Mind-Blowing Celebrity Connections That Seem Impossible
Once people become famous, it seems like they only hang around other celebrities and/or rich people -- what could they possibly have to say to peasants like us? So it's no surprise when these glitzy bastards show up at the same clubs together. What is weird, however, is how many celebrities from totally different fields (or even time periods) knew each other before they got famous.
We've told you about how Samuel Beckett used to drive Andre the Giant to school, but that's not the weirdest pair of famous people to share an unexpected connection...
Empire Creator Danny Strong Was A Fan Of Quentin Tarantino ... When He Was Just A Video Store Clerk
Danny Strong was one of those "you know, that guy" TV actors (thanks to appearances in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, Mad Men, and a long etc.) before gaining huge success as the creator of Fox's hip-hop soap opera, Empire.
His producers still tell him, "OK, you go stand in the background over there." He's got one of those faces.
Strong also wrote the screenplays for The Butler and two Hunger Games movies. Dude's had a pretty weird trajectory, is our point -- but it gets even weirder when you find out how he became a film buff in the first place. When Strong was a kid, he would go into the local video store and have long conversations with a clerk who "got turned on to all these different movies that 10 year olds don't see." (As in, art films, not hardcore porn. We think.) That clerk's name? Albert Einstein.
"It's the shelf on staff picks that says 'Bad Motherfucker.'"
Fine, it was actually Quentin Tarantino.
As we've mentioned before, Tarantino got his start in the movie industry by working at that same rental store. He was known for his infectious enthusiasm for movies, and patient zero of that outbreak might very well have been the young Strong. The kid used to spend so much time at the store, in fact, that he earned the nickname "Lil' Quentin."
They do have a whole Dr. Evil/Mini Me thing going on...
One day, Tarantino was gone from the store, and it came out that he was making a movie. That movie's name? Albert Eins-- uh, Reservoir Dogs. Two years later, he'd win an Oscar for Pulp Fiction, and Strong got to tell people he was a fan of that guy before anyone else. We'd tell you to be nice to your video store clerk, but half of you are now asking Google what a "video store" even is.
Wyatt Earp Hung Out With A Teenage John Wayne
Wyatt Earp was one of those guys who wasn't satisfied sticking to one job for too long -- over the years he was a lawman, buffalo hunter, brothel keeper, miner and boxing referee, among others. But obviously he was best known for being an infinitely badass cowboy dude.
Taming that mustache should count as an occupation, too.
Earp took part in the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral -- a 30-second gun battle that has inspired dozens of feature-length films. What you might not realize is that, unlike most people involved in that event, Earp lived long enough to see the earliest movies inspired by his exploits. Naturally, he wanted in on that action.
Even then, he wanted to cast Kurt Russell as himself.
Towards the end of his life, Earp settled in California and tried to break into Hollywood. Perhaps noticing an alarming lack of westerns where his character was always surrounded by naked ladies, Earp decided he wanted to tell his story from his own perspective. Unfortunately, the closest he got was reportedly a background part in a single scene of an obscure 1915 film.
On the upside, Earp did get to befriend some Hollywood actors -- including a 17-year-old nobody called Marion Morrison. You might know him under his somewhat manlier fake name, John Wayne.
Wayne's hair just lifts off his head like a LEGO figure
While hanging out on movie sets, casually choreographing historical gunfights for directors like John Ford, Earp would share stories from the Wild West with the actors. The future Wayne, then a lowly extra/prop man, soaked them up. He also paid close attention to the way Earp talked and carried himself. It was like if Elizabeth Taylor had gotten to travel back in time and have brunch with the real Cleopatra, or if Ben Affleck could shoot the shit with the real Batman.
Obviously, those anecdotes came quite handy to Wayne once he went on to star in westerns of his own -- to the point that, according to his son, whenever Wayne had to play a tough cowboy, he just channeled Wyatt Earp. So, he did that for 95 percent of his roles, basically.
The fact that he managed to do that without a mustache only makes it more impressive.
