21 Facts That Are So Interesting, I Know They Will Live In My Brain For All Of Eternity

1.While Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" is probably one of the crooner's best-known songs, it was originally very different. Turns out, we have Robert De Niro to thank for it! Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb were tapped to write music for Martin Scorsese's 1977 film, New York, New York, which stars Liza Minnelli and De Niro. When the duo previewed the songs they had written, De Niro thought the title track, which was connected to his character, was too lighthearted. Although Kander and Ebb said they thought De Niro seemed "pompous" in telling them to rewrite the song, they took the criticism to heart and ended up penning their new version of the song in just 45 minutes.

2.Ferris Bueller's Day Off is my favorite movie of all time, so it's honestly criminal that I've never done a deep dive into some behind-the-scenes moments from the film! John Hughes, known for his teen movies, ended up writing the script in just a few days in order to get a draft finished before the Writers Guild of America went on strike. The script was reportedly so strong that it was barely edited before filming started. The movie is widely considered to be a love letter to Hughes's Chicago hometown and is filled with references to his own upbringing and shots of the city's skyline. In fact, Hughes even gave Ferris the same address as his childhood home, and his bedroom reportedly resembled Hughes's.

Ferris and friends in a museum with arms folded
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Ben Stein, who delivered one of the film's most memorable lines with, "Bueller...Bueller...anyone?" actually improvised his scene. Stein, who was previously an economist and political speechwriter, said that Hughes told him to ad-lib an economics lesson. As for the parade scene, which has since become another legendary movie moment, Hughes and the crew decided to put their own float in the lineup of a real German parade that just so happened to be scheduled for the middle of filming. Nobody involved with the parade knew who they were, but they ended up pulling it off.

The movie notably brought two real-life couples together. Matthew Broderick, who plays Ferris, and Jennifer Grey, who portrays his sister, Jeanie, ended up falling for each other on set. In 1987, they were involved in a car accident in Northern Ireland that killed two women. Both Broderick and Grey were injured in the wreck, and Broderick was charged with careless driving. The couple split in 1988. Meanwhile, Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett, who played Ferris's parents, got married shortly after filming wrapped. They had two children before divorcing in 1992.

Matthew and Jennifer holding hands
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3.If I had to learn about this giraffe mating ritual, then it's only fair that you do too, okay? Unlike other animals, giraffes don't have a set mating season. Instead, they have an estrous cycle, which resembles a human menstrual cycle, except this cycle swaps blood for urine. When a male giraffe approaches a female giraffe, he begins to rub against her, which she takes as a signal to begin peeing. The male giraffe then tastes her pee to see if she's fertile, and thus, the mating ritual begins. A typical giraffe pregnancy lasts for 400–460 days. Male giraffes typically have no role in raising their offspring.

A giraffe family
Tony Karumba / AFP via Getty Images

4.In 2007, Lisa Nowak became the first NASA astronaut to be arrested when she drove across the United States to confront a woman who was dating a fellow astronaut with whom Nowak had also had a relationship. About a decade after graduating from the US Naval Academy, Nowak was selected to be an astronaut at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where she specialized in robotics. Nowak said she was deeply affected by the 2003 Columbia space shuttle explosion because her best friend, astronaut Laurel Clark, died. Nowak told NASA that her children convinced her to continue on with her space career despite her unease.

Nowak smiling in her astronaut uniform
NASA / Getty Images

Nowak went on her first space mission in 2006 and spent two weeks in space aboard the Discovery. But in February 2007, Nowak made headlines not for her space career but for a shocking crime. She drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando to confront Colleen Shipman, who was reportedly dating Bill Oefelein, an astronaut with whom Nowak had previously been involved. She told police that they had "more than a working relationship, but less than a romantic relationship." Reports claimed that Nowak had a trench coat, a black wig, pepper spray, a BB gun, rope, trash bags, and an 8-inch knife in her car when she approached Shipman in the parking lot of the Orlando International Airport. Shipman told police that Nowak sprayed her with pepper spray, then attempted to climb into her car. Shipman was able to escape unharmed.

