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15 Fun Facts About Troop Beverly Hills

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Troop Beverly Hills starred Shelley Long as Phyllis Nefler, a pampered Beverly Hills housewife who becomes the leader of her daughter's "Wilderness Girls" troop to prove to her divorce-seeking husband (Craig T. Nelson) that she's still the caring woman he married. After lukewarm reviews and a poor showing at the box office, the movie gained a cult following over the years, and is known for helping to launch the careers of a host of young actresses, including Tori Spelling, Carla Gugino, Kellie Martin, and Jenny Lewis.

1. THE FILM WAS PARTLY BASED ON THE LIFE OF ITS PRODUCER.

Ava Ostern Fries, wife of veteran producer Charles W. Fries, became the Brownie leader of her seven-year-old daughter's Beverly Hills troop. When it rained on their first camping trip, they really went to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where they roasted marshmallows in front of the fireplaces. After her stories became a hit at dinner parties, Ava was implored to write her stories down.

2. DISNEY WANTED BETTE MIDLER TO PLAY PHYLLIS.

Ava Ostern Fries turned down Disney's offer to make her movie because they wanted Bette Midler for the lead, and Fries didn't think she was right for it.

3. CARLA GUGINO LIED ABOUT HER AGE IN ORDER TO PLAY CHICA.

Carla Gugino was 16 years old when she auditioned for Troop Beverly Hills. She lied and said she was 14. She finally admitted the truth to director Jeff Kanew three weeks into production, knowing it was too late for her role to be recast. "I thought for sure he was gonna be like, 'No big deal,'" Gugino recounted. "But he was like, 'Gasp! I would've never hired you if I knew you were 16.'"

The film was a turning point for Gugino: "I got emancipated that year, so I was a legal adult," Gugino told The A.V. Club. "So I didn’t have to have a chaperone on set, and it was the first time that I made enough money that I could say, 'I’m going to fully support myself as an actor.' So that was the moment I really felt like a real actor."

4. IT WAS TORI SPELLING'S FIRST FILM ROLE.

Tori Spelling, who played Jamie in the film, had appeared in a handful of television series, including Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. One year after Troop Beverly Hills was released, she was cast as Donna Martin on Beverly Hills, 90210.

5. IT WAS THE FIRST FILM IN 30 YEARS TO SHOOT INSIDE BEVERLY HILLS CITY HALL.

Filming inside of Beverly Hills City Hall had been forbidden for 30 years. Until this movie.

6. "COOKIE TIME" ISN'T WHERE IT USED TO BE.

The Giorgio boutique at 295 North Rodeo Drive is now a Louis Vuitton storefront.

7. THE WRITER OF "COOKIE TIME" MADE A CAMEO.

Actress/songwriter Hilary Shepard was the sales associate who sold Phyllis a dress missing a bead.

8. THE TITLE SEQUENCE WAS MADE BY THE CREATOR OF REN & STIMPY.

The Ren & Stimpy Show creator John Kricfalusi said working on Troop Beverly Hills was a big opportunity. “It’s the first time I ever got a chance to animate and design a sexy girl," he said. "It was completely taboo to draw women who were good looking because it would set a bad example for young girls.”

Joining Kricfalusi were Jon McClenahan (later an animator on Animaniacs), Jim Smith (who later worked with Kricfalusi on Ren & Stimpy), Mike Kazaleh (Camp Candy, The Simpsons), Kent Butterworth (The Smurfs, He-Man), and Eric Stefani (character layout artist for The Simpsons, co-founder of No Doubt, and brother of Gwen Stefani).

9. THERE ARE CONTINUITY ERRORS IN THE TITLE SEQUENCE.

At around the 2:15 mark, a troop member simply disappears with no explanation. Some of the actors' names also didn't fully appear on movie screens, because Kricfalusi placed them too close to the edges. "If [the studio] noticed, they didn’t care," opening title supervisor Bill Kroyer said. "That’s a job that I hardly remember getting notes on. That’s the strangest thing. That whole production, it was rushed to get it done, and they really liked the look of the art. It’s all hand-inked and everything—it looks great. I think they were just so excited about that so the little things about the staging or composition, they just didn’t mention it."

10. THERE WAS A 77 SUNSET STRIP EASTER EGG.

Edd Byrnes (who played Ross Coleman) appeared on the Swiss army knife's comb on purpose. Byrnes portrayed Kookie in the detective drama 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964), a character who combed his hair so often a novelty song called "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" was written.

11. THE GIRL SCOUTS REFUSED TO ENDORSE THE PICTURE.

They withheld approval because they didn't like the way some Scouts were portrayed in the script.