John Belushi Was Once Bailed Out Of Jail By Personal Finance Guru Suze Orman
Suze Orman, if you've never accidentally tuned into CNBC just as the remote ran out of battery, is one of the most successful professional assholes to tell you how to spend your money. She's famous for giving out generic financial advice while yelling "denied" and other catchphrases that may or may not have come from Wayne's World.
John Belushi, on the other hand, was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live and the star of comedy classics like Animal House and The Blues Brothers. He's famous for doing a shitload of drugs.
The impressive thing about Belushi is that he looks like he's high on a different type of drug in every single image of him.
How the hell could two human beings so radically different possibly come together? The answer, of course, is through the magic of college housing. While attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Orman ended up rooming with a girl called Judith Pisano, who in turn brought along her boyfriend/future husband, John Belushi.
Long before Orman went on TV to tell people what to do, she would practice her craft on Pisano, advising her to dump Belushi. Pisano recalls that Orman would ask "What are you doing with this guy?" and often expressed doubts about his possibilities of making it as an actor. We like to imagine that Belushi was chilling on the couch eating pizza as she said that, and didn't give a fuck.
Now, to be fair, Belushi did run into problems -- like when he was taken to jail after accumulating an impressive amount of unpaid parking tickets.
We're thinking it's downers on this one.
Belushi was so broke that he was unable to cough up the $25 bail, and Pisano couldn't ask her parents for help since they didn't know she was living with a dude. So, Belushi had no choice but to ask Orman to have her dad bail him out of jail. Mr. Orman did that and Belushi paid him back with some tickets to see his improv comedy group. It was the closest thing to money he had.
Interestingly, Orman has retroactively developed a much kinder opinion of the late Belushi now that he's a comedy legend: On her site, she writes that he was a hilarious guy and the three years she spent with him and his girlfriend were "quite the adventure." Presumably, her dad is now richer than her from selling those tickets on eBay.
"In fact, his movie Three Amigos was based on us!"
Sherlock Holmes' Creator Thought His Friend Harry Houdini Had Real Magic Powers
The relationship between Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) and Harry Houdini (professional death-cheater) was the opposite of what you'd expect from their job descriptions. Doyle wrote stories about taciturn detectives solving crimes through reason and logic, while Houdini was a showy illusionist whose name is synonymous with magic -- and yet, Houdini was the skeptic and Doyle the one who wouldn't shut up about how fairies are totally real, you guys.
They were like Mulder and Scully, but with somehow even more sexual tension.
The two first met in 1920, and established an unlikely bromance over their shared interest in spiritualism (as in, communication with ghosts, not a fanaticism for strong alcohol). Doyle had long been a believer in the idea that there was life after death, even more so after his son died in World War I. Houdini, on the other hand, wanted to believe that it's possible to chat with the dead after his mom passed away, but just couldn't. He knew how easy it was for bullshit artists to fake a seance -- mainly because he'd done it himself, when he was young and needed the money.
Doyle and Houdini's different positions regarding ghosts and magic caused friction between them. Houdini would perform simple vaudeville tricks to prove that anyone could fake that shit, but they only convinced Doyle that his friend was some sort of powerful psychic or X-Men. One time, out of boredom, Houdini held up his hands and pretended to remove the end of his thumb and then reattach it. Doyle was astounded and his wife nearly fainted. Apparently, the most successful detective books of all time were written by a dude with a kindergartner's stimulus threshold.
The two men shook hands upon Houdini returning Doyle's nose.
As Doyle spent more and more money trying to prove ghost-talking was a real thing, Houdini made a second career out of exposing the same frauds his friend was falling for. Their relationship finally collapsed after Doyle's wife claimed she'd been able to contact Houdini's mother during a seance, producing 15 pages of perfect English from beyond the grave. Houdini wasn't too impressed, since his mom was a Hungarian immigrant with the mastery of English of a YouTube commenter.
Not even their love of boater hats could save the friendship.
