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14 Things You Might Not Know About Hallmark

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Whenever a major holiday rolls around, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find a greeting card in your mailbox, and the odds are pretty good it will be a Hallmark card. Here are a few things you may not know about the company that has become synonymous with “holidays.” 

1. IT ALL STARTED WITH A HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT. 

In 1910, Joyce “J.C.” Hall called it quits on high school and ventured from Norfolk, Neb. to Kansas City, Mo. with a plan to wholesale postcards. Hall and his brothers, Rollie and William, had previously tried to break into the postcard game in Nebraska without much luck, but in booming Kansas City, Hall could sell to a metro area and also take advantage of the city’s many rail connections to make quick sales trips to outlying towns. Soon business was strong enough for Rollie to join his brother, and the pair set up their own shop.

2. A TERRIBLE FIRE MADE HALLMARK’S SUCCESS POSSIBLE. 

Things went well for the brothers until 1915, when a fire gutted their shop, taking their entire inventory with it. Undeterred, the pair took out a loan, bought an engraving company, and started creating unique designs they could market exclusively. The move was a hit. The Halls eventually saw the postcard business wane and moved into a new arena: Attractively printed greeting cards for holidays like Valentine’s Day. 

3. THE COMPANY GETS CREDIT FOR CREATING WRAPPING PAPER. 

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Before 1917, getting your holiday gifts ready for their recipient was simple. You just concealed the gift in white, red, or green tissue paper and called it a day. Unfortunately, the Hall brothers ran out of tissue paper that year, but they still had customers clamoring for an elegant way to gussy up their presents. Rollie Hall cleverly offered to sell customers pieces of French paper he had bought for lining envelopes. Demand was so great over the holiday season and the following year that in 1919 the Halls started printing their own patterned gift wrap, and wrapping paper was suddenly a holiday staple. 

4. THE HALLMARK NAME DIDN’T APPEAR UNTIL 1925. 

Nayu Kim, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

J.C. Hall was a fan of the old hallmarks that goldsmiths used to sign their work. According to the company, Hall felt the name “Hallmark” was a fit because “it not only said quality in an authoritative way, but it also incorporated our family name.” The name first appeared in 1925, and by 1928 it was on every card the Hall brothers’ company sold. In 1954, Hall Brothers Inc. changed its name to Hallmark. 

5. IT’S STILL A FAMILY COMPANY. 

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Over a century after its founding, Hallmark is still a private company, it’s still in Kansas City, and it’s still run by the Hall family. J.C. Hall’s son Donald J. Hall is chairman of the Hallmark board, while his son Donald Jr. is president and CEO of the company. 

6. ONE ARTIST IS THE BABE RUTH OF GREETING CARDS.

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The next time you see a Hallmark card depicting an adorable bear, kitten, angel, or child, take a peek to see if the art is signed with a simple “Mary.” Artist Mary Hamilton has been a Hallmark employee for over 60 years, and the creations she calls “cutes” have made her a legend among greeting card fans. (On her 55th Hallmark anniversary in 2010, a New York Times report quoted colleagues who called Hamilton “our rock star” and “Hallmark’s Cher.”) What’s the greatest greeting card artist of all time’s secret for capturing the cute? Not even Hamilton really knows—she has said, "I paint with a feeling in mind. I never have any set pattern. You learn to do it without quite realizing how." 

7. AND ONE CARD RULES THEM ALL. 

Hallmark

In over a century in business, Hallmark has created thousands of designs, but one is clearly the most successful. The “Pansy Card” depicting a pushcart full of the flowers with a note on the front reading “To Let You Know I’m Thinking of You” has been a sales juggernaut since its introduction for Mother’s Day 1939. The simple imagery and appropriate-to-almost-any-situation text have made it Hallmark’s longest-running offering. 

8. HALLMARK GOT ON THE MICKEY MOUSE CRAZE EARLY. 

Hallmark

It’s hard to imagine today, but there was a time when Disney characters weren’t splashed on every conceivable product. In 1932, the Halls were starting to dabble in licensing when the company signed a deal to create new greeting cards that showcased Walt Disney’s characters. Possibly helping the deal along: Disney was an elementary school classmate of J.C. Hall’s wife, Elizabeth.  The license was a success and helped Hallmark weather the Great Depression.