12. IT WAS VELDA'S LAST FILM ROLE.

Betty Thomas retired from acting following Troop Beverly Hills to focus on directing for film and television. Among her more than two dozen credits are Private Parts, Doctor Dolittle, I Spy, and The Brady Bunch Movie (featuring Shelley Long).

13. JENNY LEWIS BECAME A ROCK STAR.

Jenny Lewis, who played Hannah, co-founded the band Rilo Kiley along with fellow child actor Blake Sennett (Salute Your Shorts, Boy Meets World) and later became a solo musician. In 2015, she acknowledged Troop Beverly Hills in her music video for "She's Not Me."

14. LEWIS KEPT ONE ITEM FROM THE SET.

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"I have the hat that Kellie Martin's character [Emily Coleman] wore," Lewis claimed. "It's a little white hat with a pink flower, but I don't know why I still have it."

15. PEOPLE KEEP MIXING HANNAH UP WITH TIFFANY.

Lewis said that people still confuse her with Emily Schulman, who played Tiffany Honigman in the movie (and Harriet Brindle on Small Wonder). "My entire life growing up, everyone thought I was this girl who was on Small Wonder, Emily Schulman," Lewis told Rolling Stone Australia. "Not the case. And then I put out this video ("She's Not Me") and someone on Twitter was like, 'Oh, were you on Small Wonder?' Oh, drat! Still happening!"

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6 Eponyms Named After the Wrong Person
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Salmonella species growing on agar.

Having something named after you is the ultimate accomplishment for any inventor, mathematician, scientist, or researcher. Unfortunately, the credit for an invention or discovery does not always go to the correct person—senior colleagues sometimes snatch the glory, fakers pull the wool over people's eyes, or the fickle general public just latches onto the wrong name.

1. SALMONELLA (OR SMITHELLA?)

In 1885, while investigating common livestock diseases at the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington, D.C., pathologist Theobald Smith first isolated the salmonella bacteria in pigs suffering from hog cholera. Smith’s research finally identified the bacteria responsible for one of the most common causes of food poisoning in humans. Unfortunately, Smith’s limelight-grabbing supervisor, Daniel E. Salmon, insisted on taking sole credit for the discovery. As a result, the bacteria was named after him. Don’t feel too sorry for Theobald Smith, though: He soon emerged from Salmon’s shadow, going on to make the important discovery that ticks could be a vector in the spread of disease, among other achievements.

2. AMERICA (OR COLUMBIANA?)

An etching of Amerigo Vespucci
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451–1512) claimed to have made numerous voyages to the New World, the first in 1497, before Columbus. Textual evidence suggests Vespucci did take part in a number of expeditions across the Atlantic, but generally does not support the idea that he set eyes on the New World before Columbus. Nevertheless, Vespucci’s accounts of his voyages—which today read as far-fetched—were hugely popular and translated into many languages. As a result, when German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller was drawing his map of the Novus Mundi (or New World) in 1507 he marked it with the name "America" in Vespucci’s honor. He later regretted the choice, omitting the name from future maps, but it was too late, and the name stuck.

3. BLOOMERS (OR MILLERS?)

A black and white image of young women wearing bloomers
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Dress reform became a big issue in mid-19th century America, when women were restricted by long, heavy skirts that dragged in the mud and made any sort of physical activity difficult. Women’s rights activist Elizabeth Smith Miller was inspired by traditional Turkish dress to begin wearing loose trousers gathered at the ankle underneath a shorter skirt. Miller’s new outfit immediately caused a splash, with some decrying it as scandalous and others inspired to adopt the garb.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was editor of the women’s temperance journal The Lily, and she took to copying Miller’s style of dress. She was so impressed with the new freedom it gave her that she began promoting the “reform dress” in her magazine, printing patterns so others might make their own. Bloomer sported the dress when she spoke at events and soon the press began to associate the outfit with her, dubbing it “Bloomer’s costume.” The name stuck.

4. GUILLOTINE (OR LOUISETTE?)

Execution machines had been known prior to the French Revolution, but they were refined after Paris physician and politician Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin suggested they might be a more humane form of execution than the usual methods (hanging, burning alive, etc.). The first guillotine was actually designed by Dr. Antoine Louis, Secretary of the Academy of Surgery, and was known as a louisette. The quick and efficient machine was quickly adopted as the main method of execution in revolutionary France, and as the bodies piled up the public began to refer to it as la guillotine, for the man who first suggested its use. Guillotin was very distressed at the association, and when he died in 1814 his family asked the French government to change the name of the hated machine. The government refused and so the family changed their name instead to escape the dreadful association.

