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12 Surprising Razzie Award Winners

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Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images

Every year since 1981, the Golden Raspberry Awards, a.k.a. the Razzies, have taken place the day before the Academy Awards to celebrate the worst in cinema. Ironically, on several occasions actors have won both a Razzie and an Oscar—sometimes in the same year (we’re looking at you, Sandra Bullock). Yet the Razzies never cease to amaze with their picks. Here are 12 surprising winners.

1. LEONARDO DICAPRIO

Leonardo DiCaprio's first film after the juggernaut Titanic was the 1998 swashbuckling remake of The Man in the Iron Mask. He played twins King Louis XIV and Philippe, and apparently neither one of them gave a very impressive performance. In 1999—five years after he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape—DiCaprio defeated Spice World to win for Worst Screen Couple at the Razzies, which means he won twice. 

2. DONALD TRUMP

In 1991, more than a quarter-century before he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump won a Worst Supporting Actor Razzie for playing himself in Ghosts Can't Do It. The movie’s IMDb description reads: “Elderly Scott kills himself after a heart attack wrecks his body, but then comes back as a ghost and convinces his loving young hot wife Kate to pick and kill a young man in order for Scott to possess his body and be with her again.” Anthony Quinn plays Scott, and Bo Derek plays Kate (Leo Damian played the young man, not Trump). Trump won the award at the 11th annual ceremony, held on March 24, 1991. If it’s any consolation, John Derek won Worst Director for the movie, Bo Derek won Worst Actress, and the movie tied with Andrew Dice Clay’s The Adventures of Ford Fairlane for Worst Picture. In his category, Trump edged out Gilbert Gottfried (who was nominated for three movies), Burt Young, Wayne Newton, and his own co-star, Leo Damian.

3. EDDIE REDMAYNE

Rob Kim/Getty Images

Eddie Redmayne’s 2016 Razzie win is yet another example of an Oscar winner alternating the high with the low, because the previous year he won a Best Actor Oscar for The Theory of Everything (and was nominated in the same category again last year, for The Danish Girl). Redmayne beat out Chevy Chase, Josh Gad, Kevin James, and Jason Lee to take home the Worst Supporting Actor award for Jupiter Ascending, which received additional nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Channing Tatum), Worst Actress (Mila Kunis), and Worst Director and Screenplay (the Wachowskis)—though Redmayne was the film’s single award winner.

4. AND 5. GEORGE W. BUSH AND DONALD RUMSFELD

Michael Moore’s controversial 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 treated both former president George W. Bush and his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, as villains. In 2005, for the first time ever, the Razzies nominated a movie that was both critically-acclaimed and a financial success (it grossed $222 million worldwide). Bush beat out Ben Stiller, Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, and Vin Diesel—actual actors—for Worst Actor, while Rumsfeld was named Worst Supporting Actor over perennial favorite Val Kilmer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Voight, and Lambert Wilson. Bush also won for Worst Screen Couple: “George W. Bush and either Condoleezza Rice or his Pet Goat,” the book Bush read to Florida schoolchildren the morning of the 9/11 attacks. Fahrenheit 9/11 won a total of four Razzies, including one for Britney Spears, who made a tiny cameo in the film (as herself).

6. MARLON BRANDO

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Over the course of his more than 50-year career, Marlon Brando earned eight Oscar nominations and won twice. But that didn’t prevent him from starring in a few stinkers. Brando received his first Razzie nod at the very first Razzie Awards, in 1981, when he was nominated for Worst Supporting Actor for The Formula. He was nominated in the same category again in 1993, for Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, and then again in 1997, when he won for playing Dr. Moreau in the critically panned The Island of Dr. Moreau. He beat out co-star Val Kilmer, Burt Reynolds, Steven Seagal, and Quentin Tarantino to win the not-so-coveted award.

7. NEIL DIAMOND

Neil Diamond segued into film acting when he starred in the 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer. The movie grossed a middling $27 million, but the Diamond-penned and performed soundtrack sold 5 million copies. The odd thing is, in the same year that Diamond won a Worst Actor Razzie for The Jazz Singer, he was nominated for a Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy Golden Globe for the same role.

