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12 Fun Facts About Slap Shot

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The definitive hockey comedy, Slap Shot had a biting script, a cast filled with professional players, and more F-bombs than some contemporary movie critics could handle.

1. THE CHARLESTOWN CHIEFS WERE MODELED AFTER AN ACTUAL PRO HOCKEY CLUB.

In Slap Shot, fact and fiction are joined at the hip. The movie was inspired by a down-on-its-luck professional hockey club based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1950, the Johnstown Jets represented their community in three different minor leagues before a rough economy forced the team to fold in 1977—the year Slap Shot came out. For two seasons in the 1970s, the Jets roster included a winger named Ned Dowd. His experiences on that squad were of great interest to his sister, Nancy, who happened to be an aspiring screenwriter.

Fascinated by the pro hockey subculture, Nancy penned an irreverent script about a struggling minor league club in the fictional rust-belt city of Charlestown, Pennsylvania. Titled Slap Shot, the screenplay was picked up by Universal Studios, which put George Roy Hill—the Oscar-winning director behind Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting and other classic films—in the director’s chair. Johnstown was then selected as the movie’s primary shooting location, although the road game scenes were filmed in an assortment of other cities throughout Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

2. AL PACINO WANTED THE LEAD ROLE.

The main character in Slap Shot is Reggie Dunlop, the Chiefs’ grizzled player-manager. Although Al Pacino expressed a strong interest in the role, Hill chose Paul Newman instead. In Al Pacino, journalist Lawrence Grobel’s extended interview-turned-semi-autobiography of the actor, Pacino cited Slap Shot as a movie he still wishes he had been able to make. “But because George Roy Hill was doing it, I couldn’t do it,” Pacino explained. “I should have made that movie. That was my kind of character—the hockey player. Paul Newman is a great actor, it’s not a matter of that. I read that script and passed it on to George Roy Hill that I wanted to talk to him about it, and all he said was, ‘Can he ice skate?’ That’s all he was interested in, whether I could ice skate or not. That was a certain kind of comment. He didn’t want to talk about anything else. It was like he was saying, 'What the hell, it could work with anybody.’ The way in which he responded said to me he wasn’t interested.”

For the record: Newman was a gifted athlete and a confident skater. He ended up doing a lot of his own skating in Slap Shot, although professional hockey player Rod Bloomfield served as his on-ice stunt double in many sequences.

3. TAPE RECORDINGS OF AUTHENTIC LOCKER ROOM CONVERSATIONS PUNCHED UP THE SCRIPT.

While Ned was still playing for the Jets, Nancy gave him a tape recorder and asked him to document some of the colorful banter that his teammates tossed around; Dowd’s fellow players didn’t seem to mind. “He carried it everywhere and he just recorded all of this sh*t that went on,” said longtime Jet John Gofton. “He would send the tapes to Nancy, and Nancy in turn would write.” Gofton ended up getting a small role in Slap Shot: He played Nick Brophy, the Hyannisport Presidents’ intoxicated center.

4. ONE EX-HOCKEY PLAYER CLAIMS HE WASN’T CAST BECAUSE THE FILMMAKERS THOUGHT HE MIGHT BEAT UP PAUL NEWMAN.

Bill “Goldie” Goldthorpe was not a man to be trifled with. Over the span of his near-20-year hockey career, this Ontario-born enforcer earned a reputation as one of the sport's biggest bullies. Instantly recognizable by virtue of his curly blonde hair, he had a mile-wide mean streak. During his rookie season with the Syracuse Blazers, Goldthorpe got into an altercation with the team’s broadcast announcer—a young Bob Costas—and threatened his life with a hacksaw. He once jumped out of a penalty box to bite an opposing player. And during a different game, he accidentally knocked a man unconscious with a plastic water bottle. By the time he retired in 1984, antics like these had gotten Goldthorpe arrested in multiple cities.

Goldthorpe was also the primary inspiration for Slap Shot’s main villain: the dreaded Ogie Oglethorpe of the Syracuse Bulldogs. Onscreen, it was Ned Dowd who brought this character to life. Oglethorpe’s real-life counterpart could’ve also appeared in the film—if his temper hadn’t gotten the better of him. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Goldthorpe discussed the matter. “You want to know why I wasn’t in the movie?” he asked. “They thought I was too wild and I’d beat up Paul Newman.”

