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25 Indestructible Facts About The Terminator

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He told you he’d be back. Before you go and see the newest installment of the Terminator franchise, here are some things you may not have known about the first four movies in the series.

1. THE TERMINATOR CAME FROM A NIGHTMARE.

Director and co-writer James Cameron first thought of the idea for The Terminator while stressed out and fever-stricken in Rome during production on his low-budget horror movie, Piranha II: The Spawning, which he had reluctantly agreed to direct. After a hard night of editing his own cut of a movie he hated, Cameron dreamed of a solid chrome torso crawling out of an explosion and dragging itself across the floor. The director quickly cooked up the story of a robot assassin sent back in time to kill the woman whose son will become the savior of humankind, and The Terminator was born. Cameron has since disowned Piranha II and considers The Terminator his first film.

2. JAMES CAMERON DIVVIED UP THE WRITING DUTIES.

To turn his nightmare into a screenplay, Cameron recruited his friend William Wisher, Jr., who is only given an “Additional Dialogue” credit in the final film. Wisher would actually write the early scenes establishing Sarah Connor and the police interrogation sequences, while Cameron fleshed out most of the action scenes and the details involving the war between humans and the machines. Producer Gale Anne Hurd, who would eventually marry and divorce Cameron, also received a writing credit on the movie, though according to Cameron she didn’t do any writing at all. Hurd apparently only suggested script edits. (Cameron also sold The Terminator rights to Hurd ... for $1.)

3. THE MOVIE HAD A UNIQUE PITCH MEETING.

The script found its way to the desk of John Day, the head of low-budget movie studio Hemdale Pictures, who called Cameron in for a pitch meeting after Orion Pictures had already agreed to distribute the film nationwide. To woo the studio, Cameron had actor Lance Henriksen (who had appeared in Piranha II: The Spawning, and would go on to appear in The Terminator and Aliens) show up to the meeting decked out in costume as the titular cyborg who at that point had yet to be cast. Henriksen broke down the studio’s office door while wearing a ripped shirt, leather jacket, combat boots, and gold foil from a cigarette pack folded around his teeth. Daly loved the gimmick and Cameron’s pitch, which included detailed storyboards to round out his ideas, and greenlit the movie with a budget of $6 million.

4. THE STUDIO WANTED O.J. SIMPSON TO PLAY THE TERMINATOR.

Arnold Schwarzenegger first came to the attention of Cameron after the head of Orion Pictures had met the former Mr. Universe at a party. At that point, Arnold’s only legitimate acting experience had been in 1982's Conan the Barbarian, and he was eager to break into different roles. Orion originally wanted Arnold to play Kyle Reese, the human fighter sent back in time, and wanted former NFL star O.J. Simpson to play the Terminator.

Cameron initially didn’t like either choice, and took a meeting with Schwarzenegger with the intention of picking a fight with him and storming back to the studio demanding a new actor. Instead, the two clicked over Schwarzenegger’s vision for the titular villain, which instead caused Cameron to run back to the studio and suggest he play the Terminator; the actor was signed the next day.

Fun Fact: Sting was considered for the role of Kyle Reese before Cameron chose actor Michael Biehn. Biehn would go on to appear in Cameron’s next films, Aliens and The Abyss.

5. SHOOTING ON THE MOVIE ENTERED A STATE OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

After more than a year of preparation, Cameron was finally ready to start filming in the spring of 1983 when the producer of Conan the Barbarian, Dino De Laurentiis, exercised an option in Schwarzenegger’s contract to force him to appear in the Conan sequel, Conan the Destroyer, despite his Terminator contract with Cameron. The entire filming schedule for The Terminator had to be scrapped and delayed for nine months while Schwarzenegger went off to film the other movie in Mexico.

6. CAMERON USED THE DELAY WISELY.

During the forced delay on the start date for his movie, Cameron used the script for The Terminator as a writing sample to attract new writing opportunities around Hollywood. He eventually got a meeting at Brandywine Productions for a remake of Spartacus that took place in space, but when that fell through the production company floated another property to Cameron: the sequel to Alien. Cameron went back a week later with a script treatment for “Alien 2” that incorporated ideas from another script he had written called “Mother” where a gigantic alien creature fights the female lead while she is strapped into a huge mechanical exoskeleton. The studio loved his take, and hired him to write the Alien sequel.