Nowak on the witness stand
Orlando Sentinel / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

One of the most sensational elements of the story was the rumor that Nowak had been wearing a diaper during her journey. Time reported that Nowak was quoted in a police report telling an officer that she had purchased diapers so she wouldn't have to stop during her journey. Soon media outlets began to report that Nowak had worn a maximum absorbency garment, an adult diaper astronauts often used during takeoff and reentry. Nowak's attorney called the story "an absolute fabrication." Although Nowak was initially charged with attempted murder and kidnapping, her charges were downgraded to burglary and misdemeanors. In court, Shipman said she believed Nowak had been planning to kill her. "It was in her eyes: a blood-chilling expression of limitless rage and glee," she said. Nowak pleaded guilty and served a year of probation. In 2019, Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm starred in Lucy in the Sky, a film loosely based on Nowak's life.

5.Despite what you might believe after watching The Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum was not a good guy. He had a long history of animal cruelty and was known for mistreating enslaved people and people with disabilities. He even reportedly hated the people who paid money to come see his exhibits. Barnum was allegedly frustrated that people were taking their time during visits to his museum, so he decided to post signs reading "This Way to the Egress" all over the place. He (correctly) believed that most of the visitors wouldn't know that "egress" meant "exit," so when they followed the signs, they ended up unknowingly leaving the entire museum. As a result, many people paid to reenter, bringing home even more money for Barnum.

PT Barnum
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6.Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" is essentially History 101 in song form. The track name-drops 118 historical events from 1949 to 1989, including everything from pivotal moments in the civil rights movement to details from sports and pop culture history. Joel was inspired to write the song after having a conversation with Sean Lennon, who was then in his 20s, while in the recording studio. One of Lennon's friends allegedly said that it was a terrible time to be a young person. Joel, who was about to turn 40, reportedly said that his own younger years hadn't been that easy either.

Joel in sunglasses at a microphone
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After the conversation, Joel decided to write a song featuring some of the world's biggest moments, ranging from the year of his birth to his 40th birthday. The song begins with a reference to Harry Truman, who was president when Joel was born, then mentions several Cold War events before chronicling moments like the rise of Elvis Presley, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, NASA reaching the moon, Woodstock, Watergate, and the AIDS crisis. The song's title and chorus of "We didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the world's been turning," refers to how Joel believed that the chaos of the world is constant. Although the song was successful, Joel later criticized the track, calling it "terrible musically."

7.Coney Island's skyline looked a lot different back in the 1800s. The Brooklyn boardwalk was once home to a 200-foot-tall elephant-shaped hotel! The hotel, known as the Elephantine Colossus, was built in 1885 and contained 31 rooms, a concert hall, and a museum. The elephant's head housed an observatory, and its eyes served as telescopes. The real kicker was that the hotel was built several years before the Statue of Liberty was completed, so the giant elephant was often the first thing immigrants saw when they reached New York. At some point, the hotel was seen as gimmicky and lost most of its clientele. Soon, sex workers began moving in. In 1896, Elephantine Colossus burned down and was never rebuilt.

Illustration of the Elephantine Colossus
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

8.During Ronald Reagan's 1966 California gubernatorial campaign, he began eating jelly beans in an attempt to curb his pipe-smoking habit. His jelly beans of choice were the Goelitz Mini Jelly Beans from the Herman Goelitz Candy Co. Once the company caught wind of Reagan's love for the treat, they began to send the politician a monthly shipment of candy and even gifted the governor with a custom jelly bean jar. After Reagan's two terms as governor ended, the company continued to send him jelly beans. In 1976, Goelitz debuted their latest creation: the Jelly Belly. Within two years, Reagan's entire jelly bean shipment shifted to include only Jelly Belly jelly beans.

Reagan smiling at a desk with a jar of jelly beans in front of him
Diana Walker / Getty Images

Reagan's love for jelly beans persisted through his presidential election in 1980, as did his monthly deliveries. For his inauguration, the brand sent three and a half tons of red, white, and blue jelly beans to Washington. In 1981, the company was given permission to create a jelly bean jar featuring the presidential seal. Reagan would often give these jars to White House visitors as gifts. "You can tell a lot about a fella’s character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful," Reagan told interviewers. During Reagan's two terms as president, there was a standing order for 720 bags of jelly beans to be sent to the White House each month. Toward the end of his presidency, Reagan began eating M&M's instead, but the company (now known as the Jelly Belly Candy Co.) bore no ill will toward Reagan — there's even a shrine to him at the factory.