During pre-production, Newman and his brother, Art, would regularly attend Johnstown Jets games. Often, they’d invite a player to join the Slap Shot cast afterwards. One night, they took in a contest between the Jets and the Goldthorpe-led Binghamton Dusters. True to form, the scrapper picked a fight with a fan, earning him one charge of assault. Later, in the dressing room, Goldthorpe erupted. “I had a Coke bottle and I was so angry I threw it at [teammate] Paul Stewart because he wouldn’t shut up,” Goldthorpe told The Globe and Mail. “The bottle hit the wall, and at that moment Newman’s brother walked into the room and got Coke all over him. That was it. They thought I was an undesirable.”

5. TWO OF THE THREE HANSON BROTHERS WERE PLAYED BY REAL-LIFE SIBLINGS.

Slap Shot’s de facto mascots, the bespectacled Hanson brothers, were based on a trio of Johnstown Jets teammates—brothers Jack, Steve, and Jeff Carlson. All three were originally slated to co-star in Slap Shot together, but when Jack was unexpectedly called up by the Edmonton Oilers, he left the project. He was then replaced by yet another Jet: Defenseman Dave Hanson, who supplied the fictitious brothers with their now-famous last name.

6. THE “FINER POINTS OF HOCKEY” BIT CONTAINS A FEW INACCURACIES.

Slap Shot opens with an uncomfortable TV interview between Charlestown media personality Jim Carr (Andrew Duncan) and Denis Lemieux (Yvon Barrette), the Chiefs’ French-Canadian goalie. For the benefit of viewers who might not understand “the finer points of hockey,” Carr asks the athlete to demonstrate some penalty-worthy offenses. On the DVD commentary, Dave Hanson points out that Lemieux rather botched the job. As the scene unfolds, Barrette’s character clearly mistakes hooking for slashing, cross-checking for high-sticking, and butt-ending for spearing. “That’s what happens when you get a goaltender trying to [explain the rules],” Hanson quipped.

7. BEHIND-THE-SCENES PRANKS ABOUNDED.

Hanson and the Carlson brothers would lighten things up via all manner of practical jokes. “We pulled more pranks I think than they ever experienced on a movie set before,” Hanson boasted. “I think because we were three young, tough, carefree, crazy kind of guys they just let us run with things.” On one occasion, the trio surprised Newman by filling his portable sauna with popcorn. The rest of the cast pulled plenty of pranks as well and the group’s shenanigans involved everything from flaming shoelaces to hairdryers that spewed baby powder.

8. LOTS OF ACTORS SUSTAINED INJURIES DURING THE SHOOT.

Even pretending to play hockey can leave you all scratched up. In the above scene, Dunlop and an opposing goalie (portrayed by Christopher Murney) get into a brawl inside the Chiefs’ penalty box. While filming the skirmish, both men injured their groin muscles. Such accidents were commonplace, as Jonathon Jackson revealed in his authoritative book, The Making of Slap Shot: Behind the Scenes of the Greatest Hockey Movie Ever Made.

“Yvon Barrette took a puck off an unprotected part of his leg and wound up hospitalized briefly,” Jackson wrote. “Steve Mendillo [who plays Jim Ahern] suffered a serious cut on his cheek, opened up by a deflected puck during a scrimmage … the cut required 30 stitches to close and Mendillo, accompanied by Nancy Dowd, chose to drive to Pittsburgh to have it sewn up.”

9. SLAP SHOT MAY HAVE COST THE JETS A LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP.

As the movie entered its production period in 1976, the Jets were simultaneously making a North American Hockey League (NAHL) playoff push. All the while, the 11 Johnstown players who joined Slap Shot’s cast remained active members of the roster. So when a rival club eliminated the Jets from the NAHL semifinals, some observers blamed their defeat on the film. In fact, Johnstown’s executive director John Mitchell went so far as to accuse his men of prioritizing Hill’s movie over the team.

Allan Nicholls, who plays Johnny Upton in Slap Shot, believes there could be some merit to this argument. “I would think that having a major film being shot in your city … loosely based around your team, [and] being filmed with your players would cause a distraction,” Nicholls said in retrospect. “I think John Mitchell, being the proud owner that he was, would probably use that as an excuse.”

