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How Charlie Chaplin Changed Paternity Laws in America

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Edward Gooch/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Legendary jack-of-all trades Charlie Chaplin is best known for his childlike Tramp character. But in 1943, Chaplin became embroiled in an adults-only legal drama when his alleged former paramour slapped him with a paternity suit—a case that would change the future of family law in America.

In 1941—while still married to his third wife, Modern Times actress Paulette Goddard—Chaplin met a promising young actress named Joan Berry (née Mary Louise Gribble, a.k.a. Joan Barry) and contracted her for a potential film called Shadows and Substance. According to FBI documents, the two became lovers shortly after their first meeting.

In October 1942, Chaplin invited Berry—who was in Los Angeles—to meet him in Manhattan, and purchased her a train ticket. FBI reports state that while in New York, Berry "attended various parties with Chaplin and it is alleged that he made her available to other individuals for immoral purposes." The latter was a violation of the Mann Act, a.k.a. the White Slave Traffic Act, which states that a person cannot cross state lines to engage in prostitution or immoral behavior.

Two months later, back in Los Angeles, the unstable Berry—who was later arrested for vagrancy—broke into Chaplin’s house, where she brandished a gun. She also claimed that the two were intimate at the time. In court, Berry testified that the two engaged in “four acts of sexual intercourse at or about the date when, in the ordinary course of nature, the child must have been begotten. These acts occurred on the 10th, 23d, 24th and 30th days of December, 1942.”

On October 2, 1943, Berry gave birth to a daughter, Carol Ann. When Chaplin denied paternity, Berry not only accused him of violating the Mann Act—a charge on which he was indicted, then exonerated—but took him to court to prove that he indeed was the father of her child.

Between 1944 and 1945, the Chaplin-Berry scandal unfolded in court. By then, Chaplin was married to his fourth and final wife, Oona O’Neill. (The couple would have eight children together and remain married for more than three decades, until Chaplin’s passing in 1977.)

Back then there was only one method of determining the paternity of a child: a blood test. So blood was drawn from Chaplin, Berry, and baby Carol Ann. Three doctors weighed in on the results, with each one coming to the same conclusion: Chaplin was not the child’s father. Which prompted Berry’s own lawyer to state that “Three distinguished medical men, preeminent in their fields, have decided that Mr. Chaplin is eliminated. We must and do abide by their conclusions.”

But Berry wasn’t done yet.

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Prior to the testing, Berry had signed an agreement with Chaplin saying that if the tests concluded he was not Carol Ann’s father, she would dismiss the charges. When the paternity findings weren’t in her favor, she reneged and pursued Chaplin further.

Though they were the only method of determining paternity at the time, in 1940s California, blood tests weren’t actually admissible in court. So Chaplin had two trials: the first was deadlocked, and in the second one, in April 1945, a jury voted 11 to 1 that he indeed was Carol Ann's father, even though the evidence proved otherwise. Because of the ruling, Chaplin was forced to pay child support and court fees. In 1946 Chaplin appealed the ruling, but lost.

The brouhaha surrounding Chaplin’s case and similar paternity suits (like 1937’s Arais v. Kalensnikoff and 1951’s Hill v. Johnson) led to the reformation of paternity laws in the state of California, with other states eventually following suit. In 1953, along with Oregon and New Hampshire, California drafted the Uniform Act on Blood Tests to Determine Paternity, which in legalese states that: “If the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts as disclosed by the evidence based upon the tests are that the alleged father is not the father of the child, the question of paternity shall be resolved accordingly.”

Though Chaplin’s landmark case continues to help clarify paternity laws today, it was too late for Chaplin, whose popularity was shattered along with his public image. During the course of the suit against him, Chaplin was called everything from a “grey-haired old buzzard” to “a little runt of a Svengali.”

On September 19, 1952, one day after he boarded the Queen Elizabeth with his family in order to attend the world premiere of Limelight in his hometown of London, the U.S. attorney general revoked Chaplin’s reentry permit. Chaplin’s response? “I would not go back there even if Jesus Christ was the president.”

