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10 Musician Cameos on 1980s TV Shows

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Entertainers always seem to be looking to expand their repertoires: actors want to sing, singers want to act, TV stars long to make it on the big screen, and, of course, what everyone really wants to do is direct. Here are a handful of musical hitmakers of the 1980s who took a shot at the small screen (with varying degrees of success).

1. BOY GEORGE // THE A-TEAM

In an episode of The A-Team that originally aired in February 1986, Face decided there were big bucks to be made as a concert promoter, so he hired country singer Cowboy George to play at a seedy Arizona watering hole called The Floor ‘Em. Imagine his surprise when some wires got crossed along the way and Boy George arrived instead! Boy has been promised $1.2 million to play at the Arizona Forum, and he’s none too thrilled to find out that instead he’s contractually obligated to perform for an audience of rowdy pipeline workers at a redneck bar. Before he can flounce out in a huff, however, he pitches in to help Murdock and the rest of the Team halt an armored car robbery. Once the bullets finally stop flying, George hurls a satisfied “So there!” over his shoulder at the foiled thieves before taking the stage and performing a trio of hits for the surprisingly receptive audience.

2. PHIL COLLINS // MIAMI VICE

Miami Vice is the mother lode when it comes to trendy and/or quirky guest star appearances on a TV series. It was the place to be seen (and perhaps reignite a sagging career) thanks to both its Nielsen ratings and its ultra-hip demographic. After lending his “In the Air Tonight” to the show’s pilot, Phil Collins guest starred as Phil Mayhew (a.k.a. “Phil the Shill”), a crooked TV game show host who got cocky after bilking money out of the Miami party scene’s nouveau riche and tangled with some much-more-serious-minded cocaine dealers. Genesis fans will notice that the surnames of the supporting characters in this episode (Stewart, Bruford, Banks, and Hackett) were the names of past members of the band.

3. ANDY GIBB // PUNKY BREWSTER

Andy Gibb (the younger brother of Bee Gees Barry, Robin, and Maurice) was just 19 years old when he had his first number one single (“I Just Want to Be Your Everything”) in 1977; by the time he was 21, he had sold 15 million records worldwide. But four years after he first topped the charts, Gibb was dropped from his record label due to his worsening cocaine habit. He turned to acting instead, first on Broadway (he starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and then television (he co-hosted Solid Gold for two seasons); ultimately, he was fired from both gigs due to excessive absences. His last hurrah before checking into the Betty Ford Clinic was a guest appearance as a piano teacher on a 1985 episode of Punky Brewster.

4. FRANK ZAPPA // MIAMI VICE

Avant-garde artist Frank Zappa was known more as the frontman for The Mothers of Invention than he was as an actor, although he did make a cameo appearance in the 1968 Monkees film Head, in which he commented on Davy Jones’s “Daddy’s Song” dance number. He stepped in front of the camera again in 1986 in the Miami Vice episode entitled “Payback,” in which he portrayed Mario Fuente, a high-volume drug dealer who only conducted business on a yacht anchored in international waters.

5. ADAM ANT // THE EQUALIZER

Even though Johnny Depp has gone on record as saying that Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richard was the inspiration for his Pirates of the Caribbean Captain Jack character, fans of the short-lived New Romantic movement can’t help but note a more than passing resemblance to Adam Ant, formerly of Adam and the Ants. After his fortunes on the record charts started fading, Ant made a move toward acting and first dipped his toe in the water on a 1985 episode of The Equalizer entitled “The Lockbox.” He played a high-end pimp who was involved in what is now commonly referred to as “human trafficking”—his base of operations was a “lockbox,” an invitation-only brothel catering to very wealthy clients.

6. TED NUGENT // MIAMI VICE

Ted Nugent made his acting debut in “Definitely Miami,” a 1986 episode of Miami Vice. As con man Charlie Basset, he used his beautiful wife to lure folks looking to make a drug buy into a secluded quarry. Charlie would then kill the prospective customer, steal his buy money, and bury him and his car with a pile of sand (and presumably a steam shovel) conveniently left nearby.

7. MOON UNIT ZAPPA // CHIPS

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In 1982, Frank Zappa set the local San Fernando Valley teen jargon to music and had his then 14-year-old daughter Moon Unit contribute her best “Valspeak” to the verses. “Valley Girl” was Zappa’s only single ever to hit the Top 40 in the U.S. The song was meant to be a parody, but instead it launched a nationwide Valley Girl fad, with adolescent girls in suburban malls everywhere gagging themselves with a spoon. Moon Unit capitalized on her sudden fame by appearing on an episode of CHiPs as a hitchhiker who confounded middle-aged male drivers with her bizarre vernacular before stealing their wallets. Two years later she guested on “The Last Drive-In” episode of The Facts of Life as Mean Girl Sondra, who is itching to clean up the concession stand with Blair’s perm.