10. THE NATIONAL ANTHEM SCENE INVOLVED AN ACTOR WHO COULD BARELY SKATE.

One of Slap Shot’s most famous lines comes when a referee played by Larry Block starts lecturing Steve Hanson (a.k.a. Steve Carlson) during the singing of America’s national anthem. Irritated by the tirade, Hanson cuts the man off and screams, “I’m listening to the f*cking song!” According to DVD commentary with Dave Hanson and the Carlson brothers, this brief little moment was surprisingly hard to shoot because Block had difficulty skating over to Carlson—who was standing just a few feet behind him. “Every time he’d turn, he’d fall,” Hanson recalled. Finally, Hill decided to cut the scene in a manner that spared Block from actually having to skate on-camera.

11. SLAP SHOT HAD A DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON NEWMAN’S VOCABULARY.

The hockey flick’s near-constant use of four-letter words shocked many critics. “There is nothing in the history of movies to compare with Slap Shot for consistent low-level obscenity of expression,” wrote TIME’s Richard Schickel. When ABC created a TV-friendly audio track for the picture, a censor counted no less than 176 F-bombs in the original audio. During a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone, Newman admitted, “Ever since Slap Shot, I’ve been swearing more. You get a hangover from a character like [Reggie Dunlop], and you simply don’t get rid of it. I knew I had a problem when I turned to my daughter one day and said, ‘Please pass the f*ckng salt.’”

Despite this verbal side effect, the film quickly became one of Newman’s favorite projects. “I’m not usually happy with my work,” he once said, “but I loved that movie. It rates very high as something in which I took great personal satisfaction.”

12. A CURRENT NHL COACH WAS AN EXTRA IN THE MOVIE.

Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is a Slap Shot alum; he portrayed a member of the Presidents in the beloved film. Look for him in the above clip (he’s wearing number seven on his jersey). Boudreau spent a grand total of two weeks working on the film, earning $2600 in the process. “I probably spent it in about two days, but [that] was good money,” he said.

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10 Things to Remember About Memorial Day
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Memorial Day is much more than just a three-day weekend and a chance to get the year's first sunburn. Here's a handy 10-pack of facts to give the holiday some perspective.

1. IT STARTED WITH THE CIVIL WAR.

Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War, in which some 620,000 soldiers on both sides died. The loss of life and its effect on communities throughout the country led to spontaneous commemorations of the dead:

• In 1864, women from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, put flowers on the graves of their dead from the just-fought Battle of Gettysburg. The next year, a group of women decorated the graves of soldiers buried in a Vicksburg, Mississippi, cemetery.

• In April 1866, women from Columbus, Mississippi, laid flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. In the same month, in Carbondale, Illinois, 219 Civil War veterans marched through town in memory of the fallen to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Union hero Major General John A. Logan delivered the principal address. The ceremony gave Carbondale its claim to the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance.

• Waterloo, New York began holding an annual community service on May 5, 1866. Although many towns claimed the title, it was Waterloo that won congressional recognition as the "birthplace of Memorial Day."

2. MAJOR GENERAL JOHN A. LOGAN MADE IT OFFICIAL.

General Logan, the speaker at the Carbondale gathering, also was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. On May 5, 1868, he issued General Orders No. 11, which set aside May 30, 1868 "for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion."

The orders expressed hope that the observance would be "kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades."

3. IT WAS FIRST KNOWN AS DECORATION DAY.

The holiday was long known as Decoration Day for the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags. The name Memorial Day goes back to 1882, but the older name didn't disappear until after World War II. Federal law declared "Memorial Day" the official name in 1967.

4. THE HOLIDAY IS A FRANCHISE.

Calling Memorial Day a "national holiday" is a bit of a misnomer. While there are 10 federal holidays created by Congress—including Memorial Day—they apply only to Federal employees and the District of Columbia. Federal Memorial Day, established in 1888, allowed Civil War veterans, many of whom were drawing a government paycheck, to honor their fallen comrades without being docked a day's pay.

For the rest of us, our holidays were enacted state by state. New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day a legal holiday, in 1873. Most Northern states had followed suit by the 1890s. The states of the former Confederacy were unenthusiastic about a holiday memorializing those who, in General Logan's words, "united to suppress the late rebellion." The South didn't adopt the May 30 Memorial Day until after World War I, by which time its purpose had been broadened to include those who died in all the country's wars.

In 1971, the Monday Holiday Law shifted Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday of the month.

5. IT WAS JAMES GARFIELD'S FINEST HOUR—OR MAYBE HOUR-AND-A-HALF.

James Garfield
Edward Gooch, Getty Images

On May 30, 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery—which, until 1864, was Confederate General Robert E. Lee's plantation.

