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40 Things Turning 40 in 2016

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If you were born in 1976, you're in good company! You're the same age as Apple, U2, the meme, The Blues Brothers, and a bunch of talented actors. You were also born just as the United States was celebrating its bicentennial ... and getting super into The Eagles. Read on.

1. RYAN REYNOLDS AND BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH 

Lots of hunks were born in 1976, but Ryan Reynolds (October 23) and Benedict Cumberbatch (July 19) have to top this list. Both men have graced various "Sexiest Man Alive" lists, and apparently they're actors as well.

Some more of our favorite actors born in 1976: Cillian Murphy (May 25); Colin Farrell (May 31); Fred Savage (July 9); Adrian Grenier (July 10); Mark Duplass (December 7); and Danny McBride (December 29).

2. U2

In the fall of 1976, 14-year-old drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a flyer on his Irish high school's bulletin board looking for musicians to join him in a new band. In short order he met Adam Clayton (bass), Paul Hewson ("Bono," vocals), and Dave Evans ("The Edge," guitar). The band was first known as Feedback, then changed to The Hype, and finally settled on U2 in 1978.

3. APPLE

On April Fools' Day 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer. The Steves had already been friends for years, having worked on telephone system hacks, Atari's Breakout, and various other projects. But what would put them on the map was Woz's Apple I computer, priced provocatively at $666.66.

There was actually a third Apple founder, Ronald Wayne. He is largely omitted from modern stories about Apple's founding, likely because he left the company on April 12, just 11 days after it began. Oops.

4. THE MEME

In Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene, he coined the term meme, which is now defined by Wiktionary (via Wordnik) as "Any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another."

While today the term also has specific technical connotations (think images posted to the web with text superimposed on them), the original Dawkins idea applied to all ideas that propagated among people through non-genetic means.

5. THE FIRST PLATINUM RECORD // THEIR GREATEST HITS, THE EAGLES 

In 1976, the Recording Industry Association of America introduced the concept of a "Platinum Record," meaning an album or single selling one million units in the U.S. (This was super-confusing because previously the one-million-unit mark had already been achieved.) The Eagles were awarded the first Platinum Record for Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, which today is basically tied with Michael Jackson's Thriller in sales volume.

6. ALICIA SILVERSTONE, REESE WITHERSPOON, AND RASHIDA JONES

On March 22, Reese Witherspoon entered the world, with the rather wondrous name Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon. She was preceded by Rashida Jones (February 25) and followed by Alicia Silverstone (October 4). Silverstone's first acting credit was on TV's The Wonder Years, appearing alongside Fred Savage.

Other notable women of the silver screen born in 1976 include: Kelly Macdonald (February 23); Audrey Tautou (August 9); Anna Faris (November 29).

7. WEIRD AL'S FIRST AIRPLAY 

On March 14, 1976, Dr. Demento played the first "Weird Al" Yankovic song on the radio. That first tune was "Belvedere Cruisin'," recorded on a boombox in the 16-year-old Yankovic's bedroom. The song refers to the Plymouth Belvedere, which was discontinued around 1970.

8. THE BICENTENNIAL QUARTER 

The mid-1970s were filled with U.S. bicentennial events as the country celebrated 200 years of independence. Several U.S. coins were redesigned, most notably the bicentennial quarter, which was marked "1776-1976" on its face and featured a colonial drummer on the reverse. More than 1.5 billion of these quarters made their way into circulation, making them quite common in the pockets of Americans throughout the following few decades.

In addition to the famous quarter, various other bicentennial coins were issued, including a dollar coin showing the Liberty Bell over the face of the moon.

This leads us to ...

9. THE RE-RELEASE OF THE $2 BILL

In 1966, the U.S. stopped printing $2 bills. Featuring Thomas Jefferson on the front, the bill was always useful but also always a little odd, since it was more rare than the $1 and $5 notes. In 1976, the bill returned (with Trumbull's The Declaration of Independence on the back), and contrary to popular myth, it's still being printed and remains in circulation. According to the Treasury Department (emphasis added):

"The $2 bill has not been removed from circulation and is still a circulating denomination of United States paper currency. The Federal Reserve System does not, however, request the printing of that denomination as often as the others. The Series 2003 $2 bill was the last printed and bears the names of former Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snow and Treasurer Rosario Marin. As of April 30, 2007 there were $1,549,052,714 worth of $2 bills in circulation worldwide."