8. SHEENA EASTON // MIAMI VICE

Yet another Miami Vice entry, only this time the singer hung around for a whopping five episodes. Scottish songbird Sheena Easton guest starred in season four’s “Like a Hurricane” as Caitlin Davies, a singer who requires Sonny’s protection while she testifies against her manager in a payola trial. The two detested one another at first, but faster than you could say “whirlwind romance” they ended up getting married by the end of the episode. Easton was actually a last-minute substitute; Lorraine Bracco was originally cast as Caitlin, but was forced to withdraw from the role due to the flu.

9. THE B-52S // GUIDING LIGHT

New Wave music and daytime soap operas would seem to go together as well as meatloaf and maple syrup. Nevertheless, none other than the quirky combo from Athens, Georgia made a memorable guest appearance on Guiding Light in 1982. During the early 1980s, the venerable daytime drama had a story arc that featured scenes at Wired for Sound, the happening disco in Springfield. So the show recruited a series of musical guests, including Neil Sedaka, Ashford & Simpson, Bertie “Key Largo” Higgins, and The B-52s. The producers requested that the band play “Private Idaho” and the previously unreleased “Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can” and also gave the members a few lines of dialogue to exchange with the regular cast.

10. LAURA BRANIGAN // CHIPS

Laura Branigan released her signature single “Gloria” in 1982 and it remained on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for an amazing (and record-breaking) 36 weeks. In early 1983 she appeared on an episode of CHiPs as the lead singer of a girl band called the Cadillac Foxes, who are being swindled by an unscrupulous concert promoter. (Their big hit? “Gloria,” of course.) Why Ponch and Bobby are called upon to protect them is a bit of a mystery, since their job is mainly writing traffic tickets, but who’s to say they can’t do a little detective work on the side?

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10 Biting Facts About Snapping Turtles
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Here in the Americas, lake monster legends are a dime a dozen. More than a few of them were probably inspired by these ancient-looking creatures. In honor of World Turtle Day, here are 10 things you might not have known about snapping turtles.

1. THE COMMON SNAPPING TURTLE IS NEW YORK'S OFFICIAL STATE REPTILE.

Elementary school students voted to appoint Chelydra serpentina in a 2006 statewide election. Weighing as much as 75 pounds in the wild (and 86 in captivity), this hefty omnivore’s natural range stretches from Saskatchewan to Florida.

2. ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLES CAN BE LARGE. (VERY LARGE.)

An alligator snapping turtle
NorbertNagel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Utterly dwarfing their more abundant cousin, alligator snappers (genus: Macrochelys) are the western hemisphere’s biggest freshwater turtles. The largest one on record, a longtime occupant of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, weighed 249 pounds.  

A monstrous 403-pounder was reported in Kansas during the Great Depression, though this claim was never confirmed.  

3. COMMON SNAPPERS HAVE LONGER NECKS AND SPIKIER TAILS.

Alligator snappers also display proportionately bigger heads and noses plus a trio of tall ridges atop their shells. Geographically, alligator snapping turtles are somewhat restricted compared to their common relatives, and are limited mainly to the southeast and Great Plains.

4. BOTH VARIETIES AVOID CONTACT WITH PEOPLE.

If given the choice between fight and flight, snapping turtles almost always distance themselves from humans. The animals spend the bulk of their lives underwater, steering clear of nearby Homo sapiens. However, problems can arise on dry land, where the reptiles are especially vulnerable. Females haul themselves ashore during nesting season (late spring to early summer). In these delicate months, people tend to prod and handle them, making bites inevitable.

5. YOU REALLY DON'T WANT TO GET BITTEN BY ONE. 

Snapping turtle jaw strength—while nothing to sneeze at—is somewhat overrated. Common snapping turtles can clamp down with up to 656.81 newtons (N) of force, though typical bites register an average of 209 N. Their alligator-like cousins usually exert 158 N. You, on the other hand, can apply 1300 N between your second molars.

Still, power isn’t everything, and neither type of snapper could latch onto something with the crushing force of a crocodile’s mighty jaws. Yet their sharp beaks are well-designed for major-league shearing. An alligator snapping turtle’s beak is capable of slicing fingers clean off and (as the above video proves) obliterating pineapples.

