Barry Levinson is probably best known for films like Good Morning Vietnam, Rain Man, and Diner. The accomplished actor, writer, director and producer began as part of a comedy duo with Craig T. Nelson doing improv skits at local clubs, which we cannot believe never took off.
Because with Craig T. Nelson, the sky's the limit.
But before all that, when he was a student, he studied journalism. While not a huge stretch, the two fields are fairly different. So what put him down this path? His friend George Jung needed a ride to acting class.
Yes, that George Jung.
After going into the class with Jung, Levinson knew he wanted to spend his life making movies. Jung, on the other hand, dropped out to become the biggest cocaine smuggler in the history of America, a profession that is still very much related to show business.
Levinson didn't make the connection to his old friend until decades later when he saw the movie with Johnny Depp, no doubt cursing himself over the money he could've made as an executive producer had he known.
"All right gentlemen, picture this: Blow 2."
Between 1981 and 1993, if you had a neighbor who owed you money, an ex who stole your furniture or a hobo whom you stabbed on a dare, you wouldn't solve these problems by going to plain old court, where somebody might laugh at you. You took that shit to The People's Court, where everyone in America could laugh at you.
Filmed in front of a Live Studio Audience of your peers.
The People's Court was the first television court show and was presided over by Judge Joseph Wapner, who didn't have a gimmick beyond just not giving a shit. A judgment in The People's Court, was legally binding and Wapner would hand you your ass in front of millions of viewers, usually in under 15 minutes.
"Listen carefully: Fuck. You."
But back in high school, Wapner was apparently pretty charming, because he managed to date Lana Turner. For our younger readers, that name might not ring a bell.
Kids, this is Lana Turner.
Turner was an actress and a sex symbol during the 1940s and 1950s who was married seven times and linked to countless other men, including the gangster Johnny Stompanato.
Winner of the 1956 Gangster's Choice Award for Most Intimidating Surname.
But during her brief six-week stint at Hollywood High School, she and Wapner dated. Some sources will lead you to believe that they were a steady couple, but Wapner admits it was just a couple of dates, presumably because he doesn't want to be sent to The People's Court for perjury.
Their first date was getting a Coke at the neighborhood drugstore, which as any experienced man will tell you is the one and only path into a woman's vagina. For reasons that cannot be explained, Wapner didn't bring his wallet with him, so Turner ended up paying. Miraculously, she agreed to a second date anyway. Wapner reminisces: "That was on a Monday; on Saturday night, we went to a dance. And that was the last time I saw her. She was gorgeous."
We presume he had this look on his face the entire time.
The interview doesn't specify, but we assume he said this while pitching a family-size tent in his judge's robes.
Byron "Whizzer" White was a man who puts anything you've ever done to shame. He graduated at the top of his class in high school and went to the University of Colorado on a football scholarship, making All Conference every year, getting seven athletic letters and presumably leaving a trail of coeds in his wake.
"My calculations show I've banged every woman in Colorado. Time to start on Arizona."
When he graduated from college, he had to make a major career choice that the rest of us couldn't even lie about at our drunkest: play professional football or take a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford. As it turns out, the Rhodes scholarship committee decided to give White a waiver so he could play football for a year before coming to Oxford. He was that badass.
Just look at him. He looks like he's about to slap the photographer.
While at Oxford, he took a vacation to the French Riviera, where he met and made friends with another charming young dude, named John F. Kennedy. We can only imagine that White taught Kennedy all the womanizing skills that would launch him into the White House.
Strangely, the two met again later, in 1942, when both were Navy ieutenants serving in the Pacific. When Kennedy's PT-109 boat was destroyed, White was sent in by the Navy to interview the crew and write the official reports, no doubt adding the footnote, "If I'd have been here, the boat wouldn't have exploded."
"But what can you expect from an underachiever like JFK?"
Nearly two decades later, that smooth-talking guy White ran into on vacation all those years ago would become president. JFK then brought White along as his stickman, making him a deputy attorney general before eventually nominating him to the Supreme Court.
White, shown here under strict presidential orders to scan the crowd for young, impressionable female interns.
Yes, kids, it freaking pays to make a good impression on people.
Philip Moon is a veteran Cracked writer. His website is PhilipRodneyMoon.com.
Davidb Marchetti has written for www.thecontemporarytheater.com, a live theater company from Rhode Island, for the past five years.
To learn more about your favorite celebrities, check out 6 Insane True Stories Behind The Stage Names of Celebrities and 7 Celebrity Careers That Launched by Accident.
And stop by Linkstorm to learn which columnist used to beat up another one in high school.
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