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15 Heartfelt Facts About Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle was a meta-rom-com that managed to comment—both humorously and seriously—on the unrealistic expectations of love that the grand romantic movies of the past have bestowed on their audiences, while being one of the most popular romantic movies ever filmed. Here are 15 facts about the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan classic that will help you sleep better at night.

1. IT WAS NORA EPHRON’S FIRST MAJOR DIRECTORIAL JOB.

She was behind the camera for 1992’s This Is My Life first, but Sleepless in Seattle proved to be her first big hit as director. Ephron also co-wrote the Oscar nominated screenplay with Jeff Arch and David S. Ward. (Nora’s sister, author-screenwriter-playwright Delia Ephron, did an uncredited “punch up” to make the movie funnier.)

2. SHE HAD A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH THE MOVIE THAT SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE REFERENCES.

There is a lot of talk of—and intentional plot points taken from—the 1957 Cary Grant movie An Affair to Remember. When the film came out, Ephron’s mother took her teenage daughter to see it. After the happy ending concluded, and while Eprhon was still in tears, her mother introduced her to the star of the movie.

3. JULIA ROBERTS TURNED DOWN THE LEAD.

In a 2014 interview with InStyle, the Oscar-winning actress shared that she had been "offered Sleepless in Seattle but couldn't do it," adding that, "[Meg Ryan] and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that. I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town (in the 1990 film Pretty Woman), you know?"

4. TOM HANKS ALSO TURNED IT DOWN.

Before Ephron took a pass at rewriting the script, Hanks was offered the lead and said no, as he didn’t think he was right for the part.

5. JASON SCHWARTZMAN AUDITIONED TO PLAY HANKS' SON, JONAH.

They went with Ross Malinger instead. Malinger retired from acting in 2006 to manage a car shop in Malibu.

6. PARKER POSEY WAS CUT OUT OF HER FEATURE DEBUT.

If the actress's scene hadn’t been cut, Sleepless in Seattle would have been Posey's first acting role in a Hollywood movie. Ephron kindly sent her a note to say that it wasn’t her fault that her scene was taken out. In 1998, Posey reunited with Ephron, Hanks, and Ryan for You've Got Mail.

7. SAM AND ANNIE LIVED IN CHICAGO AT THE SAME TIME (BEFORE THE EDITOR GOT A HOLD OF IT).

A first act scene was shot which revealed that Annie (Ryan) had at some point lived in Chicago at the same time as Sam (Hanks). Editor Robert Reitano cut it.

8. EPHRON ATTEMPTED TO RE-CREATE A NEW YORKER COVER IN THE OPENING SCENE.

The Chicago skyline is well showcased at the funeral. It was meant to evoke Saul Steinberg’s 1976 New Yorker cover, View of the World From 9th Avenue, that shows Manhattan as the center of the world.

9. EPHRON WAS THE VOICE OF A DEPRESSED PERSON.

The director voiced one of the radio callers, "Disappointed in Denver.”

10. ANNIE WALKED OUT OF THE SAME DOOR IN BALTIMORE THAT SAM DID IN SEATTLE.

The door was actually shipped almost 3000 miles to help connect the two main actors.

11. THE SOUP NAZI WAS REFERENCED IN THE FILM, TWO YEARS BEFORE SEINFELD DID.

When a writer in Annie’s office was pitching a story and talked of a man that “sells the greatest soup you have ever eaten” while simultaneously doubling as “the meanest man in America,” he was talking about Ali “Al” Yeganeh, the proprietor of Soup Kitchen International. For what it’s worth, Yeganeh is from Iran, not Germany.

12. TOM HANKS ARGUED THAT HIS CHARACTER WOULD TRY HARDER TO GET LAID.

In the script, Sam opts out of spending the night with Victoria because Jonah gets upset. Hanks argued to Ephron that it was “horseshit." After not getting some for four years, Sam would leave Jonah to cry with the babysitter and go be with his girlfriend. The solution was to have Sam determined to leave for the night until Jonah snuck off to get on a plane to New York.

