21 Facts I Learned This Week That Are So Dang Interesting, I'll Never Be Able To Forget Them
Diana Ross, Bob Marley, Queen, Snoop Dogg, ABBA, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, the Beach Boys, the Who, Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., and the Ramones are some of the most notable artists and groups who, despite their huge impacts on the music world, have never won a Grammy.
1.While I had always known Cleopatra was wealthy, I didn't realize she was this wealthy! Cleopatra controlled many of Egypt's key industries in her role as pharaoh and was estimated to have a net worth of $95.8 billion in today's money. Although Cleopatra was known for her wealth, she reportedly borrowed heavily from foreign governments to fund wars. And she wasn't the only woman to have extreme wealth! Russia's Catherine the Great, Egypt's Hatshepsut, and China's Empress Wu were also among history's richest women.
2.Titanic fans might recall the scene in which an elderly first class couple embraces on their bed as water rushes into their stateroom. That couple was based on Macy's department store co-owner and former Congressman Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida. According to the couple's great-grandson, Paul Kurzman, they decided to die together on the ship instead of risking being separated. "My great-grandmother Ida stepped into the lifeboat expecting that her husband would follow," Kurzman told Today. "When he didn’t follow, she was very concerned and the ship’s officer in charge of lowering that particular lifeboat said, 'Well, Mr. Straus, you’re an elderly man…and we all know who you are....Of course, you can enter the lifeboat with your wife.'"
"My great-grandfather said, 'No. Until I see that every woman and child on board this ship is in a lifeboat, I will not enter into a lifeboat myself,'" Kurzman recalled. After learning that Isidor wasn't getting on the lifeboat, Ida reportedly stepped out and headed back to her stateroom with her husband. While the shot featuring the couple's embrace made it into the film's final cut, they also appeared in one of the movie's deleted scenes, during which Ida tells Isidor, "Where you go, I go." Kurzman also shared that his family was able to recover a locket from Isidor's pocket after the ship sank, and revealed that Ida allegedly gave her fur coat to her maid, Ellen Bird, to keep her warm as she got on a lifeboat to escape the sinking ship. Bird survived and reportedly later tried to return the coat to the family, who insisted that she keep it.
3.Ever wondered why the Domino's Pizza logo has three dots? The dots represent the chain's first three locations. Co-founder Tom Monaghan allegedly wanted to add a new dot for every single location they opened, which obviously never came to fruition. So, how many dots would the logo have now? In 2021, there were 18,848 Domino's Pizza locations worldwide.
4.In the wake of Tom Brady's recent news that he's retiring from the NFL (he claims it's for good this time!), I'm even more intrigued by 80 for Brady. The movie is inspired by a group of real-life eighty-somethings who band together over their love for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and go on an adventure to see Brady play in Super Bowl LI. Elaine St. Martin and Betty Pensavalle gathered three of their close friends (and fellow football fanatics), Anita, Pat, and Claire, to watch the Patriots game at each others' houses every Sunday. "One Sunday here, one Sunday at my house, and it would go right to the five of us," St. Martin told CBS News Sunday Morning.
Although the women were good friends before, they said their friendships became even closer after they all became widows, with CBS News reporting that "game days became the link that kept their friendship from fumbling." While the group originally united over their love of the Patriots, they became major Brady fans after he took over for injured Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe in 2001. "I loved watching Tom from the beginning," St. Martin told Time. "Even when the Patriots were behind, we never lost hope. We knew he could pull out a miracle, as he did in many games, especially the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons." In 2006, the club earned the nickname the "Over 80 for Brady Club" after Pensavalle's grandson designed them T-shirts with the moniker.
So, how did the story make it to the big screen? Pensavalle said her grandson, talent agent Max Gross, thought it would make for a cute movie, and decided to pitch it. In 2020, Tom Brady sent Pensavalle a personalized video message, telling her that he wanted to turn the group's story into a film. In addition to producing the movie, Brady makes a cameo alongside his fellow former Patriots Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman. Although the club never made it to a Super Bowl to see Brady and the Patriots in action as portrayed in the movie, the surviving members are still hopeful they'll get to meet the quarterback. "I hope we see him before we die!" St. Martin joked to CBS News.
5.All thoroughbred horses in the northern hemisphere have a January 1 birthday, while all thoroughbreds born in the southern hemisphere have an August 1 birthday. In colonial times, all thoroughbred birthdays were celebrated on May 1 in England to mark a return to horse racing after the winter. In 1833, members of the Jockey Club decided they wanted to create a new universal birthdate of January 1. By 1858, the new birthday was accepted all over England. Across the pond in the United States, horse owners in the north accepted this change, while southerners were hesitant to give up the May 1 birthday. After the Civil War ended, the south accepted the new birthdate structure.
