If you know much about the growth of Disney since its inception, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Walt Disney’s housekeeper, Thelma Howard, died just short of 80 years old in 1994. Her will revealed some surprising information. The first interesting tidbit was that she had a 9.5 million dollar fortune almost entirely from Disney stocks due to how much they had grown in her lifetime.
Half of that fortune ended up going to disadvantaged children in the Thelma Pearl Howard Foundation, which was created following her death. Her reasoning for that was due to her aunt, which had suffered much pain and tragedy. This gave her the decision to give something back to children.
Howard first started working for Walt Disney in 1951 as a live in housekeeper. She was the first that Disney’s children really adored. Walt Disney was so impressed the warm feeling that Howard gave to his children that he rewarded her with Disney stock every Christmas. Disney even called her ‘The Real Life Mary Poppins’. By the time she passed away, the stocks had accumulated to 193,000 shares.
On Friday, the Fender Stratocaster that Dylan plugged in at the festival sold for nearly $1 million . That is the highest price ever paid for a guitar at auction.
A buyer identified only as a private individual agreed to pay $965,000 at Christie’s, including the auction house’s fees, for the sunburst-finish electric guitar.
Dylan’s legendary performance at the festival in Rhode Island 48 years ago marked his rupture with the folk movement’s old guard and solidified his shift away from acoustic music, like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” toward amplified rock, such as “Like a Rolling Stone.”
The raucous, three-song electric set was booed by some in the crowd, and folk purists saw Dylan as a traitor and a sellout.
But “his going electric changed the structure of folk music,” said Newport Folk Festival founder George Wein, 88. “The minute Dylan went electric, all these young people said, ‘Bobby’s going electric. We’re going electric, too.”’
Christie’s had expected the guitar, which was sold with its original black leather strap and Fender hard-shell case, to go for far less: $300,000 to $500,000.
The previous record for a guitar sold at auction was held by Eric Clapton’s Fender, nicknamed “Blackie,” which sold at Christie’s for $959,500 in 2004.
The pilot’s daughter, Dawn Peterson of Morris County, N.J., said her father asked Dylan’s management what to do with the instrument, and nobody ever got back to him.
Last year, she took it to the PBS show “History Detectives” to have it authenticated, and rock-memorabilia experts matched its wood grain to close-up color photos of Dylan’s instrument at the 1965 festival.
Dylan’s attorney and his publicist didn’t respond to email and phone requests for comment. Dylan and Peterson, who declined to be interviewed, recently settled a legal dispute over the items. The terms weren’t disclosed.
In embracing the electric guitar, Dylan was credited with infusing rock with the depth and complexity of literature.
In truth, Dylan had gone electric well before the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Months earlier, he released the album “Bringing It All Back Home,” one side of which was electric. And the single “Like a Rolling Stone” came out just days before the festival.
But his performance at one of folk’s biggest showcases, in front of some of the purest of folk purists, caused a sensation.
Exactly what happened at the festival on July 25, 1965, has become enshrouded in legend, and debate persists over whether those who booed were angry over Dylan’s electric turn or were upset over the sound quality or the overly brief set.
Backed by a rock band that included Mike Bloomfield on guitar and Al Kooper on organ, Dylan played such songs as “Maggie’s Farm” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” He returned for an acoustic encore with “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”
Legend has it that Pete Seeger, one of the elder statesmen of the folk movement, was so angry that he tried to pull the plug on the electric performance or threatened to cut the cable with an ax.
But years later, Seeger said he had nothing against Dylan going electric — he was upset over the distortion-filled sound system.
Christie’s also was offering five lots of hand- and typewritten lyric fragments found inside the guitar case — early versions of some of Dylan’s songs. They had a presale estimate ranging from $3,000 to $30,000. But only one of them sold; it went for $20,000 and contained draft lyrics for “I Wanna Be Your Lover.”
From their new CD, “Mynd”.
The traditional Scottish staple Haggis has been banned in America since 1971, as the USDA put a restriction on eating one of its main ingredients, sheep’s lung. The dish, a savory “pudding,” also includes ingredients such as sheep’s heart and liver, and is cooked in a sheep’s stomach.
The Sardinian specialty Casu Marzu, or “Maggot Cheese,” is prepared by letting a type of cheese fly lay eggs in pecorino cheese, promoting advanced fermentation. As the larvae hatch and eat through the cheese, it softens, and is ready to be eaten. The possible health risks of eating larvae, as well as the fact that the cheese is unpasteurized, makes it llegal in the U.S. In Italy, it remains legal due to its status established by the European Union as a “traditional food.”
Sassafras oil, an oil taken from the bark of the sassafras tree, used to be an ingredient in root beer. But after research showed that the ingredient could cause cancer, a ban on sassafras oil was set in effect in the 1960s.
Pig’s Blood Cake
The Taiwanese food-specialty of pig’s blood and rice mixed together and put on a stick is banned by the USDA, as the preparation method is considered “unsanitary.” Still, tourists and locals seems to enjoy this dish, but for now — not in the U.S.
