5 Times Celebs Were Linked By Surreal Connections

Sam Jackson, Ted Cruz, Malcolm X, and more.
5 Times Celebs Were Linked By Surreal Connections

On a planet with seven billion people, you'd be surprised how often celebrities cross paths unknowingly, sometimes for good, and just as often for worse. A youthful relationship or chance run-in can lead to a lifelong bond that transcends time and space. Or it can end in two grown adults calling each other dumbasses over Twitter in a virtual dung-flinging contest. Kismet is a fickle one sometimes ...

Kevin James Inspired The Most Ridiculous Character In Wrestling: Mankind

Mankind—that's Mick Foley to all you that weren't blessed to be a wrestling fan during the WWF's golden era—was a breath of fresh air. In a time when chiseled, bland, hairless automatons in speedos with try-hard catchphrases shuffled off the assembly line, there arrived a mumbling, chubby, unshaven man with a wrinkled button-down shirt and tie. Utterly detached from reality, Foley won over the crowd's heart with his sincerity and his trademark sock puppet, Mr. Socko. Mankind was a force of nature, equal parts Leatherface and lambchop:

Before saying hello to the sock puppet, and goodbye to his right ear, he was a high school chum with the inoffensive comedian and future sitcom star Kevin James. Paul Blart-ness and chill personality aside, James was a beast of an athlete in his day, a charismatic tough guy who excelled in multiple sports and benched 300 pounds. They grew close, with Foley going as far as to credit his experience on the Ward Melville High School wrestling team back in 1983 in spurring his long-term interest in the sport.

We can only dream of what a Foley-James tag team would look like.

Through a mutual interest in grappling, the Long Island grads discovered their true passion for performing arts, crafting equally absurd characters, though we aren't sure how many body parts James has lost on Adam Sandler movie sets. Without a particularly intense teenage Kevin James, we may never have witnessed Mankind shut up an incessantly yapping Dwayne Johnson using only a gym sock with a smiley face doodled on it.

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Comedian Redd Foxx And Malcolm X—Unlikely BFFs

Before there was George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, or Dave Chappelle, there was Redd Foxx. In all truth, Foxx was more than just comic relief on TV shows like Sanford And Son; he was the first successful "blue" comedian to really get big, poking fun of society, and also indigestible corn you always find in the toilet. He said all the dirty words we take for granted today and released timeless comedy albums such as You Gotta Wash Your Ass.

If you're going to listen to any educational lecture on hygiene, it better damn well be this one.

Eking out a tough existence, the red-haired Foxx, known simply as "Chicago Red" to his friends, met a fellow struggling redhead at a pool hall. Mutual acquaintances called his buddy Malcolm "Detroit Red." 

Foxx's friend was no slouch either, though it's not entirely clear what Detroit Red would think of his friend's constant curses and sexual innuendos. The two former waiters had drifted apart just a tad. By the '60s, Redd Foxx snagged mainstream TV appearances, smashing racial divisions in front of mixed audiences. His old friend had taken on another moniker as well, dropping the name Malcolm Little and opting for something to better suit his politics, something to reflect the history and culture that slavery had seized from his ancestors. He chose the title Malcolm X.

Malcolm X portrait by Robert Templeton

Robert Templeton

Malcolm X was a redhead. Surprised? 

As the face of the Nation of Islam in the early '60s, Malcolm X rejected the nightclub antics of his youth. The controversial religious organization he represented explicitly mandated no race-mixing, no alcohol or cigarettes, nor gambling. However, based on what little evidence we have, the old buddies recalled each other fondly as they grew apart, Malcolm X jokingly calling Redd Foxx "the funniest dishwasher on this earth." Malcolm X wasn't noted for his sense of humor nor serene demeanor, but we like to imagine the devout Muslim activist as a normal guy, relaxing after a long day with a Redd Foxx album he kept stashed away from his kids.

Paul Rudd And Jeffrey Dean Morgan: United By A Junk Food Addiction

Rhinebeck, New York is about as far removed from the trappings of Hollywood as one can imagine. It's not the kind of place you would expect to see A-listers caught dead. Unless that is dying from diabetes. 

