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15 Awfully Big Facts About The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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Loyal viewers who grew up watching the independent, intelligent, and perky career woman named Mary Richards always knew that she would make it after all. Younger folks who’ve only seen the show in reruns likely don’t realize just how groundbreaking The Mary Tyler Moore Show was. While some of the scenarios presented seem dated by today’s standards, the show's portrayal of how women in general, and single women in particular, were treated in the workplace—and by society—was very accurate for that time. Fortunately for future single working women TV characters like Elaine Benes and Liz Lemon, our Mare had spunk!

1. A Dick Van Dyke show (no, not that one) helped to launch Mary’s solo sitcom career.

When The Dick Van Dyke Show ended in 1966, Mary Tyler Moore was poised to make the leap into films. She had inked a deal with Universal Pictures and starred in three features in rapid succession, only one of which (Thoroughly Modern Millie, with Julie Andrews) won critical praise and performed well at the box office. With her marquee value fading, Moore leaped at the offer to reunite with her old co-star in the 1969 CBS variety special Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman. The show was written by Sam Denoff and Bill Persky, the same duo who’d written for Van Dyke’s sitcom; their inspiration for the special was a minor complaint Van Dyke's wife, Marjorie, once made—that very often, when she was out in public with her husband, she’d hear comments about him “cheating” on Laura (Moore). The special was a critical and ratings success, and based on the strength of those Nielsen numbers, CBS offered Moore a half-hour slot on their network with a guarantee of 24 episodes, no pilot necessary.

2. Mary Richards was originally a divorcée.

When the creative team behind The Mary Tyler Moore Show was originally brainstorming the concept, they envisioned Mary Richards as a recently divorced 30-year-old who had moved to a new apartment and needed to find a job after her husband had left her. But CBS network researchers warned series co-creator Allan Burns that there were four things viewers (especially the all-important “mainstream audience in Peoria”) would never accept in their living rooms and which could spell early death for a TV show: New Yorkers, Jews, divorced women, and men with mustaches.

Despite the warning, Burns and his staff kept the brash Jewish New York-transplant Rhoda character (played by Valerie Harper), who originally tested poorly with audiences but who softened up after a few episodes. They did acquiesce on the divorcée angle, though, after preview audiences (who couldn’t distinguish between Mary Tyler Moore and Laura Petrie, her character from The Dick Van Dyke Show) openly reviled Mary for leaving a nice guy like Dick Van Dyke. Instead they made Mary a woman who had recently broken off a two-year long engagement and was looking to start life anew, in her own apartment, supporting herself, and being unencumbered by a relationship.

3. The MTM kitten was found in a Minneapolis shelter.

It was Grant Tinker’s (Moore’s then-husband) idea to name their new production company MTM Enterprises, and Moore didn’t argue since that meant her name was the company. The similarity to MGM hadn’t gone unnoticed and during an early staff meeting someone suggested that since MTM was a small company, wouldn’t it be cute to have a kitten meow like the MGM lion? A staffer visited an animal shelter in Minneapolis and found several orange kittens (they wanted a cat with a fur color similar to a lion's) and chose the one with the loudest “mew.” The kitten was named Mimsie and she appeared in many different forms in the production tags of various MTM shows. A crew member adopted her and took her home to San Bernardino, where Mimsie lived until the ripe old age of 20.

4. Gavin MacLeod auditioned for the role of Lou Grant.

Allan See started losing his hair at age 18, while he was studying drama at New York’s Ithaca College. By the time he graduated he was pretty much bald, which limited his roles as an actor. He changed his name to Gavin MacLeod and maintained a fairly steady career playing heavies, thanks to his bald pate and bulky physique. MTM co-founder Grant Tinker invited MacLeod to audition for the role of Lou Grant, which he did, but afterward he asked to read for the role of Mary’s co-worker, Murray Slaughter. He thought he could bring more to the affable Murray character than the gruff and imposing Lou. The producers agreed with him after Ed Asner tested for the role of Mary’s boss.

5. The producers had Jack Cassidy in mind when they created the character of Ted Baxter.

But Cassidy turned them down, having just played an egomaniacal pretty-boy actor on the sitcom He & She. He wasn’t looking to get typecast as a hammy buffoon. The role went to Ted Knight instead. Once The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a hit, however, Cassidy changed his mind and appeared as Ted’s preening egotistical brother, Hal, in the episode “Cover Boy.”

