35 Things Turning 35 in 2017


If you were born in 1982, you're in good company! Here's our annual list celebrating 35 things (people, companies, movies, books, etc.) turning 35 this year.


Each year, TIME Magazine names one person who has been most influential in the news. For 1982, TIME picked the personal computer. It was the first time the magazine chose a non-human subject for the award, and it was a prescient pick. At the time, "personal computers" included a broad array of machines from the Commodore 64 (released in 1982) through the IBM PC to the Apple II. TIME wrote (emphasis added):

"It is easy enough to look at the world around us and conclude that the computer has not changed things all that drastically. But one can conclude from similar observations that the earth is flat, and that the sun circles it every 24 hours. Although everything seems much the same from one day to the next, changes under the surface of life's routines are actually occurring at almost unimaginable speed."

Thirty-five years later, it's clear that TIME's pick was spot on.


Thriller defined pop music in the 1980s, and is the best-selling studio album in U.S. history. It came at a crucial time for pop music, spawning seven Hot 100 top 10 hits—and the album only contained nine tracks in total. The one to rule them all was the eponymous "Thriller," and its video (above) debuted late in 1983.

In 1982, it was not at all clear that a black artist could become the King of Pop. As Billboard reported:

"A seemingly impenetrable wall had been erected between the black listening audience and its white counterpart; for the most part, neither black kids nor white kids had any idea what the other was listening to. And just as it seemed things couldn't get more difficult for a black artist hoping for across the board appeal, something new and scary appeared on the scene: MTV."

Michael Jackson's Thriller is the record that bridged the divide. Released on November 30, it debuted at number 11 on the Billboard chart released on December 25, and over the following year slowly rose until it dominated the world. MTV initially refused to air videos from Thriller, but as the single "Billie Jean" gained radio popularity, MTV gave in and showed the video (and then "Beat It" and then "Thriller"). The rest is music history.

For more, check out 21 Thrilling Facts About Michael Jackson's Thriller.


On July 2, truck driver Larry Walters tied 42 helium-filled weather balloons to a Sears lawn chair, plopped his butt down in it, and took to the skies of California. He was armed with a pellet gun, an altimeter, and some snacks. He also brought a CB radio, but his glasses slipped off his face as he ascended in the chair dubbed Inspiration I.

Walters had wanted to be a pilot, but poor eyesight prevented him from achieving that pursuit. That didn't stop him from taking flight on his own. When his chair ascended, it went farther than he expected, soaring to 16,000 feet and freaking out two passing airplane pilots, one of whom thought he was holding a real gun.

Walters was packing heat in order to descend. He popped the balloons using the pellet gun, and the falling debris tangled with power lines, disrupting power to a neighborhood in Long Beach. He was arrested by the LAPD upon landing, fined $1500 by the FAA, and appeared on both The Tonight Show and Late Night With David Letterman, which also premiered in 1982.

"Lawnchair Larry" Walters flew from San Pedro, California, all the way to Long Beach. He told the Los Angeles Times: "I had this dream for 20 years, and if I hadn't done it, I would have ended up in the funny farm."


On May 6, 1983, a little musical debuted off-off-Broadway at the WPA Theater. It was called Little Shop of Horrors. By July the show moved to Orpheum Theater (off-Broadway), where it played 2209 times.

The show was quickly adapted in a 1986 feature film, which was a hit in its own right. The duo behind the songs—Alan Menken and Howard Ashman—went on to write songs for Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.

Lest we forget how far back this goes, the stage production was itself loosely based on Roger Corman's 1960 film The Little Shop of Horrors, which is delightfully available for free viewing on Wikipedia.


Actor Paul Newman had a recipe for salad dressing that spawned a philanthropic food empire. Newman and his writer friend A.E. Hotchner started by filling empty wine bottles with the salad dressing in 1980. The homemade dressing was so popular among friends that it was launched as a retail product in 1982.

Presented with a $300,000 profit in his first year, Newman decided to give all proceeds to charity, and the Newman's Own brand has continued to do that ever since. In 1983, they launched their first pasta sauce, and eventually moved on to make popcorn, salsa, and lemonade in the early years. Within its first decade of sales, Newman's Own had given more than $50 million to charity.

For more on the history of Newman's Own, check out Eddie Deezen's write-up at Neatorama.


Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released on June 11, and promptly smashed the box office record set by Star Wars, making it the highest-grossing film of all time (until Jurassic Park came along, anyway). It is the ultimate film about childhood alienation, and was inspired in part by Spielberg's feelings after his parents' divorce.

Another important E.T. development in 1982 was the Atari game, released just before Christmas. Its development was rushed in order to meet the holiday deadline, and the resulting game was a disappointment to many fans. Surplus E.T. cartridges (along with other Atari games) were infamously dumped in a New Mexico landfill and later partially excavated. If digging a copy out of the trash isn't your idea of fun, you can play the game online.

For more on the movie, check out 20 Things You Might Not Know About E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. For the game, we've got both The Legend of the Lost Atari E.T. Games and The Story Behind Atari's Infamous E.T. Video Game.


David Letterman made his late-night debut on Monday, February 1. NBC's Late Night With David Letterman was his first evening show, and his first guest was Bill Murray. While Letterman famously moved around among the big networks, his 33-year career included a reported 6028 total late-night broadcasts.

