5 True Stories That Will Restore Your Faith In Famous People
If you were to ask us to provide a breakdown of the time the general public spends consuming celebrity news, we'd have to say it's something along the lines of 50 percent reading about all the horrible things that stars do, and 50 percent searching for pictures of them naked. But as we've mentioned before, we really should set aside at least a percent or two of that time to bask in all the wondrously selfless things that some celebrities do for their fellow man, such as ...
Wrestler John Cena Grants A Seemingly Impossible Number Of "Make-A-Wish" Wishes
To say that the schedule of a professional wrestler is soul-spankingly insane is to put it lightly. The WWE performs between two and five shows every single week, requiring some wrestlers to travel for more than three-quarters of the year. And that doesn't include the time spent cutting nonstop promos, the endless gym sessions, the baby oil application, and subsequent baby oil removal ... add it all up, and there's hardly time to rest. There's also no offseason, and unless a significant portion of your musculoskeletal system is visible from the outside, you're working through your goddamn injuries, son.
One wet wipe and a Band-Aid later, he's on to the next town.
So how, then, does WWE superstar John Cena manage to do all that and still manage to grant more "Make-A-Wish" wishes than any other celebrity, bar none? We contend that the answer to that question is "magic," and if you don't share that opinion now, you will by the end of this entry.
At the time of this writing, Cena's wish count is a nearly inconceivable 460. To put that in perspective, only five other celebrities have granted more than 200 wishes: Hulk Hogan, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Jordan, and the Justin Bieber Apology Tour. Of those in the 200 Club, none but Cena have made it to 300. He didn't just break everyone else's record -- he put it in a facelock until it whimpered like a scolded puppy. And he's not done yet -- fortunately for the children, Cena is determined to break a thousand.
Or 750 more than Bieber before he gets bored with being nice.
Covering Cena's plethora of granted wishes would take about 458 more pages than we have here, so we'll have to choose just one. And the choice is obvious: the time he met 7-year-old Chloe. Chloe suffers from a deadly neurological disorder, and her wish was to meet her favorite wrestler ... The Undertaker. We're kidding, of course -- her wish was to meet John Cena ... and have a tea party with him (that part we're not kidding about). Years of opening cans of whoop-ass in the ring have apparently done precisely zippo for Cena's teatime etiquette, resulting in some schooling from Chloe and probably the most priceless pro wrestler publicity photos ever.
Mark Harmon Rescued Two Teenagers From A Flaming Car (With a Sledgehammer)
Mark Harmon, best known for his role as "that dude on NCIS who gives your mom a raging case of the shivering swamp knickers," was lounging in his Brentwood home one night back in 1996, when suddenly fate replayed a scene from every action movie ever right outside his front window: a barreling car clipped a tree, flipped over a few times, and burst into flames.
It was the worst thing he'd seen since the script for Summer School.
The cause of the accident was 100 percent mechanical ... if the unencumbered flow of hormones into a teenage boy's brain can be considered "mechanical." Passenger Colin Specht was riding with a friend (both 16 at the time) who was doing his very best IndyCar driver impression when he missed a turn but, unfortunately, did not miss a tree. Seeing that escape from the flaming wreckage was impossible, Harmon grabbed his sledgehammer (because apparently Hollywood types always have a sledgehammer in arm's reach), ran to the car, and smashed out a window. The sudden influx of oxygen immediately caused the fire to go from "flame broiler" to "seventh circle of Hell," which just goes to make this next part all the more impressive.
Harmon immediately pulled the driver free, but Specht was trapped. Luckily for him, in addition to a convenient sledgehammer, Harmon apparently also possesses superhuman strength. As Specht put it, "He tugged me, because I was still upside down with the seat belt in, and he ripped me out of the car."
"Aww, I can't stay mad at you. Here, take him." -- The car.
Specht suffered severe burns over a third of his body, but he fully recovered and has spent the intervening years covering the resulting scars with badass tattoos (one of which had damn well better read "Mark Harmon 4ever"). Harmon remained mum on the incident for decades, only breaking his silence to the press about it relatively recently -- and even then, he refused to accept any heroic accolades for the deed. It seems that, to some people, saving the lives of two teenagers from a fiery inferno in a manner best described as "Asgardian" just ain't that big a thing.
Frank Sinatra Did Civil Rights His Way
Legendary crooner Frank Sinatra was the mid-20th century equivalent of a modern-day rapper. But when he wasn't busy making your future grandma swoon and draping himself in the '60s equivalent of gold chains (i.e. pure, unadulterated charisma), he was standing up for African-Americans and fighting for racial equality.
Um, did we mention this was the mid-20th century?
Back when just taking this picture would get you an aiding and abetting charge.
Yeah, in a time when the public consensus was that black people should absolutely have civil rights just so long as they didn't have as many as white people, ol' blue eyes thought otherwise. He regularly played benefit concerts for Martin Luther King Jr. -- at one such show in the prestigious Carnegie Hall, the good doctor broke down in tears when Sinatra sang "Ol' Man River," a song traditionally sung by a black stevedore character in the musical Show Boat. Sinatra led the charge in the desegregation of Nevada hotels and casinos by refusing to set foot inside any that forbade blacks from entering. Again, we feel it's necessary to stress that this was in the early '60s, when segregation was strong, riots were rampant, and a whole lot of shit was a whole lot of fucked-up.
Also fucked: You, if this guy told the world how much your business sucks.