6. Ted Knight was living paycheck-to-paycheck when he was cast as Ted Baxter.

The second choice for the role of the anchorman was Lyle Waggoner, but he was happily ensconced on The Carol Burnett Show and had no desire to leave a successful series for an untested one. Jennifer Aniston’s father, John, read for the part of Ted and was called back twice, but the producers were not quite sure he was “the one." Producer Dave Davis happened to see Ted Knight performing in a local production of the Broadway comedy You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running and reported to the rest of the team that Knight was hilarious and that they should have him read for the role of Ted Baxter.

Even though the silver-haired Knight was a far cry from the hunky heartthrob-type they originally had in mind, Knight came to the audition wearing an anchorman-style blue blazer he had purchased from a thrift store with part of his rent money and impressed them with his booming voice and comedic chops. During that brief reading, he brought some layers to the anchorman character (cocky and arrogant on the outside, but secretly vulnerable and very human) that impressed the MTM staff and inspired some new newsroom story ideas for the show.

7. Ted Knight hated being confused with “Ted Baxter” and almost quit the show.

Midway through the show's third season, Ted Knight walked into co-creator Allan Burns’ office before the start of rehearsal with tears running down his face. Alarmed, Burns ran from behind his desk to embrace the actor and ask what was wrong. “I can’t do it,” Knight cried. “I can’t play Ted Baxter anymore. Everybody thinks I’m stupid and I’m not. I’m intelligent and well-read, but everyone treats me like I’m a schmuck.” Burns consoled Knight, giving him examples of other great comedic actors who were nothing like the characters they played. Knight eventually composed himself and turned to go out to the stage for rehearsal when co-creator James L. Brooks walked into the room and congenially slapped the actor on the back, greeting him with “Ah, Ted—the world’s favorite schmuck.”

Luckily, Knight soldiered on. As the series progressed, his character found a girlfriend, got married, and had the occasional “very special” episode to remind the audience that he wasn’t all bluster and buffoonery.

8. Hazel Frederick was seen in every single episode of the series.

Hazel who? Picture it: It was a cold, blustery day in downtown Minneapolis in 1969, and Hazel was out doing her shopping at Donaldson’s Department Store. She exited the store and proceeded across Nicollet Avenue, one of the busiest streets in the city.  She noticed an attractive young brunette walking ahead of her into traffic. The woman suddenly stopped and gleefully tossed her hat into the air. That brunette was Mary Tyler Moore, and a film crew (using hidden equipment in order to be unobtrusive and keep the scene more natural) was recording her hat toss for the opening credits of her upcoming new show. To make it more realistic, traffic wasn’t halted, and Mare had to negotiate her own way across the street for that famous freeze frame. (That’s Hazel Frederick between the “James” and the “And.”)

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9. Mary Richards was “evicted” from her old apartment.

For the first five seasons of the show, Mary Richards lived in Apartment D, located inside an 1892 Queen Anne Victorian home outfitted with Palladian windows and an iron balcony. Paula Giese, who owned the house with her husband at the time, claimed that she’d been told the exterior shots of her house would be used for a documentary that would be aired one time, not for a TV series. Once The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a hit, Giese was inundated with visitors at all hours of the day and night ringing her doorbell to ask if “Mary” was home. Eventually tour buses full of fans showed up on her curb.

In the spring of 1973 the Gieses got word that MTM producers would be back in the area to film more outdoor shots of their house for future use in the opening credits. Paula, a local political activist, immediately hung a series of "Impeach Nixon" banners on the outside of her home to discourage the cameramen. Her tactic worked, and Mary Richards moved to a new high-rise early in season six.

10. Valerie Harper almost didn’t get the role of Rhoda because she was too attractive.

The character of Rhoda, Mary’s neighbor and eventual best friend, was originally described as “a self-made loser—overweight, not good with hair and make-up, and self-deprecating.” Of all the actresses who tested for the role, Valerie Harper was the producers' hands-down favorite. But there was one problem: she was beautiful. The producers asked her to “frump herself up a bit” for her second reading, but she still looked too pretty. So, just like the characters of Ted Baxter and Murray Slaughter, the producers rethought the character to suit the actor. They decided that even if she was attractive, they’d make Rhoda the type of woman who didn’t think she was and who regularly put herself down.

