The Untold Truth About Childhood Favorites
Most of us look back on our childhood with fond memories. However, here are some untold truths and facts that will ruin your childhood.Weird
Most of us look back on our childhood with fond memories. After all, it’s a time with no responsibilities, just movies, cartoons and pure, unadulterated fun. But deep down maybe it wasn’t all rose-tinted love and laughter, and here are some home truths to prove it.
Big Bird in Space
It was the morning of January 28th, 1986 when the world watched on in horror as NASA’s prized Space Shuttle Challenger rocket exploded and broke apart in mid-air just 73 seconds after it set off on course to orbit the Earth.
The disaster tragically took the lives of seven crew members including Christa McAuliffe, a social studies teacher who beat out 11,000 other applicants hoping to be the first civilian in space. But what if I told you one of those potential space cadets was none other than Sesame Street’s larger-than-life educational puppet Big Bird?
Caroll Spinney, Big Bird’s creator and puppeteer, was the first person approached to board the shuttle alongside its official crew as part of NASA's mission to launch ‘ordinary’ people into space.
A new program called the Space Flight Participation Program was designed in the early 1980s to get the general public excited about space travel, and the lovable yellow canary was considered a perfect fit to get kids on board.
Thankfully, Big Bird never donned his spacesuit, as Spinney still maintains that Bird's eight-foot-two height became a minor hitch. But just think how close the children of America were to watching their favorite TV character go up in flames live on air.
Power Rangers Curse
Whether you were a die-hard fan or not, there’s no denying that the Power Rangers played an important part in childhoods across the globe. Although these colorful spandex-clad superheroes have been represented by various actors over the years, many will still remember the original 90s line-up.
But just how much do you know about the people behind the costumes? The cast members of the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and its subsequent reincarnations have been steeped in a long history of tragedy since they first hit our screens in 1993.
David Yost, who played Billy the blue ranger, has revealed that he was the subject of homophobic bullying on-set which led him to volunteer himself for gay conversion therapy after leaving the show in 1996.
Thankfully, he has since come to accept his sexuality and uses his own experience to benefit others just like him. In a macabre twist, the red ranger of the 2002 version, played by Ricardo Medina Jr, pleaded not guilty in 2017 to attacking and fatally injuring his roommate with a sword, taking his old role a tad too seriously, perhaps.
Meanwhile, the original green ranger Tommy Oliver, played by Jason David Frank has since become an MMA star with a 100%-win ratio. Nowadays, a ranger’s reunion wouldn’t even be possible because the original yellow ranger Thuy Trang tragically died in a car accident at the young age of 27, adding to the popular belief that there was a real-life power ranger ‘curse’.
Dr Seuss’ Secret Life
Theodor Geisel, otherwise known as Dr Seuss, is one of the world’s most-loved children’s authors responsible for the creation of a whole host of iconic childhood characters from The Cat in the Hat to The Grinch.
However, his own lack of children has led some to believe that Seuss disliked kids, and although his indifference remains unproven, his personal life was still far from perfect. Geisel was married to his first wife Helen Palmer, who was suffering from cancer, when he met and fell in love with already-married Audrey Stone Dimond, beginning a scandalous affair.
Dimond divorced her husband to be with Geisel, while Helen struggled to cope and eventually resolved to take her own life by overdosing on barbiturates in October 1967.
In a heartbreaking final note, Helen wrote “I cannot conceive of life without you” and even decided to protect her husband's much-loved reputation by proposing “my going will leave quite a rumour, but you can say I was overworked and overwrought… sometimes I think of the fun we had all through the years”.
The following summer, Suess and Audrey Dimond became married, and his scandalous past was kept buried, upholding his image as the ever-rhyming joyful children’s writer.
The Plight of Dorothy Gale
The Wizard of Oz is one of the most universally known movies of all time. It shows up on TV every Christmas, it has spawned the popular west-end spin-off Wicked and its cast of quirky characters is a true staple of popular culture.
Although the 1939 technicolor film adaptation became instantly iconic and received six Academy Award nominations, few are aware of the horrendous treatment many of its actors endured behind the scenes.
The titular role of Dorothy may have been perfect for the young and incredibly talented Judy Garland, but her experience on set was far from it. To make 17-year-old Garland appear as childlike as possible, she was forced to wear a restricting corset during filming, and her weight was regulated by putting her on a diet of chicken soup, cigarettes and coffee.
MGM studios even ran Garland like clockwork by giving her ‘pep pills’ to work 16 hours a day and administering sleeping pills when they wanted her to rest. This horrible experience no doubt impacted Garland’s later life as she attempted to end her own life around 20 times during her third thirteen-year marriage, eventually dying from an accidental barbiturate overdose while penniless and aged just 47.
The Yellow Brick Road Doesn’t Always Run Smooth…
Dorothy’s pals also suffered greatly due to a variety of oversights during filming which would never pass movie standards today.
The infamous suit worn by Bert Lahr, who played the lovable cowardly lion was made from real lion skin and hair and weighed in at around 90lb, making filming so uncomfortable that two assistants had to dry the suit each night after excessive sweating.
Meanwhile, the original Tin Man Buddy Ebsen almost died after inhaling dangerous aluminum dust from the toxic body paint which collapsed his lungs, hospitalizing him and putting him out of the role which was then handed to Jack Haley.
Using toxic materials for filming didn’t seem to be a major concern for MGM though, as the fake snow used in the infamous poppies scene was actually 100% industrial-grade asbestos.