The first face to appear onscreen in Letterman's Late Night debut (and later Late Show) was Calvert DeForest, who played Larry "Bud" Melman. Letterman debuted his first Top Ten List on September of 1985. An early review by AP TV writer Fred Rothenberg included this very perceptive bit:

"The comic genius of Letterman is finding humor in the mundane and incongruous. On Tuesday night, he brought out Dr. Norman Hoffman for 'Limited Perspective,' a dentist’s view of the movie 'Reds.'

Dr. Hoffman said the actors’ teeth were not convincing as pre-Russian Revolution dentures. 'Pretty much ruined the film for you, huh?' wondered Letterman."

For more on Letterman's late night career, check out Top 10 Facts About The Early Days of Late Night With David Letterman, 11 of Bill Murray's Greatest Letterman Appearances, The David Letterman Show No One Watched, and 23 Things That David Letterman Invented.


The Coca-Cola Company avoided mixing its Coke brand with non-sugar-sweetened drinks for decades. Although Tab and Diet Pepsi were released in the early 1960s, it wasn't until July 9, 1982 that Diet Coke was introduced to test markets. It rolled out nationwide in 1983.

Diet Coke was a complex drink, relying on an entirely new formula sweetened with aspartame. It bore little relationship (chemically, at least) with regular Coke, which was a risk. But it paid off, as Diet Coke became the best-selling low-calorie soft drink in the U.S. by the end of 1983. By 1984, Diet Coke was the third overall soft drink, behind only Coca-Cola and Pepsi. It stayed that way until 2010, when it displaced Pepsi in the #2 spot.

Diet Coke's launch slogan? "Just for the taste of it."


On September 30, NBC welcomed TV viewers into a Boston bar "Where everybody knows your name." That line, of course, came from the show's iconic theme song by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo.

The first season of Cheers was a ratings disaster, with the show ranking 77th out of 100 shows, according to Nielsen. But NBC liked the show and renewed it—which was a smart move, because it became a smash hit in later years. By the end of its 11-season run, it garnered 26 million viewers each week.

Cheers was a major influence for TV writers, helping inspire writers who created everything from Scrubs to Parks and Recreation. It also spawned the successful spin-off Frasier, which meant Kelsey Grammer played Frasier Crane for two decades.

For more Cheers joy, check out 30 Things You Might Not Know About Cheers.

(Another notable TV series that debuted in 1982 was Knight Rider. Unfortunately it doesn't get its own entry on this list!)


On December 2, retired dentist Dr. Barney Clark became the first human to receive a permanent artificial heart. It was called the Jarvik-7 (after lead inventor Dr. Robert Jarvik), and was implanted by Dr. William DeVries. The heart required a 400-pound pneumatic compressor to support it, which meant Clark was hospital-bound for the remaining 112 days of his life.

Clark knew that his lifespan was limited, but the artificial heart was his only option—he wasn't healthy enough to be on the transplant list for a human heart. Prior to the Jarvik-7 surgery, doctors estimated that Clark only had a few weeks to live if no intervention was made. In his life with the artificial heart, he lived to celebrate his 39th anniversary with his wife, Una Loy. He died on March 23, 1983.


On September 29, Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Scott Fahlman officially proposed the first emoticon. At 11:44 a.m., he posted this message to a bulletin board:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)

From: Scott E Fahlman

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:


Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use:


The term "emoticon" came later, based on the words "emotion" and "icon." Fahlman wrote a detailed account of the emoticon, noting:

"Given the nature of the community, a good many of the posts were humorous (or attempted humor). The problem was that if someone made a sarcastic remark, a few readers would fail to get the joke, and each of them would post a lengthy diatribe in response. That would stir up more people with more responses, and soon the original thread of the discussion was buried. In at least one case, a humorous remark was interpreted by someone as a serious safety warning."

Good thing we solved that problem forever. :)


On January 27, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat debuted on Broadway, then ran at the Royale Theatre through September 4, 1983. Featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Tim Rice, the production was the culmination of work started by the duo way back in 1967. (Well, to be technical, their work was based on the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis.)

In 1967, Lloyd Webber and Rice (then aged 23 and 19) wrote a 15-minute version of Dreamcoat for an Easter concert at Lloyd Webber's younger brother's school. Over the years, they just kept adding to it, recording a concept album in 1969, and taking the show on the road for college performances in the early 1970s. By 1982 the show finally reached Broadway.


In December, Chuck Geschke and John Warnock founded Adobe Systems, Incorporated. Their focus was on getting text and images to translate from computer screens to print reliably. By 1983, they debuted their "PostScript" technology, which enabled desktop publishing by codifying a common language for both printers and computer layouts. (Apple bought a 15-percent stake in the company in 1983 and promptly licensed PostScript, solidifying its place in the desktop publishing revolution with its as-yet-unreleased Macintosh.)

In later years, Adobe went on to create Adobe Photoshop, the PDF, Adobe Illustrator, and a pile of other important software applications for creative professionals.


On September 15, USA Today first appeared on newsstands, to howls of protest from the old guard of the newspaper world. From the beginning, USA Today was a national paper, not pegged to a single local market like other newspaper mainstays—and that ended up being its strength.