11. The script supervisor (and Phyllis’s daughter) rescued the pilot episode.

The MTM brass made the unusual decision to perform the premiere episode twice; first they would invite a studio audience in to watch the dress rehearsal on Tuesday, and they would also have tape in the cameras recording it so that the cast and production staff could watch and evaluate it prior to Friday’s actual filming. The actors went through their paces but weren’t getting the laughs that they were expecting. A post-show poll of the audience revealed that they hated Rhoda, thought she was too mean to sweet Mary in the opening scene, and that perception left a pall over the rest of the episode.

While the writers were frantically trying to find a fix for their show without having to do a major overhaul, script supervisor Marjorie Mullen came up with an idea: The show opened with Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) and her young daughter, Bess (Lisa Gerritsen), showing Mary her new apartment. They find “that dumb, awful Rhoda” (according to Phyllis) out on the balcony, washing the window because she was under the impression that it was going to be her apartment. Mullen’s idea was to give Bess an extra line not originally in the script: “Aunt Rhoda’s really a lot of fun! Mom hates her ... ” The change worked; if a little girl thought Rhoda was cool, it was OK for the audience to like her, too. The laughs came in all the right places during Friday’s taping.

12. The men in the cast weren’t sorry to see Valerie Harper leave the series.

The Rhoda character eventually became popular enough to be spun off into her own series, and the “boys” on the show were happy to see her go. Nothing against Valerie Harper—by all accounts she was very sweet and easy to work with. It was just that when Rhoda was still on the show, many episodes focused on “the girls” and the action took place at Mary’s apartment and away from the newsroom, leaving the men with a lot less screen time.

13. The “designer” of Mary’s infamous green dress met a tragic end in real life.

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Barbara Colby first appeared as a hooker named Sherry in the “Will Mary Richards Go To Jail?” episode and made such an impression that she was brought back a second time. In “You Try to Be a Nice Guy,” Sherry enlists Mary’s aid to find a job in order to maintain her parole. She ultimately tries her hand at fashion design and presents Mary with a green dress that exposes a lot of flesh (which elicits a priceless reaction from Ted Baxter). Colby was given a co-starring role in the Cloris Leachman spin-off series Phyllis in 1975. She had filmed just three episodes when she and a male friend were accosted and shot by two men in a Venice, California, parking lot the night of July 24, 1975. Colby died at the scene; her companion lived long enough to describe their mysterious attackers (who hadn’t robbed them) before dying of his wounds. The culprits were never caught and the case remains unsolved.

14. Mary really did have to struggle to keep a straight face during the “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode.

Often listed as one of the best sitcom episodes, this entry touched on a dark subject: the death of WJM children’s show host Chuckles the Clown. (He’d been dressed as Peter Peanut to serve as Grand Marshall of a circus parade and a rogue elephant tried to shell him.) Mary was supposed to remain grim and mournful while the rest of the newsroom made jokes about his unusual demise, but during every rehearsal she continually cracked up whenever Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo (one of Chuckles’ many characters) was mentioned. She recalled in her autobiography that the insides of her cheeks were almost raw from biting them so hard to keep from laughing during the actual taping of the episode.

15. It was the first U.S. network series to break character and feature a curtain call.

After seven seasons Grant Tinker and Mary Tyler Moore decided to end their show while it was still performing strongly in the ratings rather than continuing on, risking a drop in quality and ultimately getting cancelled. It was one of the rare series finales that allowed the characters to bid farewell to one another in the context of the show, and it also featured another first: Moore introduced each of her castmates to the audience for a final curtain call before the end credits rolled.

Additional Sources:
After All, by Mary Tyler Moore
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, by by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Archive of American Television interviews with Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, and Mary Tyler Moore

This post originally appeared in 2015.

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15 Surprising Facts About Scarface
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Say hello to our little list. Here are a few facts to break out at your next screening of Scarface, Brian De Palma’s gangsters-and-cocaine classic, which arrived in theaters on this day in 1983.

1. IT WASN'T THE FIRST SCARFACE.

Brian De Palma's Scarface is a loose remake of the 1932 movie of the same name, which is also about the rise and fall of an American immigrant gangster. The producer of the 1983 version, Martin Bregman, saw the original on late night TV and thought the idea could be modernized—though it still pays respect to the original film. De Palma's flick is dedicated to the original film’s director, Howard Hawks, and screenwriter, Ben Hecht.

