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LookingBack February 7, 2010

Mary Braswell, librarian

Mary Braswell, librarian

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

Here is a look at tidbits of information about famous people from the movies, television, politics, sports and more. And, believe it or not, none of it is scandalous.

* Before Benji made it big in the movies, he had the role of Uncle Joe's dog, Higgins on the television show, "Petticoat Junction."

* Drew Carey once worked at Denny's.

* Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, was an ophthomologist by profession.

* Bill Gates designed a traffic-control system for Seattle when he was only 15 years old.

* Jean-Claude Van Damme learned to speak English by watching "The Flintstones."

* Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, was afraid of mice.

* "King Kong" was Adolph Hitler's favorite movie.

* Mr. Rogers was an ordained minister.

* Richard Nixon liked ketchup on his cottage cheese.

* Rudyard Kipling refused to write with anything other than black ink.

* Sandra Bullock is allergic to horses.

* Kermit the Frog delivered the commencement address at Southampton College in New York state in 1996.

* Bob Hope and Billy Joel were both once boxers.

* Babe Ruth used to wear a cabbage leaf under his cap to keep him cool. He changed it every two innings.

* Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952 but declined. Einstein also declined to ever wear socks.

* During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh only sold one of his paintings.

* Garth Brooks worked as a salesman in a boot store right up until he broke into the country music business. He also received a track scholarship for college as a javelin thrower.

* Ted Danson (of "Cheers" fame) once appeared in a television commercial as a package of lemon chiffon pie mix. He was all decked out in a yellow box and matching tights and flanked by actors playing chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch pie mix.

* Billy Ray Cyrus attended Georgetown College on a baseball scholarship.

* Hugh Hefner served as the circulation manager for Children's Activities magazine while he was raising money to launch Playboy magazine.

* Orville Wright was flying the plane when the first U.S. airplane fatality occurred. This Wright brother was also known to number the eggs his hens produced so he could eat them in the order they were laid.

* Bob Dylan's first public musical appearance was at the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village.

* Joseph Stalin was training to be a priest before he was introduced to Marxism.

* Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel) worked on an the advertising campaign for an insecticide called Flit, which used his trademark bugs for 17 years.

* Carroll O'Connor (Archer Bunker) was the first entertainer to be shown diapering a baby in full view of a television audience.

* Greek philosopher Socrates was trained as a stonecutter.

* Marie Osmond is the mother of seven children.

* Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones has a million (British) pounds ($1.58 million) worth of insurance on the third finger of his left hand.

* It was the famous magician Houdini who gave Buster Keaton the nickname "Buster."

* Hulk Hogan's real name is Terry Bollea.

* Al Capone's business card said he was a used-furniture dealer.

* Isaac Asimov is the only author who has a book in every Dewey Decimal category.

* Charles Lindbergh took only four sandwiches with him on his famous trans-Atlantic flight.

* The woman who has appeared most often on the cover of Time magazine is the Virgin Mary.

* Charles Dickens slept facing north. He thought it improved his writing.

* Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is believed to have been the first American with indoor plumbing (1840).

* Batman disguised the lever that opened the secret panel hiding the bat slides that he and Robin used to get to the Bat Cave with a bust of Shakespeare.

* Howdy Doody had 48 freckles -- one for each state at the time.

* The name Arby's stands for founders Forrest and LeRoy Raffel -- the RB brothers.

* Shirley Temple always had 56 curls in her hair.

* When Mahatma Gandhi wanted advice on diet and exercise, he asked Charles Atlas.

* Actor Val Kilmer grew up on Roy Rogers' ranch.

* During his lifetime, Herman Melville's book "Moby Dick" sold only 30 copies.

* Elvis Presley got a "C" in his eighth-grade music class.

* Pope John Paul ll was named an honorary Harlem Globetrotter in the year 2000.

* Pablo Picasso was so impoverished at times that he burned his own paintings to keep warm.

* Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team his sophomore year.

* In 1875, the back of the $20 bill featured Pocahontas.

* Ted Turner owns about 2 percent of New Mexico.

* Virginia Wolfe wrote all her books while standing up.

* The "L.L." In L.L. Bean stands for Leon Leonwood.

* Betsy Ross was the first real person to be a Pez (candy) head.

* The lead singer of the Knacks, famous for "My Sharona," and Jack Kevorkian's lead defense attorney are brothers, Doug and Jeffrey Feiger.

* Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand while drawing with the other.

* Winston Churchill was a stutterer. As a child, one of his teachers warned, "Because of his stuttering, he should be discouraged from following in his father's political footsteps."

* Before Penny Marshall became well known for her role as Laverne in the sitcom "Laverne & Shirley", she played Oscar Madison's secretary on the "Odd Couple."