8. SIR LAURENCE OLIVIER

John Downing/Daily Express/Getty Images

Long considered one of the world's greatest actors, Sir Laurence Olivier fell from grace in 1981 when he, like his co-star Neil Diamond, won a Razzie for The Jazz Singer—in Olivier's case, it was a Worst Supporting Actor award, which he ended up sharing with John Adames from Gloria (so at least he wasn’t alone in his shame). It’s a head-scratcher how the Shakespearean actor—who won three Oscars, three Golden Globes, and five Emmys—ended up with not one, but two Razzies (he won a Worst Actor award in 1983 for Inchon, besting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of Conan the Barbarian). But the Razzies weren’t the end of Olivier's lauded career: In 1984 he won an Emmy for King Lear.  

9. RONALD MCDONALD

In 1989, McDonald's iconic mascot, Ronald McDonald, won a Worst New Star award—beating out then-newcomer Jean-Claude Van Damme—for playing himself in Mac and Me. The movie, about a wheelchair-using young boy and his alien friend, was also nominated for Worst Director, Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay. Today, Mac and Me is probably best-known for finding its way into movie clips whenever Paul Rudd appears on Conan.  

10. SYLVESTER STALLONE

Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Sylvester Stallone is a three-time Oscar nominee, and a Razzie veteran. He won his first Golden Raspberry in 1985, for Worst Actor in Rhinestone. He has been nominated for dozens more Razzies since then, and won 10 of them, including a Worst Actor of the Century in 2000 and the Razzie Redeemer award in 2016, which is about as nice as the Razzies get, as it was for his move “From All-Time Razzie Champ to Award Contender for Creed” because of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod he received last year for Creed.

11. AND 12. ERIC ROTH AND BRIAN HELGELAND

Oscar-winning screenwriters Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) and Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) won a Razzie in 1998 for adapting the book The Postman into a terrible Kevin Costner movie. Their script, according to the Razzies, was worse than the screenplays for Anaconda, Batman & Robin, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Speed 2: Cruise Control. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Roth and Helgeland weren't the only members of The Postman team to earn some attention from the Razzies; the film also won for Worst Picture (Costner), Worst Actor (again, Costner), Worst Director (again, Costner), and Worst Song (not Costner). The day after the Razzies, Helgeland and writer/director Curtis Hanson won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for L.A. Confidential. Roth, who had won an Oscar in 1995 for writing Forrest Gump, shook off his Golden Raspberry win and went on to win three more Oscars (and counting).

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5 Killer Pieces of Rock History Up for Auction Now (Including Prince’s Guitar)
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Karrah Kobus/NPG Records via Getty Images

If you’ve ever wanted to own a piece of rock history, now is the time. A whole host of cool music memorabilia from the 20th century is going up for sale through Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles as part of its “Icons and Idols” sale. If you’ve got the dough, you can nab everything from leather chairs from Graceland to a shirt worn by Jimi Hendrix to never-before-available prints that Joni Mitchell signed and gave to her friends. Here are five highlights from the auction:

1. ELVIS’S NUNCHUCKS

Elvis’s nunchucks
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

Elvis’s karate skills sometimes get a bad rap, but the King earned his first black belt in 1960, and went on to become a seventh-degree black belt before opening his own studio in 1974. You can cherish a piece of his martial arts legacy in the form of his nunchaku. One was broken during his training, but the other is still in ready-to-use shape. (But please don’t use it.) It seems Elvis wasn’t super convinced of his own karate skills, though, because he also supposedly carried a police baton (which you can also buy) for his personal protection.

2. PRINCE’S GUITAR

A blue guitar used by Prince
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

Prince’s blue Cloud guitar, estimated to be worth between $60,000 and $80,000, appeared on stage with him in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The custom guitar was made just for Prince by Cloud’s luthier (as in, guitar maker) Andy Beech. The artist first sold it at a 1994 auction to benefit relief efforts for the L.A. area’s devastating Northridge earthquake.

3. KURT COBAIN’S CHEERLEADER OUTFIT

Kurt Cobain wearing a cheerleader outfit in the pages of Rolling Stone
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

The Nirvana frontman wore the bright-yellow cheerleader’s uniform from his alma mater, J.M. Weatherwax High School in Aberdeen, Washington, during a photo shoot for a January 1994 issue of Rolling Stone, released just a few months before his death.

