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18 Hearty Facts About Breakfast at Tiffany's

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The 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, based on Truman Capote’s novella, starred Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, one of the most iconic characters to ever appear on screen. The seemingly naive young girl who is sought out by wealthy men and looking to marry into money is befriended by struggling writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard), a fellow inhabitant of a New York City apartment building. Holly and Paul grow close, as her ex-husband unexpectedly shows his face in town, and the status of her beloved brother’s well-being remains in doubt.

The controversial aspects of the movie—including Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of I.Y. Yunioshi, and Holly’s occupation—haven’t done much to hurt the popularity of the Blake Edwards classic. Here are some facts about the movie on its 55th anniversary.

1. TRUMAN CAPOTE WANTED MARILYN MONROE TO PLAY HOLLY.

Monroe’s advisor and acting coach, Paula Strasberg, said she shouldn’t play a “lady of the evening”, and Monroe took her advice. Capote said Paramount Pictures “double-crossed me in every way” when they cast Audrey Hepburn instead. The outspoken author also proclaimed it to be the “most miscast film I've ever seen.” Over time, Capote would go on to say that Tuesday Weld or Jodie Foster would be good choices to play Holly in a remake.

2. SHIRLEY MACLAINE TURNED DOWN THE LEAD.

Shirley MacLaine said it was one of her biggest regrets. Kim Novak also said no.

3. AUDREY HEPBURN HESITATED BEFORE ACCEPTING THE PART.

“It’s very difficult and I didn’t think I was right for it,” Hepburn told The New York Times. "I’ve had very little experience, really, and I have no technique for doing things I’m unsuited to. I have to operate entirely on instinct. It was Blake Edwards who finally persuaded me. He, at least, is perfectly cast as a director, and I discovered his approach emphasizes the same sort of spontaneity as my own.”

4. JOHN FRANKENHEIMER WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE THE DIRECTOR.

John Frankenheimer had been on board to direct the film, but Hepburn wanted a bigger name. It was only after Blake Edwards (director of Operation Petticoat, and later The Pink Panther series) was attached that Hepburn accepted the role.

5. STEVE MCQUEEN COULD HAVE BEEN PAUL.

Edwards wanted Steve McQueen, but he was still under contract and under the control of television (CBS and the producers of Wanted: Dead or Alive wouldn’t allow the up-and-comer time off from the show). Edwards also suggested Tony Curtis to the producers. While Curtis was interested, the producers were not.

6. GEORGE PEPPARD ANNOYED EVERYBODY.

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Edwards did not want George Peppard for the role of Paul. He went so far as to drop to his knees on the sidewalk and beg producers Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd not to bring him in. Peppard ended up not listening to Edwards’s direction if he didn't agree with it. Hepburn was annoyed that Peppard overanalyzed everything, finding him “pompous.” Mrs. “2E” herself, Patricia Neal—a former friend of Peppard’s—thought he wanted to be an “old-time movie hunk,” and didn’t think her character should be so domineering of him.

7. THE SCRIPT HAD TO TRICK THE CENSORS.

Screenwriter Sumner Locke Elliott first attempted to write the adaptation. George Axelrod (who wrote The Seven Year Itch and The Manchurian Candidate) took over and lost the unhappy, unresolved ending and put in more Paul sex scenes which he had no intent on keeping. He figured—correctly—that the censor would focus more on finding issue with the now more promiscuous Paul and not pay attention to Holly.

8. HOLLY'S DRESS WAS CUSTOM MADE.

Hubert de Givenchy designed Holly's famous little black dress. It was auctioned off in 2006 at Christie’s for over $900,000. Hepburn and Givenchy had worked together in the past on Sabrina (1954), Funny Face (1957), and Love in the Afternoon (1957).

9. BLAKE EDWARDS WENT ALL OUT FOR THE PARTY SCENE.

The party scene took six days to film on a Paramount soundstage. The extras who played the guests were all friends of Edwards. Real champagne, 120 gallons of soft drinks, 60 cartons of cigarettes, hot dogs, cold cuts, chips, dips, and sandwiches were involved. A smoker used by a beekeeper was brought in to create enough smoke.

10. FRED FLINTSTONE AND POSSIBLY BARNEY RUBBLE WERE IN IT.

Alan Reed, who was the original voice of Fred Flintstone, played mobster Sally Tomato in the movie. The voice of Holly’s over-eager date remained officially uncredited, but some believe it sounds a lot like legendary voice actor Mel Blanc, who voiced Barney Rubble—not to mention Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and other classic Warner Bros. cartoon characters in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts.