13. BILL PULLMAN WAS TOLD HE WOULD HAVE A BIGGER ROLE.

According to the actor who played Annie’s allergy-afflicted boyfriend Walter, the movie was described to him as more of a The Philadelphia Story situation: a love triangle where he would play the Jimmy Stewart to Hanks’s Cary Grant (there’s that name again) and Ryan’s Katharine Hepburn.

14. THEY FILMED IN SEATTLE DURING A DROUGHT.

Water trucks had to be brought in to make some rain. The waste of water angered the city.

15. TRISTAR GOT 25 TO 30 PHONE CALLS A DAY FROM PEOPLE WANTING TO KNOW WHAT TIRAMISU WAS.

Since Rob Reiner’s character Jay only used tiramisu as a word for a sexual act, without mentioning that it was also an Italian dessert, some moviegoers resorted to calling the distributor of the film for answers. (It was the pre-mental_floss or Google days of 1993, after all.) Reiner has gone on record to say that he finds tiramisu "overrated."

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10 People Who Have Misplaced Their Oscars
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Getty Images

Winning an Oscar is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Unless you’re Walt Disney, who won 22. Nevertheless, owning a little gold guy is such a rarity that you’d think their owners would be a little more careful with them. Now, not all of these losses are the winners' fault—but some of them certainly are, Colin Firth.

1. ANGELINA JOLIE

After Angelina Jolie planted a kiss on her brother and made the world wrinkle their noses, she went onstage and collected a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Lisa in Girl, Interrupted. She later presented the trophy to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand. The statuette may have been boxed up and put into storage with the rest of Marcheline’s belongings when she died in 2007, but it hasn’t yet surfaced. “I didn’t actually lose it,” Jolie said, “but nobody knows where it is at the moment.”

2. WHOOPI GOLDBERG

In 2002, Whoopi Goldberg sent her Ghost Best Supporting Actress Oscar back to the Academy to have it cleaned and detailed, because apparently you can do that. The Academy then sent the Oscar on to R.S. Owens Co. of Chicago, the company that manufactures the trophies. When it arrived in the Windy City, however, the package was empty. It appeared that someone had opened the UPS package, removed the Oscar, then neatly sealed it all back up and sent it on its way. It was later found in a trash can at an airport in Ontario, California. The Oscar was returned to the Academy, who returned it to Whoopi without cleaning it. “Oscar will never leave my house again,” Goldberg said.

3. OLYMPIA DUKAKIS

When Olympia Dukakis’s Moonstruck Oscar was stolen from her home in 1989, she called the Academy to see if it could be replaced. “For $78,” they said, and she agreed that it seemed like a fair price. It was the only thing taken from the house.

4. MARLON BRANDO

“I don’t know what happened to the Oscar they gave me for On the Waterfront,” Marlon Brando wrote in his autobiography. “Somewhere in the passage of time it disappeared.” He also didn't know what happened to the Oscar that he had Sacheen Littlefeather accept for him in 1973. “The Motion Picture Academy may have sent it to me, but if it did, I don’t know where it is now.”

5. JEFF BRIDGES

Jeff Bridges had just won his Oscar in 2010 for his portrayal of alcoholic country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, but it was already missing by the next year’s ceremony, where he was up for another one. He lost to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. “It’s been in a few places since last year but I haven’t seen it for a while now,” the actor admitted. “I’m hoping it will turn up, especially now that I haven’t won a spare! But Colin deserves it. I just hope he looks after it better.” Which brings us to ...

6. COLIN FIRTH

Perhaps Jeff Bridges secretly cursed the British actor as he said those words, because Firth nearly left his new trophy on a toilet tank the very night he received it. After a night of cocktails at the Oscar after-parties in 2011, Firth allegedly had to be chased down by a bathroom attendant, who had found the eight-pound statuette in the bathroom stall. Notice we said allegedly: Shortly after those reports surfaced, Firth's rep issued a statement saying the "story is completely untrue. Though it did give us a good laugh."