Some 5000 people attended on a spring day which, The New York Times reported, was "somewhat too warm for comfort." The principal speaker was James A. Garfield, a Civil War general, Republican congressman from Ohio and future president.

"I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion," Garfield began, and then continued to utter them. "If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of fifteen-thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung." It went on like that for pages and pages.

As the songs, speeches and sermons ended, the participants helped to decorate the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

6. NOT EVEN THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER CAN AVOID MEDIA SCRUTINY THESE DAYS.

"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." That is the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknowns, established at Arlington National Cemetery to inter the remains of the first Unknown Soldier, a World War I fighter, on November 11, 1921. Unknown soldiers from World War II and the Korean War subsequently were interred in the tomb on Memorial Day 1958.

An emotional President Ronald Reagan presided over the interment of six bones, the remains of an unidentified Vietnam War soldier, on November 28, 1984. Fourteen years later, those remains were disinterred, no longer unknown. Spurred by an investigation by CBS News, the defense department removed the remains from the Tomb of the Unknowns for DNA testing.

The once-unknown fighter was Air Force pilot Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie, whose jet crashed in South Vietnam in 1972. "The CBS investigation suggested that the military review board that had changed the designation on Lt. Blassie's remains to 'unknown' did so under pressure from veterans' groups to honor a casualty from the Vietnam War," The New York Times reported in 1998.

Lieutenant Blassie was reburied near his hometown of St. Louis. His crypt at Arlington remains permanently empty.

7. VIETNAM VETS GO WHOLE HOG.

Rolling Thunder members and motocyclists wait for the 'Blessing of the Bikes' to start at at the Washington National Cathedral, May 26, 2017 in Washington, DC
ANGELA WEISS, AFP/Getty Images

On Memorial Day weekend in 1988, 2500 motorcyclists rode into Washington, D.C. for the first Rolling Thunder rally to draw attention to Vietnam War soldiers still missing in action or prisoners of war. By 2002, the ride had swelled to 300,000 bikers, many of them veterans. There may have been a half-million participants in 2005, in what organizers bluntly call "a demonstration—not a parade."

A national veterans rights group, Rolling Thunder takes its name from the B-52 carpet-bombing runs during the war in Vietnam.

8. MEMORIAL DAY HAS ITS CUSTOMS.

General Orders No. 11 stated that "in this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed," but over time several customs and symbols became associated with the holiday.

• It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset.

• Taps, the 24-note bugle call, is played at all military funerals and memorial services. It originated in 1862 when Union General Dan Butterfield "grew tired of the 'lights out' call sounded at the end of each day," according to The Washington Post. Together with the brigade bugler, Butterfield made some changes to the tune.

Not long after, the melody was used at a burial for the first time when a battery commander ordered it played in lieu of the customary three rifle volleys over the grave. The battery was so close to enemy lines, and the commander was worried the shots would spark renewed fighting.

• The World War I poem "In Flanders Fields," by John McCrea, inspired the Memorial Day custom of wearing red artificial poppies. In 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker named Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans and for "keeping the faith with all who died." The sale of poppies has supported the work of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

9. THERE STILL IS A GRAY MEMORIAL DAY.

Several Southern states continue to set aside a day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day. It's on the fourth Monday in April in Alabama, April 26 in Georgia, June 3 in Louisiana and Tennessee, the last Monday in April in Mississippi, May 10 in North and South Carolina, January 19 in Texas, and the last Monday in May in Virginia.

10. EACH MEMORIAL DAY IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT.

Ricky Parada sits at the grave of his little brother Cpl. Nicolas D. Paradarodriguez who was killed in Afghanistan, at Section 60 on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery on May 28, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

No question that Memorial Day is a solemn event. Still, don't feel too guilty about doing something frivolous (like having barbecue) over the weekend. After all, you weren't the one who instituted the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911. That credit goes to Indianapolis businessman Carl Fisher. The winning driver that day was Ray Harroun, who averaged 74.6 mph and completed the race in 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Gravitas returned on May 30, 1922, when the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated. Supreme Court Chief Justice (and former president) William Howard Taft dedicated the monument before a crowd of 50,000 people, segregated by race, and which included a row of Union and Confederate veterans. Also attending was Lincoln's surviving son, Robert Todd Lincoln.