The other core strength of USA Today was its "new journalism of hope," a phrase coined by founder Allen Neuharth. On its very first cover, it used the headline "Miracle: 327 survive, 55 die" to describe a horrific airplane crash. Truly a newspaper for the modern (TV-centric) era, it was filled with color, and quickly became a serious contender. As of September 2015, USA Today had the fifth-highest paid print circulation among U.S. newspapers.


On October 1, Sony released the first home CD player in Japan, dubbed the CDP-101. Sony also collaborated with CBS to issue 50 albums on CD, featuring everything from Michael Jackson's Off the Wall to Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra. The first CD released was Billy Joel's 52nd Street.

That first player cost more than $2200 in today's dollars, but it included the signature loading tray that virtually all CD players used afterwards. The whole endeavor was based largely on earlier laserdisc technology (which was still in use at the time to provide LP-sized movies to home cinema enthusiasts), but of course with a radically smaller size and an audio-only experience. Those early CDs cost around $35 in today's dollars.

It took years for CDs to overtake cassette tapes and vinyl LPs. Dire Straits's album Brothers in Arms, released in 1985, was the first album to sell one million copies in CD form.


The history of computing is full of self-replicating programs, making it hard to point to the very first computer virus. It comes down to how you define a virus, really. But for personal computer users, Rich Skrenta's "Elk Cloner" is the first computer virus in the wild. Skrenta was only 15 years old when he created it.

Elk Cloner installed itself on Apple II floppy disks and was originally designed as a prank. While distributing floppies containing games or other programs, Skrenta had previously inserted text messages of his own. When his friends didn't like that (and stopped trading with him), he wrote a clever self-replicating program to quietly spread his messages to floppies he never touched. By infecting the "boot sector" of a disk, Elk Cloner could insert itself into other floppies. It didn't do much, nor was it particularly malicious. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

"The prank, though annoying to victims, is relatively harmless compared with the viruses of today. Every 50th time someone booted an infected disk, a poem he wrote would appear, saying in part, 'It will get on all your disks; it will infiltrate your chips.'

Skrenta started circulating the virus in early 1982 among friends at his school and at a local computer club. Years later, he would continue to hear stories of other victims, including a sailor during the first Gulf War nearly a decade later. (Why that sailor was still using an Apple II, Skrenta does not know.)"


Ciabatta bread was invented in July, 1982 by a baker in Adria, Italy (near Venice). Here's the situation: French baguettes had invaded the Italian sandwich industry, and something had to be done. Italian bakers toiled to create a new bread based on regional recipes.

Arnaldo Cavallari finally invented what he called Ciabatta Polesano, and the sandwich world was never the same. Cavallari told The Guardian:

"'I invented the new ciabatta,’ says Cavallari, loud and proud. ‘I used a very soft, wet dough, with a lot of water—very watery. It's the best bread, of course. All my breads are made with natural things, so it tastes good. I am touching the sky I am so happy that it is so good, that it has done so well everywhere. But when I had invented it, I looked at it and I thought, 'What can I call it?' Then I thought that it is similar to a slipper, so I thought 'ciabatta.' For copyright, I registered the name ciabatta along with Polesano, the name of the area where I work. In 1989, I registered the name 'Ciabatta Italian.' It's the best bread.’"


When Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal graced theaters on December 17, it was a minor miracle. Full of creatures—the large ones requiring six people to operate them—the film was dark, weird, and beloved by fans.

Henson recruited longtime collaborator Frank Oz to direct the movie, and worked with illustrator Brian Froud to create the film's unique world. An early test screening revealed audience's complaints about the first cut: In the original edit, the Skeksis language was completely indecipherable, and it was that way on purpose. Henson and company figured that the audience could figure out what was going on by context clues. Forced into a corner by test audiences, the team proceeded to shoehorn new (intelligible) Skeksis dialogue, as well as some explanatory voiceovers to help audiences sort out what was happening. (A similar test screening/voiceover addition occurred with Blade Runner the same year.)

After the studio decided not to spend much promoting the film (in part because of lukewarm test screenings), Henson bet everything on The Dark Crystal. He spent $15 million of his own money to buy the film back from its studio, at the risk of going broke. Fortunately, the film brought in $40 million. Not a bad investment after all.

Also, good news! The Abandoned Dark Crystal Sequel Is Being Turned Into a Comic Book.


On June 25, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner hit theaters and began reverberating through pop culture—despite being a flop at the box office. Based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film features Harrison Ford in a dystopian future version of Los Angeles, hunting for rogue "replicants." It combined film noir with science fiction, and set the tone for later classics like The Matrix. It also had a corny tacked-on voiceover track to help audiences understand it ... which was later removed in the Director's Cut.

Fun fact: the terms "Blade Runner" and "replicant" never appeared in the original novel.


On June 4, audiences learned the signature cry of Captain James T. Kirk: "Khaaaaaaaan!" Bearing the tagline "At the end of the universe lies the beginning of vengeance," Star Trek II was a tale of revenge that actually began on the original Star Trek series in the 1967 episode "Space Seed."

Featuring a standout performance by Ricardo Montalbán and special effects by Industrial Light & Magic, Star Trek II made it clear that Trek could continue as a movie franchise. Just five years later, Star Trek: The Next Generation brought the franchise back to TV.


Toyota introduced its Camry line on March 24. It was designed to be a classy medium-sized car featuring a fuel-efficient FF design (Front-engine Front-drive). The Camry existed to fill out Toyota's lineup of economical cars, including the Tercel and Celica. The name "Camry" was based on the Japanese kanmuri, meaning "crown."

