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Monday, January 10, 2011

10 Movie Characters That Turned Out To Be Real People

10 Movie Characters That Turned Out To Be Real People

Published on 7/26/2010 under Strange People - by Gracie Murano - 323,267 views

Lucy (50 First Dates) - Michelle Philpots

Lucy (50 First Dates) - Michelle Philpots
Every day, Michelle Philpots wakes up next to a man who has to convince her they are married. When she expresses doubt, he takes out a photo album and shows her pictures of their wedding 13 years ago. Only then does amnesiac Mrs Philpots accept she is talking to her husband, Ian, and that everything he has told her is true. The 47-year-old's condition was caused by brain injuries sustained in two road accidents. She can recall everything up to 1994 but since then everything that happens on one day is forgotten the next. Her case echoes 50 First Dates, the 2004 movie in which Adam Sandler tries to woo Drew Barrymore, who has no day-to-day memory following a car crash.

Zorro (The Mask of Zorro) - Joaquin Murrieta

 Zorro (The Mask of Zorro) - Joaquin Murrieta
Zorro is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega, a nobleman and master living in the Spanish colonial era of California. He is a black-clad masked outlaw who defends the people of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. Joaquin Murrieta, also called the Robin Hood of El Dorado, was a semi-legendary figure in California during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s. He was either an infamous bandit or a Mexican patriot, depending on one's point of view. Murrieta was partly the inspiration for the fictional character of Zorro. His name has, for some political activists, symbolized resistance against Anglo-American economic and cultural domination in California. In fact, a character with his name appears in The Mask of Zorro. In the film, after Joaquin's death, his (fictional) brother, Alejandro (Antonio Banderas), becomes the new Zorro and later kills Captain Love in revenge. (Link)

Viktor Navorski (The Terminal) - Mehran Nasseri

Viktor Navorski (The Terminal) - Mehran Nasseri
“The Terminal” is a moving tale, where Tom Hanks plays the victim of the modern world. That a man could spend months stuck in diplomatic limbo living in an airport may seem far-fetched, but in fact, the movie is inspired by a real-life character who lived at terminal one of Paris Charles De Gaulle airport. The living urban legend is Mehran Nasseri, known as “Sir Alfred” to those who work at the airport. Stranded without papers, Nasseri was a stateless refugee from Iran, unwanted by any nation. Having claimed to have one British parent, he decided to settle in the UK in 1986, but en route to there in 1988, his briefcase containing his papers was stolen in Paris. Despite this setback, he boarded the plane for London but was promptly returned to France when he failed to present a passport to British immigration. He was initially arrested by the French, but then released as his entry to the airport was legal and he had no country of origin to be returned to. A red plastic bench beside a luggage store was his home for no less than 18 years. Director Steven Spielberg may have moved the airport to New York for his movie and made Hank's character East European, but there's no doubt who the movie is based on. Nasseri's life at the airport ended in July 2006 when he was hospitalized and his sitting place dismantled. (Link 1 | Link 2)

Hanna Schmitz (The Reader) - Ilse Koch

Hanna Schmitz (The Reader) - Ilse Koch
Kate Winslet's character in The Reader was based on one of the Third Reich's most notorious war criminals. The life of Ilse Koch, a concentration camp guard nicknamed "The Bitch of Buchenwald," was strikingly similar to that of Hanna Schmitz, the role played by Winslet in the Oscar-tipped film. Like Schmitz, Koch came from a poor background. She married Karl Koch, a close friend of Adolf Hitler, in 1936, and accompanied him when he was made commandant of Buchenwald camp the following year. As a supervisor of the camp's female guards, she whipped and beat prisoners. Witnesses said she forced prisoners to rape one another and was eventually disciplined by Nazi chiefs for her brutality. As Schmitz does in the film, Koch killed herself after being sentenced to life in prison for her crimes perpetrated in a concentration camp. Before her suicide, Koch had been reunited with her illegitimate son, who had only recently discovered his mother's identity and crimes. He wrote poems and sent them to her in prison. In the film, Schmitz is effectively reunited with Michael Berg, a former lover who is shocked to see her in the dock when he attends a war crimes trial. After she is sentenced, he sends her taped books to listen to in prison. Also, Ilse was accused of having affairs with prisoners, while Hanna was suspected by her camp inmates of selecting female prisoners to have sex with. (Link)