7. MATT DAMON

When newbie writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took home Oscars for writing Good Will Hunting in 1998, it was one of those amazing Academy Award moments. Now, though, Damon isn’t sure where his award went. “I know it ended up at my apartment in New York, but unfortunately, we had a flood when one of the sprinklers went off when my wife and I were out of town and that was the last I saw of it,” Damon said in 2007.

8. MARGARET O'BRIEN

In 1945, seven-year-old Margaret O’Brien was presented with a Juvenile Academy Award for being the outstanding child actress of the year. About 10 years later, the O’Briens' maid took the award home to polish, as she had done before, but never came back to work. The missing Oscar was forgotten about when O’Brien’s mother died shortly thereafter, and when Margaret finally remembered to call the maid, the number had been disconnected. She ended up receiving a replacement from the Academy.

There’s a happy ending to this story, though. In 1995, a couple of guys were picking their way through a flea market when they happened upon the Oscar. They put it up for auction, which is when word got back to the Academy that the missing trophy had resurfaced. The guys who found the Oscar pulled it from auction and presented it, in person, to Margaret O’Brien. “I’ll never give it to anyone to polish again,” she said.

9. BING CROSBY

For years, Bing Crosby's Oscar for 1944’s Going My Way had been on display at his alma mater, Gonzaga University. In 1972, students walked into the school’s library to find that the 13-inch statuette had been replaced with a three-inch Mickey Mouse figurine instead. A week later, the award was found, unharmed, in the university chapel. “I wanted to make people laugh,” the anonymous thief later told the school newspaper.

10. HATTIE MCDANIEL

Hattie McDaniel, famous for her Supporting Actress win as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, donated her Best Actress Oscar to Howard University. It was displayed in the fine arts complex for a time, but went missing sometime in the 1960s. No one seems to know exactly when or how, but there are rumors that the Oscar was unceremoniously dumped into the Potomac by students angered by racial stereotypes such as the one she portrayed in the film.

An earlier version of this post ran in 2013.

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Marvel vs. DC: This Map Shows Each State’s Favorite Comic Universe
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Which comic book company is the best: Marvel or DC? This is a perennial argument on middle-school playgrounds and Reddit threads, but this map, courtesy of USDish.com, might just give us a definitive answer. The information here is broken down by state, using information provided by Google Trends to give us a clear winner of not only the most popular comic book company but also the most popular individual hero in each state (let’s show a little respect to Indiana for championing the Martian Manhunter).

According to the map, Marvel is the most popular publisher in 37 states, with DC trailing behind at eight, and five additional states coming to a 50/50 stalemate. The totals weren’t a blowout, though. In certain states like Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, the favored company only won by a point. And just because a state searches Google for a specific publisher the most doesn’t mean an individual character from the opposing team isn’t its favorite—Hawaii is listed as favoring Marvel overall, yet they love Aquaman on his own. Same with DC-loving Maryland showing Black Panther some love (helps to have a big movie coming out). Take a look at some of the most notable state preferences below:

So how did Marvel amass so many states when there are just as many DC TV shows and movies out there? Well, according to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media, the answer lies in the depth at the House of Ideas.

“While Superman and Batman may be dominant characters,” Selepak said in a statement, “the DC Universe offers few other well-known heroes and villains and when these other characters are presented to the audience in film and on TV, they often are less than well-received.” This is opposed to Marvel, which launches new heroes on the big and small screen seemingly every year.

Does this map tell the whole story? That’s up for debate. When it comes to comics sold, DC and Marvel are always in a close battle: In January 2018, DC had six of the 10 best-selling comics of the month, placing four of the top five. Marvel, meanwhile, had three, while Image Comics had one with The Walking Dead. In terms of overall retail market share, though, Marvel eked out DC 34.3 percent to 33.8 percent.

This is a battle that's been raging since the 1960s, and for an industry that thrives on a never-ending fight between good and evil, we shouldn't expect the Marvel vs. DC debate to be settled anytime soon.

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