The first Camrys to reach the U.S. came in 1983, and by 1985 it was one of Toyota's main products by volume. Through a series of redesigns, buyers eventually made the Camry the bestselling car in the U.S. for four years in a row. The popularity of certain model years led to them appearing on the "most stolen vehicles" lists over the years; the 1991 Toyota Camry often pops up on such lists, though various Honda models typically beat it.


The Commodore 64 is the best-selling personal computer in history, selling more than 30 million units. It was a serious player in the PC market, bearing a sticker price of just $595—for a computer with 64 kilobytes of RAM! (Their early tagline: "What nobody else can give you at twice the price.")

Part of the reason for the C64's success was Commodore's strategy to sell it without extras at big-box stores like K-mart. The machine was packaged without a floppy drive, cassette drive, display, printer, or anything else a typical user might need. By selling all those items as add-ons, Commodore allowed vendors to sell the main computer on the cheap and mark up the extras. It worked. The C64 and its variants continued to be produced and sold for a decade, making it one of the longest-lived PCs in history.


The enigmatic film Koyaanisqatsi was first screened at the Santa Fe Film Festival on April 28, 1982, though it wasn't widely released until the following year. It's hard to describe the film with any single category; some feel it's a documentary, others prefer just to call it a "nonfiction film," as it contains no narration, no dialogue, no actors, and only the briefest writing at the beginning (defining the term "Koyaanisqatsi," from the Hopi language). This is a film that does a lot of showing and very little telling, and its effect on an audience is often profound.

Koyaanisqatsi was the product of seven years of filming, with extensive work by cinematographer Ron Fricke and director Godfrey Reggio to capture both the natural and manmade environments, often in timelapse or slow-motion. One of its most memorable sequences was the demolition of the Pruitt–Igoe housing projects in St. Louis, filmed all the way back in 1975. It was a long slog to gather the footage, assemble it, and finally get it into the world—this odd art film even required the backing of Francis Ford Coppola to get a wide release.

In the decades since its release, Koyaanisqatsi has become incredibly influential among filmmakers both for its visual style and its signature score by Philip Glass (part of which was later reused in the Watchmen film adaptation).


Alice Walker's book The Color Purple was written as an epistolary novel (a series of letters). It went on to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award in 1983, and was quickly adapted into both a musical and a movie.

The plot centers on Celie, a 14-year-old girl who starts writing letters to God. When she writes, she is pregnant with her second child by her father. It's a grim and important tale, spanning decades, dealing with racism, rape, homosexuality, and the legacy of abuse in the American South.


1982 was a big year for musical debuts. Here's a partial list:

Sonic Youth - Sonic Youth - March

Billy Idol - Billy Idol - July 16

R.E.M. - Chronic Town EP - August 24

Janet Jackson - Janet Jackson - September 21

Lionel Richie - Lionel Richie - October 6

Other notable albums released that year included Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska, Duran Duran's Rio, and Prince's 1999.


On November 10, 1982 (Veterans Day), the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. opened to the public. Created by then-20-year-old student Maya Lin, it was immediately nicknamed "The Wall," as it's a long, V-shaped granite wall inscribed with the names of Americans who died in the Vietnam War.

The memorial is viscerally powerful, as visitors consult the 57,661 names listed, looking for friends and loved ones. It's common for mourners to bring a bit of paper and trace a name from the wall.


The Florida Keys connect to the mainland by a single road (U.S. Route 1). On April 18, the U.S. Border Patrol set up a checkpoint on that road and began searching cars that left the Keys, reportedly in a bid to prevent illegal immigration. Key West residents didn't like this one bit, in part because it created incredible traffic jams (reportedly 17 miles long) and discouraged tourism.

In return, Key West mayor Dennis Wardlow presided over a tongue-in-cheek protest of the checkpoint. Wardlow announced that Key West seceded from the Union on April 23. He retitled himself Prime Minister and declared that Key West was now a sovereign nation called the Conch Republic. Finally, he commenced "war" on the United States, a symbolic act that involved whacking a guy dressed in a U.S. Navy uniform with loaves of stale Cuban bread. One minute into the war, Wardlow surrendered, demanding $1 billion in foreign aid "to rebuild our nation after the long Federal siege." The roadblock was soon removed, but the $1 billion never arrived.


On June 21, Princess Diana gave birth to her first son with Prince Charles. William was born in St. Mary's Hospital in London, making him the first heir to the British throne to be born in a hospital. (Previously, royal babies were delivered at the Palace.)

Prince Charles and Princess Diana brought their baby boy out of the hospital, allowing onlookers a glimpse. On June 28, his name was announced as William Arthur Philip Louis. People Magazine reported:

"... Prince Charles was at his young wife’s side throughout the delivery—the only British royal male in modern times to attend the birth of an offspring. (By contrast, Prince Philip played squash during Charles’ birth in 1948.)"


On May 2, The Weather Channel debuted on cable, offering exactly what you'd expect: weather—24 hours of weather, seven days a week. This was a huge innovation in 1982, when viewers were used to waiting for weather reports to arrive at scheduled times throughout other broadcasts. Advertised as "Weather on your schedule," The Weather Channel became a mainstay of cable systems. As The New York Times reported in 1993, "To be sure, the network's best performances come with the worst weather."


