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35 Things Turning 35 in 2016

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If you were born in 1981, you're in good company. Here are 35 people, things, inventions, movies, and other great stuff turning 35 this year!

1. MTV (MUSIC TELEVISION)

On August 1, MTV premiered with the words: "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll." Along with NASA stock footage, MTV proceeded to show "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. Less-known are the next videos they played: "You Better Run" by Pat Benatar, "She Won't Dance With Me" by Rod Stewart, and "You Better You Bet" by The Who.

2. THE FIRST WOMAN ON THE SUPREME COURT

Until September 25, 1981, the Supreme Court of the United States had been occupied only by men. Fulfilling a campaign promisePresident Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Connor and the Senate confirmed her appointment in a 99-0 vote, making her the first woman on the court.

3. THE IBM PC

On August 12, IBM released its first personal computer (the 5150 PC), featuring a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 processor. It cost only $1565 for a basic configuration including "a system unit, a keyboard and a color/graphics capability." It was designed so you could use your TV as the display. If you wanted a monitor, a printer, a second floppy drive, or extra RAM, you had to pay extra.

4. MS-DOS/PC DOS

Along with the first IBM PC came a little operating system called PC DOS from Microsoft. It would go on to power PCs around the world, under the name MS-DOS. (When IBM's PC was cloned, MS-DOS took off.) The first version did not support hard drives and lacked support for subdirectories. These days, you can download early MS-DOS source code from the Computer History Museum.

5. THE SPACE SHUTTLE

On April 12, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched on the STS-1 mission, with just a two-person crew (commander John Young and pilot Bob Crippen) to test the system in orbit and its launching and landing procedures. It returned two days later, marking the first time a reusable crewed spacecraft returned from orbit.

6. "PAC-MAN FEVER"

The song "Pac-Man Fever" was released in December 1981, as U.S. gamers plunked endless quarters into Pac-Man cabinets (which had been released the year prior) and Buckner & Garcia documented the craze. In 1982, Ms. Pac-Man was released and the songwriting duo released a full-length album of songs devoted to games, including Frogger, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, and Defender.

7. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

On June 12, Raiders of the Lost Ark hit theaters, and Indiana Jones stunned us all with his quick wit, historical prowess, and handsome hat. In addition to being the top-grossing film of the year, Raiders won five Oscars and started a franchise that is still going today.

Some other notable movie releases from 1981:

Arthur
Clash of the Titans
Escape from New York
For Your Eyes Only
History of the World: Part I
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
My Dinner With Andre
Stripes
Superman II
Time Bandits

8. THE OAKLAND RAIDERS' WILDCARD SUPER BOWL WIN

Super Bowl XV was important not just for its cool Roman numeral; it was a storybook game in which the Oakland Raiders reached the game via a wild card and beat the Philadelphia Eagles, despite having lost to them earlier in the season. The Raiders became the first team to win the Super Bowl on a wild card. Adding to the media fervor, the game was played just five days after the Iran hostage crisis ended.

For more on the game, check out this NFL video.

9. SIMON & GARFUNKEL'S CONCERT IN CENTRAL PARK

On September 19, Simon & Garfunkel reunited for a landmark performance in Central Park.

The concert was free—the plan was to use TV and home video royalties from the performance to renovate Central Park itself, which was in bad shape at the time. New York mayor Ed Koch only came around to the idea of the concert after proposing that the park simply be closed. After playing "Homeward Bound," Simon ironically thanked Koch, garnering boos from the crowd and a smirk from Garfunkel. It became clear that Simon was joking when he proceeded to thank the guys selling "loose joints," suggesting that half of their proceeds would go to the park that night.

10. BEYONCÉ KNOWLES

On September 4, Beyoncé Knowles was born in Houston, Texas. She went on to become the lead singer in Destiny's Child. In 2003, when Destiny’s Child was on hiatus, she decided to release Dangerously in Love, which debuted at number one and established her as a successful solo artist.

Other members of Destiny's Child born that year: Kelly Rowland, on February 11; and LaTavia Roberson, on November 1.

