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15 Out-of-This-World Facts About Forbidden Planet

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The iconic sci-fi adventure Forbidden Planet is celebrating its 60th anniversary today. Featuring stunning visual effects for its day and the beloved genre icon Robby the Robot, the film followed the exploits of the C-57D, an earth ship sent to Altair 4 to find out what happened to a colony mission sent there 20 years earlier. Led by Commander John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen), the team discovers that only Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his teenage daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) survived a deadly attack by an unknown entity. That strange being returns once the crew has arrived, and they fend off its invisible attacks while attempting to convince Dr. Morbius to share the amazing, mind-powered technology from the extinct Krell race that he has discovered on the planet.

In honor of its anniversary, here are 15 fun facts about this legendary film.

1. FORBIDDEN PLANET WAS HOLLYWOOD'S FIRST TIME GOING COMPLETELY OUT OF THIS WORLD.

While plenty of previous science fiction films had earthlings exploring other worlds, Forbidden Planet was the first film to be set entirely on a foreign planet. While there are plenty of outdoor sequences in the film, all of them were shot indoors on a studio soundstage, while many exterior landscape shots are comprised of colorful and detailed matte paintings.

2. THE SOUNDTRACK WAS GROUNDBREAKING.

Forbidden Planet was the first movie to have an entirely electronic score; it was composed by Bebe and Louis Barron, who were pioneers in the field of electronic music and musique concrète. Their otherworldly sounds, both as atmospheric ambience and for special effects, imbued the film with an uneasy tension beyond the onscreen action and dialogue, especially during the tour of the Krell wonders underground. Mass audiences had not heard anything like it before.

3. THE SOUNDTRACK WAS ALSO CONTROVERSIAL.

Because the Barrons did not belong to the Musicians Union, their original intended screen credit for Forbidden Planet, "Electronic Music by Louis and Bebe Barron," was changed to "Electronic Tonalities" thanks to a dispute with the American Federation of Musicians over union regulations. Sadly, their work on the film was then unable to be considered for an Oscar. The couple did go on to score independent films and Broadway musicals, so at least the fruits of their labor were rewarded in other ways.

4. ROBBY THE ROBOT WAS RELATED TO WASHING MACHINES.

Robby's main designer and uncredited builder, Robert Kinoshita, distilled thousands of drawings conceived over five weeks by a team of five men into the iconic design that we know and love today. Prior to working in film, Kinoshita had designed washing machines, so while Robby had an anthropomorphic design in his upper regions, his chest and legs resembled a washing machine tub. No word on whether Robby does laundry, although he did appear in a dream sequence on an episode of Hazel as a maid.

5. ROBERT KINOSHITA DESIGNED ANOTHER ICONIC ROBOT.

That electronic entity being, of course, The Robot from the '60s sci-fi series Lost In Space. While their design was somewhat different, the two cybernetic companions shared a similar "talk box," a display that lit up in tandem with the rhythm of their speech. Robby actually guest starred on three episodes of Lost In Space.

6. ROBBY GOT A SPIN-OFF MOVIE A YEAR LATER.

After the success of Forbidden Planet, screenwriter Cyril Hume was re-enlisted to come up with an earthbound movie in which Robby, brought to our world through a time warp, was reanimated by the bratty son of a scientist/mathematician involved with a government supercomputer that seeks to control the planet via satellite. The result was The Invisible Boy. (Which is awful. Save that 90 minutes of your life.)

7. ROBBY RACKED UP A LOT OF OTHER CREDITS.

Forbidden Planet made its lovable bucket of bolts a star, and throughout his career Robby racked up more than two dozen film and TV credits, including The Invisible Boy, The Thin Man (TV series), Lost In Space, The Twilight Zone, Wonder Woman, Mork and Mindy, and Gremlins. He has also done TV spots for Charmin, AT&T, and General Electric (that last one in 2012).

8. SIGMUND FREUD WAS AN INSPIRATION FOR THE STORY.

SPOILER ALERT for this fact: There is a reference to one third of Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche, the Id, the part of the unconscious mind that represents our primal needs and desires. In Forbidden Planet, the Id Monster that attacks the crew of the C-57D is conjured directly out of the subconscious mind of Dr. Morbius and generated by the mind-powered Krell technology that he studies and worships.

