Random Fact Sheet #230 – 35 Facts to Impress Your Colleagues

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1Tony Todd

Tony Todd

In the film Candyman, Tony Todd negotiated a fee of $1000 for each time he was stung during the bee scene. He walked away with $23000.

2. A man named Paul Brown invented the upside-down squeeze bottle in 1991. He then sold his product to everyone from shampoo companies to ketchup companies to NASA, and then four years later he sold his company for $13 million.

3. Skyscrapers shrink over time due to building materials compressing. This shrinkage is large enough that elevator guide rails in the highest skyscrapers need to be mounted to sliding clips, instead of attached solidly, so they can move when the building shrinks instead of warping.

4. “Accuracy” is the ability to hit a target, while “Precision” is the ability to achieve the same results over and over. You can be accurate without being precise and precise without being accurate.

5. When Japanese pole vaulters Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe tied for silver at the 1936 Olympics they refused a tie-breaker. The silver was arbitrarily awarded to Nishida. They had their medals cut in half and then welded together so they each had one “friendship medal” of half silver, half bronze.

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6Yellow Stop Signs

Yellow Stop Signs

Before 1954, stop signs used to be yellow with black lettering. This was because there was no red dye that would not fade over time. However, by 1954, sign makers began using a fade-resistant porcelain enamel, and it was then declared that stop signs should be red with white lettering.

7. Aldous Huxley’s descriptions of the effects of alcohol on fetuses in Brave New World predate the scientific recognition of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome by more than four decades.

8. Actor Clark Gable fought in World War 2 and almost got killed once. When word of this reached MGM, studio executives began to badger the Army Air Forces to reassign him to noncombat duty. Also, Hitler was a fan and offered a sizable reward to anyone who could capture and bring Gable to him unscathed.

9. A K-9 Cadet named Gavel was fired from the Police Academy for being too friendly after months of training. He then got a new job as Vice-Regal Dog for the Office of the Governor in Queensland where he greets visitors, attends official functions and sits in on Governor’s briefings.

10. In the Antebellum South, slaves dreaded January 1 a.k.a. “Heartbreak Day” because New Year’s Day was traditionally when debts were settled. This resulted in black families being torn apart as slave owners sold or rented slaves out long-term to pay back those they owed money to.

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11Millipede Train Crash

Millipede Train Crash

In 2013, there was a train crash in Australia caused by millipedes. There were so many of them on the tracks that a train pulling into a station ended up losing friction from squishing so many of them and crashed into another train.

12. Curly, from the Three Stooges, would often take in stray dogs while traveling for work and care for them until he found them a home. His love for dogs purportedly contributed to his financial difficulties throughout his lifetime, as he spent so much money caring for the dogs he encountered.

13. Essentially all penicillin produced after 1943 originated with a mold sample found on a cantaloupe in Peoria, Illinois. The moldy part was cut off and cultured and the lab technicians ate the rest of the fruit.

14. Most successful startup companies aren’t started by people in their 20s. The average age of founders who started a high-growth company is 45.

15. In August 1966, a few months after John Lennon claimed that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus,” a radio station in Texas, USA had a “Beatles bonfire” and burned thousands of Beatles records in front of a crowd. The next day, the station’s transmitter tower was struck by lightning.

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16Mr. Rogers’ Sweaters

Mr. Rogers’ Sweaters

Every sweater Mr. Rogers wore on his show had been hand-knitted by his mother, Nancy Rogers. She made him a new one every Christmas. She died in 1981. When they started wearing thin in the 1990s, replacements were found, but the source has been forgotten.

17. Victoria’s Secret was originally marketed to men to buy for their partners. Leslie Wexner bought it for $1 million and changed the marketing to women. To create the illusion of luxury, the company listed its headquarters on catalogs at a fake London address, with the real one in Columbus, Ohio.

18. Ted Bundy returned to a crime scene the morning after he had abducted and killed a student named Georgann Hawkins, in order to retrieve some evidence. There, in the midst of a major investigation, he took her earrings and one of her shoes from an adjoining parking lot and left, unobserved.

19. Von Steuben was a central figure in forming the US army. His career in Prussia was cut short due to being openly gay. He moved to America and joined the revolution with Benjamin Franklin’s aid who knew of but ignored his sexual tastes. He lived with 2 lovers who inherited his estate after his death.

20. In the movie ‘The Godfather’, the reason the word ‘mafia’ is not mentioned a single time is because mafia boss Joe Colombo, along with Frank Sinatra, threatened the film's production and would only back the filming if they could change the script to their liking.

21Eddie Deezen

Eddie Deezen

Eddie Deezen, who played the role of a nerd in a number of Hollywood movies in the 70s and 80s and whose role as Eugene in Grease is considered the archetype for the movie nerd, was turned down for a role in “Revenge of the Nerds” because he was “too geeky.”

22. In 2015 Forbes named Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire in America based on a $9 billion valuation of her company. Within a year, following revelations of potential fraud about its claims, Forbes revised her net worth to zero dollars.

23. Ravens can solve puzzles that require a flexible planning ability previously documented only in people and great apes. They learned to pass up a small food reward in favor of a tool they used to get a much better reward and barter with bottle caps, concepts a toddler would struggle to understand.

24. In 1920, a thief named Carl Panzram broke into the home of former president William H. Taft and stole his gun. Over the next few years, he became a serial killer and killed 10 people with Taft’s gun.

25. Henry Ford was the first to introduce a $5 minimum wage. The move made national news as it constituted double the industry norm and double the pay of most of Ford’s own employees. He also reduced the working day from 9 hours to 8, becoming one of the first companies in America to adopt the 40-hour work week.

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