In 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. in an act of national unity. The time was chosen because 3 p.m. "is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday."

This post originally appeared in 2008.

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Henry Kissinger
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You probably know Henry Kissinger as a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. Let’s take a look at five things you might not know about the German-born political scientist and diplomat.

1. MAO ZEDONG TRIED TO GIVE HIM "10 MILLION" WOMEN.

In 1973, Henry Kissinger was engaged in a discussion of trade with Mao Zedong when the chairman abruptly changed the subject by saying, “We [China] don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands.”

Kissinger sidestepped this bizarre offer and changed the subject, but Mao later returned to the subject by jokingly asking, “Do you want our Chinese women? We can give you 10 million.”

This time Kissinger diplomatically replied, “It is such a novel proposition. We will have to study it.”

Other Chinese officials in the room pointed out that Mao’s attitudes toward women would cause quite a stir if the press got their hands on these quotes, so Mao apologized to his female interpreter and talked Kissinger into having the comments removed from the records of the meeting.

2. NO, HE'S NOT THE INSPIRATION FOR DR. STRANGELOVE.

Here’s a riddle that’s been bugging film buffs for decades: who was the basis for the title character in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove? For years many observers thought that Kissinger might have inspired Peter Sellers’s memorable performance. Blame it on the accent and the glasses. Even though Kissinger was still a relatively obscure Harvard professor when the film premiered in 1964, the rumor that Kubrick modeled the character on him just wouldn't die.

Kubrick did what he could to dispel this notion before his death, saying, “I think this is slightly unfair to Kissinger ... It was unintentional. Neither Peter nor I had ever seen Kissinger before the film was shot.” Most observers now think that Dr. Strangelove was actually a distorted version of Herman Kahn, an eccentric nuclear strategist for the RAND Corporation.

3. HE WAS QUITE THE LADIES MAN.

Even in his youth, Kissinger didn’t quite fit the bill of a matinee idol, but he has always been a hit with the ladies. A 1972 poll of Playboy bunnies selected Kissinger as the man with whom Hef’s ladies would most like to go out on a date. He also had a string of celebrity girlfriends in his younger days, including Diane Sawyer, Candice Bergen, Jill St. John, Shirley Maclaine, and Liv Ullman, who called Kissinger, “the most interesting man I have ever met.”

Kissinger’s swinging bachelor days are long gone, though. He was married to Ann Fleischer from 1949 to 1964 then married philanthropist Nancy Maginnes in 1974—a union that at one point seemed so improbable that just a year before they tied the knot, Maginnes had called speculation that she and Kissinger would marry “outrageous.”

4. PROTECTING HIM ISN'T ALWAYS EASY.

In 1985 former Secret Service agent Dennis McCarthy released the memoir Protecting the President—The Inside Story of a Secret Service Agent, in which he described being on Kissinger’s security detail as “a real pain.” McCarthy shared a funny anecdote about a 1977 trip to Acapulco with Kissinger and his wife. There were signs warning of sharks in the water, but Nancy wanted to go for a swim. Kissinger then told his security detail to get in the water to guard for sharks.

Personal protection is one thing, but McCarthy and his fellow agents drew the line at fighting off sharks. Instead, they made the reasonable point that if the Kissingers were afraid of sharks, they shouldn’t go swimming. Agent McCarthy did, however, offer a compromise; he told Kissinger, “If the sharks come up on this beach, my agents will fight them.”

5. THE STATE DEPARTMENT NIXED HIS OFFICIAL PORTRAIT.

Official portraits of government luminaries don’t usually become big news, but in 1978 the painting of Kissinger commissioned by the State Department for its gallery made headlines. Boston artist Gardner Cox had previously painted Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Dean Rusk, so he got the $12,000 commission to paint Kissinger. The finished product didn’t earn rave reviews, though.

Some viewers at the State Department thought the painting lacked Kissinger’s dynamism and made him look “somewhat a dwarf.” Others felt the portrait was “a rogues' gallery thing." The State Department offered to let Cox fix the painting, but he said he didn’t see anything that need changing. He lost the commission but got $700 for his expenses.

Kissinger took the whole episode in stride, though. When Houston artist J. Anthony Wills painted a replacement, Kissinger declared it to be, “an excellent likeness, swelled head and all,” and called the unveiling "one of my most fulfilling moments. Until they do Mount Rushmore."

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