And since that was written, the Treasury has (intermittently) printed more $2 bills, most recently in 2014.

10. THE MUPPET SHOW 

Although there had been two pilot episodes aired as specials in the years prior, The Muppet Show officially premiered in the United States as a syndicated show in September 1976. Because Jim Henson had several complete shows produced, stations could pick which one they started the series off with; most chose the one starring Rita Moreno (for which she won an Emmy). The show was an immediate hit around the world, though it struggled in U.S. ratings initially. (It had been turned down by all three networks, and was only made when British TV mogul Lord Lew Grade funded the series on a handshake deal with Henson, insisting only that it be filmed in England.)

11. THE BLUES BROTHERS

In a January 17 musical performance on Saturday Night Live, proto-Jake and Elwood Blues (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) showed off their musical chops to the world. Although they weren't fully formed as a comedy act ("We're on a mission from God, ma'am"), or even a band (they initially performed dressed as bees, calling themselves "Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band"), the energy was undeniable. Prior to that musical performance, the duo (typically backed up by the SNL house band) played as a warmup act before the live show. It wasn't until April 1978 that the Blues Brothers performed on SNL wearing their signature outfits.

12. THAT BOGUS "FACE" ON MARS (...AND VIKING 1 & 2 LAND ON MARS)

On July 20, Viking 1 became the first American spacecraft to land on Mars, following a bunch of Soviet probes that had landed (or crash-landed) in years prior. Although the spacecraft had originally been slated to land on July 4 (a rather important date for the United States, ahem), plans were changed after the original landing site was deemed unsuitable and NASA needed to find a new site. July 20 was still an auspicious day, though: It marked the seven-year anniversary of humans landing on the moon.

After the landing, the Viking 1 orbiter (the rover's orbiting friend) went about searching for a landing site for Viking 2 and sent back plenty of photos, including one which shows that creepy "face" staring up. As subsequent photos and studies have demonstrated, the "face" is just a lump of rock with some shadows, but that didn't stop decades of conspiracy theorists from commenting on it.

After its landing and main experiments concluded, Viking 1 spent six years taking and sending pictures back to Earth. Its sister craft, Viking 2, landed on September 3.

13. ROCKY 

Sylvester Stallone became famous as the eponymous Rocky, a boxer working as a debt-collector for a loan shark in Philly. When Rocky gets a chance to fight Apollo Creed, his life changes forever (and, indeed, Stallone's career changed forever). The film took home three Oscars, including Best Picture, and introduced us to the pained cry "Adrian!" It also popularized the Philadelphia Museum of Art, also known as "The Rocky Steps," where Rocky pumps his fists.

14. THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

In 1974, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle awarded an expansion franchise to a group in Seattle, and by 1975 a local contest gave us the name "Seahawks." The team first took the field on August 1, 1976, playing a pre-season game against the 49ers.

15. THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Tampa, Florida, also got a new franchise. Jacksonville attorney Hugh Culverhouse received the franchise after failing to buy the LA Rams. A contest chose the name "Buccaneers," referring to Florida's history of coastal pirates. The three-syllable name was pretty much instantly shortened to "Bucs."

The Bucs had a tough time starting out—record-breakingly rough. The 1976 Bucs had a record 0-14 season (the Lions finally broke this by going 0-16 in 2008), suffered tons of injuries, and were mocked on late-night TV. It took until Week 13 in the 1977 season for the Bucs to catch a break, winning their first regular-season game against the New Orleans Saints. For more detail on the rough early years, enjoy the gloriously detailed Wikipedia section entitled The worst team in the league (1983–1996).

16.  THE ACTORS WHO PLAYED KIMMY GIBBLER AND STEVE URKEL, OUR FAVORITE SITCOM NEIGHBORS 

Although their signature roles wouldn't come until the 1980s, 1976 saw the birth of Jaleel White on November 27 and Andrea Barber on July 3. White would go on to play Steve Urkel on Family Matters and Barber was Kimmy Gibbler on Full House. Both actors are, weirdly, best known as annoying-but-lovable neighbors on sitcoms.