Reagan's face made up of jelly beans
David Paul Morris / Getty Images

9.There are two main groups of whales: baleen whales, which include species like the blue whale and the humpback whale; and toothed whales, consisting of orcas, belugas, and sperm whales. While you probably guessed that toothed whales are named as such because they have teeth, baleen whales have baleen plates in their mouths, which help them filter out krill and other food. Toothed whales also have a "melon" in their foreheads. The melon is a mass of tissue that helps with communication and is crucial for echolocation, which they use to find food and to navigate underwater.

A humpback whale swimming
A humpback whale swimming

Oceana / Via giphy.com

10.In 1997, construction on Disneyland's California Adventure Park was halted after Princess Diana was killed in a limo accident in a Paris tunnel on Aug. 31. California Adventure was supposed to include a ride called Superstar Limo, which involved guests boarding a limo and embarking on a high-speed chase through some of Los Angeles's biggest landmarks in order to get to the Disney offices in time to sign a huge movie contract. Riders also had to evade the paparazzi. Once the ride ended, passengers were encouraged to buy mock tabloids featuring the pictures the "paparazzi" had taken of them. Following Diana's death, Disney knew they could no longer debut the ride. Soon, they began to brainstorm alternative ideas to replace the limo theme.

Princess Diana smiling
David M. Benett / Getty Images

The issue? Disney was quickly running out of the money that had been earmarked for the attraction. In an attempt to stay on budget, park executives decided that they would merely alter the existing ride so it wouldn't be seen as offensive. They decided to remove the chase element from the ride. Instead, it became a slow limo ride that encouraged passengers to take in the elaborate set. This plan caused another problem to arise: The set looked great at high speeds but wasn't very impressive once the ride slowed down. As a quick fix, the set was filled with inside jokes and cameos from celebrities Disney already had under contract, including Joan Rivers, Cindy Crawford, and Jackie Chan. The ride even included a dig at rival production company DreamWorks, with a sign reading "DreamJerks."

The Superstar Limo logo
Mousesteps / Via youtube.com

When California Adventure opened in 2001, Disney CEO Michael Eisner told the media that while all of the other park rides were "high-tech," Superstar Limo was decidedly "low-tech." Many agreed, and the ride was widely panned. The New York Times called it "probably the schlockiest attraction" at the park, and many of the park's guests vocalized their distaste for the ride. Executives knew they had to change up Superstar Limo. They considered swapping elements to make it Goofy-themed, and later discussed changing the ride's name to "Miss Piggy's Superstar Limo" after Disney acquired the Muppets in 2002. In 2005, the ride finally reopened as "Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!" Disney was even able to reuse the celebrity figurines by dressing them in hazmat suits to fit the Monsters, Inc. theme.

Scott Nelson / AFP via Getty Images

11.Donald Gorske, who is known as the ultimate Big Mac fan, has reportedly eaten at least one McDonald's Big Mac every day for the past 50 years. As of May 2022, Gorske believes he has consumed about 32,340 Big Macs. He told Guinness World Records that he typically eats two Big Macs a day, although he revealed that at one point, his daily diet included nine burgers! "May 17, 1972, was the day I got my first car," Gorske said. "I drove to McDonald’s, ordered my first three Big Macs, went in the car, and ate them. And I said right there that I’m gonna probably eat these the rest of my life, and I threw the cartons in the backseat and started counting them from day one." Despite his Big Mac diet, Gorske and his wife say that doctors have given him a clean bill of health.

12.Although you probably picture Queen Elizabeth II wearing one of her signature colorful skirt suits, her fashion history is actually quite fascinating! Elizabeth was photographed wearing pants only once during her entire reign. In 1970, she was reportedly interested in updating her look, and asked her tailor for a custom pantsuit to wear during her royal tour in Australia. It's safe to assume that Elizabeth wasn't too fond of the outfit, as she was never again seen wearing pants in public. In order to maintain professionalism and avoid any type of fashion mishap, her dress hems were always cut below the knee.