On the very same day, Cameron was also hired by a different studio to write the second Rambo movie. Not wanting to let two opportunities slip through his fingers, Cameron took both jobs, and wrote the screenplays simultaneously. To complete both projects in a three-month period, Cameron estimated each would be two hours long with scripts at 120 pages apiece. He then divided the total working hours he would have during the three months by the 360 pages for both scripts and wrote that many pages per hour until they were both complete.

7. THE FINAL TERMINATOR DESIGN WAS IDENTICAL TO CAMERON’S NIGHTMARE.

Cameron originally wanted special effects legend Dick Smith to create the design for the Terminator’s skeleton. Smith was the genius behind the make-up for the iconic effects in The Exorcist and aging Marlon Brando in The Godfather, but Smith declined the offer, which left the opportunity open for his lesser-known friend, Stan Winston, to step in. Winston would go on to pioneer effects in such movies as Cameron’s own Aliens and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Despite the fact that both Cameron and Winston would spend weeks sending each other preliminary design sketches about what the Terminator would look like, the final design was from the same sketch Cameron made after having his nightmare epiphany in Rome.

8. WINSTON’S TEAM WORKED HARD TO CREATE THE TERMINATOR SKELETON.

Seven separate artists worked around the clock for six months to create Cameron’s vision of the Terminator skeleton puppet. It was created using a clay, plaster, and urethane molding, which was then cast in a mixture of epoxy and fiberglass with reinforced steel throughout the rig. The whole skeleton was chrome-plated and distressed to look more realistic, and the final skeleton weighed more than 100 pounds.

When they tried to puppeteer the skeleton walking on set, Cameron thought the lumbering rig didn’t look real enough. To make up for the fake-looking walking, Cameron added a story beat that had the Terminator develop a limp after walking out of the fiery truck.

9. THE MUSIC HAS A UNIQUE TIME SIGNATURE.

The movie’s distinctive music was written and performed by composer Brad Fiedel. To create the iconic clangs of the film’s percussive theme, Fiedel recorded samples of himself banging frying pans together and then layered in synth melodies underneath using Prophet 10 and Oberheim analog synthesizers. While blending the two together, Fiedel looped the rhythmic clangs a split second off the foundational synth melody, and made a propulsive theme that was slightly off. When he put together sheet music for the score he later found that his little mistake made the time signature of the theme into an impossible 13/16 at three plus three plus three plus two plus two. When he would complete the score for the sequel, Fiedel made things a little more plausible and used an updated 6/8 time signature.

10. SCI-FI WRITER HARLAN ELLISON WAS NOT A FAN.

After the movie was released, writer Harlan Ellison sued the makers of The Terminator for allegedly stealing the idea for the movie from two episodes of the 1960s sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits. Ellison alleged that Cameron took the idea of two future warriors battling in the past from an episode entitled “Soldier,” and that the Terminator skeleton was taken from a similar robot design he’d created for the episode “Demon with a Glass Hand.” Rather than battling him in costly court proceedings, Orion Pictures simply settled out of court and agreed to add an “acknowledgment to the works of” credit in subsequent prints of the movie. Cameron wasn’t too happy about Orion capitulating to Ellison, mostly because he felt he came up with an original idea and any resemblance to Ellison’s work was because they both dealt with similar genre tropes. Cameron would later go on to call Ellison a “parasite who can kiss my ass.”

11. TERMINATOR 2 COST A LOT OF MONEY AT THE TIME.

When Cameron decided to revisit the story of Sarah Connor for 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, what he came up with wasn’t cheap. Its $94 million budget made it the most expensive movie ever made at the time. The sequences before the title cards allegedly cost as much money as the entire budget of the first movie. Cameron alone was paid $6 million to direct and co-write the movie, while Schwarzenegger was coaxed back into the robotic role that made him a star for a whopping $15 million salary—$12 million of which was in the shape of a Gulfstream jet purchased for the actor by the film’s producer, Mario Kassar.

