White House Celebrity Santas of the 1980s

When it gets this close to Christmas, you can barely turn around without spying someone in a Santa suit. Although most of these Saint Nicks are just old guys who happen to have the man in red’s robust physique, every year some famous Kris Kringles don the suit. Some even hit the White House. Let’s take a look at a pictorial history of celebrity Santas at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Occasionally the President himself will toss on a wig and a beard, but these pictures are tough to find. According to news reports, though, Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Dwight Eisenhower all dressed up as Santa to spread a little holiday cheer during their time in office.

None of these men can lay claim to being at the pinnacle of the famous-White-House-Santa game, though. Some people are patrons of the theater or artists. Ronald and Nancy Reagan (pictured at left) were something even better: supporters of celebrity Santas. The 1980s were heady times to be famous and own a red jacket. Check out this list of Saint Nicks:

1983: Mr. T

When the Reagans unveiled the White House Christmas decorations on December 12, 1983, they had some muscle-bound help. Never one to look like a fool, Mr. T. added his own flair to the Santa getup by cutting off the sleeves and adding his usual pile of necklaces. His reward? Getting Nancy Reagan to sit in his lap.

1984: John Riggins

How do you up the ante from Mr. T.? By getting the Washington Redskins’ star running back to pull on a fake beard. On December 10, 1984, Pro Bowler John Riggins turned up to hand out toys at a White House Christmas party. Playing Santa must have been good karma; he rolled for 76 yards and a touchdown in the Redskins’ next game, a win over the Cardinals.

1985: Larry Hagman

You might have been able to shoot J.R., but nobody’s pulling a gun on Santa. In 1985 the Reagans tried to top Riggins by bringing in Hagman, who was in the middle of his run as the villainous J.R. Ewing on TV’s Dallas. Hagman didn’t look much like Santa, but that didn’t stop the first lady from planting one on his cheek.

1987: Ed McMahon

It’s not clear whether or not he had any checks from Publishers Clearing House in his sack, but in 1987 Ed McMahon donned the Santa outfit and searched for good girls and boys at the White House.

1987: Dom DeLuise

McMahon wasn’t the only famous Saint Nick the Reagans hosted in 1987, though. Burly actor, comedian, and chef Dom DeLuise put his girth to good use by helping Nancy Reagan show off the Christmas decorations to guests that year.

Beyond the '80s

Celebrity Santas kept rolling in even after the Reagans moved out. In 2004 George W. and Laura Bush welcomed jovial TV weatherman Willard Scott to dress up as Santa and attend the lighting of the national Christmas tree. NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen put on the suit the following year.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The 10 Best Shark Movies of All Time, According to Rotten Tomatoes

MCA/Universal Home Video
MCA/Universal Home Video

If the ongoing popularity of shark films has taught us anything, it’s that we simply can’t spend enough screen time with these predators, who can famously ruin a beach day with one swift gnash of their teeth. And even if shark attacks are far less common than Hollywood would have us believe, it’s still entertaining to watch a great white stalk an unsuspecting fictional swimmer—or, in the case of 2013’s Sharknado, whirl through the air in a terrifying cyclone.

To celebrate Shark Week this week, Rotten Tomatoes has compiled a list of the best shark movies of all time, ranked by aggregated critics' score. Unsurprisingly topping the list is Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws, which quite possibly ignited our societal fixation on great white sharks. The second-place finisher was 2012’s Kon-Tiki, based on the true story of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s harrowing voyage across the Pacific Ocean on a wooden raft in 1947.

If you did happen to write off Sharknado as too kitschy to be worth the watch, you might want to reconsider—it ranks sixth on the list, with a score of 78 percent, and its 2014 sequel sits in ninth place, with 61 percent. The list doesn’t only comprise dramatized shark attacks. In seventh place is Jean-Michel Cousteau’s 2005 documentary Sharks 3D, a fascinating foray into the real world of great whites, hammerheads, and more.

But for every critically acclaimed shark flick, there’s another that flopped spectacularly. After you’ve perused the highest-rated shark films below, check out the worst ones on Rotten Tomatoes’ full list here.

  1. Jaws (1975) // 98 percent
  1. Kon-Tiki (2012) // 81 percent
  1. The Reef (2010) // 80 percent
  1. Sharkwater (2007) // 79 percent
  1. The Shallows (2016) // 78 percent
  1. Sharknado (2013) // 78 percent
  1. Sharks 3D (2004) // 75 percent
  1. Open Water (2004) // 71 percent
  1. Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) // 61 percent
  1. Jaws 2 (1978) // 60 percent

[h/t Rotten Tomatoes]