11 Famous Illeists

An illeist is someone who refers to himself in the third person, as Richard Nixon famously did when, after losing the bid for the California governorship in 1962, he said, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference." Today, Nixon's sound bite is remembered as much for his use of the third person as for its inaccuracy. From other politicians and a Sesame Street staple, to athletes and a character on Seinfeld, here's a closer look at 11 famous illeists.

1. Bob Dole

After losing the New Hampshire primary to Pat Buchanan during the 1996 presidential election campaign, Bob Dole announced, "You're going to see the real Bob Dole out there from now on." The real Bob Dole regularly referred to himself in the third person, a habit that made him the target of ridicule in a series of skits on Saturday Night Live. After being mocked for such bizarre remarks as "If you had to leave your children with Bob Dole or Bill Clinton, I think you'd probably leave them with Bob Dole," Dole hired a speech coach to reform his illeist ways. While it didn't ultimately turn the election in his favor, the tactic improved Dole's oratory skills. In October 1996, USA Today reported, "He has already largely rid his standard campaign speech of the verbal tic that's prompted the most jokes about his style: third-person references to himself as "˜Bob Dole.' Friday in Dewey Beach, Del., the Kansas senator referred to himself as "˜Bob Dole' only once and used the pronoun "˜I' 59 times."

2. Bo Jackson

 Athletes, such as two-sport star Bo Jackson, seem to be especially prone to illeism. The late Dick Schaap, who co-authored Bo Jackson's biography, Bo Knows Bo, traced the origins of illeism in professional sports to the 1930s, when St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean referred to himself as "Ol' Diz." Jackson began referring to himself in the third person at a young age, in part because of a well-documented stutter that made it difficult for him to say "I." When Jackson burst onto the scene as a home run-hitting outfielder for the Kansas City Royals and a touchdown-scoring running back for the Los Angeles Raiders, he parlayed his unusual habit into a series of popular "Bo Knows Bo" Nike commercials.

3. Jimmy

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jimmy, played by Anthony Starke, constantly refers to himself in the third person. Elaine agrees to a date with Jimmy, mistaking his interest in her ("You're just Jimmy's type") for that of another man at the gym.

4. Rickey Henderson

Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson took the art of base stealing and illeism to another level. As Henderson himself might tell you, among professional athletes, Rickey is the greatest illeist of all time. One of the many famous Rickey-isms was the voicemail message he left for Padres general manager Kevin Towers. "Kevin, this is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey," Henderson said. "Rickey wants to play baseball." Henderson once climbed aboard the Padres team bus and headed toward the back, when someone said, "You have tenure, sit wherever you want." Rickey responded: "Ten years? Rickey's been playing at least 16, 17 years."

5. Elmo

Some parents undoubtedly cringe at the sound of the furry red Sesame Street character telling children, "Elmo loves you!" The concern that Elmo's tickle-me-illeist tendencies might teach children improper English is addressed on the FAQ page of sesameworkshop.org. "Elmo mimics the behavior of many preschoolers," according to the Web site. "Like 3-year-olds, he doesn't always have the skills or knowledge to speak proper English. Cast members and many of the other Muppets, however, do demonstrate proper usage of the English language." The Language Log explored this very issue in 2008 and concluded, "Toddler illeism is a temporary solution to the complex problem of self-reference, and keeping your kid away from Elmo won't prevent it."

6. Julius Caesar

Caesar, who wrote about himself in the third person in his accounts of his conquests in The Gallic Wars, was one of the first known illeists. He had pretty much earned the right to refer to himself however he pleased. Cicero, for one, was a big fan of Caesar's style. "The Gallic War is splendid," he wrote. "It is bare, straight and handsome, stripped of rhetorical ornament like an athlete of his clothes." Caesar's regular use of the third person is parodied in the Asterix comic books.

7. Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali was an odd bird. During an interview with Mike Wallace in 1958, Dali referred to himself in the third person, at one point stating, "Dali is immortal and will not die." In his memoirs, Dali wrote about most of his life in the first person, but he would occasionally use the third person. On the subject of his birth, for instance, he wrote, "Look! Salvador Dali is born."

8. Pele

 Soccer legend Pele, who was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, refers to himself in the third person because he thinks of himself as two distinct people. "Yes, of course I think of Pele as a different person," he told Sports Illustrated in 1994. "When I met Pele, I was seven or eight. Pele doesn't have a nation, race, religion or color. People all over the world love Pele. Edson is a man like other men."

In a 2003 interview with The Guardian, Pele echoed the same beliefs. "I think of Pele as a gift of God. We have billions of billions of people in the world, and we have one Beethoven, one Bach, one Michelangelo, one Pele. That is the gift of God."

9. Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle thought very highly of himself, as evidenced by his repeated use of the third person in his memoirs. According to a 1970 review of the first volume in Time, "the book is De Gaulle at his infuriating best. It overflows with the lofty certitude and self-confidence of a man who, without embarrassment, can refer to himself repeatedly in the third person." Describing the assassination attempt on him in August 1962, De Gaulle writes: "Of the 150-odd bullets aimed at us, 14 strike our vehicle. Yet—none of us is hit. May De Gaulle therefore go on pursuing his road and his vocation!"

10. The Rock

Before he got into movies, Dwayne Johnson struck fear into the hearts of his fellow wrestlers and elementary school English teachers alike with his signature phrase: "Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?"

11. Geraldo Rivera

While Geraldo Rivera doesn't regularly refer to himself in the third person, one example of a time when he did is ridiculous enough to land him on this list. In 2001, responding to criticism that he had fabricated a story as part of his coverage of the war in Afghanistan, Rivera said, "It's time to stop bashing Geraldo. If you want to knife me in the back after all the courage I've displayed and serious reporting I've done, I've got no patience with this (expletive)."

8 Cursed Movie Productions

Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist (1982).
Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist (1982).
Warner Home Video

Making a movie is hard. It’s even more difficult when freak accidents, premature deaths, and biblical acts of nature torment the cast and crew.

The movie productions below were so troubled that they’ve developed a reputation in Hollywood for actually being cursed. Since many of the films deal with satanic or supernatural subjects, fans have projected the horrors portrayed on the screen onto their behind-the-scenes happenings. The sources of other so-called curses are less mysterious: Today we know that filming downwind from a nuclear test site or covering your actors in aluminum makeup is a bad move, for example—but that wasn’t always the case.

From The Wizard of Oz to Poltergeist, here are eight “cursed” movies that have become Hollywood legends.

1. Poltergeist (1982)

JoBeth Williams stars in Poltergeist (1982)
JoBeth Williams stars in Poltergeist (1982).
Warner Home Video

Poltergeist is about a family whose new home, unbeknownst to them, was built on an ancient burial ground. This doesn't sit well with the spirits whose final resting places have been disturbed, which leads to a series of supernatural happenings. With all that in mind, you might think that director Tobe Hooper, writer-producer Steven Spielberg, and the rest of the filmmakers would know better than to use actual human remains as props, but that’s exactly what they did.

In the scene where JoBeth Williams is dragged into a swimming pool that’s under construction, the skeletons that pop up around her are real. Superstitious movie fans have pointed to this as an explanation for the shocking deaths of two of the movie's young stars: Dominique Dunne was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 1982, just a few days shy of her 23rd birthday, and Heather O’Rourke died from misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis in 1988 at age 12.

2. The Omen (1976)

Still from The Omen.
20th Century Fox

Danger began following the cast and crew of Richard Donner’s The Omen even before production on the film had officially begun. On his way to shoot the film in London, star Gregory Peck's plane was struck by lightning. Executive producer Mace Neufeld experienced a similar scare when his flight from Los Angeles was electrocuted just a few weeks later. Other tragedies related to the movie included a terrorist bombing at the hotel where Neufeld and his wife were staying in London and the death of the film's animal trainer. The day after he came to the set to handle the baboons in the famous zoo scene, the trainer was mauled by a tiger.

However, the most shocking The Omen-related incident occurred two months after the film premiered on June 6, 1976. The film's special effects pro John Richardson was driving in the Netherlands with his assistant Liz Moore when they got into an accident. While Richardson survived, Moore was decapitated. A nearby sign for a town added another unsettling layer to the tragedy: It read Ommen, 66.6 km.

3. The Exorcist (1973)

Still from The Exorcist.
Warner Bros.

When the New York City set of The Exorcist burned down in 1972, filmmakers immediately suspected evil forces were to blame. Jesuit priest Father Thomas M. King was brought in to bless the set when the crew moved to Washington, D.C., but that didn’t end the production’s unlucky streak. It was reported that a total of nine people involved with the movie died by the time production wrapped.

4. The Conqueror (1956)

Still from The Conqueror.
Universal

The curse afflicting Dick Powell’s The Conqueror isn't blamed on supernatural forces. The historical epic was filmed in Snow Canyon, Utah, just downwind from Nevada’s Yucca Flats. The site had recently been used to test 11 atomic bombs—something the filmmakers were made aware of before shooting. The ill effects of radiation weren’t widely known at the time and any suspicions of danger were downplayed by the government. By 1980, 91 members of The Conqueror’s cast and crew had gotten cancer and 46 had died from it—including star John Wayne and director Dick Powell. It’s impossible to prove how big a role radiation played in these deaths, if any, but it definitely doesn’t explain the movie’s bad luck at the box office. The Conqueror bombed so badly that it was partly responsible for putting its studio out of business. For that, however, we choose to blame John Wayne’s unfortunate performance as Genghis Khan.

5. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Still from Rosemary's Baby.
Paramount

Rosemary’s Baby is another film about satanic subjects that was touched by tragedy. Sidney Blackmer, the actor who played coven leader Roman Castevet, commented on set, “No good will come of all this ‘Hail Satan’ business.” Following the production, producer William Castle needed surgery for his gallstones and composer Krzysztof Komeda fell and sustained brain injuries that led to a coma that was ultimately fatal. But the most notorious incident associated with the curse was the 1969 murder of Sharon Tate by the Manson Family. Tate was stabbed to death in the home she shared with Roman Polanski, her husband and the director of Rosemary's Baby, who was away working on a film in Europe. She was eight-and-half months pregnant with their son at the time.

6. The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Still from Passion of the Christ.
Icon

If you’re looking for a sign to stop making your R-rated movie about Jesus’s crucifixion, getting struck by lightning is a pretty clear one. During the production of The Passion of the Christ in 2003, a bolt of lightning hit star Jim Caviezel and assistant director Jan Michelini. And it was actually the second time Michelini had been struck by lightning on the set of the film. Both victims walked away from the incidents relatively unscathed, and when it premiered in 2004, The Passion of the Christ raked in $611 million worldwide.

7. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Still from Rebel Without a Cause.
Warner Bros.

Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause is famously one of the last movies James Dean starred in before passing away at age 24. The actor was in a fatal car crash just weeks before the premiere in 1955, and that alone would have been enough to mar the film in tragedy. It’s legacy was further complicated when the movie's two other leads met untimely death decades later: In 1976, Sal Mineo was murdered outside his Los Angeles apartment and in 1981, Natalie Wood drowned off Catalina Island under suspicious circumstances (that are still being investigated). Dean was also injured multiple times during the film’s production, once when he broke his hand pounding a desk and again when he was cut during a knife fight scene.

8. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Still from The Wizard of Oz.
MGM

The land of Oz was much less cheery than it appeared onscreen, as the troubles plaguing The Wizard of Oz were nonstop. First the Tin Man had to be recast when Buddy Ebsen, the actor originally hired to play the role, had a life-threatening reaction to his aluminum makeup. During the scene when the Wicked Witch is supposed to disappear in a plume of smoke, the trapdoor malfunctioned, and actress Margaret Hamilton suffered second-degree burns. She was wearing copper makeup at the time and crew members had to rush to remove the toxic material before it further aggravated her injuries.

Stunt and background actors were also prone to disaster. Hamilton’s double Betty Danko was sent to the hospital when a prop broom exploded and two actors playing winged monkeys fell when their wires snapped. But not every dark story you’ve heard about The Wizard of Oz is true: The Munchkin who is notoriously said to have hanged himself in one scene is actually a bird spreading its wings.

Netflix Is Now Sharing Live Updates of Its Most Watched Movies and TV Shows

wutwhanfoto, iStock via Getty Images
wutwhanfoto, iStock via Getty Images

Netflix is notoriously protective of its viewership data. While the number of people sharing The Office memes or Stranger Things spoilers online indicate some shows are more popular than others, until recently, there were no real statistics to back up these trends. As Bloomberg reports, Netflix is making its biggest move yet toward transparency by sharing live updates of its top 10 shows and movies.

Now, when Netflix users search the site, they will see the most-viewed content on the platform that day. Under the TV Shows tab, Love Is Blind tops the list for viewership in the U.S. on Wednesday, February 26, followed by Narcos: Mexico and Locke & Key. As for movies, Netflix's own The Last Thing He Wanted (2020) starring Ben Affleck and Anne Hathaway is attracting the most viewers today. A Haunted House (2013) and Foreigner (2017) are listed in second and third place, respectively.

The new feature is a major change for Netflix, but it still leaves a lot of questions about its users' viewing habits unanswered. It's unclear how long a movie or television episode needs to be played to count as a "view," and there's still no data showing exactly how many people are watching these titles.

For now, this is the closest thing Netflix subscribers have to Nielsen-style TV ratings. You can check out the full lists of the most popular Netflix movies and TV shows in the U.S. on February 26 below.

Top 10 TV Shows on Netflix

  1. Love Is Blind
  1. Narcos: Mexico
  1. Locke & Key
  1. Gentefied
  1. The Office
  1. Better Call Saul
  1. Babies
  1. The Stranger
  1. I Am a Killer
  1. El Dragón: Return of a Warrior

Top 10 Movies on Netflix

  1. The Last Thing He Wanted
  1. A Haunted House
  1. The Foreigner
  1. Girl on the Third Floor
  1. To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
  1. A Bad Moms Christmas
  1. Mr. Right
  1. The Other Guys
  1. The Grinch
  1. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

[h/t Bloomberg]

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