On a more personal level, when former boxer Joe Louis was broke and disgraced, Sinatra hosted a fundraiser to get his finances back in order, covering the medical costs for a much-needed heart surgery and later paying for his funeral services. He personally escorted black performer / activist Lena Horne into New York's fancy Stork Club, a whites-only nightclub. When the maitre d' blubbered, checked his book, blubbered some more, rechecked his book, and finally asked Sinatra who had made their reservation, Sinatra replied, "President Abraham Lincoln." We'd have tacked a "motherfucker" there at the end, but Sinatra was far too classy for that.
Presumably, the original draft of "Somethin' Stupid" was about James Buchanan.
Sinatra even wrote an essay for Ebony explaining, very eloquently, how butt-slappingly stupid racism was. It would be a disservice to paraphrase it, so here's an excerpt in the Chairman's own words: "A friend to me has no race, no class and belongs to no minority. My friendships were formed out of affection, mutual respect and a feeling of having something strong in common. These are eternal values that cannot be racially classified. This is the way I look at race."
Famous Director Sells His Mansion And Gives All His Money To Charity, Lives In A Trailer Park
You may not know Tom Shadyac's name, but you know the movies he's directed: the Ace Ventura and The Nutty Professor series, Liar Liar, Patch Adams, and Bruce / Evan Almighty, to name a few ("a few" in this case meaning "most of them"). Basically, he's the reason Jim Carrey is a famous actor rather than a crazy hobo peeing on your ankle in the subway.
"Now I can afford to keep a staff of hobos on retainer to do it for me."
At the height of his directing career, Shadyac was worth tens of millions of dollars and owned a sprawling mansion in Los Angeles, taking full advantage of the A-list lifestyle that assloads of TBS royalties can provide. But then he fell off his bicycle. For months afterward, he locked himself away in darkness due to head injuries that caused an extreme sensitivity to light and sound, and he emerged from his gloomy chrysalis with a new realization that there was more to life than material things.
Now, for most rich folk, such an epiphany would be a temporary itch that they would scratch by writing a nice, fat check to the lucky charity of the day. But that wasn't anywhere near good enough for Shadyac. No, when he said he was sick and tired of materialism, he damn well meant it. So he sold off all of his possessions -- including his swanky Hollywood mansion -- and gave away all the proceeds to a laundry list of worthy charities. He left himself with just enough to afford a mobile home and moved into a trailer park, and now refuses to work for anything more than the minimum directing fees set out by the Directors Guild of America.
Meanwhile, Michael Bay uses more space for his change drawer.
While it might seem like such a lifestyle would get old at the first caviar craving, Shadyac has no regrets. In his own words: "I was living in a 17,000-square-foot, three-home complex, and the key word was 'complex.' One house was a guesthouse, one house was a work house. I had six or seven acres. ... But I had been in L.A. for 20 years and I still didn't know one of my neighbors. Here I live in 1,000 square feet, and it takes me 20 minutes to take out my trash, because I'm always chatting with them."
The one downside is less time to talk with God.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, we should point out that the residences in Shadyac's particular Malibu trailer park, Paradise Cove, have been known to go for anywhere from $1-3 million. What, you didn't think he'd pull a full-on reverse-8 Mile, did you?
J.K. Rowling Donates So Much Money To Charity That She Knocked Herself Off Of The "Richest People" List
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter franchise has made all of the world's money. All of it. OK, we're exaggerating, but not by a whole hell of a lot: The franchise is said to be worth $15 billion, with Rowling raking in an estimated $1.6 million in royalties every single day.
She could probably afford the life-size version.
That's the kind of money that enables one to retire to her private volcano lair and sustain herself on endangered animal fillets and the finest imported California drought water. But that's not how Rowling chooses to spend her time -- rather, she chooses to spend it with people like Catie Hoch.
Back when the book series was still in full swing and the world was waiting for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, young Catie was suffering from neuroblastoma, a particularly assholish brand of cancer that tends to attack young children. And when Catie's parents contacted Rowling fearing that Catie wouldn't make it to the release of the next book, she became the very first person in the world to experience Harry's next adventure. "We laid Catie down on the living room couch and [Rowling] read to her over the phone," her mother said. "Catie's face just lit up." Rowling would go on to donate $100,000 to the the Catie Hoch Foundation after her passing.
And that's not an isolated incident. When Rowling received word that Texan Cassidy Stay had quoted Dumbledore during a memorial service for her parents and four siblings who had been tragically taken from her by a crazed gunman, she sent her a letter written from the perspective of Dumbledore himself, along with a wand and an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. And when superfan Evanna Lynch sent Rowling letters thanking her for her books, which she credited with giving her "hope" to combat her anorexia, Rowling personally counseled her to get healthy and try out for a role in the films. You probably remember her best as Luna Lovegood.
"Getting paid to wear those glasses was its own reward."
In her more wide-ranging philanthropic efforts, Rowling's tossed so much of her fortune to charitable causes that she cast a vanishing spell on her spot on Forbes' World's Billionaires list (she had given away $160 million, as of a few years ago). Her charity Lumos has vowed to put an end to orphanages in Europe by 2030, and worldwide by 2050. We realize that one actually sounds like a supervillain's manifesto, but we assume Rowling intends to get rid of the orphanages by finding the children homes and not, you know, by destroying all of them with a giant space laser she's secretly building. If that turns out to be the case, we'll probably have to retract this whole entry.
For more things that'll brighten your day, check out 5 Inspiring True Stories For Anyone Feeling Cynical Today and 6 True Stories That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.
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