11. ELI MANNING, ROGER FEDERER, AND SERENA WILLIAMS

On January 3, American football player Eli Manning entered the world. On August 8, Roger Federer, Swiss tennis star, joined him. On September 26, Serena Williams came along, and quickly set about winning tennis titles. (Her sister Venus was born on June 17, 1980.)

12. THE SCANNING TUNNELING MICROSCOPE

In 1981, the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, an instrument capable of showing surfaces at the atomic level, was invented by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer. The duo received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 for their invention. (They shared that prize with Ernst Ruska, who invented the first electron microscope.)

13. ASPARTAME SWEETENER APPROVED BY FDA

Although aspartame was first synthesized in the mid-1960s, it wasn't approved by the FDA as an artificial sweetener until 1981. Sold under the brand name NutraSweet, aspartame quickly found its way into many products, most notably diet soft drinks. If you're curious about the history of the sweetener, Wikipedia has a suitably epic entry on it.

14. LADY DIANA AND PRINCE CHARLES'S WEDDING

On July 29, 750 million people around the world watched the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer. Billed as the "Wedding of the Century," it was enormous, so much so that there's an entire Wikipedia article on the guest list alone.

15. THE EVIL DEAD

On October 15, Sam Raimi's cult horror masterpiece The Evil Dead was released on an unsuspecting public. Shot on a shoestring budget in Tennessee, the film carried an X rating for its extreme violence. Author Stephen King loved it, and the film become a sleeper hit at the box office, earning millions and leading to the campy sequels Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.

16. THE REAGAN PRESIDENCY

Starting January 20, 1981 and running through January 20, 1989, Ronald Reagan's presidency shaped the United States throughout the 1980s. As 40th president, Reagan was almost immediately subject to an assassination attempt: On March 30, 1981, Reagan and three others were shot and wounded. (The most severely wounded person was White House Press Secretary James Brady, who went on to champion gun control legislation.) Reagan recovered, and went on to spend the decade increasing defense spending and telling Mikhail Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall!" (The Berlin Wall fell in late 1989.)

17. CHARIOTS OF FIRE

On March 30, the film Chariots of Fire had its world premiere and would soon become a hit. Winning Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Music, and Best Costume Design, the film tells the story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics. It's also extremely notable for its epic theme by Vangelis.

In Roger Ebert's four-star review of the film, he wrote:

“'Chariots of Fire' is one of the best films of recent years, a memory of a time when men still believed you could win a race if only you wanted to badly enough."

18. THE LONDON MARATHON

On March 29, the first London Marathon was run. Despite it being a rainy day, over 6000 people finished the run at Constitution Hill, after running along the River Thames. (Today more than 30,000 run each year.) In the 35 years since it started, countless world records have been set during the London Marathon, including fastest marathon by someone dressed as a superhero (2:30:12 for Spider-man) and fastest marathon while dribbling two basketballs (4:10:44). And a competitor this year is hoping to get the record for fastest marathon carrying a household appliance (a 50 pound tumble dryer, and he needs to get under five hours for the record).

19. FIRST OFFICIAL REPORT OF AIDS

Although it didn't have an official name yet, the first clinical observation of AIDS occurred in the United States in 1981. Doctors found a set of cases of gay men who developed a rare form of pneumonia, indicating that the patients had a compromised immune system. Shortly after, a similar cluster of the rare cancer Kaposi's Sarcoma appeared, confirming that something was very wrong. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control assembled a task force to monitor the outbreak, which developed the name "AIDS" in late 1982.

20. DAS BOOT

What's the best German-language submarine movie? Das Boot, of course. The story of a U-Boat crew during World War II, it's extremely long and at times painfully claustrophobic, as we spend time underwater, reading English subtitles, and hoping nothing bad will happen. (Everything bad happens.)

21. THE FIRST AMERICAN TEST TUBE BABY

Born December 28, Elizabeth Jordan Carr was like any other American baby—except she was America's first in-vitro fertilization ("test tube") baby. The birth in Norfolk, Virginia spawned tons of media coverage, and when Carr got married, part of the reason she changed her name to Comeau was to avoid the spotlight. She gave birth to her first child in 2010.