The scarecrow wasn’t so safe either, as the facial prosthetics used to create his iconic look left visible marks on Roy Bolger’s face for over a year. Furthermore, he was supposed to be romantically involved with Dorothy in the original script!
“I’m Melting!” … literally?
Margaret Hamilton’s unforgettable performance as the Wicked Witch of the West was considered so scary that many of her scenes were left on the cutting room floor, but it doesn’t compare to the horror she experienced herself on set.
Her lime-green skin might be iconic now, but the face paint used stained Hamilton for weeks, and the chemical mix involved was so toxic that she couldn’t eat solid foods and was forced onto a temporary liquid diet during production.
As if that wasn’t enough, while filming her exit from Munchkinland, Hamilton’s dress, broom and hat went up in flames, leaving her with third-degree burns to the face and hands and causing her to take 6 weeks of medical leave. She returned to filming under one condition: no more pyrotechnics.
Pride Lands Taboo
The Lion King is a beloved childhood tale and the recent live-action reboot attempted to make the story as believable as possible by representing the characters as true-to-life animals.
Taking the plot a little too literally has proved problematic for some online speculators, though, who have come to the realization that the budding relationship between Simba and Nala would likely be a product of incest.
This unsavory thought is a result of the natural dynamic of real-life lion prides, which usually only have one mature male, meaning that Mufasa is probably Nala’s father. Alternatively, she could be Scar's child, which would still make the young cubs cousins.
If that wasn’t enough, one cruel-hearted soul has even pointed out that, as the average lifespan of a lion in the wild is 15 years, real-life Simba would have died way back in 2009.
Flipper the Dolphin
It isn’t just animals of the cartoon kind who are capable of hitting you right in those childhood feels, and the case of the real-life Flipper from the popular 60’s show is a true soul-crusher.
As with many long-standing shows featuring real animals, Flipper was a role filled by five different trained dolphins during the show's three-year run, and one of the most-loved aquatic creatures, named Kathy, met a tragic end.
Kathy had been living out her retired life in isolated captivity when she began showing signs of onset depression as a result of her reduced quality of life, so she took things into her own hands (or fins).
Kathy is said to have swum into the arms of her former TV trainer Ric O’ Barrie one last time before deliberately stopping her breathing and allowing herself to sink to the bottom of the tank, taking her own life.
The Not-So Suite Life
Mr Moseby is the goofy yet uptight manager of the Tipton Hotel in the Disney Channel smash-hit Suite Life of Zack & Cody featuring twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse.
Phill Lewis first appeared as the fan-favorite character in 2005 and went on to portray Mr Moseby in the spin-off series The Suite Life and Deck as well as in episodes of That’s so Raven, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place and more.
So, what could possibly be so corrupting about this childhood hero? In 1991, Lewis was arrested and charged with manslaughter and driving drunk after he was responsible for the death of a 21-year-old woman while three times over the limit for legal intoxication.
Lewis was given five years in prison, but his sentence was reduced to one year following his influential work with a prison-based theater group. Nevertheless, it's unlikely you will ever view Mr Moseby in the same nostalgic light. Never mind no running in the halls…
Most nursery rhymes are pretty universally known, and if you hadn’t been taught them while growing up at home or school you’ve probably heard them elsewhere. They mostly sound like child-pleasing nonsense to our adult ears, but what if some of these joyful jingles had a more sinister meaning?
Take ‘This Little Piggy Went to Market’ for example. How many of us imagined a little piggy going off to the local market to pick up some veggies for his other piggy friends? This rosy image certainly isn’t beyond the realm of childhood possibility but looking back it’s more likely the pig in question is being taken to the farmers' market to be slaughtered.
Meanwhile, his friends all await similar fates: one stayed home, as it wasn’t quite his time yet, one was forced to eat roast beef to fatten him up, another was already fat enough and ‘had none’ and what about that “wee wee weeing all the way home”? That’ll be the pig squealing in terror while being carted off.
What about the catchy tune of “Ring Around the Rosie”? Well, that one’s about the Black Death. It’s thought the rhyme dates back to medieval Europe at a time rife with outbreaks of bubonic plague, and its dark origins are reflected in the not-so-innocent lines.
To break it down: the ‘ring around the Rosie’ itself refers to a red ring-like rash which was a common symptom of the plague, while a ‘pocket full of posies’ were herbs carried to ward off the smell of the disease. All that “a-tishoo, a tishooing” represents the sneezing associated with the illness and as for the ending where ‘they all fall down’, I’ll let you figure that one out yourself.
Say No to Gak
Popular kids-TV network Nickelodeon is remembered for a whole host of nostalgic shows but also for its trademark green slime, which was used in various shows as well as at the Kids Choice awards where all manner of celebs were slimed while the audience laughed hysterically.
The iconic green slime originated on the show Double Dare and has been marketed like crazy throughout the years, there was even slime ketchup and slime-green cereal. The most popular form of good old Nick slime was the kids' toy nicknamed ‘Gak’, but despite being a nightmare to get out of carpets what could be so damning about this colorful goo?
In an interview in 2013, Double Dare host Marc Summers explained the origins behind this seemingly nonsense name and it’s definitely not what you’d expect from a product mass-marketed to kids.
It turns out kids were begging their parents for the product of an inside joke by a Philly-based production team who named the slime after the local street-name for a class A drug. If anything, there’s a missed opportunity here to encourage kids to just “say no to Gak”.
If you enjoyed investigating these theories, you might want to read about the scariest Pixar theories, the scariest Disney theories and this article about other theories that will ruin your childhood. Thanks for reading!