2. IT COULD HAVE BEEN A SIDNEY LUMET FILM.

At one point in the film's production, Sidney Lumet—the socially conscious director of such classics as Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men—was brought on as its director. "Sidney Lumet came up with the idea of what's happening today in Miami, and it inspired Bregman," Pacino told Empire Magazine. "He and Oliver Stone got together and produced a script that had a lot of energy and was very well written. Oliver Stone was writing about stuff that was touching on things that were going on in the world, he was in touch with that energy and that rage and that underbelly."

3. OLIVER STONE WASN'T INTERESTED IN WRITING THE SCRIPT, UNTIL LUMET GOT INVOLVED.


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Producer Bregman offered relative newcomer Oliver Stone a chance to overhaul the screenplay, but Stone—who was still reeling from the box office disappointment of his film, The Hand—wasn't interested. "I didn’t like the original movie that much," Stone told Creative Screenwriting. "It didn’t really hit me at all and I had no desire to make another Italian gangster picture because so many had been done so well, there would be no point to it. The origin of it, according to Marty Bregman, [was that] Al had seen the '30s version on television, he loved it and expressed to Marty as his long time mentor/partner that he’d like to do a role like that. So Marty presented it to me and I had no interest in doing a period piece."

But when Bregman contacted Stone again about the project later, his opinion changed. "Sidney Lumet had stepped into the deal," Stone said. "Sidney had a great idea to take the 1930s American prohibition gangster movie and make it into a modern immigrant gangster movie dealing with the same problems that we had then, that we’re prohibiting drugs instead of alcohol. There’s a prohibition against drugs that’s created the same criminal class as (prohibition of alcohol) created the Mafia. It was a remarkable idea."

4. UNFORTUNATELY, ACCORDING TO STONE, LUMET HATED HIS SCRIPT.

While the chance to work with Lumet was part of what lured Stone to the project, it was his script that ultimately led to the director's departure from the film. According to Stone: "Sidney Lumet hated my script. I don’t know if he’d say that in public himself, I sound like a petulant screenwriter saying that, I’d rather not say that word. Let me say that Sidney did not understand my script, whereas Bregman wanted to continue in that direction with Al."

5. STONE HAD FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER.

In order to create the most accurate picture possible, Stone spent time in Florida and the Caribbean interviewing people on both sides of the law for research. "It got hairy," Stone admitted of the research process. "It gave me all this color. I wanted to do a sun-drenched, tropical Third World gangster, cigar, sexy Miami movie."

Unfortunately, while penning the screenplay, Stone was also dealing with his own cocaine habit, which gave him an insight into what the drug can do to users. Stone actually tried to kick his habit by leaving the country to complete the script so he could be far away from his access to the drug.

"I moved to Paris and got out of the cocaine world too because that was another problem for me," he said. "I was doing coke at the time, and I really regretted it. I got into a habit of it and I was an addictive personality. I did it, not to an extreme or to a place where I was as destructive as some people, but certainly to where I was going stale mentally. I moved out of L.A. with my wife at the time and moved back to France to try and get into another world and see the world differently. And I wrote the script totally f***ing cold sober."

6. BRIAN DE PALMA DIDN'T WANT TO AUDITION MICHELLE PFEIFFER.


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De Palma was hesitant to audition the relatively untested Pfeiffer because at the time she was best known for the box office bomb Grease 2. Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Kelly McGillis, Sharon Stone and Sigourney Weaver were all considered for the role of Elvira, but Bregman pushed for Pfeiffer to audition and she got the part.

7. YES, THERE IS A LOT OF SWEARING.

According to the Family Media Guide, which monitors profanity, sexual content, and violence in movies, Scarface features 207 uses of the “F” word, which works out to about 1.21 F-bombs per minute. In 2014, Martin Scorsese more than doubled that with a record-setting 506 F-bombs thrown in The Wolf of Wall Street.

8. TONY MONTANA WAS NAMED FOR A FOOTBALL STAR.

Stone, who was a San Francisco 49ers fan, named the character of Tony Montana after Joe Montana, his favorite football player.