Raymond Babbitt (Rain Man) - Kim Peek

Raymond Babbitt (Rain Man) - Kim Peek
Kim Peek is the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie Rain Man. His life was thrust into the spotlight after meeting screenwriter Barry Morrow, who used Peek as the inspiration for Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning character, Raymond Babbitt. Although inspired by Peek, he was portrayed as having autism. After the 1988 film became a hit, Peek spent the next 21 years demonstrating his mental abilities to more than 64 million people around the world. Peek, who was able to retain nearly 98% of what read, heard, and watched (the average person holds on to about 45%), could read and memorize books as a 16-month-old and had committed as many as 9,000 books to memory. (Link 1 | Link 2)

Norman Bates (Psycho) - Ed Gein

Norman Bates (Psycho) - Ed Gein
Norman Bates is a psychologically disturbed hotel owner who has delusions that his dead mother, whose body he keeps in the cellar, wants to kill hotel guests. He develops a dual personality and dresses like her when he commits his murders. The film's screenplay by Joseph Stefano was adapted from a novel of the same name by author Robert Bloch. Remarkably, Bloch's 1959 novel was based on legendary real-life, Plainfield, Wisconsin psychotic serial killer Edward Gein, who was arrested in 1957 for committing two murders and digging up the corpses of countless other women who reminded him of his dead mother. He skinned the bodies to make lamp shades, socks and a "woman suit" in hopes of becoming a woman. He was found to be insane and spent the rest of his life in a mental institution. (Link 1 | Link 2)

Laurel Hedare (Catwoman) - Heather Bird

Laurel Hedare (Catwoman) - Heather Bird
There is a theory that says the character of the movie's villain (Laurel Hedare, played by Sharon Stone) was based on real-life anti-aging advocate/entrepreneur Heather Bird . At the time that the "Catwoman" movie was being developed by French director Pitof, Heather Bird was making headlines in Europe by introducing a revolutionary new anti-ageing cream. The fictional Laurel Hedare's revolutionary new anti-ageing cream is the central plot element of the "Catwoman" movie. Note that prior to filming, the screenplay referred to the cosmetics company central to the film's story as "Avenal Beauty." "Avenal" could be a play on the word "Aves," the scientific and Latin word for "birds," a subtle reference to Heather Bird's name. When the film was actually made, the name of the company was changed to "Hedare Beauty." The real-life Heather Bird is not an evil villainess. But she does have many traits in common with Sharon Stone's character, aside from their promotion of cutting edge anti-ageing technologies. Both are beautiful blonde women. Both are from Salt Lake City. Heather Bird was born and raised in Salt Lake City. Laurel Hedare lived in and had the company headquarters in Salt Lake at least at some point in the planning stages of the "Catwoman" movie. (Link)

Rocky Balboa (Rocky) - Chuck Wepner

Rocky Balboa (Rocky) - Chuck Wepner
Chuck Wepner, a battling, bruising club fighter who had never made it big time, but in 1975 he had his shot in a fight with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. It wasn't at all regarded as a serious battle. But as the fight progressed, this miracle unfolded. In the ninth round, Wepner landed a punch to Ali's chest and Ali was knocked down. Wepner went to his corner and said to his manager, "Hey, I knocked him down." "Yeah," Wepner's manager replied, "but he looks really pissed off now...". People went absolutely crazy. Wepner was finally knocked out in the 15th and final round, almost lasting the distance. Young actor Sylvester Stallone watched the fight at home on television and was inspired to write the script for Rocky, based on Wepner's gutsy challenge. (Link)

Emily Rose (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) - Anneliese Michel

Emily Rose (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) - Anneliese Michel
In the movie, a priest is on trial for the death of a young woman named Emily Rose, upon whom he had performed an exorcism. The film was inspired by Anneliese Michel, a 16-year-old German girl who, in 1968, began displaying symptoms of demonic possession. For years, she suffered paralysis, self-abuse, starvation and demonic visions until 1975, when two priests performed exorcisms of what was believed to be several demons over 10 months. During that time, Anneliese barely ate, and she died of starvation in July 1976. Her parents and the priests were tried and found guilty of manslaughter. They were sentenced to six months in jail. (Link)

Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski or Krusty the Clown (The Simpsons)– Jim Allen from Rusty Nails

Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski or Krusty the Clown (The Simpsons)– Jim Allen from Rusty Nails
Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski, better known by his stage name, "Krusty the Clown," is the cynical, burnt out, addiction-riddled smoking clown host of Bart and Lisa's favorite TV show, The Krusty the Clown Show. The character of Krusty was partially inspired by real-life clown "Rusty Nails" whom Simpsons creator Matt Groening watched as a child while growing up in Portland, Oregon. Jim Allen (b. 1928 or 1929) portrayed the clown character Rusty Nails. His program on KPTV was the second-longest running children's program in Portland, second only to Ramblin' Rod Anders.