11. TIFFANY’S OPENED ON A SUNDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE 19TH CENTURY TO ALLOW FILMING.

Forty armed guards had to work on the floor to prevent thievery.

12. MICKEY ROONEY DEFENDED HIMSELF, THEN DIDN’T.

Both Edwards and Rooney expressed regret at Rooney’s over-the-top portrayal of the Japanese character Mr. Yunioshi. According to Turner Classic Movies, Rooney wrote in his 1991 memoir, Life is Too Short, “I was downright ashamed of my role in Breakfast at Tiffany's ... and I don't think the director, Blake Edwards, was very proud of it either." He was more defensive in 2008, after a Sacramento screening of the film was canceled after there were protests over Rooney’s portrayal. “They hired me to do this overboard, and we had fun doing it. Never in all the more than 40 years after we made it—not one complaint. Every place I've gone in the world people say, ‘God, you were so funny.’”

13. "MOON RIVER" WAS ALMOST CUT FROM THE FILM.

Lyricist Johnny Mercer initially titled it “Blue River,” before realizing there were already other songs with the title. Henry Mancini spent a month to come up with the right melody. “It was one of the hardest things I ever had to write, because I couldn’t figure out what this lady would be singing up there on the fire escape,” Mancini said. In one version of the story, the president of Paramount Pictures, Marty Rankin, after the first preview screening of the movie, said the song had to be taken out. Hepburn told the man they would cut it out of the movie over her dead body. In another version of the story, one of the producers said after the screening that the song had to go, followed by Hepburn’s uncharacteristic response. In a different retelling of the legend, Rankin said it had to go, but it was producer Richard Shepherd who reportedly told the studio head he would had to contend with his dead body. “Moon River” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

14. HEPBURN WROTE A NOTE TO MANCINI.

It read: "I have just seen our picture—Breakfast at Tiffany's—this time with your score. A movie without music is a little bit like an aeroplane without fuel. However beautifully the job is done, we are still on the ground and in a world of reality. Your music has lifted us all up and sent us soaring. Everything we cannot say with words or show with action you have expressed for us. You have done this with so much imagination, fun and beauty. You are the hippest of cats—and most sensitive of composers. Thank you, Dear Hank.” She signed it “Lots of love, Audrey.”

15. CAPOTE SAID HOLLY WASN’T A CALL GIRL.

He explained as much to Playboy in 1968. “Holly Golightly was not precisely a call girl. She had no job, but accompanied expense-account men to the best restaurants and night clubs, with the understanding that her escort was obligated to give her some sort of gift, perhaps jewelry or a check … if she felt like it, she might take her escort home for the night. So these girls are the authentic American geishas, and they’re much more prevalent now than in 1943 or 1944, which was Holly’s era.”

16. THE STUDIO MADE SURE SHE WASN’T SEEN AS A CALL GIRL.

Rather than “call girl,” Golightly was described officially by Paramount Pictures as a “kook,” and a press release was written and sent out during filming which quoted the actors in the film defining the term "kook." (Producer Martin Jurow: “A kook is a kitten who’ll never grow up to be a cat.”) It also stipulated that ‘kook’ was not a beatnik term, because “The star is Audrey Hepburn, not Tawdry Hepburn.”

17. GLORIA VANDERBILT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE INSPIRATION FOR HOLLY.

Suspected influences for Holly include heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, dancer Joan McCracken, Carol Grace, Capote’s mother Lillie Mae (similar to Holly’s real name of Lula Mae), Carol Marcus, author Doris Lilly, Capote high school friend Phoebe Pierce, Oona O'Neill Chaplin, writer and journalist Maeve Brennan, and model/actress Suzy Parker. Capote called the speculation "the Holly Golightly sweepstakes,” and claimed that the real Holly was a woman who lived downstairs from him in the early 1940s. One Bonnie Golightly filed a lawsuit for libel and invasion of privacy against Capote saying she was the inspiration, but she officially lost the “sweepstakes.”

18. HOLLY’S APARTMENT SOLD FOR $7.4 MILLION.

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The interiors of her place were shot on a Paramount soundstage, but the Upper East Side brownstone on East 71st Street that was used for exteriors hit the market in 2014 for $10 million. It was sold to ‘169 E. 71st LLC’ for $7.4 million in June 2015.

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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