9. TONY IS ONLY REFERRED TO AS "SCARFACE" ONCE, AND IT'S IN SPANISH.

Hector, the Colombian gangster who threatens Tony with the chainsaw, refers to Tony as “cara cicatriz,” meaning “scar face” in Spanish.

That chainsaw scene, by the way, was based on a real incident. To research the movie, Stone embedded himself with Miami law enforcement and based the infamous chainsaw sequence on a gangland story he heard from the Miami-Dade County police.

10. VERY LITTLE OF THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN MIAMI.

The film was originally going to be shot entirely on location in Miami, but protests by the local Cuban-American community forced the movie to leave Miami two weeks into production. Besides footage from those two weeks, the rest of the movie was shot in Los Angeles, New York, and Santa Barbara.

11. ALL THAT "COCAINE" LED TO PROBLEMS WITH PACINO'S NASAL PASSAGES.

Though there has long been a myth that Pacino snorted real cocaine on camera for Scarface, the "cocaine" used in the movie was supposedly powdered milk (even if De Palma has never officially stated what the crew used as a drug stand-in). But just because it wasn't real doesn't mean that it didn't create problems for Pacino's nasal passages. "For years after, I have had things up in there," Pacino said in 2015. "I don't know what happened to my nose, but it's changed."

12. PACINO'S NOSE WASN'T HIS ONLY BODY PART TO SUFFER DAMAGE.

Still of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in 'Scarface' (1983)
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In the film's very bloody conclusion, Montana famously asks the assailants who've invaded his home to "say hello to my little friend," which happens to be a very large gun. That gun took a beating from all the blanks it had to fire, so much so that Pacino ended up burning his hand on its barrel. "My hand stuck to that sucker," he said. Ultimately, the actor—and his bandaged hands—had to sit out some of the action in the last few weeks of production.

13. STEVEN SPIELBERG DIRECTED A SINGLE SHOT.

De Palma and Spielberg had been friends since the two began making studio movies in the mid-1970s, and they made a habit of visiting each other’s sets. Spielberg was on hand for one of the days of shooting the Colombians’ initial attack on Tony Montana’s house at the end of the movie, so De Palma let Spielberg direct the low-angle shot where the attackers first enter the house.

14. SOME COOL TECHNOLOGY WENT INTO THE GUN MUZZLE FLASHES.

In order to heighten the severity of the gunfire, De Palma and the special effects coordinators created a mechanism to synchronize the gunfire with the open shutter on the movie camera to show the huge muzzle flash coming from the guns in the final shootout.

15. SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS A FAN OF THE FILM.

The trust fund the former Iraqi dictator set up to launder money was called “Montana Management,” a nod to the company Tony uses to launder money in the movie.

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30 Cold, Hard Facts About Die Hard
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What do you get when you mix one part action movie with one part holiday flick and add in a dash of sweaty tank top? Die Hard, John McTiernan’s genre-bending Christmas action masterpiece for the ages, which sees a badass NYPD cop take on a skyscraper full of bad guys in the midst of an office holiday party. Here are 30 things you might not know about the movie.

1. IT’S GOT A LITERARY BACKGROUND.

Think some action-loving Hollywood scribe came up with the concept for Die Hard? Think again. The movie is based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 crime novel Nothing Lasts Forever, which is a sequel to his 1966 novel, The Detective. In 2013, Thorp’s long out-of-print book was resurrected to coincide with the film’s 25th anniversary.

2. IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE TOWERING INFERNO.

The idea for Nothing Lasts Forever was inspired John Guillermin’s 1974 disaster flick The Towering Inferno. After seeing the film, Thorp had a dream about a man being chased through a skyscraper by a group of men with guns. He eventually turned that snippet of an idea into a sequel to The Detective.

3. FRANK SINATRA GOT FIRST DIBS ON PLAYING THE ROLE OF JOHN MCCLANE.


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Because he had starred in the big-screen adaptation of The Detective, Frank Sinatra had to be offered the role in its sequel. At the age of 73, he smartly turned it down.

4. BRUCE WILLIS’S BIG-SCREEN DEBUT WAS WITH FRANK SINATRA.

In 1980, Willis made his film debut (albeit uncredited) in the crime thriller The First Deadly Sin. He has no name and if you blink you’ll miss him, but the role simply required that Willis entered a diner as Sinatra’s character left it. Maybe it was kismet?