Eventually, Chaplin did return to America, but only on one occasion: to accept an Honorary Oscar in 1972, where he was met with a standing ovation.

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12 EGOT Winners (and 25 Almost-EGOTS)
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Archive Photos/Getty Images

Life should have been good for Miami Vice’s Philip Michael Thomas in 1985. He was the star of one of television’s biggest hits, had released his first album as part of a multimillion dollar deal with Atlantic Records, and was making a name for himself in the fashion world (or at least trying to) with his very own women’s clothing line. But Thomas still had loftier goals, both in mind and on the gold medallion he was so fond of wearing. That dream was an EGOT.

Though Thomas swore that the engraved letters E, G, O, and T on his prized necklace stood for energy, growth, opportunity, and talent, those around the then-36-year-old actor unanimously gave a different translation: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony—the four awards Thomas had intended to win over the next few years. It’s now more than 30 years later and Thomas has yet to even be nominated for any one of those accolades.

While an EGOT may seem an unlikely reality for Thomas, it’s not an impossibility for all artists. If John Legend can beat out Benedict Cumberbatch to win this year's Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, he'll become the 13th member of the EGOT winners' circle—and one of its youngest. Here are the 12 current members, a couple of SHEGOTS, plus several artists who are just one award away.

1. RICHARD RODGERS

Richard Rodgers
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Before there was even a name for it, American composer Richard Rodgers became the first person to EGOT (yes, the acronym can also be used as a verb) when he won an Emmy for the television documentary Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years. His Oscar came in 1945, when his “It Might as Well Be Spring” from State Fair was named Best Song. He earned Grammys in both 1960 and 1962, for the original cast recordings of The Sound of Music and No Strings, respectively. Between 1950 and 1962, he won six Tony Awards, three of them in that first year for South Pacific. The same year, South Pacific also earned Rodgers a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, which we guess makes him a PEGOT.

2. HELEN HAYES

Helen Hayes
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In 1977, 15 years after Rodgers inaugurated the honor, actress Helen Hayes joined him as the first female EGOT—an honor that took her 45 years to achieve, the longest of any of her EGOT peers. Her road began in 1932, when she won the Oscar for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (she won a second Oscar for 1970’s Airport). Her first Tony came in 1947, for Happy Birthday, followed by another in 1958 for Time Remembered. And she won a Best Actress Emmy in 1953 for an episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. But it would take more than two decades for her to nab that elusive second letter, which she did for Best Spoken Word Recording for Great American Documents.

3. RITA MORENO

Rita Moreno
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Seven months after Hayes earned her EGOT, actress Rita Moreno did the same when she won her first of two consecutive Emmys for a guest spot on The Muppet Show in 1977 (the following year she won one for an appearance on The Rockford Files). But Moreno did it in about a third the time of Hayes, 16 years, which was an EGOT record until Lopez smashed it last night. Her Oscar came in 1961 as Best Supporting Actress in West Side Story, followed by a Best Recording for Children Grammy in 1972, for The Electric Company. In 1975, Moreno nabbed a Tony playing Googie Gomez in Terrence McNally’s The Ritz, a role she reprised in the 1976 big-screen version.

4. JOHN GIELGUD

John Gielgud
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Unlike his three predecessors, the Oscar wasn’t the first award John Gielgud won to earn his EGOT. Instead it was the Tony, which he first won in 1948 for The Importance of Being Earnest. He won a second Tony in 1961, as the director of Big Fish, Little Fish. Next came the Grammy, in 1979, for his dramatic recording of Ages of Man. In 1981, Gielgud took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his iconic role as Dudley Moore’s butler/sidekick in Arthur. And when he won the Emmy in 1991, for Outstanding Lead Actor in Summer’s Lease, he was 87 years old, making him the oldest EGOT-getter.

