Here's What Really Happened To The Noid: 5 Crazy Aftermaths
For every Hollywood superstar who dominates tabloids with a well-publicized felony or drug problem, dozens or hundreds of equally alarming stories get quietly swept under the rug. For example, we're willing to bet that you didn't know ...
A Popular Sesame Street Actor Went Tragically And Violently Crazy
One of the most important milestones in the history of Sesame Street came in 1982 when Will Lee, the actor who played the popular local shopkeeper Mr. Hooper, died. Rather than telling kids that Mr. Hooper just moved to Reno or something, the writers decided to actually kill off the character and take this opportunity to educate Big Bird -- and children all over the world, by extension -- about death.
" ... and as Mr. Hooper enters the more advanced stages of decomposition ..."
During the heartbreaking scene in which Big Bird and every kid watching was ripped, kicking and screaming, into adulthood, it was revealed that Mr. Hooper willed his store to his friend David, played by actor Northern Calloway. David was a rising show favorite with era-appropriate sideburns who was always eager to cheer you up with a song, and he was dating Maria, which, let's face it, is basically winning the Sesame Street lottery. Though it's not like she had a lot of other guys with flesh and working anatomy to choose from. It's only natural that David would be chosen to fill the hole that Mr. Hooper left in our hearts.
Now, we're not going to suggest that the Sesame Street shopkeeper role was cursed somehow, but it wasn't long before Northern Calloway had some kind of tragic mental breakdown. He would start fights with his co-workers that eventually became so violent that he actually bit someone. So his off-screen persona was less Elmo and more Oscar (look, we're trying to keep this light, here).
"How about I tell you how to get my foot in your ass."
And it's not like the producers of the show didn't have any warning that Calloway was unhinged. In 1980, he had beaten a woman with an iron rod before going on a one-man rampage through the streets of Nashville, smashing windows, wrecking cars, and mugging people (he reportedly wasn't wearing pants). Calloway escaped charges on the testimony that he'd suffered a "one-off nervous breakdown" and it would never happen again. (It happened lots again).
Sesame Street ultimately cut ties with Calloway after he began stalking teenage actress Alison Bartlett, who played David's shop assistant, Gina, and at one point showed up at her high school to propose to her. Calloway was sent to a mental institution, where he later tragically died from a heart attack during another murderous rage, and David vanished from the show.
"Today we're going to learn about 'selective memory', kids!"
You might assume this presented another teaching opportunity, but the writers opted not to put together a "sometimes our friends turn into violent psychopaths and have to be committed and we don't know why" episode. That one's even harder to explain with puppets than the fact that old people die.
Domino's Pizza's Mascot Was Discontinued After Being Implicated In A Hostage Situation
Fast food franchises are renowned for their annoying, shitty mascots, from the Burger King to whatever the hell Grimace is supposed to be. For Domino's Pizza in the 1980s, it was the Noid, a diminutive Hamburgler ripoff in a red lycra bunny suit who harbored an inexplicable and frothing hatred for the very product he was supposed to be promoting.
His arch-nemesis was slightly stiffer cardboard, if that gives you any indication of what we're dealing with here.
The Noid infected pop culture so much in the '80s that he crossed into the realm of t-shirts, toys, and video games. But he mercifully disappeared from our TV screens by the '90s, not because the ads weren't selling pizzas, but because of the kind of public relations nightmare that only a mentally ill gunman could create.
In January 1989, a man carrying a .357 Magnum revolver broke into an Atlanta Domino's restaurant and held two employees hostage for five hours. After the police became involved, the assailant began making Hollywood-style demands -- $100,000 in cash, a getaway car, and bizarrely, a copy of his favorite book, The Widow's Son, by Robert Anton Wilson (you'd think he could just buy one with 100 grand). During the siege, the gunman kept forcing the hostages to make him pizza. As you would.
"30 minutes or less ... or else."
Eventually, the hostages escaped and the man was apprehended. His name? Kenneth Lamar Noid.
That was no coincidence. Kenneth Noid had been suffering from a dark carnival of brain problems that led him to believe that the bombardment of TV commercials inviting pizza fans to "avoid the Noid" were making fun of him, personally. The advertising campaign drove his psychosis to the point that he believed the Domino's Pizza Illuminati were breaking into his apartment while he was away to monitor him.
While he was making the exact same face, presumably.
After the incident, as well as a whole bunch of newspaper headlines that were hilarious variations of the theme "Domino's Couldn't Avoid This Noid!," Domino's decided to retire the character and fast food franchises decided to stick with mascots that couldn't plausibly be some crazy guy's real name. Though we're not discounting the idea that there might be someone out there named Chuck E. Cheese who is lovingly stroking a shotgun right now.