Queen Elizabeth II in pants walking along a pier
Central Press / Getty Images

Those bright outfits actually served a big purpose! According to her daughter-in-law Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, Elizabeth always wore colorful clothing to make her easier for fans to spot while she was at public events with large crowds. The Queen was also rarely spotted without her signature accessories: She always donned a pearl necklace and was a big fan of Launer purses and Hermès silk scarves. In fact, Elizabeth reportedly owned over 200 Launer bags because the handle length was ideal for when she was shaking hands. And finally, for a fact that really surprised me — Queen Elizabeth allegedly did her own makeup almost every single day! Her Christmas speech was typically the only event during the year when her makeup was done by a professional.

Queen Elizabeth II smiling
Max Mumby / Getty Images

13.In 1986, Clint Eastwood ran for mayor of Carmel, California, in part because he wanted to overturn the town's strict law regarding ice cream sales. Eastwood announced his intention to run for office in 1985 after he reportedly found the City Council very difficult to work with when he wanted to turn property he owned into office space. He also cited a 1929 law in Carmel that banned the sale of ice cream cones as another reason for his campaign. In April 1986, he defeated incumbent Charlotte Townsend. His first order of business? He removed from office all of the people who supported the ice cream ban, thus allowing the sale of ice cream cones in Carmel for the first time in decades.

Clint holding up a "Clint Our Mayor" T-shirt at a podium
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

14.Chances are, you read George Orwell's Animal Farm in school. In the novel, a group of animals team up to rebel against the farmer who owns them, only to end up living in a communist dictatorship led by pigs. Although Orwell said that the book was the first time he had successfully been able to blend politics and art, he had a hard time finding a publisher. Several publishing houses turned down the book because they felt uneasy about its political stance. Secker & Warburg ultimately agreed to publish Animal Farm, and the book became a hit and was even used by the CIA as a propaganda tool during the Cold War.

George Orwell
Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Ullstein Bild via Getty Images, Signet

In 1952, the CIA launched the "Aedinosaur" operation, which ran until 1957. They used balloons to send copies of Animal Farm from West Germany to Soviet-controlled countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, in 1954, the CIA secretly worked with filmmakers to produce an animated version of Animal Farm. Orwell died in 1950, so officials had to travel to England to get the rights to the book from his widow, Sonia. She granted them the rights after the CIA agreed to introduce her to her idol, Clark Gable. The CIA decided to produce the film in England because they were worried about the loyalty of some American animators and wanted to avoid persecution by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Animal Farm actually became the first animated film ever produced in England.

Animated Animal Farm movie poster
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15.In 1928, Huey Long was elected governor of Louisiana on a promise of helping people who had been neglected by the federal government. He soon had his sights set on Washington and won a Senate seat. But before leaving for DC in 1932, he had the lieutenant governor replaced by two successors who promised to follow Long's commands. In the Senate, he created the “Share Our Wealth” program, which many thought was part of his bid for the presidency. In 1935, Long was assassinated by a political rival. Despite his death, his impact in the state lived on. In 1940, a study showed that rural schoolchildren not only had no idea that Long had been killed but also believed he was president.

Huey Long
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

16.The Real Housewives franchise put Bravo on the map for its depiction of the wild and wacky antics of wealthy women around the country, but it originally looked like a much different show! Scott Dunlop, the original producer of the Real Housewives of Orange County, got the idea for the show in 1986 when he moved from Los Angeles to Coto de Caza, one of the world's largest gated communities, located in Orange County, California. Dunlop began to notice that many of his female neighbors spent their days shopping and playing golf while their husbands went to work.

Scott Dunlop standing in a suburban street with his arms folded
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

In the book Not All Diamonds and Rosé, Dunlop said he thought they were "entertaining, but also kind of annoying," and began to brainstorm a show around their lives. He said that he first envisioned a short film but later pivoted to reality TV, modeled on An American Family, a PBS show that aired in the 1970s. Dunlop tapped several women in his community to film test footage. Jeana Keough and her family starred in Dunlop's sizzle reel for the show, which was filmed in 2005. When Bravo executive Andy Cohen received the tape, he said he loved it, although he was a bit wary about whether it would appeal to audiences. "I’m not sure [we] totally knew what it was, but I knew if it worked, it would be like a soap opera," Cohen said. Turns out, Bravo's intuition was right: The Real Housewives franchise has been airing since 2006 and has spinoffs in cities around the world.