9. HALLMARK OWNS CRAYOLA. 

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If you’ve bought the world’s most famous crayons since 1984, you may have picked up a Hallmark product without knowing it. Hallmark acquired Binney & Smith Inc., the parent company of Crayola, for $204 million, in part because Crayola had such high name recognition among shoppers. 

10. THEY’VE PILED ON THE EMMYS. 

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Before they were safe and sentimental fare, Hallmark’s TV movies were literally Shakespearean tragedies. Hallmark Hall of Fame movies have been television staples since the company teamed with NBC to air Amahl and the Night Visitors in a Christmas Eve broadcast in 1951. Breaking into TV was a canny advertising move by J.C. Hall, who would later admit, “I do not have a philanthropic attitude toward culture. The simple truth is that good television is good business.” 

That first special was such a hit that in 1953 Hallmark followed up with a televised version of Hamlet starring Maurice Evans that the company claims reached a larger audience than all previous productions of Hamlet combined. The success sparked more Shakespearean productions and original programming. Over 60 years later, the Hallmark Hall of Fame series has changed networks multiple times, but it’s still chugging along. With more the 250 movies, the series’ titles have combined to take home 81 Emmys

11. YOU CAN THANK HALLMARK FOR RAINBOW BRITE. 

Hallmark

Children of the 80s probably remember Rainbow Brite, the colorful adventurer who resided in Rainbow Land. What they might not know is that she was a creation Hallmark’s designers started working on in 1981 in an effort to find traction with girls in the three-to-seven age range. (The move was allegedly Hallmark’s counter to  rival American Greetings’s success with its Strawberry Shortcake character.) At her peak, Rainbow Brite was one of the country’s top children’s media icons, complete with toys produced under license to Mattel, an animated TV series, and an animated feature film that received a theatrical release. 

12. HALLMARK OWNS A FAMILY FRIENDLY COMPETITOR TO NETFLIX. 

With over six decades in television production to its credit, the company has quite an archive. And it makes good use of it. Originally launched in 2007 by producer Rob Fried, Feeln is Hallmark’s streaming-video service that offers films and shorts that are “well-made and have positive messages for viewers all ages.” To make the cut for Feeln, a movie can’t include nudity, violence, or profanity, and the service also steers clear of “movies with divisive social issues or political agendas.” What makes the cut? In addition to the Hallmark Hall of Fame, current offerings include Look Who’s Talking, Hitch, and The Other Boleyn Girl

13. THE COMPANY ASSEMBLED ONE OF THE GREATEST COLLECTIONS OF AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHY. 

As a company, Hallmark doesn’t just create art. Since 1949, it has also been a collector and exhibitor. In 1964, the company began making acquisitions for a photography collection that would eventually become legendary. Hallmark’s holdings grew slowly at first, but after hiring curator Keith F. Davis in 1979, the company built an unrivaled portfolio of 6500 photographs covering the history of American photography from 1839 onward.

14. AND THEN THEY GAVE IT AWAY. 

By the time Davis was done making purchases, Hallmark’s photography collection was both massive and important. It included 6500 works by 900 photographers. From early daguerreotypes to pieces by icons like Andy Warhol, Annie Liebovitz, Harry Callahan, and Alfred Stieglitz, the collection had a bit of everything, all of which contributed to its estimated $65 million value. What does a company do when it’s got such an important cultural property on its hands? In 2006, Hallmark donated the majority of the collection to Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, making the local institution one of the world’s foremost centers for photography history.

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Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
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Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.

1. IT'S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”

2. JOHN HUGHES REJECTED THE IDEA OF DIRECTING MR. MOM.

Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.

3. MICHAEL KEATON GOT THE ROLE BECAUSE OF NIGHT SHIFT.

In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”

4. THE FILM BROKE NEW GROUND.

Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”

5. TODAY, “MR. MOM” IS CONSIDERED A PEJORATIVE TERM.

More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”

6. TERI GARR DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A MESSAGE MOVIE.

The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”

7. MARTIN MULL IMPROVISED THE “220, 221” LINE.

The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.

8. MR. MOM OUTGROSSED HUGHES’S OTHER 1983 SUMMER MOVIE—VACATION.

Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.

9. THE MOVIE LED TO HUGHES BEING CALLED “A PURVEYOR OF HORNY SEX COMEDIES.”

During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”

10. MR. MOM WAS MADE INTO A TV MOVIE AFTER ALL.

In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Central Press/Getty Images

Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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