4. MICHAEL JACKSON’S WHITE GLOVE

A white glove covered in rhinestones
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

A young Michael Jackson wore this bejeweled right-hand glove on his 1981 Triumph Tour, one of the first of many single gloves he would don over the course of his career. Unlike later incarnations, this one isn’t a custom-made glove with hand-sewn crystals, but a regular glove topped with a layer of rhinestones cut into the shape of the glove and sewn on top.

The auction house is also selling a pair of jeans the star wore to his 2003 birthday party, as well as other clothes he wore for music videos and performances.

5. WOOD FROM ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS

A piece of wood in a frame under a picture of The Beatles
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

You can’t walk the halls of Abbey Road Studios, but you can pretend. First sold in 1986, the piece of wood in this frame reportedly came from Studio Two, a recording space that hosted not only The Beatles (pictured), but Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, and others.

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5 Dubious Historical Antidotes for Poison (and What Actually Works)
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An artificial bezoar stone from Goa, India
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

When it comes to their health, humans will believe just about anything. In this extract from the new book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, authors Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen discuss some of the more questionable ways people once tried to protect themselves from poison—whether or not the methods actually worked.

Poison is everywhere. Naturally or unnaturally, it can be in the soil (arsenic), in the air (carbon monoxide), in your drinks (lead), and in your food (cyanide). With so much danger around, it’s no wonder humans have obsessed over finding a universal antidote—the one thing that could save us from all toxins. Imagine you’re a medieval prince about to inherit the throne. Chances are, there are a lot of power-hungry wannabes waiting in the wings. A little arsenic or hemlock might be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Just in case, best have an antidote on standby.

For millennia, a certain amount of magical thinking was employed when arming oneself against poison because science was inconveniently slow to catch up. So grab your handy unicorn horn and a bezoar, and let’s take a look.

1. BEZOARS

Bezoars have been used for centuries as antidotes to poisons. A bezoar is solid mass of undigested food, plant fibers, or hair found in the digestive tracts of animals, including deer, porcupines, fish, and, yes, humans. Anyone with a cat is familiar with the less-cool feline version: hairballs.

Bezoars and other stone-like items created by animals often had a good story behind them. Legends told of deer that would eat poisonous snakes and become immune or cry tears that solidified into poison-curing stones. First-century Arabic author al-Birumi claimed bezoars could protect against one poison called “the snot of Satan,” which we hope never ever to encounter. By the 12th century, when Europe became plagued with, uh, plagues, the bezoar crept into pharmacopeias as panaceas and alexipharmics (poison antidotes).

Bezoars were a seductive notion for the rich and royal, who were at risk of assassination. The stones were often enclosed in bejeweled gold for display or worn as amulets. Indian bezoars, in particular, were sought for life-threatening fevers, poisonous bites, bleeding, jaundice, and melancholy. Consumers were also known to scrape off a bit of bezoar and add it to their drinks for heart health and kidney stones. These tonics were sometimes adulterated with toxic mercury or antimony, which caused vomiting and diarrhea, making buyers think they were effective.

But were they? One team of researchers soaked bezoars in an arsenic-laced solution and found that the stones absorbed the arsenic or that the poison was neutralized. Hard to say if it worked well enough to cure a fatal dose. Ambroise Paré, one of the preeminent French physicians of the 16th century, was also a doubter. The king’s cook, who’d been stealing silver, was given the choice between hanging or being Paré’s lab rat. He chose the latter. After the cook consumed poison, Paré looked on as a bezoar was stuffed down his throat. Six hours later, he died wracked with pain. Perhaps he chose ... poorly?

2. MITHRIDATES

This antidote was named after Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus and Armenia Minor. Born in 134 BCE, he pretty much invented the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” by consuming poisons daily to prevent his own assassination. His royal home was stocked with stingray spines, toxic mushrooms, scorpions, mineral poisons, and a poisonous plant–filled garden. He was so unpoisonable that after his son took over his kingdom and he faced execution, he couldn’t even commit suicide by poison! He begged a guard to stab him to death. (It worked.)

