Clashing Clauses: Unveiling 50 Intriguing Contract Stories

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26 Keaton’s Playoff Contract Clause

Keaton's Playoff Contract Clause

Michael Keaton, a longtime Pittsburgh resident and fan of its sports teams, negotiated a break in his Batman movie contract in case the Pirates made the playoffs that year. “They thought I was kidding,” he said. “I wasn’t.”


27. The Grandfather Clause emerged after the American Civil War, when Southern states implemented literacy tests to prevent former black slaves from voting. When whites also failed these tests, an exception was made for anyone whose grandfather was eligible to vote, as most whites had eligible grandfathers while few blacks did.


28. Sarah Jessica Parker had a no-nudity contract clause while working on “Sex and the City.” She was the only one of the four leading actresses not to do nude scenes.


29. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts “can’t stand snakes and is scared to death of the damn things,” yet he carried around a 100-pound python and later a king cobra because “there were enough zeros on [his] contract to make him forget about his fear [of snakes].”


30. After World War 2, Japanese insurance companies began including one-year exemption clauses in their policies. People who signed up had to wait one year before taking their own lives to receive the insurance money. Consequently, the suicide rate spiked on the thirteenth month of the contract.


31 Frawley’s Yankees World Series Clause

Frawley's Yankees World Series Clause

Fred Mertz does not appear in two episodes of “I Love Lucy” due to actor William Frawley’s contract, which stipulated that he did not have to work if the NY Yankees were playing in the World Series.


32. Elon Musk explicitly wrote into SpaceX’s contract with Orbital Outfitters that the company’s new spacesuits must look “badass.”


33. Lobster used to be so plentiful in Massachusetts that servants had a clause in their contracts demanding not to be fed it more than three times a week.


34. In 2010, as an April Fool’s joke, UK game retailer GameStation inserted an ‘Immortal Soul Clause’ into their EULA, stating that customers agreed to transfer their souls to the company. Over 7,000 users neglected to uncheck the box.


35. American lumber baron Wellington R. Burt (1831-1919) did not leave his $100,000,000 estate to his children. His will included a “spite clause,” which denied any inheritance until 21 years after the death of his last surviving grandchild. The money sat in a trust for 92 years until 12 descendants finally shared $110 million in 2011.


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36 Treaty of Tripoli Religion Clause

Treaty of Tripoli Religion Clause

The Treaty of Tripoli (ratified in 1797) included a clause about US religion, stating that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”


37. The original constitution of Oregon had a “whites-only” clause. All slaves were freed, and then all black people were ordered to leave the state.


38. Top-billed “Fast & Furious” franchise actors attempted to enact contract demands limiting the number of hits their characters took and refusing to definitively lose a fight. Vin Diesel went so far as to devise a tallying system for kicks, punches, and head-butts.


39. Conrad Veidt, a top 1920s German actor whose wife was Jewish, refused to renounce her and even claimed to be Jewish in solidarity. In Hollywood, his acting contract stated that if he played a Nazi, he must be a villain (as he was in Casablanca). He also gave his life savings to the war effort.


40. Adam Sandler’s reason for making a 4-picture contract with Netflix was because, “When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes for one reason and one reason only. Netflix rhymes with Wet Chicks.”


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41 Reagan’s Cubs to Movie Contract

Reagan's Cubs to Movie Contract

Ronald Reagan was an announcer for the Chicago Cubs in the 1930s until he landed a 7-year movie contract after taking a screen test while traveling with the Cubs in California in 1937.


42. In 1939, RKO Pictures offered a young Orson Welles what is generally regarded as the greatest contract offered to a filmmaker in history. The contract gave Welles full creative control to write, produce, direct, and perform in two films. His first film under the contract was “Citizen Kane.”


43. Werner Klemperer, who played the bumbling Col. Klink on Hogan’s Heroes, had a clause in his contract stipulating that Klink would always be portrayed as a fool and never be victorious over Hogan, or he would quit the show.


44. Herb Washington, the only “designated runner” in MLB history, had a clause in his contract requiring a mustache. Unable to grow a full mustache, he used an eyebrow pencil to simulate one.


45. A man named Steve Rothstein paid $250,000 for a lifetime unlimited first-class American Airlines ticket in 1987. He frequently hopped on planes to get a sandwich or attend a baseball game in other cities. He cost AA $21 million, and they ended his contract in 2008.


15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History


46 Bonilla’s Prolonged Baseball Payday

Bonilla's Prolonged Baseball Payday

Former baseball player Bobby Bonilla signed a contract in 2000 that pays him $1.9 million a year until 2035.


47. A contract between Disney and Robin Williams stated that the Genie from Aladdin could not be used in any sort of merchandising or tie-in products. After Disney broke the contract, Robin received a Picasso painting as an apology.


48. In 1999, a customer was gifted overgenerous contract terms due to a misplaced comma in a contract with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. The erroneous comma radically altered the inflation-adjustment formula, resulting in a $70 million loss to Lockheed Martin.


49. Because Mike Myers backed out of his “Dieter” contract and claimed he didn’t want to defraud moviegoers with a subpar script, Universal Studios sued him for $3.8 million. Instead of paying, he starred in The Cat in the Hat.


50. In 1930, Babe Ruth signed a contract for a record-breaking $80,000. When a reporter enquired as to his opinion of his annual salary being higher than President Hoover’s $75,000, he replied, “I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.”


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