Shark fins are a Chinese delicacy, but the often cruel fishing methods — slicing, or “finning,” the shark’s fin and letting the shark back in the water to die — has raised opposition for the sales of the food item. In America, finning is illegal, but imported shark fins are still allowed except in California, where a total ban on both sales and distribution is in place.
Fugu (Japanese Blowfish)
The Japanese blowfish, fugu, is highly toxic, and can easily be fatal if prepared wrong. Despite this (or perhaps because of it?) it’s considered a delicacy in Japan. If you dare, a few places in America do serve blowfish, but it is illegal to sell, harvest, or serve fugu without a license. In Europe, the fish is totally banned.
Unpasteurized milk, or raw milk, is widely consumed throughout the world, but it’s banned in several American states as it has been linked to the spread of the E. coli bacteria. At the moment, 17states have a total ban on raw milk for human consumption, while others have partial banns on sales.
Absinthe was long banned in the U.S because of a compound called thujone, which is toxic in excessive amounts. The elixir is also believed to be hallucinogenic. Though absinthe is technically legal in the country today, there is a rule stating that it must be thujone-free — something that might be hard to control.
Until recent, the U.S government held a ban on “slaughtering horses for human consumption,” but has now given permission for one slaughterhouse in New Mexico to reopen. Several more slaughterhouses have filed requests with USDA for similar permits, but for now, strict inspections must be passed for those wanting legal authority to sell horse meat. In parts of Asia, Latin America, and Europe, horse meat is not an uncommon ingredient in the kitchen.
Foie gras, often considered a luxurious delicacy, has recently been surrounded by controversy, as California has upheld its law banning the sales of foie gras made from force-fed geese. Animal rights groups are now working on getting a ban in effect in the rest of the country, starting with New York. But for now, the rest of the country, and most of the world, can still enjoy foie gras without breaking the law.
1. Jack Nicholson was very interested in playing Ralphie’s dad. But casting (and paying) Jack would have meant doubling the budget, so he was removed from consideration. Director Bob Clark — who didn’t know Nicholson was interested at the time — says Darrin McGavin was the perfect choice.
2. What does Porky’s, the raunchy ’80s teen sex movie, have to do with a wholesome film like A Christmas Story? Bob Clark directed both—Porky’s in 1982 and A Christmas Story in 1983. If Porky’s hadn’t given him the professional and financial success he needed, he wouldn’t have been able to bring A Christmas Story to the big screen.
3. For anyone keeping count, Ralphie says he wants the Red Ryder BB Gun 28 times throughout the course of the movie. That’s approximately once every three minutes and 20 seconds.
4. Peter Billingsley, AKA Ralphie, has been good friends with Vince Vaughn since they both appeared in the CBS Schoolbreak Special (their version of the after-school special) in the early ’90s. He doesn’t do much acting these days, but he did make a surprise appearance on the “Vince Vaughn Wild West Comedy Show” in Memphis, Tenn., in 2005. Peter’s doing quite well for himself, though. He was the executive producer of Iron Man and had a brief bit as William Ginter Riva. He also executive produced Four Christmases (which he had a cameo in), The Break-Up, and the TBS sitcom Sullivan & Son.
5. Mythbusters tested whether it was possible to get your tongue truly stuck on a piece of cold metal. Guess what? It is. So don’t triple dog dare your best friend to try it.
6. Scott Schwartz, who played Flick (who stuck his tongue to the frozen flagpole), was submerged in the adult film industry for a number of years. He got out in 2000 to try to become a mainstream actor again, but I can’t say he’s done much of note: Community College (“A love story between four dudes and their ability to get free drinks”) and Skinwalker, which starred ex-MTV veejay Jesse Camp, if that tells you anything. Joey Buttafuoco is in it, too, and gets billing over our poor Flick.
7. Next time you’re in Cleveland, you can visit the original house from the movie. It was sold on eBay in 2004 for $150,000. Collector Brian Jones bought the house and restored it to its movie glory and stocked it up with some of the original props from the film, including Randy’s snowsuit.
8. Director Bob Clark got the idea for the movie when he was driving in the car with a date. He heard Jean Shepherd on the radio doing a reading of his short story collection, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” which included some bits that eventually ended up in A Christmas Story. Clark said he drove around the block for an hour until the program ended, which his date was not too happy about.
9. The Wonder Years was inspired in part by A Christmas Story. In fact, in one of the last few episodes, Peter Billingsley appeared as one of Kevin Arnold’s roommates.
10. The real Red Ryder BB Gun was first made in 1938 and was named after a comic strip cowboy. You can still buy it today for the low, low price of $44.99. But the original wasn’t quite the same as the one in the movie; it lacked the compass and sundial that both the Jean Shepard story and the movie call for. Special versions had to be made just for A Christmas Story.