9. THE NARRATOR MENTORED CAPTAIN MARVEL.

The film's opening narrator Les Tremayne appeared onscreen as the Mentor to Billy Batson/Captain Marvel in the 1970s TV show Shazam!, which was based on the DC Comics title of the same name. Billy and his Mentor traveled around the country to help people in need. All Billy had to do was say the magic word "Shazam!" to be transformed into the mighty Captain Marvel.

10. FORBIDDEN PLANET REFLECTED THE SEXISM OF THE TIME.

When three of the crewmen meet Dr. Morbius' naive 19-year-old daughter Altaira for the first time, they all entertain thoughts of conquering her. Lt. Jerry Farman takes advantage of her innocence early by teaching her to kiss, for which he is chastised by Commander Adams, who later seduces her (after lecturing her on her skimpy wardrobe). Given the fact that these men are on an investigatory mission and are there to help any survivors of the original search party, this is rather exploitative. Yet Altaira's father does not seem concerned.

11. TWO FAMED '70S TV ACTORS MADE EARLY APPEARANCES IN THE MOVIE.

The starship's communications offer was played by Richard Anderson, who would later become well known for his role as Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man. One of the crewmen was an uncredited James Best, who later portrayed the bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes Of Hazzard.

12. THERE'S A LOT OF FORBIDDEN PLANET MERCHANDISE.

Like any iconic genre movie, Forbidden Planet has spawned its fair share of merch, including ship models and other model kits, lunchboxes, action figures, pins, and more. The title also inspired a chain of pop culture stores with locations in New York City and London.

13. THE FILM INFLUENCED SEVERAL ICONIC SCI-FI FRANCHISES.

Forbidden Planet seems to have had some influence on Star Trek, particularly the transporter room effect that was likely inspired by the statis chambers used for light jumps in the film. Some viewers think a Borg cube resembles the movie's Krell underground cube structure, which is 20 miles long on each side. Further, the concept of a space crew going on an interplanetary mission was central to Star Trek. "Forbidden Planet could have been the pilot film for Star Trek," star Leslie Nielsen told the Houston Chronicle in 2006. "And maybe it was."

The movie also inspired the four-part Doctor Who tale "Planet of Evil" from 1975, which was conceived by writer Louis Marks, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, and script editor Robert Holmes as a cross between Forbidden Planet and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. In this story, the Doctor and Sarah visit the planet Zeta Minor, where only a professor of a geological expedition from the planet Morestra has survived the attack of an unseen entity. A Morestran military team also arrives to investigate.

Finally, the tractor beam generator in Star Wars looks like part of the Krell machine network, while a hologram sequence is reminiscent of the message Princess Leia sends to Obi-Wan Kenobi via R2-D2. Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt acknowledges even a subconscious influence of the atmospheric sounds within the Krell machinery on the hums and rumblings inside the Death Star.

14. DISNEY PLAYED A PART IN FORBIDDEN PLANET’S VISUAL EFFECTS.

The special effects sequences in the film, notably the Id Monster attacking the crew, were designed by Joshua Meador, who was on loan from Disney for the project. Two years earlier, Meador was part of the Oscar-winning visual effects team for 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea that was also subcontracted from Disney by MGM. Meador oversaw effects for many major Disney animated features including Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi.

15. THE FILMMAKERS WERE RECYCLERS.

Forbidden Planet was shot on same stage as The Wizard of Oz, with bits of Munchkinland used for Altaira's garden. In an interesting twist, some of Forbidden Planet's costumes (including the crewmen uniforms and Altaira's clothing) were re-used in Queen of Outer Space, a 1958 sci-fi movie starring Zsa Zsa Gabor in which a space crew that has crash landed on Venus attempts to overthrow its female dictator, who has banished men from the planet.

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13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
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Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


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There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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13 Secrets From the Guinness Archives
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Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Guinness has been a staple in Irish pubs for nearly 260 years. With so much history, it's no surprise that the Guinness Storehouse Archives—which are open to the public—are stuffed with intriguing artifacts that tell some pretty wild stories. Here are a few.

