba McEntire, and Elvis Presley for the honor) and the other for Most Hits on US Hot Country Songs Chart By a Female Artist (with a total of 107). Parton said she was "humbled and blessed."