Basically most of the characters from The Simpsons were inspired in Groening's family and acquaintances. (Link 1 | Link 2)

8 Inspirational Older People

8 Inspirational Older People

Published on 3/26/2009 under Strange People - by Gracie Murano - 163,989 views
TAGS: Inspiring Elderly

Olive Riley (108-year-old): World's Oldest Blogger

Believed to have been the world's oldest blogger, australian woman Olive Riley began her blog The Life of Riley in February 2007 at the age of 107 and made her final post on 26 June 2008 from a nursing home in Woy Woy, New South Wales, complaining of a cough about two weeks before she died at the age of 108. She had posted over 70 entries, as well as several video posts on YouTube. Her blog (or "blob" as she called it) was inspired by her experience with documentary filmmaker Michael Rubbo who, in 2005, made a documentary about her titled All About Olive.
NOTE: our reader Eric wrote us to explain an even older blogger was discovered after Olive's death.

Buster Martin (102-year-old): UK's Oldest Employee and Marathon Runner

Pierre Jean "Buster" Martin claims to be the United Kingdom's oldest employee at the age of 102. Martin works for a well-known plumbing company in southeast London as a van cleaner, and notably refused to take a day off on the day he celebrated his 100th birthday. But he is also a marathon runner. After walking the 10 km (6 miles) distance of the Great Capital Run in 2 hours 22 minutes and the Roding Valley Half Marathon in 5 hours 13 minutes, Martin was entered for the 2008 London Marathon. According to press reports, he walked the 26 mile course in approximately 10 hours.

If the claims about his age are true, he could be the oldest recorded marathon participant in the world. However, officials of the Guinness World Records organization said that they did not consider Martin eligible for the record because he had never provided proof is his age.

Winifred Pristell (70-year-old): Holds two World Records in Powerlifting

Meet Winifred Pristell, 70 years old. This great-grandma they call "Heavy Metal" is a competitive weightlifter with two world records and aspirations for more. Winifred first took up the sport in her late 40’s due to her struggles with her weight. When she turned 60 she started to lift competitively in powerlifting meets. At 68, she set world records for her age in the bench press at 176.2 pounds and 270 pounds in the deadlift.

Even though she has been struggling lately with arthritis and joint issues, at 70 Winifred still works out three days a week.

Jennifer Figge (56-year-old): First Woman to Swim the Atlantic

56-year-old Jennifer Figge pressed her toes into the Caribbean sand, exhilarated and exhausted as she touched land this week for the first time in almost a month. Reaching a beach in Trinidad, she became the first woman on record to swim across the Atlantic Ocean --a dream she'd had since the early 1960s, when a stormy trans-Atlantic flight got her thinking she could don a life vest and swim the rest of the way if needed.

The 56-year-old left the Cape Verde Islands off Africa's western coast on Jan. 12, battling waves of up to 30 feet (9 meters) and strong winds. She had originally planned to swim the Bahamas, but inclement weather forced her to veer 1,000 miles (1,610 kms) off course to Trinidad.

The Great Omani (92-year-old): World's Oldest Escapologist

Ron Cunningham, who died in 2007 at the age of 92, was an escapologist and end-of the-pier artist specializing in feats such as eating light bulbs and removing a straitjacket while hanging upside down with his trousers on fire.

To impress audiences he put himself in great danger during many of his stunts using fire, water and glass at his local pub the Bedford Tavern in Brighton. It was here where he performed his last stunt in 2005. This was the escape out of handcuffs with both arms on fire with lighter fluid. He died in Brighton, East Sussex after a whisky and a cigar at his home on October 15, 2007. His last request was for a trapdoor in the hearse at his funeral. He wrote a short poem, which was read at the occasion: “They lay the Great Omani in his box / They have done it up with nails not locks / But at his funeral do not despair / Chances are he won't be there.”

Arthur Winston (100-year-old): Worked for 72 years at the same company and only took one day off

A Los Angeles Metro employee for 72 years, Arthur Winston (1906 - 2006) was known for being honored as the "Employee of the Century" because he was never late to work and only took one day off during his entire career, that being for his wife's funeral in 1988. He retired at age 100.

Bernie Marks (78-year-old): Oldest Man to have a Bar Mitzvah

It took Holocaust survivor Bernie Marks over 60 years to realize his father's and grandfathers' dreams, but he finally honored them - and Jews worldwide - by having a bar mitzvah, the Jewish ceremony that marks the symbolic passage to manhood.

