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25 Indestructible Facts About The Terminator

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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13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
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Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


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There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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13 Secrets From the Guinness Archives
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Guinness has been a staple in Irish pubs for nearly 260 years. With so much history, it's no surprise that the Guinness Storehouse Archives—which are open to the public—are stuffed with intriguing artifacts that tell some pretty wild stories. Here are a few.

1. THE LEASE TO THE DUBLIN BREWERY WAS INTENDED TO LAST 9000 YEARS.

In 1759, founder Arthur Guinness signed a lease for a four-acre property at St. James’s Gate in Dublin. The lease required a down payment of £100, an annual rent of £45, and a term of 9000 years (not a typo). Such lengthy leases were relatively common back then: “At the time in Ireland, there was a lot of instability to do with land tenure,” explains Fergus Brady, Archives Manager at Guinness. Centuries earlier, the British had begun confiscating land from native Irish in an effort to build plantations, and extra-long leases were a means of avoiding this fate. As Brady explains, “You see these really long leases: 99-year or 999-year leases. It seemed to be a legal custom at the time that they used the number nine.”

2. ARTHUR GUINNESS WAS NOT AFRAID TO DEFEND HIS PROPERTY WITH A PICKAXE.

In 1775, the Dublin Corporation—that is, the city government—demanded that Arthur Guinness pay for the spring water flowing to his brewery. When Guinness argued that he was already paying for water rights through his 9000-year rental agreement, the Dublin Corporation sent a sheriff and a committee to his brewery to cut off the water supply. Guinness was livid. He seized a pickaxe and unleashed a torrent of obscenities so colorful that the Dublin Corporation’s goons eventually retreated.

3. GUINNESS ONCE DEPLOYED FIELD AGENTS TO CATCH COUNTERFEITERS.

Guinness Apology
Guinness Archive, Diageo Ireland

In the 19th century, there was no such thing as brand consistency. Guinness did not bottle its own beer; instead, it shipped the suds in wooden casks to publicans who supplied their own bottles and applied their own personalized labels. Occasionally, these publicans sold fake or adulterated Guinness. To prevent such sales, the company sent special agents called “travellers” into the field to collect beer samples, which it tested in a laboratory. “If a publican was found to be serving adulterated or counterfeit Guinness, they had to give a public apology in their local newspaper—and even the national newspapers,” archivist Jessica Handy says.

4. FOR 21 YEARS, THE COMPANY HIRED A GUY TO TRAVEL THE WORLD AND DRINK BEER.

In 1899, Guinness hired an American ex-brewer named Arthur T. Shand to be a “Guinness World Traveller.” It was arguably the coolest job in the world. For 21 years, Shand traveled the world taste-testing beer. According to Brady, “His job was to travel the world and taste Guinness, say whether it was good or bad, who our bottlers in the market were, who our major competition was, what kind of people were drinking our product.” Shand traveled to Australia and New Zealand, to Southeast Asia and Egypt. “He was sort of a Guinness sommelier,” Brady says.

5. THE COMPANY'S HARP LOGO CAUSED TROUBLE WITH THE IRISH GOVERNMENT.

The Celtic harp—based on the 14th century “Brian Boru Harp” preserved at Trinity College—became a trademarked Guinness logo in 1876. Forty-five years later, when Ireland gained independence from England, the Irish Free State decided to use the same Celtic harp as its official state emblem. This became awkward. Guinness owned the trademark, and the Irish government was forced to search for a workaround. You can find their solution on an Irish Euro coin. Look at the coin, and you’ll notice that the harp’s straight edge faces the right; meanwhile, the harp on a glass of Guinness shows the straight edge facing left [PDF].

6. GUINNESS REPORTEDLY SAVED LIVES ON THE BATTLEFIELD.

The old slogan “Guinness is good for you” sounds like a marketing gimmick, but it was born out of a genuine belief that the beer was, in fact, a restorative tonic. The health claim dates back to 1815, when an ailing cavalry officer wounded at the Battle of Waterloo reportedly credited Guinness for his recovery. For decades, the medical community widely claimed that the dark beer possessed real health benefits—and they weren’t necessarily wrong. “There was little safe drinking water at the time,” Handy says. “But with brewing, consumers knew they were getting a safe beverage.”