5. CLINT EASTWOOD PLANNED TO TAKE A STAB AT THE PART.

Originally, it was Clint Eastwood who owned the movie rights to Nothing Lasts Forever, which he had planned to star in in the early 1980s. That obviously never happened.

6. IT WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE A SEQUEL TO COMMANDO.

This is one of the most popular internet stories about Die Hard. But according to Stephen de Souza, the screenwriter of both Die Hard and Commando, while there was a sequel to Commando planned, the only similarity with Die Hard is that they both took place in buildings. According to de Souza, Escape Plan is the closest to his original Commando 2 idea and Die Hard was never supposed to be anything but Die Hard.

7. BRUCE WILLIS WASN’T EVEN THE STUDIO’S THIRD CHOICE FOR THE ROLE.

If Die Hard was to be a success, the studio knew they needed a bona fide action star in the part, so they set about offering it to a seemingly never-ending list of A-listers of the time. Rumor has it that Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, Charles Bronson, Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Don Johnson, Burt Reynolds, and Richard Dean Anderson (yes, MacGyver!) were all considered for the role of John McClane. And all declined it.

8. BRUCE WILLIS WAS CONSIDERED A COMEDIC ACTOR AT THE TIME.

Die Hard’s producers had nothing against Bruce Willis, of course. He just wasn’t an immediate choice for the role because, up until that point, he was known solely as a comedic actor, not an action star. Following the success of the film, the action genre really became Willis’s bread and butter, and although he has two Emmys for his comedy work, it has remained as such to this day.

9. BRUCE WILLIS WAS BARELY EVEN SEEN ON THE MOVIE’S POSTERS.

Bruce Willis stars as John McClane in 'Die Hard.'
Twentieth Century Fox

Because the studio’s marketing gurus were unconvinced that audiences would pay to see an action movie starring the funny guy from Moonlighting, the original batch of posters for the film centered on Nakatomi Plaza instead of Willis’s mug. As the film gained steam, the marketing materials were altered, and Willis was more prominent in the promos.

10. WILLIS WAS PAID $5 MILLION TO MAKE THE MOVIE.

Even with all the uncertainly surrounding whether he could pull the film off, Willis was paid $5 million to make Die Hard, which was considered a rather hefty sum at the time—a figure reserved for only the top tier of Hollywood talents.

11. WILLIS SUGGESTED THAT BONNIE BEDELIA PLAY HIS WIFE.

Though we suspect that she wasn’t paid $5 million for the gig.

12. BRUCE WILLIS WAS ABLE TO SAY YES THANKS TO A WELL-TIMED PREGNANCY.

The first few times Bruce Willis was asked to star in the movie, he had to say no because of his commitments to Moonlighting. Then costar Cybill Shepard announced that she was pregnant. Because her pregnancy wouldn’t work within the show, producer Glenn Caron gave everyone 11 weeks off, allowing Willis to say yes.

13. SAM NEILL WAS ORIGINALLY APPROACHED FOR THE PART OF HANS GRUBER.

But Neill ended up turning the film down. Then, in the spring of 1987, the casting director saw Alan Rickman playing the dastardly Valmont in a stage production of Dangerous Liaisons and knew they had found their Hans.

14. DIE HARD WAS ALAN RICKMAN’S FEATURE FILM DEBUT.

Though Rickman may have played the part of Hans as cool as the other side of the pillow, it was actually his first role in a feature film.

15. JOHN MCTIERNAN TURNED THE MOVIE DOWN, TOO.

And not just once, but on a few different occasions. His reason was that the material just seemed too dark and cynical for him. “The original screenplay was a grim terrorist movie,” McTiernan told Empire magazine in 2014. “On my second week working on it, I said, 'Guys, there's no part of terrorism that's fun. Robbers are fun bad guys. Let's make this a date movie.’ And they had the courage to do it.”

16. MCTIERNAN SEES IT AS A SHAKESPEAREAN TALE.

In the original script, the action in Die Hard takes place over a three-day span, but McTiernan—inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—insisted that it be condensed into a single evening.

17. NAKATOMI PLAZA IS ACTUALLY FOX PLAZA.


Yes, the corporate headquarters of 20th Century Fox—the very studio making the movie—proved to be the perfect location for the movie’s much-needed Nakatomi Plaza. And as it was still under construction, there wasn’t a whole lot they needed to do to the space to make it movie-ready. The studio charged itself rent to use its own space.