Roald Dahl's book The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) arrived in 1982. It's the story of the orphan Sophie, who lives in an orphanage and encounters the BFG, who takes her to Giant Country.

The book celebrates wordplay, including the quote, "Don't gobblefunk around with words." It coins piles of whimsical words, including snozzcumber, frobscottle, whizpopping, and phizz-whizzing. Eventually Dahl's imaginative language (appearing in many of his books) was collected in a dictionary.


On January 10, 1982, Dwight Clark made football history with Joe Montana. With 58 seconds remaining in the NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, Clark jumped to catch a pass from Montana, earning the 49ers the win. That win launched the team to Super Bowl XVI against the Cincinnati Bengals, which the 49ers proceeded to win. Clark's fingertip grab became known as "The Catch."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

"The six most important yards in 49er history were gained in a way that was awfully close to poetic. Even a cynic would have to admit that much.

To the untrained eye, it appeared Montana was wandering right, hoping more than devising, maybe even looking for a way out. But by that time, with Montana and the 49ers proceeding deep into their first—and most improbable—Super Bowl run, everybody had learned to admire and not question."

Watch this NFL video to relive "The Catch."


Alan Moore's comic V for Vendetta was first published starting in March 1982, as part of the British anthology book Warrior. It starts on Guy Fawkes Night in an imagined totalitarian 1997 London, when a masked anarchist known as V blows up the Houses of Parliament.

V for Vendetta was one of many comics in the book and was printed in black and white. But when Warrior ceased publication in 1985, Moore and illustrator David Lloyd still had several issues worth of unpublished material. In 1988, DC Comics published a 10-issue run with the original comic (now in color), plus the unpublished material, wrapping up the story.

The whole bundle was eventually printed as a trade paperback, featuring some additional material and the essay Behind the Painted Smile by Moore. The 2005 film adaptation was hugely influential, leading to an uptick in Guy Fawkes mask purchases. "Remember, remember the fifth of November ..."


In 1980, after Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back debuted in theaters, George Lucas hired audio engineers to design a new theater at Lucas's Skywalker Ranch. The theater would be designed to mix sound, and it was to be the best of its kind. To make the system work, the room itself had to be designed properly, and the loudspeakers in the room had to be properly installed and tuned.

Over the following years, visitors to Skywalker Ranch commented on the great sound in its theaters, and asked whether this approach could be replicated in commercial movie theaters. That's where THX comes in. Lucas and his team developed the THX Cinema Certification specifications, which are effectively a series of technical requirements for theaters. In late 1982, Dr. James A. Moorer developed "Deep Note," also known as "the THX sound" (see video above), which would play in THX-certified theaters before approved presentations.

The first film to use the THX system was Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, released in 1983. But Deep Note and the technology behind THX came out in 1982, giving theaters a bit of time to retrofit before the next Star Wars film.

Incidentally, the name THX is a reference to Lucas's film THX 1138.


1982 is the birth year of all sorts of actors, entertainers, and sports stars. Here's a partial list:

Eddie Redmayne - January 6

Kate Middleton - January 9

Dwyane Wade - January 17

Adam Lambert - January 29

Jessica Biel - March 3

Landon Donovan - March 4

Seth Rogen - April 15

Kelly Clarkson - April 24

Kirsten Dunst - April 30

Lizzy Caplan - June 30

Priyanka Chopra - July 18

Elisabeth Moss - July 24

Anna Paquin - July 24

Misty Copeland - September 10

LeAnn Rimes - August 28

Lil Wayne (Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) - September 27

Dan Stevens - October 10

Anne Hathaway - November 12

Nicki Minaj - December 8


On October 1, 1982, Epcot Center opened in Walt Disney World. EPCOT originally stood for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, and it was envisioned as a planned city, rather than a theme park; as a theme park, its acronym name was simply replaced with the word "Epcot." Regardless, when it opened, Epcot was the most expensive private construction project in the world. Opening festivities included a dedication ceremony for Spaceship Earth (the big bumpy sphere).

The original EPCOT concept was utopian, but Disney didn't live to see it realized. Instead, we got a pretty sweet theme park where "you can drink in 11 countries without ever leaving Florida," as our own Stacy Conradt wrote.

See also: Watch Walt Disney's Original EPCOT Vision (1966) and 32 Things You Should Know About EPCOT.

Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira, NY
John W. Jones: The Runaway Slave Who Buried Nearly 3000 Confederate Soldiers
Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira, NY
Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira, NY

John W. Jones was as close to a sinless man as you could find—with the exception of the time he lied to his mother.

It was a late June evening in 1844 and the 26-year-old enslaved man, who lived on a plantation near Leesburg, Virginia, told his mother that he was leaving to attend a party. His real plans were much riskier. Jones slipped outside, grabbed a pistol, and rendezvoused with four other enslaved men. With starlight as their guide, they crept through the Virginia woods. Their destination: North.

The men hiked approximately 20 miles every day, dodging slave catchers in Maryland and crossing the Mason-Dixon Line into the free state of Pennsylvania. Following a major route along the Underground Railroad, they needled through Harrisburg and Williamsport and traced a path along what is now State Route 14. When the exhausted men snuck into a barn near the New York border to sleep, Jones kept guard as the others rested: He sat down, laid a shotgun on his lap, and kept his eyes peeled.