When he was 13, he was living in a Polish ghetto under Nazi rule. Later, his family was sent to Auschwitz where he last saw his mother and brother. Marks and his father were sent to a labor camp until they were liberated by US forces in 1945. So now, 66 years later, in a strong, melodic voice that moved some at Sacramento Congregation B'nai Israel to tears, Marks chanted the Hebrew passages with his daughters and grandchildren looking on.

Brownie Mary (70-year-old): Medical Cannabis Activist

Popularly known as "Brownie Mary", Mary Jane Rathbun (1923 - 1999) was an American hospital volunteer who became internationally known as a medical cannabis activist. Brownie Mary was famous for baking and distributing "Alice B. Toklas brownies" and volunteering in the AIDS ward of San Francisco General Hospital. She was active in efforts to legalize cannabis use for people with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and other diseases. In 1992, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared August 25 "Brownie Mary Day."

"My kids [people with AIDS and cancer] need this and I'm ready to go to jail for my principles... I'm not going to cut any deals with them. If I go to jail, I go to jail," she once said.

She was named a "Living Saint" in 1994 at the San Francisco Saints Alive Benefit. In 1997 the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence dubbed her "Saint Brownie Fucking Mary" at Mary's request as she was a lifelong atheist. Mary was also included in the Sisters' Nuns of the Above AIDS Memorial Quilt for her work with and advocating for people with AIDS. Brownie Mary died of a heart attack at a Laguna Honda nursing home for the poor at age 77.

10 Extraordinary Child Prodigies

10 Extraordinary Child Prodigies

Published on 4/6/2009 under Strange People - by Gracie Murano - 515,277 views
TAGS: famous child prodigies

Kim Ung-Yong: Attended University at age 4, Ph.D at age 15; world's highest IQ

This Korean super-genius was born in 1962 and might just be the smartest guy alive today (he's recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest IQ of anyone on the planet). By the age of four he was already able to read in Japanese, Korean, German, and English. At his fifth birthday, he solved complicated differential and integral calculus problems. Later, on Japanese television, he demonstrated his proficiency in Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, German, English, Japanese, and Korean. Kim was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under "Highest IQ"; the book estimated the boy's score at over 210.

Kim was a guest student of physics at Hanyang University from the age of 3 until he was 6. At the age of 7 he was invited to America by NASA. He finished his university studies, eventually getting a Ph.D. in physics at Colorado State University before he was 15. In 1974, during his university studies, he began his research work at NASA and continued this work until his return to Korea in 1978 where he decided to switch from physics to civil engineering and eventually received a doctorate in that field. Kim was offered the chance to study at the most prestigious universities in Korea, but instead chose to attend a provincial university. As of 2007 he also serves as adjunct faculty at Chungbuk National University.

Gregory Smith: Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize at age 12

Born in 1990, Gregory Smith could read at age two and had enrolled in university at 10. But “genius” is only one half of the Greg Smith story. When not voraciously learning, this young man travels the globe as a peace and children’s rights activist.

He is the founder of International Youth Advocates, an organization that promotes principles of peace and understanding among young people throughout the world. He has met with Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev and spoke in front of the UN. For these and other humanitarian and advocacy efforts, Smith has been nominated four times for a Nobel Peace Prize. His latest achievement? He just got his driver license.

Akrit Jaswal: The Seven Year-Old Surgeon

Akrit Jaswal is a young Indian who has been called "the world's smartest boy" and it's easy to see why. His IQ is 146 and is considered the smartest person his age in India—a country of more than a billion people.

Akrit came to public attention when in 2000 he performed his first medical procedure at his family home. He was seven. His patient — a local girl who could not afford a doctor — was eight. Her hand had been burnt in a fire, causing her fingers to close into a tight fist that wouldn't open. Akrit had no formal medical training and no experience of surgery, yet he managed to free her fingers and she was able to use her hand again.

He focused his phenomenal intelligence on medicine and at the age of twelve he claimed to be on the verge of discovering a cure for cancer. He is now studying for a science degree at Chandigarh College and is the youngest student ever accepted by an Indian University.

Cleopatra Stratan: a 3 year old singer who earns 1000€ per song

Clepotra was born October 6, 2002 in Chisinau, Moldova and is the daughter of Moldovan-Romanian singer, Pavel Stratan. She is the youngest person ever to score commercial success as a singer, with her 2006 album La vârsta de trei ani ("At the age of 3"). She holds the record for being the youngest artist that performed live for two hours in front of a large audience, the highest paid young artist, the youngest artist to receive an MTV award and the youngest artist to score a #1 hit in a country ("Ghita" in Romanian Singles Chart).

Aelita Andre: The 2-year-old artist who showed her paintings in a famous Gallery

The abstract paintings of emerging artist Aelita Andre have people in Australia's art world talking. Aelita is two (the works were painted when she was even younger).