6."I Will Always Love You" was famously first written and performed by Dolly Parton, only to gain a resurgence in popularity after Whitney Houston recorded her own spin on the love song for her movie The Bodyguard. Parton penned the song in 1974 as a goodbye to Porter Wagoner. Parton and Wagoner had a long history — Parton got her start on his show, where they often performed together as duet partners. After her song "Jolene" became a hit, Parton decided to leave Wagoner, and decided to write "I Will Always Love You" as a tribute to their relationship. She performed it as her final performance on his show. While the song is gorgeous, it obviously didn't soothe tensions between Parton and Wagoner: Several years later in 1979, he sued Parton for $3 million for breaching their contract.
Parton's version of "I Will Always Love You" ultimately went No. 1 on the charts twice, once in June 1974, and again in October 1982, making Parton the first artist to reach No. 1 twice with the same song. In 1992, Whitney Houston recorded her own version of the song as the centerpiece for The Bodyguard. Houston's version spent 14 weeks at No. 1, and remains the best-selling single by a female artist in history. After Houston died in 2012, the song once again re-entered the charts, making it the second song to ever reach the top 3 in two separate chart runs. Houston's version of the song made Parton an estimated $10 million in royalties, which she used to revitalize a Black neighborhood in Nashville to honor Houston.
7.When Audrey Jean Knauer, a woman from Kentucky, died in 1997, she shocked her family by leaving over $300,000 to actor Charles Bronson. Knauer had never actually met Bronson and was merely a huge fan of his work. "I bequeath to Charles Bronson (the talented character actor) and what he doesn’t want can pass thru to the Louisville Free Public Library," Knauer wrote. Knauer's sister challenged the will, and claimed that she was the rightful beneficiary of the money. Bronson reportedly settled the dispute out of court, and paid the family an undisclosed amount. As for the library? According to Empire, Bronson allegedly offered them $10,000 which they reportedly declined.
8.On December 4, 1875, former congressman and New York political boss William "Boss" Tweed escaped from prison and fled to Cuba. Tweed, a former bookkeeper and volunteer fireman, was elected alderman in New York City in 1851. Soon, he was elected to Congress, where he served "one lackluster term," before returning to New York politics. By 1870, Tweed had become incredibly influential in New York, and ran Tammany Hall, the organization that controlled Democratic nominations in New York. In 1873, Tweed was found guilty of embezzling millions from the government, and was sentenced to prison. It's estimated that Tweed and his partners stole between $30 million and $200 million from the city.
Tweed was arrested after a campaign run by influential people like George Jones, the publisher of the New York Times, Samuel J. Tilden, a reform leader, and Thomas Nast, who drew politically charged cartoons of Tweed, worked to expose his wrongdoing. In an attempt to get the accusations to go away, Tweed allegedly tried to bribe Jones and Nast. Tweed was sentenced to 12 years in prison, where he reportedly lived pretty lavishly and had a velvet sofa in his cell. Despite the 12-year sentence, Tweed was released from prison after a year, although he was rearrested soon after, and sent to debtor's prison.
During his second sentence, he was allowed to leave Ludlow Jail for supervised visits with his family. Although the visits were supervised, Tweed was able to escape during one of them. He fled to Cuba, then sailed on to Spain. He was eventually rearrested in Spain, and sent back to jail, where he remained for the rest of his life. Before his death in 1878, Tweed allegedly told authorities, "My imprisonment will have a moral effect." Tammany Hall lived on through the 1930s, when it was eventually taken down by a huge investigation led by then-governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt that exposed the level of corruption and ties to the mob in New York's government.
9.In 2006, David Austin, a rose breeder, sold the world's most expensive rose for a whopping $15.8 million. Austin spent 15 years and $5 million breeding the exclusive rose variety, which he called the Juliet. The rose made its debut at the Chelsea Flower Show, where it won 25 gold medals.
10.Seinfeld has gone down in TV history as being one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. When the show aired its finale in 1998, it made headlines for both the controversial plot line and for the sheer amount of people who tuned in. Frank Sinatra was rushed to the hospital during the episode, and reportedly made it there in record time because there was no traffic because so many people were inside watching the finale. In fact, Sinatra's daughter Nancy reportedly missed her chance to say goodbye to her father because she was home watching the episode.
Other networks even decided to honor the NBC sitcom. During the episode, TV Land aired a screen reading "We're TV fans, so... We're watching the last episode of Seinfeld." In the final shot of the four main characters together, they're in a jail cell discussing the buttons on George's shirt. This is a callback to the first scene from the pilot, during which they also talked about George's buttons. Filming for the final episode was intense: Only the script supervisor was given a full copy of the script, and had to ensure the actors and crew members would give their pages back at the end of every shoot so they could be shredded. Members of the live studio audience had to sign affidavits promising they wouldn't reveal any of the plot points for the series finale.