Though the king’s actual recipe for the antidote is nowhere to be found, versions began to circulate after his death, and they became synonymous with the king himself. Compounds with lengthy and expensive ingredient lists prevailed, including iris, cardamom, anise, frankincense, myrrh, ginger, and saffron. In the first century, Pliny the Elder snarkily remarked, “The Mithridatic antidote is composed of fifty-four ingredients ... Which of the gods, in the name of Truth, fixed these absurd proportions? ... It is plainly a showy parade of the art, and a colossal boast of science.”

Showy or not, people would take the extensive mix of herbs, pound them together with honey, and eat a nut-sized portion to cure themselves. At least it endowed them with expensive-smelling breath.

3. HORNS

An apothecary shop sign in the shape of a unicorn
An ivory pharmacy sign in the shape of a unicorn's head
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

Unicorn horns have been considered a part of antidote legend since the mythical beast galloped into literature around 300 BCE. For centuries afterward, real earthly beasts would sacrifice their lives and their horns to slake our thirst for the miraculous, nonexistent animal, including rhinoceroses, narwhals, and oryx. Even fossilized ammonites were used. It was believed that drinking vessels made of such horns might neutralize poisons, and wounds could be cured by holding them close by. In the 16th century, Mary, Queen of Scots reportedly used a unicorn horn to protect her from poisoning. Too bad it didn’t prevent her beheading.

4. PEARLS

Pearls have long been thought to be powerful antidotes. A beautiful, rare gem created by the homely oyster, a pearl is born out of annoyance (the mollusk secretes iridescent nacre to cover an irritant, like a parasite or grain of sand). Pretty as they are, they’re about as useful as the chalky antacid tablets on your bedside table; both are chiefly made of calcium carbonate. Good for a stomachache after some spicy food, but not exactly miraculous.

Pearl powder has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases, and Ayurvedic physicians used it as an antidote in the Middle Ages. It was also reported to make people immortal. An old Taoist recipe recommended taking a long pearl and soaking it in malt, “serpent’s gall,” honeycomb, and pumice stone. When softened, it would be pulled like taffy and cut into bite-sized pieces to eat, and voilà! You would suddenly no longer need food to stay alive. Cleopatra famously drank down a large and costly pearl dissolved in wine vinegar, though in that case she wasn’t avoiding poison. She didn’t want to lose a bet with Antony—which might have fatally injured her pride.

5. THERIAC

Albarello vase for theriac, Italy, 1641
A vase for theriac, Italy, 1641
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

Theriac was an herbal concoction created in the first century by Emperor Nero’s physician, Andromachus, who was reported to have Mithridates’s secret notes. It was a mashed formula of about 70 ingredients, including cinnamon, opium, rose, iris, lavender, and acacia in a honey base. In the 12th century, theriac made in Venice was branded as particularly special, and Venetian treacle (derived from a Middle English translation of theriac) became a hot commodity. Its public, dramatic production often attracted curious crowds.

By the 18th century, cheaper golden syrup was substituted for honey. As treacle began to lose its luster as a treatment, its definition as an herbal remedy disappeared from common vernacular. But the sweet syrup remained. Which is why when we think of treacle, we think of treacle tarts, not a fancy means of saving ourselves from a deathly poisoning.

BONUS: WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS

Thankfully, science has brought us a wide range of antidotes for many items we shouldn’t be exposed to in dangerous quantities, if at all. N-acetylcysteine, fondly referred to as NAC by doctors, saves us from acetaminophen overdoses. Ethanol can treat antifreeze poisoning. Atropine, ironically one of the main components of plants in the toxic nightshade family (such as mandrake), can treat poisoning from some dangerous fertilizers and chemical nerve agents used as weapons. For years, poisonings were treated with emetics, though it turns out that plain old carbon—in the form of activated charcoal—can adsorb poisons (the poisons stick to the surface of the charcoal) in the digestive system before they’re dissolved and digested by the body.

As long as the natural world and its humans keep making things to kill us off, we’ll keep developing methods to not die untimely deaths.

We’ll just leave the fancy hairballs off the list.

The cover of the book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
Workman Publishing

Excerpt from Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen/Workman Publishing. Used with permission.

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