12. THE PLOT FOR THE SEQUEL WAS THE ORIGINAL PLOT OF THE FIRST MOVIE.

Early story treatments for The Terminator had two Terminators sent back to our present to battle each other, but the dual robot idea ended up being too costly for the original film's relatively small budget. The initial ideas for T2 adopted the double Terminator idea, but would have had one good T-800 and one bad T-800 fighting each other, both of which were to be played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cameron scrapped the idea because of logistical reasons and cherry-picked another unused idea from the original film’s early story treatments for the villain: the liquid metal T-1000.

13. STAN WINSTON TECHNICALLY DIRECTED THE FIRST FOOTAGE OF T2.

Before filming on the sequel even started, Cameron had Winston direct and shoot a teaser trailer for T2 featuring an assembly line showing how the T-800s were created, and culminating in a robot in the form of Schwarzenegger uttering his famous phrase, “I’ll be back.”

14. THE MOVIE USHERED IN A NEW ERA IN SPECIAL EFFECTS.

Cameron had to leave the liquid metal T-1000 out of the original movie because it simply wasn’t possible using the special effects that were available in the early 1980s. But he had tried a then-new method called CGI to create a few scenes involving an alien water tentacle for his 1989 film, The Abyss. He then tasked the effects artists at Industrial Light and Magic to bring a photorealistic liquid metal Terminator to life for T2 using the nascent technology.

Thirty-five different ILM artists worked for six months on shots that would only equal about five minutes of screen time in the 136-minute movie. To help them create the morphing effects, they used a new piece of software developed by ILM artist John Knoll and his brother. The software was actually the very first version of Photoshop.

Stan Winston and his team also returned to create practical effects that would accent the CGI, including a photorealistic puppet of the T-1000 with a gaping hole in its head and the liquid metal Terminator splayed in half after a shotgun blast.

Fun Fact: Early concept art used singer Billy Idol’s face for the T-1000, and Cameron briefly considered him for the part until Idol broke his leg in a motorcycle accident and couldn’t complete training in time for the movie.

15. THE FILMMAKERS LOOKED EVERYWHERE FOR JOHN CONNOR.

Casting director Mali Finn searched nationwide for a boy to play the young John Connor in T2 using all the usual Hollywood casting channels, but also in some unorthodox ways. She saw hundreds of professional actors, but it was her tendency to think outside of the box that got her to see Edward Furlong. Finn had visited The Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena, where Furlong caught her eye as he was playing with other kids. When she approached the boy he was immediately standoffish, and called her “frog lips,” but was also extremely confident. Like John Connor in the movie, Furlong had never met his father and was raised by his single mother. After a few rough auditions with the completely untrained Furlong, Finn had a dialogue coach work with him to seem more natural, and Cameron eventually hired him for the part.

16. EDWARD FURLONG GREW UP A LITTLE TOO FAST.

The inexperienced actor was only 13 years old when filming began on T2, but he quickly started to go through puberty halfway through production, which caused his voice to become noticeably deeper. The change caused Cameron to have to re-record all of Furlong’s lines from the first half of the shoot in order to match his deeper voice. Luckily Cameron didn’t shoot the film chronologically so, using ADR, he was able to replace Furlong’s high-pitched, pre-pubescent voice with his new one. Also, Cameron had to complete some pickup shots at the end of production, and one was of Furlong and Hamilton standing on opposite sides of a car. But Furlong had grown so much in height that it didn’t match the shot they had completed months before, so the production had to dig a hole for the actor to stand in to appear shorter.

17. DESPITE THE CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY, CAMERON ALSO USED SOME OLD HOLLYWOOD TRICKS.

To achieve the effect of the T-1000 taking the shape of Sarah Connor during the final battle in the steel mill, Cameron didn’t use big, expensive CGI. Instead, he used actress Linda Hamilton’s twin sister Leslie to briefly appear as Sarah before the double is exposed to John as the T-1000 in disguise. Similarly, the police officer who the T-1000 takes the shape of at the mental hospital before meeting his demise was also played by twins.