5. AUDREY HEPBURN

Audrey Hepburn
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Unfortunately, Audrey Hepburn didn’t live long enough to enjoy her EGOT. Two of her awards—her 1994 Grammy for the children’s album Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales and her 1993 Emmy for the informational Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn—were awarded after her passing on January 20, 1993, which made her the first posthumous EGOT recipient. She did, however, have the chance to bask in the glow of her 1953 Oscar for Roman Holiday, and a Tony for Ondine one year later.

6. MARVIN HAMLISCH

Marvin Hamlisch
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There’s a distinctively heavy emphasis on the “O” in composer Marvin Hamlisch’s EGOT, as he is the most Academy Award-winning of the bunch, with a total of three. All of them were awarded in 1973—two for The Way We Were and one for his score for The Sting. It was “The Way We Were” that earned him his first of four Grammys, too, in 1974. His collaboration with Barbra Streisand continued, and earned him two Emmys in 1995, for Barbra: The Concert. Hamlisch’s Tony came in 1976 for A Chorus Line, the musical that also got him a Pulitzer Prize, making him the only other PEGOT on this list.

7. JONATHAN TUNICK

Jonathan Tunick
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Composer/conductor Jonathan Tunick’s path to EGOT glory was a straight shot over the course of 20 years: In 1977 he won an Oscar for A Little Night Music, followed by an Emmy for Music Direction in 1982 for Night of 100 Stars, a 1988 Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for Cleo Laine’s “No One is Alone,” and, finally, a 1997 Tony for Best Orchestrations for Titanic.

8. MEL BROOKS

Mel Brooks
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Yes, Mel Brooks can do it all. In June of 2001 he became the world’s eighth EGOT winner, just a few weeks shy of his 75th birthday, when he earned three Tony Awards—for Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book of a Musical—for The Producers. It was The Producers that brought Brooks his Oscar as well, for Best Original Screenplay (albeit 33 years earlier). Brooks’s first award came in 1967, when he won the Emmy for writing The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special. Beginning in 1997, he won three consecutive Emmys, this time as a guest actor on the sitcom Mad About You. It was during that same period that he also won his first of three Grammys, in 1998 for Best Spoken Comedy Album for The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000. In a 2013 NPR interview, Brooks mentioned this crowning achievement, saying, “I'm an EGOT, so I don't need any more [awards].”

9. MIKE NICHOLS

Mike Nichols
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Mike Nichols earned his EGOT in the same year as Mel Brooks, though it took him a full 40 years to get there (versus Brooks’s 34). The late comedian-turned-director’s path began with a 1961 Best Comedy Performance Grammy for An Evening With Mike Nichols And Elaine May. In 1964, he won his first of nine Tony Awards for Barefoot in the Park (his second came a year later for The Odd Couple). In 1967 he was named Best Director at the Oscars for The Graduate. And in 2001 he won his first two of four Emmys—for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Made for Television Movie—for Wit.

10. WHOOPI GOLDBERG

Whoopi Goldberg
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If Philip Michael Thomas invented the idea of the EGOT, Tracy Morgan—as Tracy Jordan—brought the phrase back into popular use on 30 Rock, when he set the same goal and even wore the necklace. And they even got real-life EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg to play along and poke fun at the debate over whether she should truly be included as her Emmy is a Daytime one. (“It still counts,” she told Tracy. “Girl’s gotta eat!”) Goldberg's first award was a 1985 Grammy for Best Comedy Recording of Whoopi Goldberg—Original Broadway Show Recording. Next came a 1990 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Ghost. In 2002 she got her E and T: an Emmy for hosting Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel and a Tony as co-producer of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which won Best Musical.

11. SCOTT RUDIN

Scott Rudin
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Scott Rudin is the first producer to EGOT. He earned his gold medallion in 2012 when The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording earned a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album (an award Rudin shares with fellow EGOT Robert Lopez). Rudin’s first award—an Emmy—came in 1984, for the kid’s show He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’. He earned his first of 15 Tony Awards in 1994 for Passion, and his most recent in 2017 for Hello, Dolly!. While Rudin is probably best known as a film producer, he’s only got one Oscar to his credit, a 2007 Best Picture statue for the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men.

