10 Totally Awesome Facts About David Hasselhoff

Mark Mainz/Getty Images
Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Over the span of more than 40 years, David Hasselhoff—a.k.a. The Hoff—has inspired the world with his roles on The Young and the Restless, Knight Rider, Baywatch (the show, Baywatch Nights, and the recent movie) and also with his music career, which helped reunite Germany soon after the Berlin Wall fell. His self-deprecating humor has led to a variety of cameos (playing himself) in movies like Dodgeball, Killing Hasselhoff, and this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. To celebrate The Hoff's career—and his 65th birthday—here are some things you might not have known about the beloved pop culture icon.

1. HE BEGAN HIS MOVIE CAREER MAKING B-MOVIES.

In the 1970s, The Hoff had a thriving TV career playing Dr. William "Snapper" Foster on The Young and the Restless, but before he started talking to a car named KITT, his movie career was slowly taking off. According to IMDb, his first movie role was a guy named Boner in the 1976 movie Revenge of the Cheerleaders. Two years later he played Christopher Plummer’s son in the cult space opera Starcrash. In 1988, in a period between Knight Rider and Baywatch, Hasselhoff starred in the not-so-good horror film Witchery. Thank God Baywatch came along.

2. HE’S IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS FOR TWO ACHIEVEMENTS.

The Guinness Book of World Records anointed Hasselhoff the title of "The World’s Most Watched Man on Television" because of Baywatch’s more than 1 billion viewers in 140 countries. In 2011, Hugh Laurie took the title away from Hasselhoff, but in June of the same year The Hoff won another title: the highest height a human was catapulted using a reverse bungee system. He was thrown nearly 230 feet at London’s Battersea Power Station.

3. HE SAYS BAYWATCH’S SLO-MO SCENES DEVELOPED FROM A LACK OF FUNDS.

Much of Baywatch's popularity can be attributed to its frequent tendency to show its characters' bouncy body parts running in slow-motion—a camera technique that developed from a lack of money. “We didn’t have enough financing to finish the show,” Hassehoff told Men’s Health. “So we found a way to fill the hour by shooting people in slow motion. We said, ‘Well, girls in bathing suits look good running in slow motion, let’s just shoot that.’ And we found out that the audience kinda liked it.”

4. HE PLAYS A VERSION OF HIMSELF IN HOFF THE RECORD.

The British mockumentary series follows The Hoff as he tries to resurrect his career in England. The show premiered in 2015 and aired for two seasons (it’s available on Netflix). He wants people to watch the International Emmy Award-winning comedy so much that at a premiere for Baywatch the movie he kept mentioning the show to everyone he encountered. “I only got in a mention of the show about 10 times,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I was so overwhelmed at the beginning I forgot about it.”

5. WE HAVE AUSTRALIA TO THANK FOR "DON'T HASSLE THE HOFF."

Fifteen years ago, Hasselhoff found out secretaries in Australia were sending each other emails with puns on The Hoff (a.k.a “Hoffisms”) such as Some Like It Hoff, the Wizard of Hoff, Desperate Hoffwives. “I got an email from one of these women, asking me, ‘How does it feel to be a sex symbol at 50?’” he told Men’s Health. He thought the puns were funny, and went on television in Australia. “I was talking about the whole phenomenon and I said, like I was talking to the secretaries, ‘I have a saying for you: Don’t hassle the Hoff!’ And that’s when it all blew up and went crazy.”

6. HE WAS BIG IN AUSTRIA BEFORE HE BECAME A SUPERSTAR IN GERMANY.

During a low period for The Hoff in the mid-’80s—Knight Rider had been canceled, and he was going through a divorce—he received a phone call that a woman from Austria had won a contest to have lunch with him. He met with the girl and she said to him, “‘You know, your [debut] record’s number one in my country,” Hasselhoff recalled. “And I was like, ‘Night RockerNight Rocker sold seven copies and I bought six.’ She said ‘No, no, Night Rocker is number one in Austria.’ I said, ‘Where’s Austria?’” He then booked a music tour of Europe. In 1989, his song “Looking for Freedom” topped the West German charts for eight weeks, and he performed the song on New Year’s Eve at the Berlin Wall, shortly after it fell.

7. HE'S A BROADWAY STAR.

In 2000, he played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical. He also played Billy Flynn in Chicago, Roger De Bris in The Producers during its 2007 Vegas run, and a recurring role as Captain Hook in Peter Pan. In 2015, in Manchester, England, he performed in Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, a musical about Ibiza. Apparently, he’s big in England, too.

8. HE HOSTED TALK SHOWS IN SWEDEN AND FINLAND.

As if his international star status wasn’t already impressive enough, in 2014 he hosted a talk show, en svensk talk show, in Sweden. A year later he filmed 10 episodes of the Finland-based The David Hasselhoff Show.

9. SCIENTISTS NAMED A CRAB AFTER HIM.

In 2012, scientists discovered a new kind of crab, one with a hirsute chest—just like The Hoff. The scientists dubbed their Antarctic discovery "The Hoff Crab." The binomial name is Kiwa tyleri from the family Kiwaidae. The crab is a species of the squat lobster. “I think it's quite an honor to be named for a crab,” Hoff told Men’s Health. “It’s white and it’s got a hairy chest. I remember thinking, this Hoff thing is getting out of control.”

10. THIS NOVEMBER, YOU CAN CRUISE TO ITALY, FRANCE, AND SPAIN WITH THE HOFF.

The six-day David Hasselhoff – The Official World Fan Cruise sets sail on November 4, 2017. Travelers will cruise along the Mediterranean Sea with The Hoff, who will sign autographs and maybe sing to you. Pricing starts at about $900 (and tickets are still available).