The Winner Of A 2001 Reality TV Show Died A Week Later In 9/11
In July of 2001, Fox premiered a reality show called Murder In Small Town X. The premise involved 10 contestants trying to solve a fictional murder mystery, like a live-action game of Clue. Not the worst idea for a reality show, all things considered.
Although it was probably tiresome to edit out the thousands of "Colonel Mustard with the candlestick" jokes.
The ultimate winner of the show was New York City firefighter Angel Juarbe Jr., who solved the crime and won $250,000 and a new car. The final episode aired on September 4th. Unfortunately, it would turn out not to be the most memorable thing to happen in America in September 2001.
And, where most people would probably quit their jobs on the spot after winning a quarter of a million and a Jeep on a game show, Angel Juarbe wasn't most people. He went right back to work in the NYC firehouse. Less than a week later, on 9/11, 9/11 happened.
Sure enough, Juarbe was one of the first responders who heroically tried to evacuate people from the towers as they collapsed, and gave his life to protect others. The entire cast of the show later visited his mother to pay their respects ("You probably don't know us, but we once solved a fake murder with your son") and, yes, the show was cancelled shortly thereafter.
A The Killing Fields Oscar Winner Was Later Murdered For A Necklace
In case you've never heard of Haing S. Ngor, his name is prestigious in Hollywood for a number of reasons -- in 1985, he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Killing Fields, making him to this day one of only three Asians to win an acting Oscar, as well as one of the few people to win an acting Oscar while not actually being a professional actor. In reality, he was a Cambodian surgeon who survived Pol Pot's reign of terror and moved to America. The director of The Killing Fields, a movie about the Pol Pot regime, cast Ngor in a supporting role due to him actually having lived that nightmare.
"So you'll totally be okay reliving it then!"
Pol Pot's extremist anti-technology Khmer Rouge regime was a group of maniacs who thought they could base an entire society around farming alone, to the point that they actually murdered anyone who knew anything beyond what time of year to plant corn. Literally, they had exams and everything, but you'd get a bullet in the back of your head if you answered any of the questions correctly.
Haing Ngor was a gynecologist, and when his wife started suffering life-threatening complications in childbirth, he knew exactly how to save her, but he faced a horrifying decision -- if he did save her, the Khmer Rouge would realize that he was smart, and would probably kill him, his wife, his entire extended family, and his dog, for good measure. So Ngor let his wife die and carried that decision with him for the rest of his life.
Here's a picture of not that.
Flash forward to 1985 -- Ngor, with no acting experience, won an Oscar for just basically playing himself. He decided that he enjoyed acting and appeared in a fair number of movies and TV shows until 1996, when he was unceremoniously murdered in his Los Angeles front yard by three muggers who apparently just wanted his stuff.
According to the tragic official story, the muggers confronted Ngor outside his apartment and demanded all of his valuables, which he was happy to give up, except for a locket he wore around his neck containing a photo of his dead wife. His refusal to surrender the locket was what apparently led to his murder.
Someone should have sent the Grim Reaper studio notes for that ending being way too on the nose.
Though there is some speculation that the true motive behind the killing may have been political -- the gang members who were convicted for the killing were Cambodian immigrants themselves, and may have targeted Ngor specifically for his activism against the Khmer Rouge. In any case, it's just another depressingly common example of a great champion of civil rights being taken from us before his time by some random asshole with a firearm.
The Love Boat Was Later Busted For Smuggling Heroin
For those too young to remember, The Love Boat was a massively popular TV show in the '70s and '80s set on a cruise ship, in which a rotating cast of middle-aged-to-elderly guest stars had all the kinds of exciting adventures you could expect from a bunch of old people trapped together on a very slow-moving luxury vessel.
Lots and lots of geriatric sex. Go on. Picture it.
But the Love Boat's greatest and more prime-time adventures actually came after the long-running show had wrapped up. The titular boat (actually a P&O vessel called the Pacific Princess) was re-appropriated as a regular cruise ship after its Hollywood career ended, like a washed-up actor trying to make ends meet on the back of their past success.
But in 1998, the Love Boat was impounded by authorities when it sailed into a Greek port with a motherload of heroin on board. After Greek authorities interrogated the crew, it was discovered that the ship was actually being routinely used by international drug smugglers to distribute heroin around the world, because frankly, who would suspect the Love Boat?
Definitely less conspicuous than the "SS Smack Schooner."
Despite its now-sordid reputation, the ship remained in operation until 2013, when a toxic gas leak on board killed two people and injured six others. This was one infraction too far, and the company ultimately sold it for scrap to a Turkish shipyard, lest it find new ways to continue its Stephen King-esque reign of terror across the Pacific.
Jordan Breeding is a part-time writer, a full-time lover, and an all the time guitarist. Check out his band at http://www.skywardband.com or on Spotify here. Blow your mind further by checking out Markos' Twitter.
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