1. THE LEASE TO THE DUBLIN BREWERY WAS INTENDED TO LAST 9000 YEARS.

In 1759, founder Arthur Guinness signed a lease for a four-acre property at St. James’s Gate in Dublin. The lease required a down payment of £100, an annual rent of £45, and a term of 9000 years (not a typo). Such lengthy leases were relatively common back then: “At the time in Ireland, there was a lot of instability to do with land tenure,” explains Fergus Brady, Archives Manager at Guinness. Centuries earlier, the British had begun confiscating land from native Irish in an effort to build plantations, and extra-long leases were a means of avoiding this fate. As Brady explains, “You see these really long leases: 99-year or 999-year leases. It seemed to be a legal custom at the time that they used the number nine.”

2. ARTHUR GUINNESS WAS NOT AFRAID TO DEFEND HIS PROPERTY WITH A PICKAXE.

In 1775, the Dublin Corporation—that is, the city government—demanded that Arthur Guinness pay for the spring water flowing to his brewery. When Guinness argued that he was already paying for water rights through his 9000-year rental agreement, the Dublin Corporation sent a sheriff and a committee to his brewery to cut off the water supply. Guinness was livid. He seized a pickaxe and unleashed a torrent of obscenities so colorful that the Dublin Corporation’s goons eventually retreated.

3. GUINNESS ONCE DEPLOYED FIELD AGENTS TO CATCH COUNTERFEITERS.

Guinness Apology
Guinness Archive, Diageo Ireland

In the 19th century, there was no such thing as brand consistency. Guinness did not bottle its own beer; instead, it shipped the suds in wooden casks to publicans who supplied their own bottles and applied their own personalized labels. Occasionally, these publicans sold fake or adulterated Guinness. To prevent such sales, the company sent special agents called “travellers” into the field to collect beer samples, which it tested in a laboratory. “If a publican was found to be serving adulterated or counterfeit Guinness, they had to give a public apology in their local newspaper—and even the national newspapers,” archivist Jessica Handy says.

4. FOR 21 YEARS, THE COMPANY HIRED A GUY TO TRAVEL THE WORLD AND DRINK BEER.

In 1899, Guinness hired an American ex-brewer named Arthur T. Shand to be a “Guinness World Traveller.” It was arguably the coolest job in the world. For 21 years, Shand traveled the world taste-testing beer. According to Brady, “His job was to travel the world and taste Guinness, say whether it was good or bad, who our bottlers in the market were, who our major competition was, what kind of people were drinking our product.” Shand traveled to Australia and New Zealand, to Southeast Asia and Egypt. “He was sort of a Guinness sommelier,” Brady says.

5. THE COMPANY'S HARP LOGO CAUSED TROUBLE WITH THE IRISH GOVERNMENT.

The Celtic harp—based on the 14th century “Brian Boru Harp” preserved at Trinity College—became a trademarked Guinness logo in 1876. Forty-five years later, when Ireland gained independence from England, the Irish Free State decided to use the same Celtic harp as its official state emblem. This became awkward. Guinness owned the trademark, and the Irish government was forced to search for a workaround. You can find their solution on an Irish Euro coin. Look at the coin, and you’ll notice that the harp’s straight edge faces the right; meanwhile, the harp on a glass of Guinness shows the straight edge facing left [PDF].

6. GUINNESS REPORTEDLY SAVED LIVES ON THE BATTLEFIELD.

The old slogan “Guinness is good for you” sounds like a marketing gimmick, but it was born out of a genuine belief that the beer was, in fact, a restorative tonic. The health claim dates back to 1815, when an ailing cavalry officer wounded at the Battle of Waterloo reportedly credited Guinness for his recovery. For decades, the medical community widely claimed that the dark beer possessed real health benefits—and they weren’t necessarily wrong. “There was little safe drinking water at the time,” Handy says. “But with brewing, consumers knew they were getting a safe beverage.”

7. THE COMPANY CREATED A SPECIAL RECIPE FOR CONVALESCENTS.

A label for Guinness invalid stout
Guinness Archive, Diageo Ireland

From the 1880s to the 1920s, Guinness produced a special “Nourishing Export Stout”—a.k.a. “Invalid Stout”—that contained extra sugars, alcohol, and solids and came in cute one-third pint bottles. “It was very common practice for people to buy a couple bottles and keep them as a tonic, even if it was just a glass or half a glass,” Handy says. In fact, Guinness went as far as asking general practitioners for testimonials attesting to the beer’s medical benefits. According to Brady, “Many of them wrote back and said yes, we prescribe this for various ailments.” One doctor even claimed a pint was “as nourishing as a glass of milk.”

