We've all lived through a coincidence that no one will ever believe happened, usually involving pop-ups of nude women appearing on your screen just when someone walks past your computer. Fortunately, the following coincidences are very well-documented, otherwise there's no way in hell we'd buy any of this shit.
#8. Various World Leaders Fall to the "Two Pandas" Curse, All at the Same Time
In 1974, three world leaders were forced to step down. Their scandals weren't connected, but the three had one very strange, very specific thing in common: They had all been given exactly two pandas.
In 1976, the BBC ran a documentary called Very Important Pandas that pointed out this bizarre and quite frankly ridiculous coincidence. It starts with Richard Nixon, who was given two giant pandas by the Republic of China during a visit, because they didn't have time to buy him a box of chocolates and that was the first thing they found in the pantry. That was in 1972 -- Nixon Watergated his way out of the U.S. presidency two years later.
In retrospect, sending his clumsy pets to break into that office was kinda dumb.
Also in 1974, Edward Heath, the prime minister of Britain, quit his job following a series of miners' strikes in the same year. And what do you know, Heath had visited China months earlier and personally asked for two pandas.
"Making demands, eh? Give him some extra cursed ones."
But anything can happen twice, right?
Well, next came Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who, besides being a freaking prince, was one of the founders of the World Wildlife Fund and the guy responsible for making pandas famous despite their biological incompetence. He was fired for getting involved in the Lockheed Corporation scandal -- the same scandal that caused the arrest of former Prime Minister Tanaka of Japan. Why "former"? Because he was given a pair of pandas in 1971 and resigned from office in -- you guessed it -- 1974.
Soon afterward, China threw her arms in the air, screamed "Fuck it!" and discontinued this trend of panda-trafficking, lest the whole world end up leaderless and embroiled in anarchy. Just as the pandas wanted.
#7. The Little Rascals Curse Leaves Everyone Dead
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Child stars tend to have rough lives, so it's not terribly surprising to find out that some stars of a classic kids' show died early deaths. But holy shit, nothing can prepare you for the parade of horror and brutality that was The Little Rascals curse.
This is different from the 1994 curse, which just left their careers dead.
The classic series of shorts (originally called "Our Gang") was about the misadventures of a group of neighborhood kids and began in the 1920s, because there was nothing more hilarious to pre-Great Depression America than watching poor children performing dangerous stunts. And speaking of depressing, the post-Little Rascals lives (or, more accurately, deaths) of these kids is enough to make anyone believe in curses.
Warner Bros. Entertainment
It all started in the classic short "Our Gang Murders a Gypsy."
For starters, by the time The Little Rascals became a TV show in 1955, five of the original actors couldn't complain about the lack of residuals on account of already being dead. Billy "Froggy" Laughlin had been killed after getting hit by a truck at 16; Norman "Chubby" Chaney was nicknamed so due to a glandular ailment that caused him to pass away at the age of 21; and Clifton Young, who played Bonedust, became pretty much that when he fell asleep while smoking and died in a fire at 33. Another one, Donald Haines, was killed in action during World War II at 23, but at least he died a heroic death in combat -- unlike poor Bobby Hutchings ("Wheezer"), who died in a plane crash at 20 during routine army training.
"Yeah," you say, "but these were unhealthy people and military vets; maybe it's not so weird that they kept meeting unnatural ends."
Oh, we're not done. In 1959, Carl Switzer ("Alfalfa," the most popular one) was shot to death at 31 over $50. Even his brother died a tragic death, and that guy was only an extra. Scotty Beckett expired at 38 from a combination of drugs, alcohol, and getting the shit kicked out of him. Dorothy Dandridge found great success, got an Academy Award nomination ... and then still managed to fall on hard times and overdosed at 42. Jesus, did any of these people die of natural causes? Sure, Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas and Darla Hood did. Before reaching 50.
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Plus the dog got rabies and Stymie's kickass derby was ruined by a dry cleaner.
Even those who thought they'd surely beaten the curse and lived to a ripe old age still couldn't avoid horrific ends: In May of 2002, 71-year-old Darwood Kaye was killed in a hit-and-run accident, and a few months after that, 87-year-old Jay R. Smith was stabbed to death by a homeless man.
This is some serious Final Destination shit here. But hey, at least Robert "Mickey" Blake seems to be doing all right.
We're not saying he sold the souls of 50 co-stars to the devil, but it sure would make a lot of sense.
#6. The Hunt for an Unknown Thief Finds Him Just an Inch Away (on the Front Page)
On Christmas Day 2007, a local newspaper in Lewiston, Idaho, published the picture of a man who stole a woman's wallet from a store, hoping someone would help identify the asshole. The chances were slim, though: The security footage showed a heavyset white man with a goatee nabbing the wallet, which would be an original look in Nigeria or Vietnam, but not so much in Palesville, USA.
Unfortunately, Seth Rogen had an alibi.
However, by complete accident, the page where the thief's picture appeared in the newspaper offered a subtle clue to his identity. Below is the page exactly as it appeared that day. Can you solve this mystery?
Was it Santa?
Yes, it's the same guy in both pictures, wearing the same clothes, and no, the newspaper people didn't notice until the day's edition was ready to be printed -- a photographer for the paper just happened to snap a picture of some random store owner putting up Christmas decorations, because apparently there weren't any strange-looking squirrels going around that day, unaware that some editor had decided to put the thief story right under the "Let's fill some space with local bullshit" spot. That means that, the next morning, the cops concluded their investigation by simply sitting down and opening the paper, since it included not only two pictures of the suspect, but also his name and place of employment.
Michael Millhouse of Millhouse Signs was immediately arrested for stealing, which he protested by saying that he intended to turn over the wallet to the police, but forgot to do so. He also forgot to not spend $600 of the woman's money. Of course, this didn't stop the torrent of calls to the paper from people sure they were the first ones to crack open the case.
#5. Two Photos of Abraham Lincoln Predict Future Events
Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Abraham Lincoln lived in an era when getting a photograph was about as common as having an artist paint a portrait of you. It was something for important and fancy folk, and in fact we only know of about 50 photos that were ever taken of Lincoln, the great majority of which show him by himself, because the man loved his selfies.
Christopher S. German
His arms were so long, you can't tell that he was holding the camera.
That's why it's so bizarre that, out of the relatively few photos of Honest Abe that were taken during his modeling career/presidency, two of the most unusual ones happen to contain glimpses into the next hundred years of U.S. history. For instance, these pictures from the Second Inaugural Address mark the only occasion someone was lucky enough to snag photos of Lincoln giving a speech:
General Photographic Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty
"My fellow vampire hunt- wait, uh, wrong speech. Forget that."
Today it's common for celebrities like Beyonce or Bono to attend the presidential inauguration, and a pretty major one does show up in these photos: renowned actor John Wilkes Booth, who admittedly is best known for other reasons. According to the asshole assassin himself: "What an excellent chance I had to kill the president, if I had wished, on Inauguration Day!" Also in the shot are as many as five other players in the Booth conspiracy playing Where's Waldo?
You'd wuss out too if your target turned out to be a giant.
After Lincoln was assassinated a little more than a month later, his body was put on a train for a tour back to Illinois, which provided one hell of a depressing moment for one future president. Which one? Here, in a picture that went unnoticed until nearly a century after it was taken, is Lincoln's funeral procession moving up Broadway in New York City ... while a 6-year-old Theodore Roosevelt watches, alongside his younger brother Elliott.
New York Public Library, via Stolf
It's either Roosevelt's brother or a small bear he had just tamed.
So one picture of Lincoln shows his future assassin, and another shows the guy he would sit next to on Mount Rushmore. It's a small world, but not that small.