18. LINDA HAMILTON GOT RIPPED TO PLAY THIS VERSION OF SARAH.

Hamilton was cast in the original Terminator because she was an everywoman, and the original script described her as “19, small and delicate features. Pretty in a flawed, accessible way. She doesn’t stop the party when she walks in, but you’d like to get to know her.” But for T2 she would subvert that description and have to become a killing machine burdened with knowing that the world will end and nobody believes her. To get her into peak physical condition, Hamilton trained with an ex-Israeli commando named Uzi Gal for three hours a day, six days a week, for four months. Onscreen she has about one percent body fat.

19. JUDGMENT DAY LOOKED VERY REAL.

To create the nuclear blast seen in Sarah’s dream of Judgment Day, the filmmakers mixed practical and CGI effects after studying hours of actual nuclear bomb test footage. Large-scale miniatures stood in for close-up shots of L.A. being destroyed, including cars being blown off the freeway and entire buildings being demolished. The miniatures were shot at high speeds and blown apart with air mortars. The wide-angle shot of the atomic shockwave was created using early Apple Macintosh software. Cameron claims actual physicists have told him the depiction of the nuclear blast in T2 is the most authentic representation of the effects of an atomic bomb.

20. PEOPLE HATED THE ORIGINAL ENDING.

Cameron shot an ending that went from Sarah and John staring at the molten metal that had just dissolved the Terminator to Hamilton in old age makeup talking into a recorder in a park in Washington D.C. about how Judgment Day had been avoided. She watches John, who she explains is now a U.S. senator, play with his daughter amongst other people in faux futuristic clothing. When shown to test audiences at screenings held at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, audience reactions were grim. They didn’t like the tonal shift of seeing their badass heroine in lumpy old age makeup, and they didn’t like the implausibility of John becoming a senator. Also, this ending doesn’t take into consideration the paradox of how Sarah would meet Kyle and give birth to John if the future apocalyptic war had been prevented.

Stuck not knowing what to do about changing the ending, Cameron called Hamilton in for a session to record additional dialogue and cut it together with 45 seconds of a beginning of a take that showed the road at night leading up to the Cyberdyne Systems building from a scene earlier in the movie. Audiences loved the ambiguity of the ending but appreciated the message Cameron wrote: “If a machine, a terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

21. ARNOLD CAME BACK FOR ROUND THREE … BUT AT A PRICE.

Schwarzenegger was paid $29.25 million to reprise his role as The Terminator in T3. His contract stipulated that $1.5 million of the budget should be set aside for private jets, a fully-equipped gym, deluxe hotel suites, limousines, and bodyguards for his personal benefit at all times during production. On top of that, Arnold also received 20 percent of the gross receipts on ticket sales, DVDs, TV rights, game licensing, and in-flight movie licensing on the movie worldwide.

22. THE PRODUCTION ON T3 WAS MASSIVE.

Several city blocks used during the crane chase sequence were created entirely by the production because they needed a level of destruction that wasn’t feasible if they shot on an actual street. The studio didn’t want to foot the bill for the sequence during the crane chase when the Terminator swings through an entire building facade while hanging from the crane, so Schwarzenegger put up his own money to complete the scene.

23. T3 COST EVEN MORE MONEY TO MAKE AT THE TIME.

Its production budget of $170 million made T3 the most expensive film ever made at the time. It has since been eclipsed many times over, and now stands as the 67th most expensive film ever made.

24. CHRISTIAN BALE WASN’T SUPPOSED TO PLAY JOHN CONNOR IN TERMINATOR SALVATION.

For the fourth installment of the series, actor Christian Bale was originally tapped to play the cyborg Marcus Wright (a role that eventually went to actor Sam Worthington), but he insisted on playing John Connor, a character that only appeared briefly in the original script. Bale’s demands forced the filmmakers to rewrite the script and make Bale’s Connor character a bigger part in the plot of the movie.