11.Wedding cakes originated in Ancient Rome, where the cake, which was closer to bread, was reportedly broken up and crumbled over the bride's head for luck and fertility. The newly wedded couple would then eat some of the crumbs, while guests would eat the remaining scraps. In Britain, this tradition evolved into throwing the cake at the bride to wish her luck with her fertility. By the medieval period, this tradition has disappeared, as cakes became less bread-like and more along the lines of the sweet treats that they are today.
12.In 1973, former president Jimmy Carter, who was governor of Georgia at the time, reported seeing a UFO in Leary, Georgia in 1969. Carter claimed that he was at an event at the Lions Club when he and several others spotted a luminous object that remained visible for about 10 minutes. "[We were] standing outside of a little restaurant, I believe, a high school lunchroom, and a kind of green light appeared in the western sky," Carter said. "This was right after sundown. It got brighter and brighter. And then, it eventually disappeared. It didn’t have any solid substance to it, it was just a very peculiar looking light. None of us could understand what it was."
Some people believed that Carter had actually spotted Venus, although he said he was certain it wasn't. Although some thought Carter was alluding to the UFO being an alien spacecraft, Carter insisted that it wasn't, citing his knowledge of physics from his time in the US Navy's nuclear submarine program. In 1976, during Carter's presidential campaign, he promised to convince the government to make all information about UFOs public. Despite his campaign promise, once elected president, Carter was unable to release the information because it allegedly posed a national security threat.
13.A new season of The Bachelor is upon us! During every episode, I find myself wondering what exactly the contestants do all day when they're not invited on the dates, as books, TV shows, and other media are largely prohibited while filming. According to one former contestant, the only book contestants were allowed to bring was the Bible. "Bible studies were held during my season," Tierra LiCausi revealed. "The girls would have weekly gatherings to study the Bible or discuss their beliefs [and their] religion (which was very interesting and unique to see)." In recent years, the rules have allegedly loosened up, and contestants are now reportedly allowed to bring other books.
14.Queen Elizabeth II survived multiple assassination attempts during her reign as queen. The first known attempt occurred in April 1970, when Elizabeth and Prince Philip were traveling through Australia by train. The train reportedly struck a log, but the conductor was able to slam on the brakes just in time. It was believed that the log had been purposely placed on the track in an attempt to send the train off the tracks and into a nearby embankment, as the tracks had been checked for debris about an hour before in anticipation for their train. The incident was kept secret for decades, until a retired detective spoke out about it in 2009.
The queen survived two more potential assassination attempts in 1981. Seventeen-year-old Marcus Sarjeant fired six blank shots at Elizabeth during the Trooping of the Color ceremony on June 13, 1981. She was riding a horse at the time, and reportedly remained incredibly calm. Sarjeant was sentenced to five years in prison under the Treason Act, which hadn't been used since 1966. Just four months later, the queen and Philip were visiting New Zealand when Christopher John Lewis, a 17-year-old hiding in a bathroom stall, attempted to shoot the couple as they got out of their car. Lewis missed, and allegedly later attempted to escape from an institution to assassinate Prince Charles.
Finally, in 1982, Michael Fagan reportedly scaled a drainpipe outside of Buckingham Palace and entered Elizabeth's bedroom. Before reaching her bedroom, Fagan allegedly smashed a glass ashtray, and was planning on using a shard of glass to harm himself in front of the queen. The Times reported that Fagan "claimed that he had not entered the palace with this intention but that it formed in his mind for the first time when he saw the ashtray." Fagan was able to reach the sleeping queen, who was able to stall him until her security could subdue Fagan. Fagan claimed that it was actually the second time in just a month that he had snuck into the queen's bedroom.
15.After the Grammys, I was curious to see what household names never won a single award at the prestigious ceremony, and I've gotta say, I was pretty dang surprised by these. Diana Ross, Bob Marley, Queen, Snoop Dogg (who is tied for the most nominations with zero wins), ABBA, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, the Beach Boys, the Who, Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., and the Ramones are some of the most notable artists and groups who, despite their huge impacts on the music world, have never won a Grammy. Several of these artists were later acknowledged with lifetime achievement awards by the Recording Academy.
16.Although The Great Gatsby is now arguably one of the most popular books in the world, it wasn't quite so successful when it debuted in 1925. F. Scott Fitzgerald had been used to literary acclaim, following the success of his previous bestsellers, This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned. Upon release, The Great Gatsby only sold about 20,000 copies, and was poorly reviewed. After the negative reception to what Fitzgerald believed was "the best American novel ever written," he struggled financially and ended up publishing just one last novel before his death in 1940.