17. CARRIE (THE FILM)

Stephen King's breakthrough novel Carrie came out in 1974, and by November 3, 1976, we had the Brian De Palma-directed film in theaters. The film earned Oscar nominations for Sissy Spacek as the title character, and for Piper Laurie, who played her abusive mother. In 1999, an ill-conceived Carrie 2 came out. It wasn't exactly a hit. (It earned a staggering 21 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)

18. NETWORK

On November 27, the stunning satire Network introduced us to the phrase, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch, who won a posthumous Oscar for the performance) played a dangerously unhinged TV anchor, who promised to commit suicide on air in order to boost ratings. As the movie goes on, Beale digs himself into ever-deeper holes with his madness, and the audience eats it up as network executives let it happen. Network took home four Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay (non-adapted). Not too shabby.

19. THE FIRST ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW MIDNIGHT SCREENING 

Although The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in 1975, it really became a cultural staple on April Fools' Day 1976 (the same day Apple was founded!) when the Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village started showing it at midnight. Previous midnight programming at the Waverly (including a Night of the Living Dead run) had established its audience's tolerance for camp, and suddenly, an American tradition was born. Within the year, audiences developed dialogue to yell at the screen, theater-goers made costumes, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a cult classic.

20. THE LAST AMERICAN SLIDE RULE

On July 11, Keuffel & Esser manufactured its last slide rule in the United States. For four decades, K&E had been making popular slide rules, but digital calculators were faster and more accurate, which accounts for why most people under age 40 today don't even know what a slide rule is. The last K&E slide rule was donated to the Smithsonian.

That leads us to ...

21. THE CRAY-1 SUPERCOMPUTER

Cray Research installed its first supercomputer, the Cray-1, at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The computer cost $8.8 million, weighed 11,500 pounds, ran at 160 megaflops, and was cooled by liquid Freon. The machine was insanely powerful for its time, and spent five years as the fastest supercomputer on the planet (until the Cray X-MP came out).

Without getting too technical, yes, the computer in your smartphone (or even your dumbphone) is radically faster than the Cray-1. Deeply, profoundly, staggeringly faster. But does your phone come with its own sectional couch to go around it? No, it does not.

22. THE RAMONES' EPONYMOUS  FIRST ALBUM

On February 4, the Ramones released their album Ramones, featuring the cult anthems "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Judy Is a Punk," "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," and "Beat on the Brat." The longest song on the album is two and a half minutes, which is totally punk rock. Another punk concept they pioneered was the use of pseudonyms; all band members adopted the last name "Ramone," although none of them were related.

23. THE CN TOWER 

Toronto's CN Tower had its grand opening on October 1. It was the world's tallest tower at the time, and also the world's tallest free-standing structure. (It remained so for more than three decades!)

Built as a monument to Canadian industry, the CN Tower is a radical skyscraper. In the SkyPod, you can sometimes feel a slight sway. If you ever have the opportunity to go up, do it. Otherwise, just keep an eye open for the color symbolism shown on the tower throughout the year.

24. BILL GATES'S "OPEN LETTER TO HOBBYISTS"

On February 3, Bill Gates wrote a famous open letter to computer hobbyists. In it, he asked people to pay for software, which was actually something people had to argue about at the time. (In the mid-1970s, "Micro-Soft" BASIC was being pirated all over the place and hobbyists typically placed little or no value on software, but they paid for hardware.) In part, Gates wrote:

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid? ...

...I would appreciate letters from any one [sic] who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment. ...

The strategy appears to have worked, because Microsoft (it dropped the hyphen later in 1976) went on to bring in loads of cash selling software. Indeed, its success in the software business created an estimated 10,000 millionaires, plus three billionaires.

25. FAMILY FEUD

On July 12, Family Feud debuted on ABC. Hosted by Richard Dawson of Hogan's Heroes and Match Game fame, the show had the same format it does today: two families guessed answers to simple questions, often with awkward results. In the premiere episode (seen in the video above), the Abramowitz family was asked to name "Something you can do to a nose." As the family members screamed "Pick! Pick! Pick!," the Abramowitz matriarch was mortified, murmuring, "Powder?" but finally gave in to her family's answer. "Pick" was in fact on the board, and won them the round. ("Powder," however, was the better answer.)

26. LAVERNE & SHIRLEY 

On January 27, Laverne & Shirley premiered on ABC as a spin-off from Happy Days. It starred Penny Marshall (her brother Garry Marshall served as producer) and Cindy Williams as the title characters, who worked in the "Shotz Brewery" in Milwaukee. Also notable is the appearance of a young Michael McKean as Lenny Kosnowski, their upstairs neighbor. (McKean's college friend and bandmate David Lander played Squiggy.)