“He was serious about getting his freedom,” says Talima Aaron, President of the John W. Jones Museum Board of Trustees. “He understood the danger, and he constantly took responsibility for others. You’ll notice that was a thread for him—responsibility for others.”

Jones never had to use the gun. When the barn’s owner, Nathaniel Smith, discovered the five men on his property, he invited them into his home. His wife Sarah served the group hot biscuits and butter and cared for them until their strength returned. It was the first time many of them had ever been inside a white person’s home. According to an 1885 profile in The Elmira Telegram, the gesture brought the men to tears.

On July 5, 1844, Jones crossed a toll bridge into Elmira, New York, with less than $2 in his pocket. Unlike most runaways bound for Canada, Jones decided to stay in Elmira. It’s here that Jones would become one of the country's most successful Underground Railroad conductors, one of the richest black men in the state of New York, and the last earthly link for nearly 3000 dead Confederate soldiers.


Living in the north did not mean Jones had it easy. He could not vote. He still shared sidewalks with former slave-owners. When he asked to receive an education at the local schools, he was denied.

But Jones had a knack for cracking ceilings. After earning the admiration of a local judge, he was allowed to study at an all-women’s seminary, exchanging janitorial work for reading and writing lessons. He joined a church with abolitionist leanings and become its sexton, maintaining its cemetery. Then he became the sexton of a second cemetery, and then a third. The community quickly grew to respect his work ethic and, eventually, Jones had earned enough money to buy a small house—a house that he transformed into a vital hub for the Underground Railroad.

At the time, the Underground Railroad—an informal network of trails, hiding places, and guides that helped slaves escape northward—was under intense scrutiny. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act had created financial incentives to report runaways living in free states. “Slave catchers from the south could come up to a place like Elmira and claim that a person of color was a runaway slave, and they could haul them back into slavery—even if that person had been born free,” says Bruce Whitmarsh, Director of the Chemung County Historical Society. There were steep penalties for aiding a person’s escape.

Jones didn’t care. Not only did he join the Underground Railroad, he was openly vocal about it, loudly pledging his opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act in a message that was published in abolitionist newspapers across the region: “Resolved, that we, the colored citizens of Elmira, do hereby form ourselves into a society for the purpose of protecting ourselves against those persons, (slave-catchers) prowling through different parts of this and other States.” Jones committed to resisting the law, even at the risk that “everyone of us be assassinated.”

The Underground Railroad in Elmira was unique: Since the town included the only train stop between Philadelphia and Ontario, it actually involved locomotives. Jones communicated regularly with William Still, the chief "conductor" of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, and built a cozy network of abolitionists who worked on trains passing through town. He provided runaways with housing, food, and even part-time jobs. “Runaways usually came in groups of four, six, or 10,” Aaron says. “But he had up to 30 at once in his little house.” Jones arranged hiding space for all of the escapees on the 4 a.m. “Freedom Baggage Car” to Canada, as it was unofficially known.

Over the course of nine years, Jones aided the escape of around 800 runaway slaves. Not one was captured.

During the last years of the Civil War, the same railroad tracks that had delivered hundreds of runaways to freedom began to carry thousands of captive Confederate soldiers to Elmira’s new prisoner of war camp. Once again, Jones would be there.


Of the 620,000 Civil War deaths, approximately 10 percent occurred at prison camps. The most notorious P.O.W. camp—in Andersonville, Georgia—saw 13,000 Union troops, or approximately 29 percent of the prison population, perish. After the war, Andersonville's commander was tried for war crimes. The camp is now a National Historic Site.

Meanwhile, the prison camp in Elmira has been largely forgotten. Today, the riverside site is little more than an unremarkable patch of dandelion-speckled grass; a small, easy-to-miss monument is the only marker. It belies the fact that while Elmira's camp was noticeably smaller than Andersonville's—only one-quarter its size—it was just as deadly: If you were a prisoner at “Hellmira,” there was a one-in-four chance you would die.

Elmira Prison Camp
Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira, NY

Elmira was never supposed to have a prison camp; it was a training depot for Union soldiers. But when the Confederacy began refusing to exchange African-American soldiers—who it considered captive slaves, not prisoners of war—the Union stopped participating in prisoner exchanges. “Both sides started scrambling for places to expand, and that’s how Elmira got caught up in the web,” says Terri Olszowy, a Board Member for the Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp.

The rollout was ill-planned, Olszowy explains. When it opened in July 1864, the camp had no hospital or medical staff. The first prisoners were already in rough shape and deteriorated quickly. Latrines were placed uphill from a small body of water called Foster’s Pond, which quickly became a cesspool. A shelter shortage meant that hundreds of soldiers were still living in tents by Christmas. During spring, the Chemung River flooded the grounds. Rats crawled everywhere. When authorities released a dog to catch them, the prisoners ate the dog.

The camp grew overcrowded. Designed to hold only 5000 prisoners, it saw approximately 7000 to 10,000 men confined there at its peak. Across the street, an observation tower allowed locals the opportunity to gawk at these prisoners through a pair of binoculars. It cost 10 cents.

It must have been a depressing sight, a scene of men stricken with dysentery, scurvy, typhoid, pneumonia, and smallpox. Many prisoners attempted to escape. One group successfully dug a 66-foot tunnel with spoons and knives. One man fled by hiding in a barrel of swill. Another hid inside a coffin, leaping out as he was being hauled to Woodlawn Cemetery.