8. DOCTORS REGULARLY PRESCRIBED THE BEER TO NURSING MOTHERS.

From the 1880s to the 1930s, many physicians believed Guinness was an effective galactagogue—that is, a lactation aid. The company sent bottles to hospitals as well as wax cartons of yeast (which supposedly helped skin problems and migraines). Hundreds, possibly thousands, of doctors prescribed the beer for ailments such as influenza, insomnia, and anxiety, David Hughes writes in A Bottle of Guinness Please: The Colourful History of Guinness. According to Brady, the company was sending beer to hospitals as late as the 1970s.

9. THE COMPANY ONCE DROPPED 200,000 MESSAGES-IN-A-BOTTLE INTO THE OCEAN.

A Guinness message in a bottle
The message within every bottle dropped in the Atlantic Ocean in 1959.
Guinness Archive, Diageo Ireland

In 1954, Guinness dumped 50,000 messages-in-a-bottle in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. In 1959, they repeated the stunt again, with 38 ships dropping 150,000 bottles in the Atlantic. The first bottle was discovered in the Azores off Portugal just three months after the initial drop [PDF]. Since then, the bottles have turned up in California, New Zealand, and South Africa. Just last year, a bottle was discovered in Nova Scotia. (If you find one, you just might be offered a trip to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.)

10. THE PERSONNEL FILES IN THE GUINNESS ARCHIVES CONTAIN SOME DOOZIES.

The Guinness corporate archives are open to the public. According to Handy, “Some of the stories you get in there are amazing, because you get accident reports and you get crazy stories of people bouncing on bags of hops outside the brewery." This may sound less surprising considering that, back in the day, Guinness employees were given an allowance of two pints of beer every day [PDF].

11. A GUINNESS SCIENTIST MADE A STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT MARK IN THE FIELD OF STATISTICS.

If you’ve taken a statistics class, you might be familiar with the Student’s t-test or the t-statistic. (It’s a method of working with a small sample size when the standard deviation is unknown.) The t-test was first described by William S. Gosset, a brewer and statistician at Guinness who was attempting to analyze a small sample of malt extract. Gosset’s discovery not only helped Guinness create a more consistent-tasting beer, it would lay the bedrock for one of the most important concepts in statistics: statistical significance.

12. GUINNESS IS SO BIG IN AFRICA, IT LAUNCHED A SUCCESSFUL FEATURE-LENGTH FILM.

Guinness began exporting beer to Africa in 1827. In the 1960s, it opened a brewery in Nigeria—followed by Cameroon and Ghana. Today, there are reportedly more Guinness drinkers in Nigeria than there are in Ireland. “In Ireland, England, and the United States, everybody thinks that Guinness is synonymous with Ireland,” Brady says. “But in Nigeria, there’s a very very low conception of that.” The beer is such a cultural staple that a fictional character who advertised the product named Michael Power—a James Bond-like, crime-fighting journalist—became the star of a feature film in 2003 called Critical Assignment, which was a box office smash. (Of course, there’s some branding built into the script. As Brady explains, “There are definitely scenes where Michael Power is enjoying a pint of Guinness.”)

13. DISPENSING BEER WITH NITROGEN WAS ORIGINALLY CONSIDERED LAUGHABLE.

In the 1950s, Guinness scientist Michael Ash was tasked with solving the “draft problem.” At the time, dispensing a draft pint of Guinness was ridiculously complicated, and the company was losing market share to draft lagers in Britain that could be easily dispensed with CO2. “The stout was too lively to be dispensed with CO2 only,” Brady says. “Ash worked on the problem for four years, working long hours day or night, and became a bit of a recluse apparently. A lot of doubters at the brewery called the project ‘daft Guinness.’” But then Ash attempted dispensing the beer with plain air. It worked. The secret ingredient, Ash discovered, was nitrogen. The air we breathe is 78 percent nitrogen. Today, a Guinness draft contains 75 percent nitrogen. Not only did the discovery make dispensing the beer easier, it created a creamy mouthfeel that’s been the signature of Irish stouts since.

Full disclosure: Guinness paid for the author to attend an International Stout Day festival in 2017, which provided the opportunity to speak to their archivists.

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