Special Sub-Topic: Truth or Fiction: Celebrity Edition
|The rumor: A white woman in a hotel elevator gets more than she bargained for from basketball star Michael Jordan and comedian Eddie Murphy. Instead of getting robbed, she gets roses for making them laugh. |
Completely false. This particular e-mail rumor has its basis in racial stereotypes, and is a variation of stories told orally for over thirty years. The potential victim is an older white woman, and the potential aggressors are two big black men who, unbeknownst to the woman, are superstars and not out to rob her. Michael Jordan and Eddie Murphy have been featured in the latest variation of this story; baseball star Reggie Jackson and country singer Charlie Pride have popped up in other incarnations of the story.
|The rumor: Clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger was once thrown off the set of "Oprah" for making disparaging remarks about minorities who wear his clothes.|
Completely false. This e-mail rumor has floated around since at least 1997. Tommy Hilfiger was not a guest on "Oprah" during the time, or any time for that matter. This is something that even Oprah herself verified, in a special segment on her show on January 11, 1999. Hilfiger's company has been heavily involved in a project to build a national memorial to the slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and has prominently featured African-Americans in its advertising. Previous variations of designers-gone-loco has spotlighted the likes of Liz Claiborne and Bill Blass. (Thanks to the Tommy Hilfiger website for additional information.)
|The rumor: At a book signing, actress Ann-Margret breaks rank to kiss a Vietnam-era soldier.|
Completely true. According to the story, which has been verified by independent sources, the Vietnam vet wanted to show Ann-Margret the picture he took of her and Bob Hope during one of their entertainment tours. Though the bookstore staff went nuts trying to tell the man that Ann was only signing books--which she also did for him--she was overcome when she saw the picture, and kissed the man. Today, she still gets many letters from military veterans who watched her perform.
|The rumor: Although well known for making patriotic motion pictures, actor John Wayne was never drafted to serve during World War II.|
Partially true. He was drafted, but had his enlistment deferred so he could support his family. According to Cecil Adams, author of "The Straight Dope" series of trivia books, John Wayne was indeed drafted to serve in the military during World War II. But at age 34, with a marriage on the rocks and four children to support, Wayne was afraid that his budding Hollywood career would be derailed if he served. Also on his side was Uncle Sam himself, who asked the California draft boards to go easy on the actors of the day. Wayne was eventually deferred from service, and he made a number of war-related pictures in that time. Despite later efforts by the Selective Service to have Wayne serve, he never actually put on a military uniform in real life. (Thanks to The Straight Dope website, www.straightdope.com, for additional information.)
|The rumor: Steve Burns, the host of Nickolodeon's successful children's series "Blue's Clues", died of a heroin overdose in 1995.|
Completely false. The reports of Steve Burns's demise were greatly exaggerated when this e-mail rumor surfaced in December of 1998. Burns and "Blue's Clues" co-creator Angela Santomero went on Rosie O'Donnell's talk show that month to prove to the world that he was still kicking. The rumor likely got its start when Burns played a drugged-out kid who died in police custody in a 1995 episode of NBC's hit series "Law and Order". During his five-year run on "Blue's Clues", he also appeared on another NBC drama, "Homicide: Life on the Streets" and on the CBS comedy "Yes, Dear". (Thanks to www.snopes.com and the Internet Movie Database for additional information.)
|The rumor: Country music legend Charlie Daniels wrote an open letter criticizing the Hollywood elite for protesting against the War in Iraq.|
Completely true. Best known for his rousing, upbeat song "The Devil Went Down To Georgia", Charlie Daniels is not ashamed to stand up for his patriotic beliefs. On his website, readers can go to Charlie's Soapbox, and read a number of blistering commentaries, including one dedicated to protesting stars in Hollywood's highest circles. (Thanks to charliedaniels.com for additional information.)
|The rumor: Actress Cindy Williams (of "Laverne and Shirley") fame wrote an article in a Washington, DC, newspaper in January 2000, denouncing proposed pay raises for the military.|
Partially true. The letter was written by a different Cindy Williams. "The Washington Post" published a letter in January 2000 from Cindy Williams, a national security and budgetary expert, who claimed that a 13 percent wage gap, and subsequent raises to help close that gap, were unnecessary. The e-mail rumor, which features a rebuttal of some sort from someone in the services, typically attributes the letter to the better-known Cindy Williams, and claims the article was published in "The Washington Times".
|The rumor: One of a number of pigs used to play Arnold Ziffel on the CBS series "Green Acres" was eaten by the cast and crew at a farewell party after the series completed filming.|
F. Trainer Frank Inn, who was responsible for all the different pigs who played Arnold, verified to snopes.com that not a single one of them was ever eaten. They were allowed to go on to live out their days at various farms. The same rumors also circulated about another famous celluloid pig, "Babe", after that movie wrapped.
|The rumor: Eric Clapton's award-winning song "Tears in Heaven" was written for his son, Conor, who died after falling out of a window.|
Completely true. Late in the morning on March 20, 1991, Conor Clapton--Eric Clapton's son by Italian actress Lori Del Santo--ran past the housekeeper in their New York condo and fell through a window left open to air out the place. Conor fell from the 53rd story of the building and onto a roof of an adjacent apartment building. Clapton's grief led him to take time off from his music, but when he returned, his music was more pensive and thoughtful. "Tears in Heaven" was on the soundtrack of the movie "Rush", starring Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and garnered several Grammys for Clapton at the 1993 awards ceremony. (Thanks to snopes.com and the Internet Movie Database for additional information.)
|The rumor: Comedian Robin Williams paid for all of actor Christopher Reeve's medical bills, after Reeve was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident in 1995.|
F. Both Reeve and Williams actively denied this rumor, though Williams indicated in a British tabloid in 1999 that he did buy his longtime friend a new van to help him get around and a new generator to ensure he always had electrical power. Reeve, the star of four "Superman" movies, as well as numerous other films during his career, died of cardiac arrest in 2004.
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