(Note: Comeau was the first American IVF baby. Louise Brown was the world's first, born in Britain in 1978.)

22. DONKEY KONG

On July 9, Nintendo released Donkey Kong, an early platformer in which Mario attempts to rescue Pauline, who has been kidnapped by the giant ape Donkey Kong. The game was a hit, in part because it featured different action on its four stages (then considered an innovation), along with occasional animated cutscenes. At a time when arcade games were dominated by mazes and shooting, Donkey Kong was a refreshing change. (Running, jumping, climbing, and smashing were the main things Mario could do.)

23. THE ROLLING STONES' TATTOO YOU TOUR

On September 25 in Philadelphia, the Rolling Stones started a 50-date American tour supporting their album Tattoo You. That concert featured openers Journey (who had just released their album Escape featuring "Don't Stop Believin'") as well as George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and the tour went on to set records for ticket sales and audience sizes, despite some organizational problems with the tour itself. (When it began, the tour's dates weren't all figured out—but it hardly mattered.) In 1982, a series of live performances from that tour were released as the concert album Still Life.

24. METALLICA

On October 28, Metallica formed in Los Angeles. Drummer Lars Ulrich posted an ad looking for musicians, and guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield responded. They added Ron McGovney on bass and Dave Mustaine on lead guitar. By 1983, a revamped lineup featuring Cliff Burton on bass and Kirk Hammett on lead guitar released Kill 'Em All, and the rest is heavy metal history.

Other notable metal bands founded in 1981: Anthrax and Mötley Crüe.

25. PHIL COLLINS' SOLO CAREER

Until 1981, Phil Collins was mostly known as the drummer for Genesis. On February 13, he released the album Face Value featuring the single "In the Air Tonight," and immediately broke through as a solo act (though he would perform with Genesis in various forms through the mid-1990s and again for a tour in 2007).

26. BEASTIE BOYS

The first Beastie Boys concert happened in 1981, at MCA's 17th birthday party. Although ADROCK hadn't joined the band yet, the initial lineup of the band did include MCA and Mike D, plus the drummer and guitarist from Young Aborigines (one of whom would go on to join Luscious Jackson).

The band's first EP in 1982 included a song called "Beastie Boys." Mike D later said the "BEASTIE" was an acronym: "Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Internal Excellence." Sounds like a backronym to us. The band shifted from hardcore music to incorporate hip-hop after ADROCK joined the group in 1983, and the rest is music history.

27. "COMPUTER LOVE" BY KRAFTWERK

German electronic band Kraftwerk released "Computer Love" (in German, "Computerliebe") in July. Part of the album Computer World, "Computer Love" went on to top the UK Singles chart, and remains an extremely dated (albeit wonderful) reminder of what the band was up to in the early 1980s. (Note: Kraftwerk formed way back in 1970, and would go on to become famous not just for their music but for their intense seclusion.)

28. THE LONGEST PRO BASEBALL GAME IN HISTORY

On April 18, a Minor League Baseball game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings began in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It didn't end until June 23. The famous game ran until 4:09 a.m. on its first day, tied at 2-2 after 32 agonizing innings. On June 23, the 33rd inning started and the Pawtucket Red Sox took the game, winning 3-2. In all, the game ran for 8 hours and 25 minutes, making it the longest pro baseball game ever played.

Fun fact: Both Cal Ripken, Jr. and Wade Boggs played in the so-called "endless game."

29. PAINTBALL

Twelve people gathered to play the first game of Paintball in June. They sought to emulate the feeling of outdoor hunting and survival, but without the lethal consequences. Starting with paint pellet guns used to tag livestock, the group developed the game of paintball, then called the "National Survival Game." Manufacturers created more complex paint guns, and the first paintball tournament was held in 1983.