The first "Real Housewives" cast
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17.The first meal eaten on the moon included bacon bits, peaches, sugar cookie cubes, and a pineapple-grapefruit beverage. Bacon reportedly had a long history when it came to space travel. It was a staple during the Gemini missions and became a favorite among many astronauts. Despite all of the bacon love, it's since disappeared from space menus. Now the closest thing to bacon is a sausage patty that has to be rehydrated with warm water before being eaten.

A tray of food in space
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

18.Oscar Gamble, a baseball player who spent over 20 years in the major leagues, was known not only for his on-field play but also for his Afro, which sparked quite the controversy. In 1973, Gamble arrived at the Cleveland Indians training camp sporting an Afro. Although many Black basketball players had Afros, the hairstyle wasn't too popular among baseball players. Baseball was often seen as more conservative, and during the 1970s, the Afro was associated with the Black Power movement. Gamble's hair quickly became controversial. "People took one look at that hair and thought I was a bad guy," Gamble said in 1979. "There were some sportswriters who wouldn’t talk to me. They thought I was some kind of militant, with my beard and my hair."

Gamble in a NY Yankees T-shirt and cap
Focus on Sport / Getty Images

In 1975, Gamble was traded to the New York Yankees, where he once again found himself under fire for sporting his signature hairstyle. George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, had a policy that players must keep their hair short, a callback to his military days. Gamble's Afro did not fit in with this policy, and Steinbrenner insisted that the Afro had to go. The team even withheld Gamble's uniform until he cut his hair. Gamble obliged, but there was another issue: He was now unrecognizable on baseball cards. As a result, Topps ended up airbrushing Gamble's Afro onto his cards, which have since become collectors' items.

Gamble in a Yankees uniform
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19.In December 1990, Iben Browning, who claimed that he was a climatologist, predicted that a major earthquake was going to hit the St. Louis area on Dec. 3. In New Madrid, a Missouri town located on a fault line, people began stockpiling supplies, while others left town completely. Browning reportedly used weather patterns to make his predictions, although his exact methods were never publicized. Although scientists didn't vocally deny Browning's claims, it was believed that they didn't support his prediction, since it's impossible to predict an earthquake. The earthquake never happened. In fact, the area has not faced an earthquake at the magnitude Browning predicted in the three decades since.

Iben Browning identified as a climatologist on TV
PBS / Via youtube.com

20.While kangaroos are known for their hopping abilities (they can jump about 25 feet in one go!), they are unable to go backward because their big feet and long tails prohibit any backward movement. This anatomical hindrance has since been used by their native Australia as a symbol. The kangaroo was reportedly included on the Australian coat of arms to represent the idea that Australia is a nation that is always moving forward.

Kangaroo hopping
Kangaroo hopping

PBS / Via giphy.com

21.And finally, Elouise Cobell, who was also known as Yellow Bird Woman, fought for Native Americans to have control over their land and finances. Cobell was born on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, where her family did not have running water or electricity. Her great-great-grandfather notably stood up to the US government in the 19th century. When Cobell was 4 years old, her father built a one-room schoolhouse that she attended until she was in high school. Cobell reportedly took notice of her family's complaints about the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an agency that many suspected mismanaged the profits from land and trusts owned by Native Americans.

Elouise Cobell
Helen H. Richardson / Denver Post via Getty Images

Cobell eventually interned for the BIA while studying business at the University of Montana, during which she witnessed many people get turned away when they came looking for their money. Once she graduated, Cobell became the treasurer for the Blackfeet Nation and continued to take note of financial discrepancies. She started attending government meetings, where she was often ignored and told she didn't understand finances, despite her degree. In 1987, she helped found the Blackfeet National Bank, which was the first tribe-owned bank. In 1996, Cobell filed a suit against the US Department of the Interior for the mismanagement of the Indian trust assets belonging to over 300,000 members. Just before her death in 2011, Cobell agreed to a $3.4 billion settlement, which included not only repayment for tribe members but also scholarships and land consolidation funds.

Elouise Cobell shakes hands with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in December 2009, during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on the settlement of the class-action lawsuit Cobell vs Salazar
Mark Wilson / Getty Images