Actors who appeared in The Conqueror (1956) and subsequently died of cancer:

  • John Wayne
  • Susan Hayward
  • Agnes Moorehead
  • Pedro Armendáriz
  • John Hoyt

Director Dick Powell died of cancer in 1963. The movie, in which Wayne played Genghis Khan, was shot in St. George, Utah, downwind of Nevada open-air nuclear testing, and producer Howard Hughes had 60 tons of dirt shipped back to Hollywood for use in reshoots.

By 1981, 91 of the 220 cast and crew had developed some form of cancer, and more than half of them were already dead.

“With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic,” said University of Utah biologist Robert Pendleton. “In a group this size you’d expect only 30-some cancers to develop. … I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up in a court of law.”

Naming Rights

Some paleontologists have a sense of humor. When Jenny Clack of the University of Cambridge discovered a fossil amphibian in the bed of an ancient swamp, she named it Eucritta melanolimnetes.

That’s Greek for “the creature from the black lagoon.”



Lyrics to “Coon! Coon! Coon!”, billed as “The Most Successful Song Hit of 1901”:

Although it’s not my color,
I’m feeling mighty blue;
I’ve got a lot of trouble,
I’ll tell it all to you:
I’m cert’nly clean disgusted
With life, and that’s a fact
Because my hair is wooly
And because my color’s black.
My gal, she took a notion
Against the colored race.
She said if I would win her
I’d have to change my face;
She said if she should wed me,
That she’d regret it soon,
And now I’m shook, yes, good and hard,
Because I am a coon.

Coon! Coon! Coon!
I wish my color would fade.
Coon! Coon! Coon!
I’d like a different shade.
Coon! Coon! Coon!
Morning, night and noon.
I wish I was a white man
‘Stead of a Coon! Coon! Coon!

I had my face enameled,
I had my hair made straight.
I dressed up like a white man,
And cert’nly did look great.
Then started out to see her,
Just shortly after dark,
But on the way to meet my babe
I had to cross a park;
Just as I was a-thinking
I had things fixed up right,
I passed a tree where two doves
Sat making love at night;
They stopped and looked me over,
I saw my finish soon.
When both those birds said good and loud,

Serenade in Blue


Bandleader Glenn Miller vanished over the English Channel in 1944 while flying from England to France to play for soldiers who had recently liberated Paris. His disappearance has never been explained, but here’s one possibility: In foggy conditions, Miller’s plane may have been bombed out of the air by the Canadian Air Force, which was disposing of unused bombs after an aborted attack on German positions.

“There is no rest, there must be no rest for a fellow when he is successful,” Miller once said. “He has got to keep right on going.”

The “Censored Eleven”


Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons withheld from syndication because of racist depictions:

  • Hittin’ the Trail to Hallelujah Land (1931, directed by Rudolph Ising)
  • Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (1936, directed by Friz Freleng)
  • Clean Pastures (1937, directed by Freleng)
  • Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (1937, directed by Tex Avery)
  • Jungle Jitters (1938, directed by Freleng)
  • The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938, directed by Avery)
  • All This and Rabbit Stew (1941, directed by Avery)
  • Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943, directed by Robert Clampett)
  • Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943, directed by Clampett)
  • Angel Puss (1944, directed by Chuck Jones)
  • Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (1944, directed by Freleng)

None of these has been broadcast since 1968.

Stature in Hollywood

Tall actors:

  • Raymond Burr, 6 feet 5 inches
  • Tim Robbins, 6 feet 5 inches
  • Vince Vaughn, 6 feet 5 inches
  • John Cleese, 6 feet 4-3/4 inches
  • Jeff Goldblum, 6 feet 4-1/2 inches
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, 6 feet 4-1/2 inches
  • Steven Seagal, 6 feet 4-1/2 inches
  • John Wayne, 6 feet 4-1/2 inches
  • David Hasselhoff, 6 feet 4 inches
  • Tom Selleck, 6 feet 4 inches
  • Donald Sutherland, 6 feet 4 inches
  • Will Ferrell, 6 feet 3-1/2 inches
  • James Stewart, 6 feet 3-1/2 inches
  • Gary Cooper, 6 feet 3 inches
  • Brendan Fraser, 6 feet 3 inches
  • Samuel L. Jackson, 6 feet 3 inches
  • Gregory Peck, 6 feet 3 inches


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“When the lusty and fyne man should holde a young damosel, or a woman by the hand, and keeping his measures he shal remoue himselfe, whirle about, & shake his legges alofte (which the daunsers call crosse capring) for pleasure, doth not she in the meane while make a good threede, playing at the Moris on her behalfe: but I pray you: what can ther by there of God, of his worde, or of honestye in such folishnes: I holde my tounge, that is, I speake nothing of their wordes, amorous deuises, or deuises of loue, wanton communications or speeches or markes only knowen to the Ladye, or Gentlewoman. It is true, that a man will say to me, that he must reioyce and be mery, which thing also I graunt, but yet not with a worldly, dissolute, and leuse ioy.”

A Treatise of Daunses, Wherin It Is Shewed, That They Are As It Were Accessories and Dependants (or Thynges Annexed) to Whoredome, 1581