25. NEITHER BALE NOR SCHWARZENEGGER WERE FANS OF TERMINATOR SALVATION.

Schwarzenegger, who didn’t appear in the fourth installment of the franchise, didn’t like the movie. While promoting the upcoming chapter of the series, Terminator Genisys, he told interviewers, “I think the three that I was in all had their own little personalities and interesting storylines.” As for Salvation, Arnold said, “Thank god [I didn’t do it]. It sucked.” When asked about his contribution to the series, Bale wasn’t so happy about it either, saying, “I knew that we gave it a shot, it didn't work. I know the reasons for that. Wisdom sometimes is knowing when you have to walk away.”

Additional Sources:
The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron by Rebecca Keegan

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12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi
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On October 20, 1882—135 years ago today—one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Eighty-five years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?

1. HE WORKED WITH THE NATIONAL THEATER OF HUNGARY.

To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.

2. HE FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR I.

The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.

3. WHEN HE MADE HIS BROADWAY DEBUT, LUGOSI BARELY KNEW ANY ENGLISH.

In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.

4. UNIVERSAL DIDN’T WANT TO CAST HIM AS COUNT DRACULA.

The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.

5. MOST OF HIS DRACULA-RELATED FAN MAIL CAME FROM WOMEN.

The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.   

6. HE TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.

Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.

7. LUGOSI’S RELATIONSHIP WITH BORIS KARLOFF WAS MORE CORDIAL THAN IT’S USUALLY MADE OUT TO BE.

It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”

8. HE LOVED SOCCER.

In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]

9. HE WAS A HARDCORE STAMP COLLECTOR.

Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.

10. LUGOSI ALMOST DIDN’T APPEAR IN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN—BECAUSE THE STUDIO THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD.

The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.

11. A CHIROPRACTOR FILLED IN FOR HIM IN PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956;  he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.

12. HE WAS BURIED IN HIS DRACULA CAPE.

Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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The First Known Uses of 6 Common Typographic Symbols
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Many of the most common symbols on our keyboards have fascinating origin stories. Some, such as the zero, we now take for granted—yet the idea of denoting an absence of value was not present in Western mathematics until introduced from the East. Other symbols, such as the hashtag or at-sign, had a variety of uses until the internet ushered in a new way of communicating and fixed them with the meanings we know today. Below are six examples of the first known usage and subsequent history of some of the most common typographic symbols.

1. AT SIGN // @

The @ (or at-sign) is usually dated to 1536 in a letter from a Florentine merchant, Francesco Lapi, who used it to mean a unit of wine called “amphorae.” But a Spanish researcher claims to have found an even earlier usage in a 1448 document, where the symbol also referred to a unit of measurement (even today, Spaniards call the @ symbol arroba, which is also a unit of weight, and some other Romance languages have similar dual meanings). Either way, the researchers think that the symbol then moved to Northern Europe, where it eventually gained the meaning of “at the price.” Other explanations have also been offered, but whatever the exact root of the symbol, its meaning eventually became known as shorthand for at, and it was generally used in written financial transactions—for example, in noting “Bob sells James 4 apples @ $1.”

The sign had largely fallen out of use by the early 1970s, when computer scientist Ray Tomlinson was working at what is now BBN Technologies, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tomlinson, who was working for the government on a forerunner of the internet, was trying to figure out how to address messages sent from one computer to another when he noticed the little-used @ on his computer keyboard, and used it to send a prototype email. This precedent was soon adopted as the internet developed, and the at-sign is now, of course, central to our lives.

2. ZERO // 0

The absence of a value is a complex concept, one that many ancient civilizations struggled with. The idea of a zero ultimately came to the West from the mathematicians of India, where, as in a few other cultures, zero was initially used as a placeholder, for example to indicate a lack of units, as in the number 101.