Not impressed yet? Consider the following. It’s often said that an adult Macrochelys can bite a wooden broom handle in half. Intrigued by this claim, biologist Peter Pritchard decided to play MythBuster. In 1989, he prodded a 165-pound individual with a brand new broomstick. Chomp number one went deep, but didn’t quite break through the wood. The second bite, though, finished the job.

6. SCIENTISTS RECENTLY DISCOVERED THAT THERE ARE THREE SPECIES OF ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLES.

A 2014 study trisected the Macrochelys genus. For over a century, naturalists thought that there was just a single species, Macrochelys temminckii. Closer analysis proved otherwise, as strong physical and genetic differences exist between various populations. The newly-christened M. suwanniensis and M. apalachicolae are named after their respective homes—namely, the Suwannee and Apalachicola rivers. Further west, good old M. temminckii swims through the Mobile and the Mississippi.

7. THANKS TO A 19TH CENTURY POLITICAL CARTOON, COMMON SNAPPING TURTLES ARE ALSO KNOWN AS "OGRABMES." 

Snapping turtle cartoon
Urban~commonswiki via Wiki Commons // CC BY PD-US

Drawn by Alexander Anderson, this piece skewers Thomas Jefferson’s signing of the unpopular Embargo Act. At the president’s command, we see a snapping turtle bite some poor merchant’s hind end. Agitated, the victim calls his attacker “ograbme”—“embargo” spelled backwards.

8. ALLIGATOR SNAPPERS ATTRACT FISH WITH AN ORAL LURE …

You can’t beat live bait. Anchored to the Macrochelys tongue is a pinkish, worm-like appendage that fish find irresistible. Preferring to let food come to them, alligator snappers open their mouths and lie in wait at the bottoms of rivers and lakes. Cue the lure. When this protrusion wriggles, hungry fish swim right into the gaping maw and themselves become meals.

9.  … AND THEY FREQUENTLY EAT OTHER TURTLES. 


Complex01, WikimediaCommons

Alligator snappers are anything but picky. Between fishy meals, aquatic plants also factor into their diet, as do frogs, snakes, snails, crayfish, and even relatively large mammals like raccoons and armadillos. Other shelled reptiles are fair game, too: In one Louisiana study, 79.82% of surveyed alligator snappers had turtle remains in their stomachs.

10. YOU SHOULD NEVER PICK A SNAPPER UP BY THE TAIL.

Ideally, you should leave the handling of these guys to trained professionals. But what if you see a big one crossing a busy road and feel like helping it out? Before doing anything else, take a few moments to identify the turtle. If it’s an alligator snapper, you’ll want to grasp the lip of the upper shell (or “carapace”) in two places: right behind the head and right above the tail.

Common snappers demand a bit more finesse (we wouldn’t want one to reach back and nip you with that long, serpentine neck). Slide both hands under the hind end of the shell, letting your turtle’s tail dangle between them. Afterwards, clamp down on the carapace with both thumbs.

Please note that lifting any turtle by the tail can permanently dislocate its vertebrae. Additionally, remember to move the reptile in the same direction that it’s already facing. Otherwise, your rescue will probably turn right back around and try to cross the road again later. 

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Tina Fey
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Jenny Anderson, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Tina Fey has transformed modern comedy more than just about anyone else. From the main stage of Second City to the writer’s room of SNL to extremely fetch comedy blockbusters, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey has built a national stage with a dry, eye-popping sarcasm and political satire where no one is safe. She has a slew of Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, PGA, and WGA awards to prove it—plus a recent Tony nomination (her first). But, more importantly, she’s the closest thing we have to a national comic laureate.

Here are 10 facts about a fantastically blorft American icon.

1. SHE DID A BOOK REPORT ON COMEDY WHEN SHE WAS 11.

Fey got a very early start in comedy, watching a lot of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart, and Norman Lear shows as a kid. Her father and mother sneaked her in to see Young Frankenstein and would let her stay up late to watch The Honeymooners. So it’s no surprise that she chose comedy as the subject of a middle school project. The only book she could get her hands on was Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, but at least she made a friend. "I remember me and one other girl in my 8th grade class got to do an independent study because we finished the regular material early, and she chose to do hers on communism, and I chose to do mine on comedy," Fey told The A.V. Club. "We kept bumping into each other at the card catalog."

2. THE SCAR ON HER FACE CAME FROM A BIZARRE ATTACK THAT OCCURRED WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD.