12. ROBERT LOPEZ

Robert Lopez
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In 2014, songwriter Robert Lopez became the newest EGOT when he and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, took home the Oscar for Best Original Song for Frozen’s “Let It Go.” (The pair won a second statuette earlier this year for the song "Remember Me" from Coco.) In addition to being the newest member of the EGOT winners' circle, he is also the youngest member of the club (he's 43 years old now, but had just turned 39 when he was "inducted.") Lopez is also the fastest artist to achieve the honor, taking just 10 years to earn all four awards, beginning with a 2004 Tony Award for Best Score for Avenue Q, followed by two Daytime Emmys in 2008 and 2010 for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for Wonder Pets. In 2012, Lopez and Rudin shared the Grammy for The Book of Mormon, making them the first pair of EGOTs to have a shared award get them into the circle.

(SH)EGOTS

Though the official number of EGOT winners is 12, it’s worth noting that there are a handful of other rather famous faces who have also earned all four awards ... but because at least one of them is a special or honorary award only—not a competitive one—their inclusion in the official club is questionable. Let’s call them SHEGOTs?

1. BARBRA STREISAND


Terry Fincher, Express/Getty Images

Amazingly, the only Tony Award that Barbra Steisand has on her mantel is a non-competitive one; in 1970, she was named Star of the Decade.

2. LIZA MINNELLI

Performer Liza Minnelli
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Liza Minnelli may have been handed a Grammy Legend Award in 1990—but this legend has no competitive Grammy to speak (or sing) of.

3. JAMES EARL JONES

James Earl Jones accepts the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City
Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Though he's been a Hollywood icon for decades, James Earl Jones's only Oscar win was an honorary one in 2012. He did receive a Best Actor nomination in 1971 for The Great White Hope, but lost out to George C. Scott for Patton. (It's worth noting that Scott had alerted the Academy ahead of time that he refused the nomination, so it was hardly surprising that he wasn't there to accept the actual award.)

4. ALAN MENKEN

Johnny Mercer Award Honoree Alan Menken performs onstage at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 48th Annual Induction and Awards at New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 15, 2017 in New York City
Larry Busacca, Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Composer/songwriter Alan Menken won the Tony for Best Original Score for the Broadway version of Newsies in 2012, but his 1990 Emmy for his contribution to "Wonderful Ways to Say No," an anti-drug cartoon special, was an honorary one—leaving him one official award short of an EGOT.

5. HARRY BELAFONTE

Harry Belafonte attends the 2016 Library Lions Gala at New York Public Library - Stephen A Schwartzman Building on November 7, 2016 in New York City
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In 2014, Harry Belafonte was awarded the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award—putting him in the elite class of a half-dozen (SH)EGOTs.

6. QUINCY JONES

Music producer Quincy Jones attends Spotify's Inaugural Secret Genius Awards hosted by Lizzo at Vibiana on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California
Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images for Spotify

Music producer Quincy Jones may be one of the world's most award-winning artists, but a competitive Oscar has so far eluded him. Like Belafonte, the only Academy Award he has won is the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (which he received in 1994). Beyond that, he is a seven-time Oscar nominee.

ALMOST EGOTS

While there are are a number of artists who came close to EGOT'ing during their lifetimes—including Robin Williams (who was short a Tony), Jessica Tandy (she was missing a Grammy), Henry Fonda (who was minus an Emmy), and Leonard Bernstein (who never won an Oscar)—the EGOT dream is still alive for dozens of artists.

1. JOHN LEGEND

If John Legend wins an Emmy this year, he'll become the 13th official member of the EGOT winners' circle.