Who were the 12? According to The Official Survival Game Manual (1983), in addition to the main creators Bob Gurnsey, Hayes Noel, and Charles Gaines, the roster included:

"Bob Jones, a novelist, staff writer for Sports Illustrated and an experienced hunter; Ronnie Simpkins, a farmer from Alabama and a master turkey hunter; Jerome Gary, a New York film producer; Carl Sandquist, a New Hampshire contracting estimator; Ritchie White, the New Hampshire forester who had told Hayes he could cut his neck in the woods; Ken Barrett, a New York venture capitalist with lots of hunting experience; Joe Drinon, a stock-broker from New Hampshire and a former Golden Gloves boxer; Bob Carlson, a trauma surgeon from Alabama and a hunter; and myself [Lionel Atwill], a writer for Sports Afield, a hunter and a Vietnam vet, who had had the unpleasurable experience of leading reconnaissance missions in Vietnam in 1968, a decidedly poor year."

By October, the sport had been written up in Sports Illustrated, and by May of the following year, it was featured in TIME magazine.

30. RIC FLAIR'S FIRST WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP

On September 17, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City, taking his first world title. Their feud continued throughout the decade.

31. MUHAMMAD ALI'S LAST FIGHT

On December 11, Muhammad Ali lost to Trevor Berbick in the Drama in Bahama fight. This was Ali's last fight, marking the end of a 21-year career.

32. OZZY OSBOURNE'S DOVE-BITING INCIDENT

Ozzy Osbourne went off the rails just a bit in 1981. At a meeting with Columbia Records executives, Osbourne's future wife Sharon had three doves handy, hoping to release them as a stunt. Instead, Ozzy picked one up and bit its head off. Then he did it again with a second, letting blood drip from his mouth. A year later, Osbourne bit the head off a bat, though it was dead at the time, and he claimed he thought it was a rubber toy. He did go for rabies shots afterward.

33. BRITNEY SPEARS, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, PITBULL, MORE MUSICIANS

1981 was a surprisingly big year for musicians. Here are some notable additions (see also: the entry above on Beyoncé Knowles and her Destiny's Child bandmates):

January 5: Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman)
January 15: Pitbull
January 25: Alicia Keys
January 31: Justin Timberlake
February 27: Josh Groban
June 21: Brandon Flowers (lead singer for The Killers)
September 12: Jennifer Hudson
December 2: Britney Spears

34. ELIJAH WOOD, JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, CHRIS EVANS, AMY SCHUMER ...

Actors galore born in 1981:

January 28: Elijah Wood
February 17: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
March 2: Bryce Dallas Howard
March 28: Julia Stiles
April 10: Michael Pitt
April 28: Jessica Alba
June 1: Amy Schumer
June 9: Natalie Portman
June 13: Chris Evans
September 8: Jonathan Taylor Thomas
October 1: Rupert Friend
December 27: Emilie de Ravin

35. THE DELOREAN DMC-12

Although John DeLorean had been making prototypes of his signature stainless steel gull-wing car for years, the first factory-assembled DeLorean DMC-12 was produced on January 21 in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. Despite its model number, it was the first and only model produced by the company, and only about 9000 cars were made before production stopped in 1982. In 1985, Back to the Future made the DMC-12 a legend.

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15 Surprising Facts About Scarface
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Say hello to our little list. Here are a few facts to break out at your next screening of Scarface, Brian De Palma’s gangsters-and-cocaine classic, which arrived in theaters on this day in 1983.

1. IT WASN'T THE FIRST SCARFACE.

Brian De Palma's Scarface is a loose remake of the 1932 movie of the same name, which is also about the rise and fall of an American immigrant gangster. The producer of the 1983 version, Martin Bregman, saw the original on late night TV and thought the idea could be modernized—though it still pays respect to the original film. De Palma's flick is dedicated to the original film’s director, Howard Hawks, and screenwriter, Ben Hecht.

2. IT COULD HAVE BEEN A SIDNEY LUMET FILM.

At one point in the film's production, Sidney Lumet—the socially conscious director of such classics as Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men—was brought on as its director. "Sidney Lumet came up with the idea of what's happening today in Miami, and it inspired Bregman," Pacino told Empire Magazine. "He and Oliver Stone got together and produced a script that had a lot of energy and was very well written. Oliver Stone was writing about stuff that was touching on things that were going on in the world, he was in touch with that energy and that rage and that underbelly."