5. BECHDEL TEST (OR WALLACE TEST?)

Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Bechdel Test is a tool to highlight gender inequality in film, television, and fiction. The idea is that in order to pass the test, the movie, show, or book in question must include at least one scene in which two women have a conversation that isn’t about a man. The test was popularized by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and has since become known by her name. However, Bechdel asserts that the idea originated with her friend Lisa Wallace (and was also inspired by the writer Virginia Woolf), and she would prefer for it to be known as the Bechdel-Wallace test.

6. STIGLER’S LAW OF EPONYMY (OR MERTON’S LAW?)

Influential sociologist Robert K. Merton suggested the idea of the “Matthew Effect” in a 1968 paper noting that senior colleagues who are already famous tend to get the credit for their junior colleagues’ discoveries. (Merton named his phenomenon [PDF] after the parable of talents in the Gospel of Matthew, in which wise servants invest money their master has given them.)

Merton was a well-respected academic, and when he was due to retire in 1979, a book of essays celebrating his work was proposed. One person who contributed an essay was University of Chicago professor of statistics Stephen Stigler, who had corresponded with Merton about his ideas. Stigler decided to pen an essay that celebrated and proved Merton’s theory. As a result, he took Merton’s idea and created Stigler’s Law of Eponymy, which states that “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer”—the joke being that Stigler himself was taking Merton’s own theory and naming it after himself. To further prove the rule, the “new” law has been adopted by the academic community, and a number of papers and articles have since been written on "Stigler’s Law."

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10 Badass Facts About Jason Statham
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Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET

Jason Statham is one of the preeminent action heroes of a generation—some would say he’s our last action hero. On the screen, he's been a hitman, a transporter, a con man, a veteran, and a whole host of other unsavory, but oddly endearing, tough guys. Before he stepped foot on his first movie set, though, Statham had a past life that would rival any of the colorful characters he’s brought to the screen. To celebrate his 50th birthday, we’re digging into what makes this English bruiser tick with these 10 fascinating facts about Jason Statham.

1. DIVING WAS HIS FIRST CALLING.

Before becoming a big-screen tough guy, Jason Statham exuded grace and fluidity as one of the world’s top competitive divers in the early 1990s. He spent 12 years as part of the British National Diving Squad, highlighted by competing in the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand.

Though he was an elite diver, Statham never qualified for the Olympics, which he admits is still a “sore point” for him. "I started too late," he has said of his diving career. "It probably wasn't my thing. I should have done a different sport."

2. HE DABBLED IN MODELING.

With his diving career over, Statham entered the world of modeling for the fashion company French Connection. If his rugged image doesn’t seem to naturally lend itself to the world of male modeling, that was exactly what the company was going for.

“We chose Jason because we wanted our model to look like a normal guy," Lilly Anderson, a spokesperson for French Connection, said in a 1995 interview with the Independent. "His look is just right for now—very masculine and not too male-modelly."

3. HE DANCED HALF-NAKED IN A COUPLE OF MUSIC VIDEOS.

A word of warning: The internet never forgets. Back in 2015, two ‘90s music videos went viral—“Comin’ On” by The Shamen and “Run to the Sun” by Erasure—and it’s not because the songs were just that good. It’s because both videos featured a half-naked, and quite oily, Jason Statham curiously dancing away in the background.

Both make liberal use of Statham’s lack of modesty, which is a far cry from the slick suits and commando gear we’d later see him sporting in The Transporter and Expendables series. So which one is your favorite? Leopard-print Speedo Statham from “Comin’ On” or his Silver Surfer look from “Run to the Sun”? And no, “both” isn’t an option. (Though “neither” is acceptable.)

4. GUY RITCHIE CAST HIM BECAUSE HE WAS SELLING KNOCKOFF JEWELRY AND PERFUME ON THE STREET.

After years of high dives, modeling, and pelvic gyrations, Statham was still looking to make a real living in the late ‘90s. His next odd job? Selling knockoff perfume and jewelry on London street corners. Luckily, that type of real-world hoodlum was exactly what director Guy Ritchie needed for 1998's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Ritchie was introduced to Statham through his modeling gig at French Connection and saw the potential this real-world con man had for the movie. He wrote the role of Bacon specifically for Statham, which would end up being the movie that propelled him to Hollywood stardom.