Two notable albums came from this show: Lenny and the Squigtones (one song shown above), and Laverne & Shirley Sing.

27. THE EAGLES' HOTEL CALIFORNIA 

The same year that The Eagles had the first-ever Platinum record with their Greatest Hits album, they also released Hotel California, which was a massive hit. Hotel California came out on December 8, along with the single "New Kid in Town" (the title track wasn't a single until 1977).

28. ALEX HALEY'S ROOTS

In 1976, Alex Haley's Roots: The Saga of an American Family brought Kunta Kinte to American readers. The novel followed Kunta's enslavement and subsequent generations' struggles, leading down a family tree to Haley himself.

At the time, Haley said the book was largely based on oral history within his family, though it was later shown to be a mixture of fact and fiction (and indeed, Kunta Kinte's life was lifted at least in part from anthropologist Harold Courlander's book The African). This led to Haley calling it "faction" (fact + fiction). Literary issues aside, Roots was an incredible success, and was rapidly adapted into the landmark 1977 TV miniseries. The novel spent 22 weeks at the top of The New York Times Best Seller List. It spawned a renewed interest in genealogy as well as the history of slavery in America.

29. BIG RED GUM 

Cinnamon-flavored Big Red gum debuted in 1976. By 1979 the famous "Kiss a Little Longer" slogan was introduced, and ads like the one above pounded home the message that Big Red was a breath-freshener. You know, for people seeking to extend their make-out sessions.

30. TAXI DRIVER

On February 8, Americans met Travis Bickle, a Marine and Vietnam vet who drove a cab through a filthy New York City. (The filth was real, due to a sanitation workers' strike going on during filming.) Taxi Driver was bleak and brutal, and we have 13 grimy facts about it. My favorite? "You talkin' to me?" came from Bruce Springsteen.

31. THE QUEEN'S FIRST EMAIL 

On March 26, Queen Elizabeth II sent her first email (sorry, "e-mail") from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern, Worcestershire. Connected to the ARPANET, Her Majesty showed up, punched a few keys, and instantly became the most wired monarch in the world. Her username? "HME2," chosen by Peter Kirstein, who had set up the ARPANET node.

32. FIRST EBOLA OUTBREAK(S)

Ebola was first identified in 1976 when it broke out in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Sudan (now South Sudan), infecting more than 300 people and killing most of them. Initially called Ebola hemorrhagic fever, it was named for the Ebola River, near the site of the Zaire outbreak. After many outbreaks since, the largest epidemic to date occurred in West Africa starting in 2013, causing more than 11,000 deaths.

33. THE BAND PERFORMS THE LAST WALTZ

On November 25, The Band performed The Last Waltz, its final show. The show was packed full of guest stars and filmed by Martin Scorsese, who released his landmark documentary (and the hit soundtrack) in 1978. Years later, a black-and-white alternate recording surfaced, showing another view of the famous concert (and demonstrating the extent to which the finished music had been enhanced with overdubs).

34. STEVE WONDER'S SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE

Stevie Wonder's masterpiece album Songs In the Key of Life came out on September 28. The double-disc album (plus bonus seven-inch EP) had tremendous musical depth, and in 1977 it won the Grammy for Best Album, Pop Male Vocalist, and Producer of the Year. In 2015, Wonder concluded a world tour performing Songs in its entirety.

35. "SILLY LOVE LONGS" BY WINGS

On April Fools' Day (also the day Apple was founded, and the day the Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings began), Wings released the song of the summer: "Silly Love Songs." The biggest single from Wings at the Speed of Sound, "Silly Love Songs" was a reaction by Paul McCartney to criticism that he mainly wrote love songs of little substance.

(There was another contender for song of the summer of '76, though: "Afternoon Delight," which released in April and hit #1 by mid-July.)

36. THE FDA'S BAN ON RED DYE NO. 2 (AND THE DISCONTINUATION OF RED M&Ms)

Early in 1976, Red Dye No. 2, also called amaranth, was banned by the FDA. It was a tremendously common food coloring at the time, so the ban caused many food companies to pull products from store shelves and reformulate them.

The story of the ban is a complex tale of murky science, in which various studies disagreed about a possible link between the food additive and cancer. Mars went ahead and discontinued red M&Ms, despite never having used Red Dye No. 2 in them—their concern was that the public might assume the candy contained the coloring, as red was now a bit of a tainted color.