It’s said that 2973 Confederate prisoners left the Elmira prison camp in coffins for real. The job to bury them belonged to the town’s sexton: John W. Jones.


The P.O.W. cemetery in Elmira is unique. The dead at many prison camps were buried in mass graves; Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery, for example, contains a plot filled with the remains of prisoners detained at Camp Douglas that is believed to be largest mass grave in the western hemisphere. All 2973 of the dead at Elmira, however, received an individual, marked grave in a special section of Woodlawn cemetery. Only seven are unknown. Jones's effort to give each soldier an individual grave, as well as his meticulous record-keeping, were a big part of why the federal government designated the P.O.W. portion of Woodlawn a "National Cemetery" in 1877—a status awarded to veterans' cemeteries deemed to be of national importance, and which has only been awarded to 135 cemeteries nationwide.

Jones treated each dead soldier with superhuman levels of grace. Overseeing a crew of 12, he managed the burial of about six soldiers every day, treating each body as if that person had been a member of his own church. He kept detailed records of each soldier’s identity by creating improvised dog tags: Around each person's neck or under their arm, Jones tucked a jar containing a paper detailing their name, rank, and regiment. That same information was neatly scrawled on each coffin. When the dirt settled, Jones marked each plot with a wooden headstone.

“No one told him how to do that job, he did it in the way that he thought was right—even though the people he buried were fighting a war to keep people like him enslaved,” Aaron says. “He even knew one of the young men who had died, and he reached back to the South and told the parents so they knew where their child was buried. That speaks to his compassion.”

According to Clayton W. Holmes’s 1912 book Elmira Prison Camp, “History does not record anything to challenge the assertion that at no prison, North or South, were the dead so reverently cared for, or a more perfect record kept.” In fact, when representatives of the Daughters of the Confederacy came to Elmira at the turn of the century to consider repatriating the remains, Jones’s handiwork convinced them to touch not a blade of grass. Instead, a monument in the cemetery commemorates the “honorable way in which they were laid to rest by a caring man.”

Aaron sees a second moral in the story. “People always talk about the tension between him being an escaped slave and burying with respect and dignity these Confederate soldiers fighting to keep people like him as slaves,” she says. “But to me there’s a subtext: Here is a grown man who escaped slavery, and the first thing he wanted to do when he reached freedom was get an education. Because of that, he was able to keep these meticulous records that later led to this national designation: It became a historical moment because this man, who was denied an education, got one.”

John W. Jones
Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira, NY

It also made a mark on Jones’s bank account. Jones earned $2.50 for each soldier he buried. It wasn’t much, but by the time he had finished burying nearly 3000 Confederate dead, he had become one of the 10 richest African-Americans in the state of New York. With that money, he bought a handsome farm of at least 12 acres.

It was a bittersweet purchase. Not only is it believed that parts of his home were built from wooden scraps of the disassembled Elmira prison camp, Jones had purchased the home when New York state law stipulated that black men must own $250 worth of property in order to vote. His home—today listed on the National Register of Historic Places [PDF]—earned Jones that right to vote.

For the remainder of his life, Jones continued working as a sexton and church usher. In 1900, he died and was buried in one of the cemeteries that had become his life’s work.

Incidentally, his death also marked the end of a local mystery: For nearly two decades, fresh flowers kept appearing on the freshly manicured grave of a woman named Sarah Smith. Nobody knew why the flowers appeared there or where they originated—until the decorations stopped appearing immediately after Jones’s death. Residents later realized that the grave belonged to the same Sarah Smith who, 56 years earlier, had invited John W. Jones and his friends into her home for butter, biscuits, and a good night’s rest.

Jennifer Young, AFP/Getty Images
An Affair to Dismember: John Wayne Bobbitt's Penis at 25
Jennifer Young, AFP/Getty Images
Jennifer Young, AFP/Getty Images

In the early morning hours of June 23, 1993, Manassas, Virginia manicurist Lorena Bobbitt crept into the bedroom she shared with her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt. While John—who had been drinking heavily—slept, she proceeded to mutilate his genitals with a 12-inch kitchen knife. When a drunken John woke up, the sheets were covered in blood; Lorena ran to her car, knife and lump of flesh in tow. Not quite sure what to do next, she wound up tossing part of his shaft out the window.

The scene was so morbid and so titillating that the news media couldn’t get enough. From the time Lorena performed the amputation to her acquittal seven months later, the story of a marriage so broken it ended in genital disfigurement ran almost around the clock.

But reporters had a major hurdle to clear: The word penis had never been printed or spoken aloud with any regularity in American news coverage.

They tried euphemisms, i.e. male member, appendage. When those ran out, The New York Times finally acquiesced and began using “penis” in their coverage of the criminal trial. According to journalist Gay Talese, the sheer volume of the Bobbitt circus broke one of the last sexual taboos in mainstream culture. Soon after, the word penis began regularly appearing on late night talk shows and in print.

There was really no other choice. While the Bobbitt case raised issues over domestic violence, female empowerment, and even the threshold for celebrity, the story always boiled down to that one lurid moment. John Wayne’s reattached, mostly functional penis was—and perhaps still is—the most famous sexual organ in America.