3. OLIVER STONE WASN'T INTERESTED IN WRITING THE SCRIPT, UNTIL LUMET GOT INVOLVED.


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Producer Bregman offered relative newcomer Oliver Stone a chance to overhaul the screenplay, but Stone—who was still reeling from the box office disappointment of his film, The Hand—wasn't interested. "I didn’t like the original movie that much," Stone told Creative Screenwriting. "It didn’t really hit me at all and I had no desire to make another Italian gangster picture because so many had been done so well, there would be no point to it. The origin of it, according to Marty Bregman, [was that] Al had seen the '30s version on television, he loved it and expressed to Marty as his long time mentor/partner that he’d like to do a role like that. So Marty presented it to me and I had no interest in doing a period piece."

But when Bregman contacted Stone again about the project later, his opinion changed. "Sidney Lumet had stepped into the deal," Stone said. "Sidney had a great idea to take the 1930s American prohibition gangster movie and make it into a modern immigrant gangster movie dealing with the same problems that we had then, that we’re prohibiting drugs instead of alcohol. There’s a prohibition against drugs that’s created the same criminal class as (prohibition of alcohol) created the Mafia. It was a remarkable idea."

4. UNFORTUNATELY, ACCORDING TO STONE, LUMET HATED HIS SCRIPT.

While the chance to work with Lumet was part of what lured Stone to the project, it was his script that ultimately led to the director's departure from the film. According to Stone: "Sidney Lumet hated my script. I don’t know if he’d say that in public himself, I sound like a petulant screenwriter saying that, I’d rather not say that word. Let me say that Sidney did not understand my script, whereas Bregman wanted to continue in that direction with Al."

5. STONE HAD FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER.

In order to create the most accurate picture possible, Stone spent time in Florida and the Caribbean interviewing people on both sides of the law for research. "It got hairy," Stone admitted of the research process. "It gave me all this color. I wanted to do a sun-drenched, tropical Third World gangster, cigar, sexy Miami movie."

Unfortunately, while penning the screenplay, Stone was also dealing with his own cocaine habit, which gave him an insight into what the drug can do to users. Stone actually tried to kick his habit by leaving the country to complete the script so he could be far away from his access to the drug.

"I moved to Paris and got out of the cocaine world too because that was another problem for me," he said. "I was doing coke at the time, and I really regretted it. I got into a habit of it and I was an addictive personality. I did it, not to an extreme or to a place where I was as destructive as some people, but certainly to where I was going stale mentally. I moved out of L.A. with my wife at the time and moved back to France to try and get into another world and see the world differently. And I wrote the script totally f***ing cold sober."

6. BRIAN DE PALMA DIDN'T WANT TO AUDITION MICHELLE PFEIFFER.


Universal Home Video

De Palma was hesitant to audition the relatively untested Pfeiffer because at the time she was best known for the box office bomb Grease 2. Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Kelly McGillis, Sharon Stone and Sigourney Weaver were all considered for the role of Elvira, but Bregman pushed for Pfeiffer to audition and she got the part.

7. YES, THERE IS A LOT OF SWEARING.

According to the Family Media Guide, which monitors profanity, sexual content, and violence in movies, Scarface features 207 uses of the “F” word, which works out to about 1.21 F-bombs per minute. In 2014, Martin Scorsese more than doubled that with a record-setting 506 F-bombs thrown in The Wolf of Wall Street.

8. TONY MONTANA WAS NAMED FOR A FOOTBALL STAR.

Stone, who was a San Francisco 49ers fan, named the character of Tony Montana after Joe Montana, his favorite football player.

9. TONY IS ONLY REFERRED TO AS "SCARFACE" ONCE, AND IT'S IN SPANISH.

Hector, the Colombian gangster who threatens Tony with the chainsaw, refers to Tony as “cara cicatriz,” meaning “scar face” in Spanish.

That chainsaw scene, by the way, was based on a real incident. To research the movie, Stone embedded himself with Miami law enforcement and based the infamous chainsaw sequence on a gangland story he heard from the Miami-Dade County police.

10. VERY LITTLE OF THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN MIAMI.

The film was originally going to be shot entirely on location in Miami, but protests by the local Cuban-American community forced the movie to leave Miami two weeks into production. Besides footage from those two weeks, the rest of the movie was shot in Los Angeles, New York, and Santa Barbara.