2. JULIE ANDREWS

It's hard to believe that Julie Andrews has yet to win a Tony Award (though she's been nominated for three). If and when she does, she can add EGOT to her resume.

3. AND 4. ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER AND TIM RICE

Like Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are just an Emmy short of an EGOT—which could change this year.

5. LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

The Hamilton creator came so close to EGOT'ing last year. But something tells us it won't be long before he's inducted into this elite group of artists.

6. MARTIN SCORSESE

He may be one of the world's most acclaimed filmmakers, but it took him more than a quarter-century to earn his first (and so far only) Oscar. Hopefully a Tony will be next.

7. FRANCES MCDORMAND

Just below the EGOT, there's what is known as the Triple Crown of Acting: a performer who has won an Oscar, Emmy, and a Tony (but is missing a Grammy). Frances McDormand is among that group.

8. VIOLA DAVIS

Like McDormand, Viola Davis is part of the Triple Crown club.

9. RANDY NEWMAN

It took 20 years and 16 nominations, but Randy Newman finally became an Oscar winner in 2002 when he won the award for Best Original Song for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. He still needs a Tony though.

10. AL PACINO

He's one of the most celebrated actors alive, but Al Pacino is no Grammy winner.

11. JOHN WILLIAMS

The iconic composer may hold the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person, but John Williams has yet to receive a single Tony Award nomination.

12. CHER

The iconic singer is one Tony Award short of an EGOT.

13. ELTON JOHN

The "Rocket Man" singer is one Emmy Award away from an EGOT.

14. MAGGIE SMITH

Dame Maggie Smith may not have a Grammy Award, but she's a Triple Crown-winning actor who has earned the right to be addressed as "Dame."

15. COMMON

Rapper/poet/singer/producer Common only needs a Tony Award to complete his EGOT.

16. AND 17. RON HOWARD AND BRIAN GRAZER

Longtime producing partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have seemingly conquered every medium, but neither one has yet to win a Tony (though Grazer has come closer; he was nominated in 2008).

18. AND 19. TREY PARKER AND MATT STONE

The South Park creators are just an Oscar short of the EGOT goalpost.

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8 Things You Might Not Know About Drew Carey
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Neilson Barnard, Getty Images

For the past decade, actor and comedian Drew Carey has been emceeing the long-running daytime game show The Price is Right, proving himself an able replacement for tenured former host Bob Barker. (Carey even echoes his predecessor’s plea to spay and neuter pets at the end of every episode.) Prior to that, the 60-year-old had two hugely successful series, including a self-titled sitcom and the improvisational Whose Line Is It Anyway? Take a look at some things you might not have realized about the glasses-sporting comic. (Like the fact that he doesn’t really need to wear them.)

1. HE CREDITS SELF-HELP BOOKS WITH HIS SUCCESS.

Carey’s Cleveland upbringing was not particularly joy-filled. His father died when Carey was just 8, succumbing to a brain tumor. His mother worked two jobs to support her three sons and couldn’t afford to take Carey to see a psychiatrist to help deal with the trauma. Feeling isolated and depressed for much of his adolescence, things didn’t improve when he attended Kent State University: He was expelled twice for poor grades.

At rock bottom, Carey started reading self-help titles like University of Success and Your Erroneous Zones. The books changed Carey’s way of thinking, getting him out of his frustrated mindset. He later moved to California, joined the Marine Reserves, and began eyeing a career in stand-up comedy.

2. JOHNNY CARSON LAUNCHED HIS CAREER.

Drew Carey is photographed during a 'Tonight Show' appearance
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

While writing jokes for a friend who worked in radio—Carey again turned to books, taking out a joke-writing title from a local library—he began honing a stand-up act. Attending an open-mic night at the Sahara in Las Vegas didn’t go well (he bombed), but after putting in years of practice, Carey got two breaks. The first was Star Search, a talent competition hosted by Tonight Show sidekick Ed McMahon, and the second was the Tonight Show itself. In 1991, Carey was invited to perform and appeared to win over Johnny Carson, a move that caught the attention of television executives eager to find another stand-up to build a sitcom around. The Drew Carey Show debuted in 1995 and ran for nine seasons.