18. THE ROOM WHERE THE HOSTAGES ARE BEING HELD IS LITERALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S FALLINGWATER.

"In this period, Japanese corporations were buying America," production designer Jackson De Govia said in the Die Hard DVD audio commentary. "We posited that ... Nakatami Corporation bought Fallingwater, disassembled it, and reassembled it in the atrium, like a trophy."

19. THAT PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE CITY BELOW? IT’S NOT REAL.

A 380-foot-long background painting provided the illusion of a breathtaking city view in the movie. And it was a state-of-the-art one, too, with animated lights, moving traffic, and the ability to change from night to day. The painting is still the property of the studio and has been used in other productions since.

20. THE FILM’S SUCCESS SPAWNED A BONA FIDE FRANCHISE.

In addition to its four sequels, Die Hard has spawned video games and comic books, too.

21. JOHN MCCLANE’S TUMBLE DOWN A VENTILATION SHAFT WAS AN ACCIDENT.

Or maybe “error” would be a better word. But in the scene in which McClane jumps into an elevator shaft, his stunt man was supposed to grab onto the first vent. But he missed. By a lot. Which made the footage even more exciting to watch, so editor Frank J. Urioste kept it in the final cut.

22. ALAN RICKMAN’S DEATH SCENE WAS ALSO PRETTY SCARY.

At least it was for Rickman. In order to make it look as if he was falling off a building, Rickman was supposed to drop 20 feet onto an air bag while holding onto a stunt man. But in order to get a genuinely terrified reaction out of him, they dropped him on the count of two—not three, as was planned.

23. BRUCE WILLIS SUFFERED PERMANENT HEARING LOSS.


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In order to get the hyper-realism that director John McTiernan was looking for, the blanks used in the guns in the movie were modified to be extra loud. In one scene, Willis shoots a terrorist through a table, which put the action star in extremely close proximity to the gun—and caused permanent hearing loss. He referenced the injury in a 2007 interview with The Guardian. When they asked Willis his most unappealing habit, he replied that, “Due to an accident on the first Die Hard, I suffer two-thirds partial hearing loss in my left ear and have a tendency to say, ‘Whaaa?’”

24. ALAN RICKMAN WASN’T FOND OF THE NOISE EITHER.

Whenever he had to shoot a gun in the film, Rickman couldn’t help but flinch. Which forced McTiernan to have to cut away from him so that his reactions were not caught on film.

25. GRUBER’S AMERICAN ACCENT POSED NOTHING BUT PROBLEMS.

The scene in which Rickman, as Gruber, slips into an American accent and pretends to be yet another hostage who got away was insisted on by screenwriter Steven de Souza, who wanted them in a room together to duke it out. But McTiernan was never happy with Rickman’s American accent, saying, “I still hear Alan Rickman’s English accent. I was never quite happy with the way he opened his mouth [in that scene] ... I shot it three times trying to get him to sound more stridently American ... it’s odd for someone who has such enormous verbal skills; he just had terrible trouble getting an American accent.”

26. HANS GRUBER’S GERMAN IS MOSTLY GIBBERISH.

And the bulk of his German cohorts were not German either. Bruce Willis, on the other hand, was actually born in West Germany to an American father and a German mother.

27. BRUCE WILLIS HAS FOUR FEET.

As Willis spends much of the movie in his bare feet running through broken glass, he was given a pair of rubber feet to wear as a safety precaution. Which is great and all, but if you look closely in certain scenes, you can actually see the fake appendages.

28. YOU CAN SEE—BUT NOT TOUCH—JOHN MCCLANE’S SWEATY TANK TOP.


Getty Images

In 2007, Willis donated the blood-soaked tank top he wore in Die Hard to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian.

29. “YIPPEE-KI-YAY” STOLE THE MOVIE.

It was a simple line: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!” But it became the film’s defining moment, and the unofficial catchphrase that has been used in all four Die Hard sequels as well.

30. CREDIT FOR THE LINE IS OWED TO WILLIS.

In a 2013 interview with Ryan Seacrest, Bruce Willis admitted that “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!” was really just a joke. “It was a throwaway,” said Willis. “I was just trying to crack up the crew and I never thought it was going to be allowed to stay in the film."

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