11. ALL THAT "COCAINE" LED TO PROBLEMS WITH PACINO'S NASAL PASSAGES.

Though there has long been a myth that Pacino snorted real cocaine on camera for Scarface, the "cocaine" used in the movie was supposedly powdered milk (even if De Palma has never officially stated what the crew used as a drug stand-in). But just because it wasn't real doesn't mean that it didn't create problems for Pacino's nasal passages. "For years after, I have had things up in there," Pacino said in 2015. "I don't know what happened to my nose, but it's changed."

12. PACINO'S NOSE WASN'T HIS ONLY BODY PART TO SUFFER DAMAGE.

Still of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in 'Scarface' (1983)
Universal Home Video

In the film's very bloody conclusion, Montana famously asks the assailants who've invaded his home to "say hello to my little friend," which happens to be a very large gun. That gun took a beating from all the blanks it had to fire, so much so that Pacino ended up burning his hand on its barrel. "My hand stuck to that sucker," he said. Ultimately, the actor—and his bandaged hands—had to sit out some of the action in the last few weeks of production.

13. STEVEN SPIELBERG DIRECTED A SINGLE SHOT.

De Palma and Spielberg had been friends since the two began making studio movies in the mid-1970s, and they made a habit of visiting each other’s sets. Spielberg was on hand for one of the days of shooting the Colombians’ initial attack on Tony Montana’s house at the end of the movie, so De Palma let Spielberg direct the low-angle shot where the attackers first enter the house.

14. SOME COOL TECHNOLOGY WENT INTO THE GUN MUZZLE FLASHES.

In order to heighten the severity of the gunfire, De Palma and the special effects coordinators created a mechanism to synchronize the gunfire with the open shutter on the movie camera to show the huge muzzle flash coming from the guns in the final shootout.

15. SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS A FAN OF THE FILM.

The trust fund the former Iraqi dictator set up to launder money was called “Montana Management,” a nod to the company Tony uses to launder money in the movie.

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30 Cold, Hard Facts About Die Hard
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What do you get when you mix one part action movie with one part holiday flick and add in a dash of sweaty tank top? Die Hard, John McTiernan’s genre-bending Christmas action masterpiece for the ages, which sees a badass NYPD cop take on a skyscraper full of bad guys in the midst of an office holiday party. Here are 30 things you might not know about the movie.

1. IT’S GOT A LITERARY BACKGROUND.

Think some action-loving Hollywood scribe came up with the concept for Die Hard? Think again. The movie is based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 crime novel Nothing Lasts Forever, which is a sequel to his 1966 novel, The Detective. In 2013, Thorp’s long out-of-print book was resurrected to coincide with the film’s 25th anniversary.

2. IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE TOWERING INFERNO.

The idea for Nothing Lasts Forever was inspired John Guillermin’s 1974 disaster flick The Towering Inferno. After seeing the film, Thorp had a dream about a man being chased through a skyscraper by a group of men with guns. He eventually turned that snippet of an idea into a sequel to The Detective.

3. FRANK SINATRA GOT FIRST DIBS ON PLAYING THE ROLE OF JOHN MCCLANE.


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Because he had starred in the big-screen adaptation of The Detective, Frank Sinatra had to be offered the role in its sequel. At the age of 73, he smartly turned it down.

4. BRUCE WILLIS’S BIG-SCREEN DEBUT WAS WITH FRANK SINATRA.

In 1980, Willis made his film debut (albeit uncredited) in the crime thriller The First Deadly Sin. He has no name and if you blink you’ll miss him, but the role simply required that Willis entered a diner as Sinatra’s character left it. Maybe it was kismet?

5. CLINT EASTWOOD PLANNED TO TAKE A STAB AT THE PART.

Originally, it was Clint Eastwood who owned the movie rights to Nothing Lasts Forever, which he had planned to star in in the early 1980s. That obviously never happened.

