I came across a story in a 1938 newspaper about how Adriana Caselotti got the job of being the voice of Snow White in Disney's 1937 movie:
Three years ago when Adriana Caselotti, above, was 18, she was a naughty little girl who listened in on the phone calls of her father, Guido Caselotti, Hollywood voice teacher. When the Walt Disney studio called one day asking him to find the right voice for Snow White, she piped "Me, me, me, how about me?" into the extension on which she had been eavesdropping. The studio liked her cheerful chirping, and she became the "voice" of the fairy story heroine. Now she hopes to become a movie actress.
Unfortunately for Caselotti, her dream of becoming a movie actress didn't turn out as she hoped. In fact, providing the voice for Snow White turned out to be the worst career move she could have possibly made as an aspiring actress — because Walt Disney, wanting to preserve the "illusion of Snow White," decided he couldn't have her voice be heard in any other context. So he prevented Caselotti from ever finding work as an actress again, except for minor appearances in The Wizard of Oz and It's a Wonderful Life.
As a consolation prize for having destroyed her career, the Disney company named her a "Disney Legend" in 1994.
In 1935, after a brief stint as a chorus girl at MGM, Walt Disney hired Caselotti as the voice of his heroine Snow White. She was paid a total of $970 for working on the film (worth approximately $16,160 as of 2011). She was under contract with Disney, and Disney prevented her from appearing in further film and other media, even for Disney, after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Jack Benny specifically mentioned that he had asked Disney for permission to use her on his radio show and was told, "I'm sorry, but that voice can't be used anywhere. I don't want to spoil the illusion of Snow White." The only other work Caselotti did following her premiere was an uncredited role in MGM's The Wizard of Oz (1939); she provided the voice of Juliet during the Tin Man's song, "If I Only Had a Heart", speaking the line, "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" In 1946, she had an uncredited role in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, singing in Martini's bar as James Stewart was praying.
Envy received generally negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 8% based on 117 reviews with an average rating of 3.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Jack Black and Ben Stiller fail to wring laughs from a script that's essentially one extended poop joke." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 31 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "D" on an A+ to F scale.
The film had been shot almost two years before its release, and was in danger of going straight-to-video in the US due to poor audience response during test screenings. It was only due to the success of 2003's School of Rock starring Jack Black that it finally got a theatrical release. Nevertheless, the film performed poorly in US theaters, so much so that it was released straight-to-video in several European countries and Australia.
The film was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Stiller), but lost to Fahrenheit 9/11 (George W. Bush). At the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, during a press conference for Shark Tale (2004), both Black and DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg publicly apologized for Envy.
I spent New Year's Day in Yuma, Arizona, where I had a chance to see a local oddity — the Swastika Bridge, which can be found out in the desert just north of the city.
According to local legend, the swastikas were carved into the bridge by German POWs held nearby during WWII. Another story has it that the bridge was designed by the Nazis and shipped to Arizona from Germany.
The reality is that the bridge was built in 1907 by the U.S. Reclamation Service. The engineers decorated it with swastikas after seeing similarly designed and decorated bridges during a trip to India.
The bridge was part of the larger effort to dam the Colorado River and create an agricultural oasis around Yuma.
According to this verbal portrait of the era,, the Toledo, Ohio, car-dealership scene of the 40s, 50s and 60s was a vibrant, competitive time. Certainly a dealer would want to come up with wild ads to stand out. Irv Pollock must have felt that way anyhow!
Note: you might have to scroll left or right at the links to see the original ad.
Introduced at the 1941 meeting of the Inventors of America society in New York — a combined mousetrap and cigarette lighter.
The caption on the first image is confusing. It says "a lever sets the mouse in motion," but I assume that's a mistake. It should probably read, "The mouse sets a lever in motion."
Another newspaper offered the following explanation of the device's operation: "When mouse springs trap, it sends pinball down ramp. Ball releases spring, and up pops an arm which strikes a match."
When the Inventors of America met again later that year in Los Angeles, one of their members showed off some mice-killing pantyhose stockings. So mouse-themed inventions were evidently all the rage that year.
September 1909: Mrs. Christina Brown of Elgin, Illinois filed for divorce from her husband on the grounds that he was a wizard who wielded occult powers, compelling her to do things against her will, such as:
Sitting for hours in one chair while he controlled her thoughts as well as actions without touch or word.
Revealing the choicest bits of neighborhood gossip, no matter how solemnly she had sworn to keep them a secret.
Telling him what she really thought of him, despite her effort to pretend that he was the only man in the world.
Admitting that she didn't believe his fish stories.
Confessing that she had cooked up the oldest and poorest food in the house when he brought a friend home to dinner unexpectedly.
Purchasing a hat and gown at the cheapest store in town when she had fully intended to buy them at a more expensive establishment.
Ever since its release in 1950, Disney's Cinderella has been decried by critics as being as a bad influence on children (particularly young girls).
In the 1950s, Dr. John Kershaw, an English medical officer, argued that, "The expectation of meeting a dream lover and automatically living 'happily ever after' keeps children from being taught 'to realize the difficulties and responsibilities of marriage.'"
More recently, Cinderella has been attacked for the "princess culture" that it cultivates. From the Sentinel & Enterprise (3/22/2012):
Assistant English professor Joe Moser said he believes Disney's "Cinderella" is a patriarchal, cautionary tale warning American women against being too independent. Released in 1950, the movie came shortly after World War II, a time when many women took jobs outside the home because the men were away. Moser thinks some of the aspects of the film were a push to put women back into their supposed place.
"Cinderella is remarkably passive throughout the entire movie," Moser said, adding that Prince Charming didn't take much of his life into his own hands either and relied greatly on his father.
Rather than make her own dreams come true, he said, Cinderella waits for others, such as her fairy godmother, to do the work for her, and trusts that things will turn out right.
The message it sends is that it is best to buy into the status quo and that one's dreams can be achieved by following the rules set by previous generations, Moser said.
NY Times critic Peggy Orenstein has even written a bestselling book on this subject, Cinderella Ate My Daughter (2011).
To the best of my knowledge, I've never seen Cinderella. Perhaps I should consider myself lucky for having escaped its poisonous influence.
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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