Within a decade, red M&Ms were back but Red Dye No. 2 remains banned.

37. NEAR-PEAK DAVID BOWIE: THE THIN WHITE DUKE, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, and STATION TO STATION

On January 23, David Bowie released his tenth studio album, Station to Station. The album was recorded while Bowie was heavily addicted to cocaine, and he later recalled very little of its recording. It's also the first appearance of Bowie's character The Thin White Duke, developed in part for another major project released in 1976: The Man Who Fell to Earth. (The character was retired in 1977.)

On March 18, The Man Who Fell to Earth was released in the UK, featuring Bowie in his first major film role. (He said he “didn't really know what was being made at all" due to the aforementioned massive cocaine addiction.) Based on the 1963 novel by Walter Tevis, the film follows Thomas Jerome Newton, a very human-like alien who visits Earth seeking water for his drought-stricken home world, and ends up becoming an alcoholic. It became a cult classic, and Bowie became sober shortly after.

38. PEYTON MANNING & RONALDO 

On March 24, Peyton Manning was born. He's currently a five-time NFL MVP. On September 18, Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo was born. Known as "the phenomenon," he's among the best strikers (and overall soccer players) ever.

39. THE FIRST COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE LASER PRINTER

In 1976, if you wanted a finely-printed document, you weren't going to make it with a home computer. The advent of desktop publishing was still years away, but the first laser printer to be used in business did arrive in 1976. IBM installed the IBM 3800, a laser printer designed to replace the noisy line printers typically used in data centers. It printed on fanfold paper and was designed to print high volume documents like bank statements and financial reports.

A year later, Xerox responded with its Xerox 9700, a cut-sheet laser printer, which was the first to support loading alternate fonts.

40. HAIR CLUB FOR MEN

In 1976, Sy Sperling founded the Hair Club for Men due to his dissatisfaction with the quality of hair replacement solutions for men dealing with baldness. In TV ads, he famously proclaimed, "I'm not only the Hair Club president, but I'm also a client." By 1995, the Hair Club had expanded to include services for women, and by 2000, Sperling sold the business to a private equity firm.

If you're a fan of Sy Sperling and/or his Hair Club, check out the documentary Roots: The Hair-Raising Story of a Guy Named Sy.

All images courtesy of Getty Images

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

1. HE WORKED WITH THE NATIONAL THEATER OF HUNGARY.

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

2. HE FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. HE LOVED SOCCER.

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

9. HE WAS A HARDCORE STAMP COLLECTOR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. HE WAS BURIED IN HIS DRACULA CAPE.

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

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How to Carve a Pumpkin—And Not Injure Yourself in the Process
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Wielding a sharp knife with slippery hands around open flames and nearby children doesn't sound like the best idea—but that's exactly what millions of Halloween celebrations entail. While pumpkin carving is a fun tradition, it can also bring the risk of serious hand injuries. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), some wounds sustained from pumpkin misadventure can result in surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to minimize trauma. Both ASSH and CTV News have compiled safety tips for pumpkin carvers intended to reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room.

First, it's recommended that carvers tackle their design with knives made specifically for carving. Kitchen knives are sharp and provide a poor grip when trying to puncture tough pumpkin skin: Pumpkin carving knives have slip-resistant handles and aren't quite as sharp, while kitchen knives can get wedged in, requiring force to pull them out.

Carvers should also keep the pumpkin intact while carving, cleaning out the insides later. Why? Once a pumpkin has been gutted, you’re likely to stick your free hand inside to brace it, opening yourself up to an inadvertent stab from your knife hand. When you do open it up, it's better to cut from the bottom: That way, the pumpkin can be lowered over a light source rather than risk a burn dropping one in from the top.

Most importantly, parents would be wise to never let their kids assist in carving without supervision, and should always work in a brightly-lit area. Adults should handle the knife, while children can draw patterns and scoop out innards. According to Consumer Reports, kids ages 10 to 14 tend to suffer the most Halloween-related accidents, so keeping carving duties to ages 14 and above is a safe bet.

If all else fails and your carving has gone awry, have a first aid kit handy and apply pressure to any wound to staunch bleeding. With some common sense, however, it's unlikely your Halloween celebration will turn into a blood sacrifice.

[h/t CTV News]

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