6. IT WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE A SEQUEL TO COMMANDO.

This is one of the most popular internet stories about Die Hard. But according to Stephen de Souza, the screenwriter of both Die Hard and Commando, while there was a sequel to Commando planned, the only similarity with Die Hard is that they both took place in buildings. According to de Souza, Escape Plan is the closest to his original Commando 2 idea and Die Hard was never supposed to be anything but Die Hard.

7. BRUCE WILLIS WASN’T EVEN THE STUDIO’S THIRD CHOICE FOR THE ROLE.

If Die Hard was to be a success, the studio knew they needed a bona fide action star in the part, so they set about offering it to a seemingly never-ending list of A-listers of the time. Rumor has it that Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, Charles Bronson, Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Don Johnson, Burt Reynolds, and Richard Dean Anderson (yes, MacGyver!) were all considered for the role of John McClane. And all declined it.

8. BRUCE WILLIS WAS CONSIDERED A COMEDIC ACTOR AT THE TIME.

Die Hard’s producers had nothing against Bruce Willis, of course. He just wasn’t an immediate choice for the role because, up until that point, he was known solely as a comedic actor, not an action star. Following the success of the film, the action genre really became Willis’s bread and butter, and although he has two Emmys for his comedy work, it has remained as such to this day.

9. BRUCE WILLIS WAS BARELY EVEN SEEN ON THE MOVIE’S POSTERS.

Bruce Willis stars as John McClane in 'Die Hard.'
Twentieth Century Fox

Because the studio’s marketing gurus were unconvinced that audiences would pay to see an action movie starring the funny guy from Moonlighting, the original batch of posters for the film centered on Nakatomi Plaza instead of Willis’s mug. As the film gained steam, the marketing materials were altered, and Willis was more prominent in the promos.

10. WILLIS WAS PAID $5 MILLION TO MAKE THE MOVIE.

Even with all the uncertainly surrounding whether he could pull the film off, Willis was paid $5 million to make Die Hard, which was considered a rather hefty sum at the time—a figure reserved for only the top tier of Hollywood talents.

11. WILLIS SUGGESTED THAT BONNIE BEDELIA PLAY HIS WIFE.

Though we suspect that she wasn’t paid $5 million for the gig.

12. BRUCE WILLIS WAS ABLE TO SAY YES THANKS TO A WELL-TIMED PREGNANCY.

The first few times Bruce Willis was asked to star in the movie, he had to say no because of his commitments to Moonlighting. Then costar Cybill Shepard announced that she was pregnant. Because her pregnancy wouldn’t work within the show, producer Glenn Caron gave everyone 11 weeks off, allowing Willis to say yes.

13. SAM NEILL WAS ORIGINALLY APPROACHED FOR THE PART OF HANS GRUBER.

But Neill ended up turning the film down. Then, in the spring of 1987, the casting director saw Alan Rickman playing the dastardly Valmont in a stage production of Dangerous Liaisons and knew they had found their Hans.

14. DIE HARD WAS ALAN RICKMAN’S FEATURE FILM DEBUT.

Though Rickman may have played the part of Hans as cool as the other side of the pillow, it was actually his first role in a feature film.

15. JOHN MCTIERNAN TURNED THE MOVIE DOWN, TOO.

And not just once, but on a few different occasions. His reason was that the material just seemed too dark and cynical for him. “The original screenplay was a grim terrorist movie,” McTiernan told Empire magazine in 2014. “On my second week working on it, I said, 'Guys, there's no part of terrorism that's fun. Robbers are fun bad guys. Let's make this a date movie.’ And they had the courage to do it.”

16. MCTIERNAN SEES IT AS A SHAKESPEAREAN TALE.

In the original script, the action in Die Hard takes place over a three-day span, but McTiernan—inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—insisted that it be condensed into a single evening.

17. NAKATOMI PLAZA IS ACTUALLY FOX PLAZA.


Yes, the corporate headquarters of 20th Century Fox—the very studio making the movie—proved to be the perfect location for the movie’s much-needed Nakatomi Plaza. And as it was still under construction, there wasn’t a whole lot they needed to do to the space to make it movie-ready. The studio charged itself rent to use its own space.

18. THE ROOM WHERE THE HOSTAGES ARE BEING HELD IS LITERALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S FALLINGWATER.