Alexander Graham Bell Was Like A Dad To Helen Keller, Paid For Her College
Helen Keller is the woman who lost her ability to see and hear at 18 months, and still led a way more badass life than any of us ever will. If we asked you to name a historical figure Keller definitely had nothing to do with, some of you might say Alexander Graham Bell, that one dude who gets all the credit for (sort of) inventing the telephone. It seems like a phone is about the most insulting gift you could get for someone like her.
And yet, Bell wasn't just a friend of Keller's: He was one of the most important people in her life. Bell's close family was basically half deaf people and half people who had done research into voice. Bell himself taught deaf children to speak using a set of old-school emoji, basically.
This is the process for communicating "poop with eyes."
So, when Keller's parents decided to take the little girl to specialists to see if she could even be educated, they ended up with Bell. Keller later wrote that she "loved him at once," which is surprising given that she couldn't even see his Santa beard.
"I'm most famous for creating an invention that is utterly useless to you."
It was Bell who referred Keller to Anne Sullivan, the woman who taught her how to communicate, but his influence didn't stop there. The two visited and wrote to each other all the time, and Bell even paid for her college education. (We apologize for making any dropouts feel bad by reminding you that Helen Keller finished college.)
Keller gained celebrity status after Bell gushed about her accomplishments in various journals. She, in turn, dedicated her first autobiography to him and attracted national attention to deaf education, an issue very close to Bell's heart. He would even go on to marry one of his deaf pupils (not Keller, thankfully, because then the newspapers would have started calling them "Beller.")
Besides deafness, another common interest that Bell and Keller shared was ... eugenics, but that's a subject for another, far more depressing article.
The Major Heads Of State Fighting In World War I (Except France) Were All Cousins
Remember the time when England, Russia, France, and their buddies fought Germany and its buddies in a giant free-for-all? No, not that one. The other one. We're talking about World War I, or as it was known at the time, The Only World War We'll Ever Have, Probably. Arguably the three most important figures in the conflict were Tsar Nicholas II (last Emperor of Russia) and King George V (King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions) on one side, and Kaiser Wilhelm II (last German Emperor and King of Prussia) on the other.
And here's the weird thing: All three happened to be first cousins.
And you thought your childhood Risk matches were disastrous.
This wasn't some cut-off, dysfunctional family, either. The cousins/heads of state frequently wrote to each other and hung out, unlike you and that cousin you borrowed some Nintendo 64 games from and have been avoiding for 20 years. Although all three of them were rarely seen together, George (the English boss) and Nicholas (the Russian boss) looked so much alike that they were often mistaken for each other. We have to assume this led to Parent Trap-style shenanigans when they were kids.
Above: the horrifying consequences of inbreeding.
The cousins all had the same grandmother, Queen Victoria, but their amiable relationships couldn't stop the most catastrophic family feud ever. In the historic "Willy-Nicky" telegrams (yes, they had embarrassing nicknames for each other), Nicholas wrote to Wilhelm on the literal eve of battle and asked in the "name of our old friendship to stop your allies." Wilhelm replied, "with regard to the hearty and tender friendship which binds us both from long ago with firm ties, I am exerting my utmost influence to induce the Austrians to deal straightly to arrive to a satisfactory understanding with you." Presumably he was giggling to himself as he wrote that, because the conflict continued -- the two cousins would soon be not only at war, but also off their thrones.
As for George, he offered Nicholas asylum after the war, but George withdrew the offer for political reasons, forcing his cousin to stay in Russia, where his whole family was executed. That's one way to avoid awkward family dinners, we guess.
"I've already got enough people on my Christmas card list."
Rachel P. is not famous yet, but you can make it happen. Follow her Twitter @plehcar.
For more famous connections, read The 7 Most Random Celebrity Duos Who Hung Out Before Fame and 8 Weird Ways Celebrities Were Friends Before Fame.
And be sure to check out 9 Types Of Coworkers To Make You Want Your Head To Explode, and let us know about other headsplosion-worthy employees we may have missed.
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