7. THE COMPANY CREATED A SPECIAL RECIPE FOR CONVALESCENTS.

A label for Guinness invalid stout
Guinness Archive, Diageo Ireland

From the 1880s to the 1920s, Guinness produced a special “Nourishing Export Stout”—a.k.a. “Invalid Stout”—that contained extra sugars, alcohol, and solids and came in cute one-third pint bottles. “It was very common practice for people to buy a couple bottles and keep them as a tonic, even if it was just a glass or half a glass,” Handy says. In fact, Guinness went as far as asking general practitioners for testimonials attesting to the beer’s medical benefits. According to Brady, “Many of them wrote back and said yes, we prescribe this for various ailments.” One doctor even claimed a pint was “as nourishing as a glass of milk.”

8. DOCTORS REGULARLY PRESCRIBED THE BEER TO NURSING MOTHERS.

From the 1880s to the 1930s, many physicians believed Guinness was an effective galactagogue—that is, a lactation aid. The company sent bottles to hospitals as well as wax cartons of yeast (which supposedly helped skin problems and migraines). Hundreds, possibly thousands, of doctors prescribed the beer for ailments such as influenza, insomnia, and anxiety, David Hughes writes in A Bottle of Guinness Please: The Colourful History of Guinness. According to Brady, the company was sending beer to hospitals as late as the 1970s.

9. THE COMPANY ONCE DROPPED 200,000 MESSAGES-IN-A-BOTTLE INTO THE OCEAN.

A Guinness message in a bottle
The message within every bottle dropped in the Atlantic Ocean in 1959.
Guinness Archive, Diageo Ireland

In 1954, Guinness dumped 50,000 messages-in-a-bottle in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. In 1959, they repeated the stunt again, with 38 ships dropping 150,000 bottles in the Atlantic. The first bottle was discovered in the Azores off Portugal just three months after the initial drop [PDF]. Since then, the bottles have turned up in California, New Zealand, and South Africa. Just last year, a bottle was discovered in Nova Scotia. (If you find one, you just might be offered a trip to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.)

10. THE PERSONNEL FILES IN THE GUINNESS ARCHIVES CONTAIN SOME DOOZIES.

The Guinness corporate archives are open to the public. According to Handy, “Some of the stories you get in there are amazing, because you get accident reports and you get crazy stories of people bouncing on bags of hops outside the brewery." This may sound less surprising considering that, back in the day, Guinness employees were given an allowance of two pints of beer every day [PDF].

11. A GUINNESS SCIENTIST MADE A STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT MARK IN THE FIELD OF STATISTICS.

If you’ve taken a statistics class, you might be familiar with the Student’s t-test or the t-statistic. (It’s a method of working with a small sample size when the standard deviation is unknown.) The t-test was first described by William S. Gosset, a brewer and statistician at Guinness who was attempting to analyze a small sample of malt extract. Gosset’s discovery not only helped Guinness create a more consistent-tasting beer, it would lay the bedrock for one of the most important concepts in statistics: statistical significance.

12. GUINNESS IS SO BIG IN AFRICA, IT LAUNCHED A SUCCESSFUL FEATURE-LENGTH FILM.

Guinness began exporting beer to Africa in 1827. In the 1960s, it opened a brewery in Nigeria—followed by Cameroon and Ghana. Today, there are reportedly more Guinness drinkers in Nigeria than there are in Ireland. “In Ireland, England, and the United States, everybody thinks that Guinness is synonymous with Ireland,” Brady says. “But in Nigeria, there’s a very very low conception of that.” The beer is such a cultural staple that a fictional character who advertised the product named Michael Power—a James Bond-like, crime-fighting journalist—became the star of a feature film in 2003 called Critical Assignment, which was a box office smash. (Of course, there’s some branding built into the script. As Brady explains, “There are definitely scenes where Michael Power is enjoying a pint of Guinness.”)

13. DISPENSING BEER WITH NITROGEN WAS ORIGINALLY CONSIDERED LAUGHABLE.

In the 1950s, Guinness scientist Michael Ash was tasked with solving the “draft problem.” At the time, dispensing a draft pint of Guinness was ridiculously complicated, and the company was losing market share to draft lagers in Britain that could be easily dispensed with CO2. “The stout was too lively to be dispensed with CO2 only,” Brady says. “Ash worked on the problem for four years, working long hours day or night, and became a bit of a recluse apparently. A lot of doubters at the brewery called the project ‘daft Guinness.’” But then Ash attempted dispensing the beer with plain air. It worked. The secret ingredient, Ash discovered, was nitrogen. The air we breathe is 78 percent nitrogen. Today, a Guinness draft contains 75 percent nitrogen. Not only did the discovery make dispensing the beer easier, it created a creamy mouthfeel that’s been the signature of Irish stouts since.

Full disclosure: Guinness paid for the author to attend an International Stout Day festival in 2017, which provided the opportunity to speak to their archivists.

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