The earliest surviving usage of a zero in India has been traced to an ancient mathematical text known as the Bakhshali manuscript, which is held at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. In September 2017, radiocarbon dating indicated that the manuscript was produced as early as the 3rd or 4th century—providing us with the first known usage of zero some 500 years earlier than previously thought. As Oxford’s Bodleian Library says, “the symbol in the Bakhshali manuscript is particularly significant for two reasons. Firstly, it is this dot that evolved to have a hollow centre and became the symbol that we use as zero today. Secondly, it was only in India that this zero developed into a number in its own right, hence creating the concept and the number zero that we understand today."

The manuscript itself was discovered buried in a field in 1881 in what is today Pakistan. Written on 70 delicate leaves of birch bark, historians think it represents a training manual for Silk Road traders, teaching them concepts of arithmetic.

3. HASHTAG // #

Hashtag on an old typewriter key
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The origin of the hashtag (or pound sign as it's traditionally known in the U.S.) comes from scribes writing shorthand for the Latin libra pondo, which translates as "pound by weight." The abbreviation they used was lb, which was sometimes misread as 16. So, scribes took to drawing a line through the top of the two letters, which over time developed into the now familiar #. In the 1960s, the pound sign was chosen by Bell Laboratories to be a function key on their newly designed telephone keypad. (The Bell Labs team fondly nicknamed the symbol the “octothorpe,” possibly in honor of athlete Jim Thorpe.) Fast-forward to 2007, when early Twitter users wanted to be able to group and filter their feeds, so developer Chris Messina suggested they appropriate the method used in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) whereby users employed the pound sign or "hashtag" to signpost what they were chatting about. (Programmers knew the symbol as the hash, which was now being used to "tag" content.) This simple method soon caught on, and today the hashtag has become indelibly linked to the rise of social media.

4. ELLIPSIS // …

Originally, periods of silence were marked textually with a series of hyphens, but today the symbol of choice is the , a.k.a. the ellipsis. Dr. Anne Toner of Cambridge University spent years researching the ellipsis and finally discovered what she thinks is its first use—an English translation of Roman dramatist Terence’s play Andria printed in 1588. Although the play used hyphens instead of dots, the general idea caught on rapidly. (Toner notes that although there are only four “ellipses” in the 1588 translation, there are 29 in the 1627 version.) By the 18th century, dots started to replace the dashes, which an assistant professor from Southeastern University suggests may be connected to a medieval piece of punctuation called subpuncting or underdotting, which generally indicated something was incorrectly copied.

5. AMPERSAND // &

Ampersand symbol on an old metal block
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The ampersand originated in Latin when the word et (meaning and) was written in cursive script as a ligature (in which one or more letters are written together as a single glyph). One of the earliest examples was found daubed in graffiti on the walls of a house in Pompeii, where it was preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. By the 8th century the ampersand became a recognizably distinct character, but the word ampersand did not come into use until the late 18th/19th century, when English school children would recite "and per se and" meaning “and by itself means and” to help remember the symbol (per se being Latin for "by itself"). One of the most thorough investigations into the typographic history of the ampersand comes courtesy of German graphic designer Jan Tschichold, who in 1953 published The am­persand: its ori­gin and de­vel­op­ment, in which he collected numerous examples of the ampersand from the 1st century onwards, visually charting its developing form.

6. PLUS SIGN // +

A variety of ceramic plus signs
iStock

The plus sign used for addition in mathematics likely derives from a shorthand ligature for the Latin et meaning “and” and was probably in use for a long time before a surviving example appeared in print. One candidate for the earliest surviving usage is in French philosopher and polymath Nicole Oresme's Algorismus proportionum, a manuscript handwritten between 1356 and 1361, although scholars debate whether it's a true plus symbol. The first use of a plus sign in a printed book is more definitive, and can be found in a 1489 edition of Johannes Widmann’s Mercantile Arithmetic. Widmann also uses the minus sign for the first time in print in this volume—although both plus and minus signs relate not to addition and subtraction but to surpluses and deficits in business accounting. After this usage, the plus sign began to appear more frequently in German mathematical texts, and first appeared in an English text in 1557 in Robert Recorde’s The Whetstone of Witte—which also introduced the equals sign.

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