John Wayne and Lorena first met in 1988, when the burly 21-year-old Marine walked into a club for enlisted men near Quantico in Virginia and spotted the then-19-year-old, who was born in Ecuador and raised in Venezuela. They married just months later and settled in Manassas, where Lorena worked in the beauty industry and John Wayne worked as a cab driver and bar bouncer. Friends and relatives of the couple who would later be questioned on the witness stand described a tumultuous coupling, one that saw the two separated briefly in 1991 before reconciling.

John Wayne was temperamental and physical with Lorena, a fact that her eventual prosecutors would later admit. Divorce was on the table when John Wayne came home the night of June 23, 1993 and when, Lorena alleged, he raped her. (In a separate trial, a jury found John Wayne not guilty of martial sexual abuse in the five days preceding the attack.) After falling asleep, he awoke to a mutilated penis, his wife having excised an inch or more of its lower third portion.

Police retrieved the missing flesh and handed it over to emergency doctors. Before being wheeled in for a nine-hour operation to reattach the severed portion, John Wayne said he considered suicide.

John Wayne Bobbitt testifies during a court appearance in 1994
Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The surgery was more or less successful—John Wayne later recollected calling his mother and enthusiastically telling her he had gotten his first post-operative erection—but attempts to have Lorena convicted for the attack were not. In January 1994, a jury found her not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. The defense argued that Lorena had been so traumatized by abuse that she acted irrationally but not maliciously.

The trial and its outcome seemed to provide metaphorical fuel for ever-present issues regarding gender. Although he had not technically been castrated, John Wayne was certainly emasculated, and in a rather horrific way—punishment, some believed, for his deplorable behavior. In defacing his manhood, Lorena seemed to become emblematic of what some women felt like doing to spousal abusers.

Lorena fielded book, movie, and interview offers but largely stayed out of the spotlight, reverting to her maiden name and trying to disappear. (She was also sentenced to a 45-day psychiatric evaluation to make sure she presented no danger to the public.) It was John Wayne who perpetuated his own celebrity, turning what was a gruesome assault into a story worth monetizing.

First, there was the requisite appearance on The Howard Stern Show in December 1993—one of many—in which Stern attempted to fundraise for Bobbitt’s $250,000 in medical and legal expenses.

Stern and other interviewers were preoccupied with Bobbitt’s sexual ability. As of that December, Bobbitt told Stern, he had not been able to engage in any intercourse; he claimed his penis bore little evidence of the attack aside from a “slight” scar; it hurt a little when he showered. He urinated with use of a catheter for two months following the procedure.

The radio panhandling met with some success, although as some observers noted virtually from the beginning, Bobbitt’s opportunities to cash in on his notoriety were almost inevitably in the red light district of the entertainment industry. In 1994, he signed a deal for $1 million to appear in an adult video distributed by Leisure Time Communications titled John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut. A kind of pornographic biopic, Bobbitt played himself, reenacting the attack and then proving his restored sexual abilities by engaging in sexual acts with a succession of actresses. In what must be one of the few adult movie reviews published by Entertainment Weekly, critic Owen Gleiberman observed that Bobbitt’s reconstructed penis had “no real stitch marks” but looked as though it “may have lost an inch or two.”

Uncut was a curiosity, but Bobbitt was unable to sustain interest in two follow-up tapes: One was titled Frankenpenis and may have lived up to a viewer’s anticipation of a freakish member, due to a penis enlargement surgery John Wayne underwent following the release of the first video.


Having exhausted his potential in pornography, Bobbitt and his penis sought other venues. First, he tried his hand at stand-up comedy. When that failed to pan out, Dennis Hof, owner of the Bunny Ranch brothel, paid him $50,000 a year to be a bartender/chauffeur/handyman

, not unlike the way aging boxing legends like Joe Louis used to stand near casino doors so patrons could shake the hand of a champion.

At the Ranch, Bobbitt introduced himself to men waiting for prostitutes and sometimes indulged their request to have him drop his pants for a look. Hof didn’t keep him on for long, later calling him a “stupid, low-life creep” and “boring oaf” who couldn’t keep his hands off of Hof’s female employees.

John Wayne Bobbitt arrives for a court appearance in 1994
J. David Ake, AFP/Getty Images

Bobbitt later found a brief home in a carnival, alongside a professional insect eater and a man with a split tongue. Here, too, Bobbitt seemed to fail in realizing his potential, refusing to be a target for a knife-thrower or learn the art of hammering nails into his nose.

He also appeared to have learned little from the consequences of his boorish behavior. In 1999, he was jailed for pushing a girlfriend into a wall. In 2005, he was arrested and charged with battery in relation to an incident involving his new wife, Joanna Ferrell, the third such allegation during their now-defunct marriage. (He was later acquitted.) The accusations cost him a gig facing off against Joey Buttafuoco on Fox’s Celebrity Boxing.

Currently, Bobbitt has settled in Niagara Falls and works as a limo driver and carpenter. Lorena has founded Lorena’s Red Wagon, an organization offering assistance to women victimized by domestic violence. Lorena’s actions in 1993 were largely unmatched until 2011, when a California woman named Catherine Kieu took a knife and severed her husband’s penis following an argument.

The man would not have an opportunity for a Bobbitt-esque reattachment and subsequent victory lap. Perhaps learning from Lorena’s mistake, Kieu didn't merely toss the severed flesh away. She pulverized the penis in their garbage disposal.


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