"In this period, Japanese corporations were buying America," production designer Jackson De Govia said in the Die Hard DVD audio commentary. "We posited that ... Nakatami Corporation bought Fallingwater, disassembled it, and reassembled it in the atrium, like a trophy."

19. THAT PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE CITY BELOW? IT’S NOT REAL.

A 380-foot-long background painting provided the illusion of a breathtaking city view in the movie. And it was a state-of-the-art one, too, with animated lights, moving traffic, and the ability to change from night to day. The painting is still the property of the studio and has been used in other productions since.

20. THE FILM’S SUCCESS SPAWNED A BONA FIDE FRANCHISE.

In addition to its four sequels, Die Hard has spawned video games and comic books, too.

21. JOHN MCCLANE’S TUMBLE DOWN A VENTILATION SHAFT WAS AN ACCIDENT.

Or maybe “error” would be a better word. But in the scene in which McClane jumps into an elevator shaft, his stunt man was supposed to grab onto the first vent. But he missed. By a lot. Which made the footage even more exciting to watch, so editor Frank J. Urioste kept it in the final cut.

22. ALAN RICKMAN’S DEATH SCENE WAS ALSO PRETTY SCARY.

At least it was for Rickman. In order to make it look as if he was falling off a building, Rickman was supposed to drop 20 feet onto an air bag while holding onto a stunt man. But in order to get a genuinely terrified reaction out of him, they dropped him on the count of two—not three, as was planned.

23. BRUCE WILLIS SUFFERED PERMANENT HEARING LOSS.


Twentieth Century Fox

In order to get the hyper-realism that director John McTiernan was looking for, the blanks used in the guns in the movie were modified to be extra loud. In one scene, Willis shoots a terrorist through a table, which put the action star in extremely close proximity to the gun—and caused permanent hearing loss. He referenced the injury in a 2007 interview with The Guardian. When they asked Willis his most unappealing habit, he replied that, “Due to an accident on the first Die Hard, I suffer two-thirds partial hearing loss in my left ear and have a tendency to say, ‘Whaaa?’”

24. ALAN RICKMAN WASN’T FOND OF THE NOISE EITHER.

Whenever he had to shoot a gun in the film, Rickman couldn’t help but flinch. Which forced McTiernan to have to cut away from him so that his reactions were not caught on film.

25. GRUBER’S AMERICAN ACCENT POSED NOTHING BUT PROBLEMS.

The scene in which Rickman, as Gruber, slips into an American accent and pretends to be yet another hostage who got away was insisted on by screenwriter Steven de Souza, who wanted them in a room together to duke it out. But McTiernan was never happy with Rickman’s American accent, saying, “I still hear Alan Rickman’s English accent. I was never quite happy with the way he opened his mouth [in that scene] ... I shot it three times trying to get him to sound more stridently American ... it’s odd for someone who has such enormous verbal skills; he just had terrible trouble getting an American accent.”

26. HANS GRUBER’S GERMAN IS MOSTLY GIBBERISH.

And the bulk of his German cohorts were not German either. Bruce Willis, on the other hand, was actually born in West Germany to an American father and a German mother.

27. BRUCE WILLIS HAS FOUR FEET.

As Willis spends much of the movie in his bare feet running through broken glass, he was given a pair of rubber feet to wear as a safety precaution. Which is great and all, but if you look closely in certain scenes, you can actually see the fake appendages.

28. YOU CAN SEE—BUT NOT TOUCH—JOHN MCCLANE’S SWEATY TANK TOP.


Getty Images

In 2007, Willis donated the blood-soaked tank top he wore in Die Hard to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian.

29. “YIPPEE-KI-YAY” STOLE THE MOVIE.

It was a simple line: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!” But it became the film’s defining moment, and the unofficial catchphrase that has been used in all four Die Hard sequels as well.

30. CREDIT FOR THE LINE IS OWED TO WILLIS.

In a 2013 interview with Ryan Seacrest, Bruce Willis admitted that “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!” was really just a joke. “It was a throwaway,” said Willis. “I was just trying to crack up the crew and I never thought it was going to be allowed to stay in the film."

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