The 1990s in Numbers: 45 Interesting and Quirky Facts

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1Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore

In 1996, American actress Mary Tyler Moore offered a restaurant $1,000 to sell her their 65-year-old lobster so she could return it to the wild. Rush Limbaugh then offered $2,000 to eat the lobster. The restaurant denied both offers and kept the lobster as a mascot.

2. In 1999, a French Holocaust survivor named Tommy Chreene reduced Shell Oil's accident rate by 84% by making oil rig workers talk about their feelings.

3. In 1991, a french Volcanologist named Maurice Krafft was filmed saying “I am never afraid because I have seen so many eruptions in 23 years that even if I die tomorrow, I don't care.” He was killed during an eruption the very next day alongside his wife (Katia) on Mount Unzen in Japan.

4. In 1995, a convicted killer named Daniel Luther Heiss discovered that the key pictured on his prisoners' information handbook was the master key for the whole prison. Fellow inmate Shane Baker, a trained jeweler, replicated it and both escaped.

5. In 1996, Mike Tyson paid an aide $300,000 whose sole job was to dress in fatigues and shout ‘guerrilla warfare’ at press conferences.

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6Disabled activists

Disabled activists

In 1990, disabled activists got out of their wheelchairs and crawled up the steps of the Capitol, inconveniencing Senators to encourage a vote on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

7. In 1994, American actor David Hasselhoff tried to re-ignite his music career by staging a Pay Per View performance. The event, however, was eclipsed by the live coverage of OJ Simpson fleeing from police. Hasselhoff's event took a $1.5 million loss.

8. In 1998, a Georgia high school student named Mike Cameron was suspended from school after wearing a Pepsi t-shirt on Coke Day. Upon hearing the news, a Pepsi spokesperson said, "Without knowing all the details, it sounds like (he's) obviously a trendsetter with impeccable taste in clothes."

9. In 1990, the US Ambassador (Joseph Wilson) to Iraq was threatened with execution if he was harboring Americans. He responded with a press conference; where he wore a noose while declaring “If the choice is to allow American citizens to be taken a hostage or to be executed, I will bring my own f*cking rope.”

10. In 1995, the Church of Scientology imprisoned, dehydrated and starved a mentally ill woman named Lisa McPherson for 17 days until she died.

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In 1998, a group of hackers -- identified only by their "hacker names", including "Kingpin", "Mudge", and "Space Rogue" -- testified before a U.S. Senate committee. They described how they could take make the internet "unusable for the entire nation" with "just a few packets."

12. In 1994, the CEOs of the seven biggest tobacco firms testified before Congress that "nicotine was not addictive" despite the overwhelming scientific evidence. 

13. In 1995, American actor Chris Farley crashed a House Republican Meeting and did his impersonation of American politician Newt Gingrich.

14. In 1992, a team of game developers used a white puffball as a placeholder graphic while they designed their game’s protagonist. They grew fond of the puffball, and decided to keep him rather than replace him with a real character. He became the iconic character Kirby.

15. In 1991, a man found the first print of the Declaration of Independence inside the frame of a $4 painting he bought at a flea market. It was sold at an auction for $2.4 million.

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16St. Jude's Hospital

St. Jude's Hospital

In 1995, St. Jude's Hospital received an anonymous letter with a $1 million winning McDonald's Monopoly game piece. Although it was against the rules to transfer prizes, McDonald's honored it even after learning that the piece was sent by an individual involved in an embezzlement scheme.

17. In 1996, a small town named Spanish Fork in Utah mistakenly booked Rage Against the Machine at a venue for tractor and monster truck shows. The locals panicked and businesses boarded up thinking the band's followers would riot and vandalize everything.

18. In 1994, a cartoonist named Mike Diana received a criminal conviction for obscenity for artwork in USA. He wasn't allowed to draw comics even for personal use or just for his house.

19. In 1992, an Israeli cargo plane crashed in Amsterdam killing 43 people. Israel claimed it was carrying flowers and perfume. It took 6 years and a Dutch parliamentary inquiry before they admitted it was carrying DMMP, a key component for sarin nerve gas.

20. In 1995, an inmate named Robert Lee Brock tried to sue himself for $5 million because he violated his own civil rights by getting arrested. He then asked the state to pay because he had no income in jail.

21Alvin Straight

Alvin Straight

In 1994, a 74-year-old man named Alvin Straight unable to get a driver's license drove 240 miles on a 1966 John Deere lawnmower to visit his brother who recently had a stroke. At a top speed of 5 mph, the journey took him 6 weeks.

22. In 1992, dance/pop duo The KLF were invited to play at the BRIT awards. They unexpectedly performed with a grindcore metal band, fired machine gun blanks into the audience, announced they were leaving the music industry, dumped a dead sheep at the afterparty, and deleted their entire back catalog.

23. On December 10, 1997, Julia "Butterfly" Hill ascended 180 feet (55 m) up the redwood tree Luna to stave off Pacific Lumber Company loggers who were clear-cutting. Hill lived on two 6-by-6-foot (1.8 by 1.8 m) platforms for 738 days until a resolution was reached with the logging company.

24. In 1992, a banner appeared in the lobby of MIT at the end of the year that read "GAME OVER INSERT 94260 QUARTERS TO CONTINUE" as the tuition at the time was $23,565.

25. In 1995, New Mexico state senator Duncan Scott introduced an amendment that psychologists were required to wear a wizard's hat when they testify in court.

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