Aelita got an opportunity to show her paintings when Mark Jamieson, the director of Brunswick Street Gallery in Melbourne's Fitzroy, was asked by a photographer whose work he represented to consider the work of another artist. Jamieson liked what he saw and agreed to include it in a group show.

Jamieson then started to promote the show, printing glossy invitations and placing ads in the magazines Art Almanac and Art Collector, featuring the abstract work. Only then did he discover a crucial fact about the new artist: Aelita Andre is Kalashnikova's daughter, and was just 22 months old. Jamieson was shocked and embarrassed but decided to proceed with the exhibition anyways.

Saul Aaron Kripke: Invited to apply for a teaching post at Harvard while still in high school

A rabbi's son, Saul Aaron Kripke was born in New York and grew up in Omaha in 1940. By all accounts he was a true prodigy. In the fourth grade he discovered algebra, and by the end of grammar school he had mastered geometry and calculus and taken up philosophy. While still a teenager he wrote a series of papers that eventually transformed the study of modal logic. One of them earned a letter from the math department at Harvard, which hoped he would apply for a job until he wrote back and declined, explaining, "My mother said that I should finish high school and go to college first". After finishing high school, the college he eventually chose was Harvard.

Kripke was awarded the Schock Prize, philosophy's equivalent of the Nobel. Nowadays, he is thought to be the world's greatest living philosopher.

Michael Kevin Kearney: earned his first degree at age 10 and became a reality show Millionaire

24 year-old Michael Kearney became known as the world's youngest college graduate at the age of 10. In 2008, Kearney earned $1,000,000 on the television game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Kearny was born in 1984 and is was known for setting several world records and teaching college at the age of 17.

He spoke his first words at four months. At the age of six months, he said to his pediatrician "I have a left ear infection" and learned to read at the age of ten months. When Michael was four, he was given diagnostic tests for the Johns Hopkins precocious math program and achieved a perfect score. He finished high school at age 6, enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College graduating at 10 with an Associate of Science in Geology. He is listed in the Guinness Book as the world's youngest university graduate at the age of 10, receiving a bachelor's degree in anthropology. For a while, he also held the record for the world's youngest postgraduate.

But in 2006, he became worldwide famous after reaching the finals on the Mark Burnett/AOL quiz/puzzle game Gold Rush, and became the first $1 million winner in the online reality game.

Fabiano Luigi Caruana: a chess prodigy who became the youngest Grandmaster at age 14

Fabulous Fabiano is a 16-year-old chess Grandmaster and chess prodigy with dual citizenship of Italy and the United States.

On 2007 Caruana became a Grandmaster at the age of 14 years, 11 months, 20 days - the youngest Grandmaster in the history of both Italy and the United States. In the April 2009 FIDE list, he has an Elo rating of 2649, making him the world's highest ranked player under the age of 18.

Willie Mosconi: played professional Billiards at age 6

William Joseph Mosconi, nicknamed "Mr. Pocket Billiards" was a American professional pocket billiards (pool) player from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Willie's father owned a pool hall where he wasn’t allowed to play, but Willie improvised by practicing with small potatoes from his mother's kitchen and an old broomstick. His father soon realized that his son was a child prodigy began advertising challenge matches, and though Willie had to stand on a box in order to reach the table, he beat experienced players many years his senior.

In 1919, an exhibition match was arranged between six-year old Willie and the reigning World Champion, Ralph Greenleaf. The hall was packed, and though Greenleaf won that match, Willie played very well launching his career in professional billiards. In 1924, at the tender age of eleven, Willie was the juvenile straight pool champion and was regularly holding trick shot exhibitions.

Between the years of 1941 and 1957, he won the BCA World Championship of pool an unmatched fifteen times. Mosconi pioneered and employed numerous trick shots, set many records, and helped to popularize the game of billiards. He still holds the officially recognized straight pool high run record of 526 consecutive balls.

Elaina Smith: youngest agony aunt aged 7

Her local radio station gave her the job after she rang and offered advice to a woman caller who had been dumped. Elaina’s tip — go bowling with pals and drink a mug of milk — was so good she got a weekly slot and now advises thousands of adult listeners. The littler adviser tackles problems ranging from how to dump boyfriends and how to cope with relationship breakdown to dealing with smelly brothers.

When one listener wrote to Elaina asking how to get a man, she replied: "Shake your booty on the dance floor and listen to High School Musical". Another caller asked how to get her man back, Elaina told her: "He's not worth the heartache. Life's too short to be upset with a boy."
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