Fey’s facial scar had been recognizable but unexplained for years until a profile in Vanity Fair revealed that the mark on her left cheek came from being slashed by a strange man when she was five years old. “She just thought somebody marked her with a pen,” her husband Jeff Richmond said. Fey wrote in Bossypants that it happened in an alleyway behind her Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, home when she was in kindergarten.

3. HER FIRST TV APPEARANCE WAS IN A BANK COMMERCIAL.

Saturday Night Live hired Fey as a writer in 1997. In 1995 she had the slightly more glamorous job of pitching Mutual Savings Bank with a radical floral applique vest and a handful of puns on the word “Hi.” In a bit of life imitating art, just as Liz Lemon’s 1-900-OKFACE commercial was unearthed and mocked on 30 Rock, the internet discovered Fey’s stint awkwardly cheering on high interest rates a few years ago and had a lot to say about her '90s hair.

4. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE NAMED HEAD WRITER OF SNL.

Four years after that commercial and two after she joined Saturday Night Live’s writing staff, Fey earned a promotion to head writer. Up until that point, the head writers were named Michael, Herb, Bob, Jim, Steve. You get the picture. She acted as head writer for six seasons until moving on to write and executive produce 30 Rock. Since her departure, two more women (Paula Pell and Sara Schneider) have been head writers for the iconic show.

5. SHE’S THE YOUNGEST MARK TWAIN PRIZE WINNER.

Established in 1998, the Kennedy Center’s hilarious honor has mostly been awarded to funny people in the twilight of their careers. Richard Pryor was the first recipient, and comedians who made their marks decades prior like Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, and George Carlin followed. Fey earned the award in 2010 when she was 40 years old, and the age of her successors (Carol Burnett, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman ...) signals that she may hold the title of youngest recipient for some time.

6. SHE WROTE SATIRE FOR HER HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER.

Fey was an outstanding student who was involved in choir, drama, and tennis, and co-edited the school’s newspaper, The Acorn. She also wrote a satirical column addressing “school policy and teachers” under the pun-tastic pseudonym “The Colonel.” Fey also recalled getting in trouble because she tried to make a pun on the phrase “annals of history.” Cheeky.

7. SHE MADE HER RAP DEBUT WITH CHILDISH GAMBINO ON "REAL ESTATE."

Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) first gained notice as a member of Derrick Comedy in college, and Fey hired him at the age of 23 to write for 30 Rock. Before jumping from that show to Community, Glover put out his first mixtape under his stage name. After releasing his debut album, Camp, in 2011, Gambino dropped a sixth mixtape called Royalty that featured Fey rapping on a song called “Real Estate.” “My president is black, and my Prius is blue!"

8. SHE VOICED PRINCESSES IN A BELOVED PINBALL GAME.

Between the bank commercial and Saturday Night Live, Fey has an intriguing credit on her resume: the arcade pinball machine “Medieval Madness.” Most of the game’s Arthurian dialogue was written by Second City members Scott Adsit (Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock) and Kevin Dorff, who pulled in fellow Second City castmate Fey to voice for an “Opera Singer” princess, Cockney-speaking princesses, and a character with a southern drawl. (You can hear some of the outtakes here.)

9. SHE USED MEAN GIRLS TO PUSH BACK AGAINST STEREOTYPES OF WOMEN IN MATH.

Tina Fey and Lindsay Lohan in 'Mean Girls' (2004)
Paramount Home Entertainment

There’s a ton of interesting trivia about Mean Girls, Fey’s first foray into feature film screenwriting. She bid on the rights to Rosalind Wiseman’s book that inspired the movie without realizing it didn’t have a plot. She initially wrote a large part for herself but kept whittling it down to focus on the teenagers, and her first draft was “for sure R-rated.” Fey also chose to play a math teacher to fight prejudice. “It was an attempt on my part to counteract the stereotype that girls can’t do math. Even though I did not understand a word I was saying.” Fey used a friend’s calculus teacher boyfriend’s lesson plans in the script.

10. SHE SET UP A SCHOLARSHIP IN HER FATHER’S NAME TO HELP VETERANS.

Fey’s father Donald was a Korean War veteran who also studied journalism at Temple University. When he died in 2015, Fey and her brother Peter founded a memorial scholarship in his name that seeks to aid veterans who want to study journalism at Temple.

"He was really inspiring," Fey said. "A lot of kids grow up with dreams of doing those things and their parents are fearful and want them to get a law degree and have things to fall back on, but he and our mom always encouraged us to pursue whatever truly interested us." Fey also supports Autism Speaks, Mercy Corps, Love Our Children USA, and other charities.

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