3. HE DOESN’T REALLY NEED THE GLASSES.

Wearing black horn-rimmed glasses for the first half of his career helped make Carey an identifiable presence on television. In 2001, when he got LASIK to correct his vision, he no longer needed them to see. But because his persona was so closely intertwined with spectacles, Carey continued wearing the frames—this time with clear lenses—for work. When he opts to go without them, he finds that fans can be oblivious to the fact they’re talking to him. Conversing with a small group in a Cleveland night club one year, Carey told them he was on television and host of The Price is Right. “I thought Drew Carey hosted The Price is Right,” one replied.

4. HE UPSET A&W OVER A FAST-FOOD INFRACTION.

A drive-thru sign is positioned at a fast food restaurant
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After signing a deal in 1998 to endorse the A&W burger chain, Carey found himself in trouble over his sitcom character’s preference for McDonald’s. In November of that year, an episode of The Drew Carey Show featured Carey lost in China and wandering into a Golden Arches location for a meal. A&W took offense and refused to pay the remainder of the comic’s endorsement fee. They also insisted he return the $450,000 already remitted to him. “I didn't eat at the McDonald's on the show,” Carey told Esquire in 2007. “I grabbed a fry off a kid's plate, but I didn't get any of the food. When I was in China, I ate at A&W almost every day. There was one around the corner from where we were staying. I like the company. I thought we had a good relationship.”

5. HE’S SHOT SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY UNDER AN ALIAS.

Carey is part owner of the Seattle Sounders soccer team, but his involvement is more than just financial. Carey has been field-side to shoot action photography of the team and has distributed them to wire services under the pseudonym Brooks Parkenridge. “If I wasn't a comic or TV star, my other dream job was to be a photojournalist,” he told Sports Illustrated in 2005. “I envy [photographer] Carolyn Cole from the L.A. Times, and when I see Christiane Amanpour on TV, I think, ‘Man, wouldn't it be great to be her cameraman and be at these cool places where history is changing.’ Plus, being a celebrity, you always get good seats to sporting events, but you never get seats as good as the photographers get.”

6. HE ENTERED THE ROYAL RUMBLE.

The annual WWE wrestling event Royal Rumble admits one wrestler in timed intervals until 30 grapplers have entered the squared circle. While this contest is normally a playing field for mammoth participants like the Undertaker or John Cena, Carey found himself involved in 2001. Staging a sketch in which he raised the ire of WWE owner Vince McMahon, Carey cheerfully agreed to enter as the sixth man in and the first celebrity in the show. Instead of being allowed to walk off, he was confronted by Kane and nearly choke-slammed before another wrestler intervened. The comic went on to occupy a spot in the promotion’s Hall of Fame.

7. HE FOUGHT A DANCING BAN IN ARIZONA.

In a bizarre Footloose scenario, Carey came to the defense of an Arizona steakhouse in 2008 after local officials were targeting the open-air restaurant San Tan Flat for allowing dancing outdoors, a possible violation of an outdated noise ordinance. Carey dispatched a film crew to interview the owners as part of his Reason.tv series examining individual rights. A judge subsequently ruled that the establishment was not an illegal dance hall.

8. HE LOST NEARLY 100 POUNDS.

Drew Carey is photographed while on stage
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Known for his generously-proportioned physique, Carey had struggled with type-2 diabetes and heart problems as a result of the excess weight. He underwent a coronary angioplasty in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he decided to get fit for his son, Connor, who was born in 2007. Carey cut out soft drinks and switched to healthier options, replacing steak and bread with chicken and vegetables. Coupled with running, he shed roughly 85 pounds. “I was at a wedding on Saturday, and I ate cake,” he told Success in 2015. “I’m not a maniac about it. But 95 percent of the time, I’m right on the money.”

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