Gatsby's legacy didn't look promising until a wartime effort in 1943 propelled the book back onto shelves. The Council of Books in Wartime, a group of book lovers who wanted to promote books that could boost morale during World War II, decided to send soldiers overseas books. This program came just as paperback production began to gain steam, and became incredibly popular with soldiers. "Some toughies in my company have admitted without shame that they were reading their first book since they were in grammar school," an Army official wrote in a letter. Soon, over 150,000 copies of Gatsby were printed and distributed, with an estimated one million soldiers reading the novel. By the 1960s, The Great Gatsby had become a staple in school curriculums, and Fitzgerald's legacy was restored.
17.While Walt Disney's cinematic achievements are evident, he also did us all a favor by inventing the modern public trash can. He reportedly was one of the people who decided the trash cans at Disneyland should have swinging lids in order to keep unpleasant smells at bay for park goers. The design also ensured that visitors wouldn't get an eyeful of disgusting trash by having to lift the lid. Now, Disney parks have a rule where visitors won't have to walk more than 30 steps before finding a trash can. Disney allegedly came up with this rule after personally walking through the park and determining that people would be willing to walk a maximum of 30 steps with a piece of trash in their hand before they would be enticed to throw it on the ground.
18.The first woman dubbed First Lady was actually not the wife of a US president, but his niece! Harriet Lane, the niece of James Buchanan, is believed to be the first woman referred to using the title of First Lady. Buchanan was a lifelong bachelor who took over care of Lane after she was orphaned when she was 11 years old. Lane began to run in "fashionable circles" after moving in with Buchanan, who was the Secretary of State at the time. In 1854, Lane moved to London with Buchanan, where he was minister to the Court of St. James. Queen Victoria gave her the rank of an ambassador's wife, which would continue on into Lane's time in the White House, where she became incredibly popular and proved to be skilled when it came to hosting events.
In 1860, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly described Lane as "The Lady of the White House, and by courtesy, the First Lady of the Land." By the 1870s, the term was widely used. Although most signs point to Lane being the first woman to be called First Lady, there is a bit of discrepancy in the matter. According to some historians, Andrew Jackson referred to Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison, as First Lady when delivering her eulogy in 1849. Others believe that the First Lady label was truly popularized in coverage of Lucy Webb Hayes, the wife of Rutherford B. Hayes.
19.In the 1960s, the Beatles attempted to obtain the film rights to The Lord of the Rings. The band reportedly wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct the movie, and planned on John Lennon playing Gollum, while Paul McCartney hoped to play Frodo. Their plans never came to fruition because J.R.R. Tolkien refused to give the band the rights to adapt his novel. Director Peter Jackson, who went on to direct the Lord of the Rings films, in addition to a documentary about the Beatles, allegedly knew about the band's plan from the get-go. "It was something John was driving, and J.R.R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage, but he didn't like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So, he killed it," Jackson said in 2002. "There probably would've been some good songs coming off the album."
20.Ohio boasts the highest number of NASA astronauts — 25 of the organization's past and present astronauts are from the state. Some attribute this phenomenon to the fact that Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut on the moon, and John Glenn, the first astronaut to orbit the Earth, were both from Ohio, while others think the high number of astronauts hailing from Ohio has something to do with the state being the birthplace of the Wright brothers.
21.And finally, Charity Adams Earley paved the way for Black women in the military by leading the first unit of Black women overseas during World War II. Earley grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, where she tested into high school early. After graduating at the top of her class, Earley received a scholarship to Wilberforce University in Ohio, which at the time was one of the most prestigious universities for Black students. Earley then became a teacher, and took graduate courses at Ohio State University during the summers.
In 1942, the US military developed the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, later known as the Women's Army Corps. After learning about the new group, Earley applied for a position. She traveled to Iowa for training as a member of the first officer candidate school. She remained at Fort Des Moines until 1944. During her time there, she became a major, making her the highest ranking female officer at the training center. She was then selected to lead the first unit of Black women in the WAC, who were sent overseas to organize and mail for US servicemen.
The unit started in Birmingham, England, where they sorted backlogged mail for three months before being moved to France, where they handled an estimated 65,000 pieces of mail a day. In December 1945, Earley was promoted to lieutenant colonel, the highest possible promotion for women in the WAC. The next year, Earley was discharged from active duty, and was given recognition by the National Council of Negro Women Inc. After leaving the military, Earley completed her graduate degree, worked for the Veterans Administration, and frequently gave speeches about her time in the military. Through the rest of her life, Earley was known for her community service. In 1982, she founded the Black Leadership Development Program, which helped Black people become community leaders.