5. JOHN CARPENTER WANTED HIM AS THE LEAD IN GHOSTS OF MARS.

Though Statham gained acclaim for his role in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, he wasn’t quite a leading man yet. Director John Carpenter wanted to change that by casting him as James “Desolation” Williams, the main character in Ghosts of Mars.

While Carpenter was convinced that Statham was ready for the role, the producers weren’t. They pushed the director to cast someone with more name value, eventually settling on Ice Cube. Statham stayed in the movie in a smaller role as Sgt. Jericho Butler.

6. HE REGULARLY DOES HIS OWN STUNTS.

Jason Statham in Wild Card (2015).
Lionsgate

In addition to being in impeccable shape, Statham also takes pride in doing many of his own stunts in his movies, from hand-to-hand combat to dangling from a helicopter 3000 feet above downtown Los Angeles. In fact, he’s almost dogmatic in his belief that actors should be doing their own stunts.

“I'm inspired by the people who could do their own work,” the actor said. “Bruce Lee never had stunt doubles and fight doubles, or Jackie Chan or Jet Li. I've been in action movies where there is a face replacement and I'm fighting with a double, and it's embarrassing.”

The worst offenders? Superhero movies. And Statham isn't shy about sharing his thoughts on those:

"You slip on a cape and you put on the tights and you become a superhero? They're not doing anything! They're just sitting in their trailer. It's absolutely, 100 percent created by stunt doubles and green screen. How can I get excited about that?"

7. FILMING EXPENDABLES 3 ALMOST KILLED HIM.

For all the authenticity that Statham likes to bring to the screen by doing his own stunts, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. While filming an action scene for Expendables 3, the brakes failed on a three-ton stunt truck Statham was driving, sending it off a cliff and into the Black Sea.

If you've ever wondered if the real Statham was anything like the movie version, his underwater escape from a mammoth truck should answer that.

"It's the closest I've ever been to drowning,” Statham said on Today. “I've done a lot of scuba diving; I've done a lot of free diving ... No matter how much of that you've done, it doesn't teach you to breathe underwater ... I came very close to drowning. It was a very harrowing experience."

8. HE PRACTICES A RANGE OF MARTIAL ARTS.

Statham’s fitness routine is about more than just weights and core work. The actor is also involved in a variety of different fighting disciplines like boxing, judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Out of everything he does to stay in shape, it’s the martial arts that have the been most helpful for Statham’s onscreen presence. “That’s what I have to give most of my time to these days: training for what I have to do in terms of providing action in an authentic manner," he told Men's Health

Statham is not alone in his passion for martial arts; director Guy Ritchie is also a black belt in jiu-jitsu and a brown belt in karate. When Men’s Health asked Statham if the two ever sparred, he responded, “I remember when we started out, we’d go on a press tour for Lock, Stock… and we’d be moving all the furniture out of the way in the hotel room, trying to choke each other out.”

After all, what are collaborators for?

9. HE’S WELL AWARE SOME OF HIS MOVIES HAVE BEEN DUDS.

When asked by Esquire if he ever watched one of his movies during the premiere and thought "Oh, no ...," his response was a very self-aware: "Yeah, I think I've said that more often than not. Yeah."

He went on to rattle off his Guy Ritchie movies, The Bank Job, Transporter 1 and 2 (not 3), and Crank as being among his favorite films. As for the others, the actor joked, “And the rest is sh*t."

He clarified that remark as a joke and said, “I mean, you do a lot of films. You're always aiming for something and trying to push yourself to do something good.”

He then compared his work to the inner workings of a watch, saying, “A movie, it's like a very complicated timepiece. There's a lot of wheels in a watch. And some of those wheels, if they don't turn right, then, you know, the watch ain't gonna tell the time."

10. HIS MOVIES HAVE MADE MORE THAN $1.5 BILLION IN THE U.S. ALONE.

Statham's films may have a tough time impressing critics, but audiences and studio executives can’t get enough. Taken as a whole, Statham’s filmography has raked in just a touch more than $1.5 billion in the United States, with the worldwide total standing at $5.1 billion.

A lot of this is due to his more recent entry into the Fast and Furious franchise, but he’s also had seven movies cross the $100 million mark worldwide outside of that series. This isn’t an accident; Statham knows exactly what type of movie keeps the lights on, as he explained in an interview with The Guardian.

“So if you've got a story about a depressed doctor whose estranged wife doesn't wanna be with him no more, and you put me in it, people aren't gonna put money on the table. Whereas if you go, 'All he does is get in the car, hit someone on the head, shoot someone in the f*cking feet,' then, yep, they'll give you $20 million. You can't fault these people for wanting to make money.”

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