Oddly, the town has more than its fair share of star power. And they all seem to coalesce around one particular business. Samuel's Sweet Shop has operated for decades in Rhinebeck. No one appreciated how beloved the candy chop was until it was on the brink of shuttering its doors for good. Luckily, it seems that the chocolate and fructose dealers caught the eyes of the right people

To publicly promote snickerdoodles and cupcakes the store looked to an actor who was a regular, and who just so happened to rise to iconic status portraying a sociopath who clubs people to death with a bat encrusted with dripping hunks of sickening red gore. Enter Lousiville Slugger-enthusiast Negan from The Walking Dead. 

Negan Lucille


"Don't forget to try our strawberry slushies!"

We're sure Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a sweet guy in real life, but we're still wary of that grinning, stubble-covered jawline. Fortunately for Samuel's Sweet Shop, they managed to get Paul Rudd on board too. They needed someone who wouldn't frighten children, and god knows all Rudd's friends are potheads. His Apatow movie co-stars alone could single-handedly keep the place in business.

Think of it as Planet Hollywood with a soul. It played out like a modern-day Frank Capra film, the town rallying around a local cultural staple. Some actors like the nose candy. Some like the real stuff.

Ted Cruz: College's Most Awful Dormmate

Dorm assignments are a roll of the dice. Some people just don't mesh. One-time Princeton freshman and aspiring writer Craig Mazin was stuck with a stick-in-the-mud future politician for his first year. 

Since then, Mazin's made a name directing and producing HBO's Chernobyl and the upcoming TV adaptation of the video game The Last Of Us. Should those projects sound a tad too prestigious, he also had a hand in writing a bushel of low-brow spoofs and bro-comedies such as The Hangover sequels and Superhero Movie. Despite breaking through to critical acclaim, you'd be shocked to learn the writer still harbors a decades-old grudge.

Rotten Tomatoes

No, not the vendetta against film critics, another grudge.

Mazin's roommate veered into politics instead, choosing the farthest career path imaginable from dick jokes. To say these two men had nothing in common is an understatement. Mazin recalls the relationship like a bad Odd Couple episode, only with mutual loathing instead of light-hearted banter. One favors progressive politics, and the other wants to ban dildos for being unholy abominations. The unresolved hatred between the two ex-roomies finally came to a head when Mazin and his former roommate engaged in a nasty social media spat

See, Mazin's roommate back in 1988 happened to be Ted Cruz. Yes, that Ted Cruz, the junior senator from the state of Texas. The guy who got offended by Big Bird getting a fake vaccine. The fellow who got continuously slandered by Trump as "sick" then wholeheartedly supported Trump to salvage his career. The guy who miraculously managed to unite liberals and the alt-right in Texas by fleeing the state during a catastrophic natural disaster.

Ted Cruz

Michael Vadon

We also hear he smells like pee. 

These two might never have crossed paths again, but mysteriously someone using the presidential hopeful's Twitter account liked a porn video. From there, the feud escalated into name-calling. If this is what a conversation between two middle-aged millionaires looks like, we sure as hell don't want to imagine the scene when these two spoiled rich kids fought over who got the top bunk. Oh, wait, we already know: Cruz was the bottom bunker.

Samuel L. Jackson Was An Usher For Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Funeral

Building a respectable resume in the 1990s, Samuel L. Jackson developed a rep for blunt, no-BS roles. We are obligated to honor this masterpiece (censored to protect your fragile sensibilities):

All those over-the-top roles pale in comparison to the role he played in April 1968. Approached on the campus of Morehouse College (Martin Luther King's alma mater) by associates of MLK's inner circle, the then-unknown Samuel L. Jackson and some fellow students were asked to assist in the funeral ceremony in Memphis. The previously apolitical, aloof Jackson accepted. His life was never the same.

How did we get from a movie where a viper jumps out from a toilet and bites a dude's dick to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr.? Bill Cosby, of course. Cosby encouraged students to participate in the funeral, flying them in from Atlanta. Bill Cosby—then still a reputable figure rather than sentient garbage water—had the star power to persuade strangers to bend to his will.

Encouraged by the experience, Jackson thrust himself into politics and held the trustees of his college captive until they met student demands. We're not clear if that falls in line with Dr. King's idea of nonviolence, but it sure didn't make Morehouse happy. He got expelled for a couple of years. From that period onward, he's maintained, or rather perfected, his persona. If you were ever curious, that hard-boiled tough-guy routine is not acting.

Top image: Eva Rinaldi, AMC

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