15 Fun Facts About Betty White

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Happy birthday, Betty White! In honor of the ever-sassy star of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls's 98th birthday, let's celebrate with a collection of fun facts about her life and legacy. 

1. Her name is Betty, not Elizabeth.

On January 17th, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois, the future television icon was born Betty Marion White, the only child of homemaker Christine Tess (née Cachikis) and lighting company executive Horace Logan White. In her autobiography If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't), White explained her parents named her "Betty" specifically because they didn't like many of the nicknames derived from "Elizabeth." Forget your Beths, your Lizas, your Ellies. She's Betty.

2. She's a Guinness World Record holder.

In the 2014 edition of the record-keeping tome, White was awarded the title of Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female) for her more than 70 years (and counting) in show business. The year before, Guinness gave out Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Male) to long-time British TV host Bruce Forsyth. As both began their careers in 1939, they'd be neck-and-neck for the title, were they not separated by gender.

3. Her first television appearance is lost to history.

A photo of Betty White
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Even White can't remember the name of the show she made her screen debut on in 1939. But in an interview with Guinness Book of World Records, she recounted the life-changing event, saying, "I danced on an experimental TV show, the first on the west coast, in downtown Los Angeles. I wore my high school graduation dress and our Beverly Hills High student body president, Harry Bennett, and I danced the 'Merry Widow Waltz.'" 

4. White's initial rise to stardom was derailed by World War II.

Before she took off on television, White was working in theater, on radio, and as a model. But with WWII, she shelved her ambitions and joined the American Women's Voluntary Services. Her days were devoted to delivering supplies via PX truck throughout the Hollywood Hills, but her nights were spent at rousing dances thrown to give grand send-offs to soldiers set to ship out. Of that era, she told Cleveland Magazine, "It was a strange time and out of balance with everything." 

5. Her first sitcom hit was in the early 1950s.

A photo of actress Betty White
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Co-hosting the Al Jarvis show Hollywood on Television led to White producing her own vehicle, Life With Elizabeth. As a rare female producer, she developed the show alongside emerging writer-producer George Tibbles, who'd go on to work on such beloved shows as Dennis The Menace, Leave It To Beaver, and The Munsters. Though the show is not remembered much today, in 1951 it did earn White her first Emmy nomination of 21 (so far). Of these, she has won five times.

6. White loves a parade.

From 1962 to 1971, White hosted NBC's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade alongside Bonanza's Lorne Greene. But that's not all. For 20 years (1956-1976), she was also a color commentator for NBC’s annual Tournament of Roses Parade. However, as her fame grew on CBS's The Mary Tyler Moore Show, NBC decided they should pull White (and all the rival promotion that came with her) from their parade. It was a decision that was heartbreaking for White, who told People, "On New Year's Day I just sat home feeling wretched, watching someone else do my parade."

7. She has been married three times.


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White and her first husband, Dick Barker, were married and divorced in the same year, 1945. After four months on Barker's rural Ohio chicken farm, White fled back to Los Angeles and her career as an entertainer. Soon after, she met agent Lane Allen, who became her husband in 1947, and her ex-husband in 1949 after he pushed her to quit show biz. She wouldn’t marry again until 1963, after she fell for widower/father of three/game show host Allen Ludden.

8. Her meet-cute with husband number three happened on Password.

Bubbly Betty was a regular on the game show circuit, but she met her match in 1961 when she was a celebrity guest on Password, hosted by Allen Ludden. Though White initially rebuffed Ludden's engagement ring (he wore it around his neck until she changed her mind), the pair stayed together until his death in 1981. Today, their stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame sit side-by-side.

9. White originally auditioned for the role of Blanche on The Golden Girls.

A photo of actress Betty White
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Producers of the series thought of White for the role of the ensemble's promiscuous party girl because she'd long played the lusty Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Meanwhile, they eyed Rue McClanahan for the part of naive country bumpkin Rose Nylund because of her work as the sweet but dopey Vivian Harmon on Maude. Director Jay Sandrich was worried about typecasting, so he asked the two to switch roles in the audition. And just like that, The Golden Girls history was made.

10. If she hadn't been an actor, she'd have been a zookeeper.

"Hands down," she confessed in a 2014 interview. This should come as little surprise to those aware of White's reputation as an avid animal lover and activist. Not only does she try to visit the local zoo of wherever she may travel, but also she's a supporter of the Farm Animal Reform Movement and Friends of Animals group, as well as a Los Angeles Zoo board member, who has donated "tens of thousands of dollars" over the past 40 years. In 2010, White founded a T-shirt line whose profits go to the Morris Animal Foundation.

11. She passed on a role in As Good as It Gets because of an animal cruelty scene.

A photo of actress Betty White
Getty Images

White was offered the part of Beverly Connelly, onscreen mother to Helen Hunt, in the Oscar-winning movie As Good as It Gets. But the devoted animal lover was horrified by the scene where Jack Nicholson's curmudgeonly anti-hero pitches a small dog down the trash chute of his apartment building. On The Joy Behar Show White explained, "All I could think of was all the people out there watching that movie … and if there's a dog in the building that's barking or they don't like—boom! They do it." She complained to director James L. Brooks in hopes of having the scene cut. Instead, he kept it and cast Shirley Knight in the role.

12. A Facebook campaign made White the oldest person to ever host Saturday Night Live.

In 2010, a Facebook group called Betty White To Host SNL … Please? gathered so many fans (nearly a million) and so much media attention that SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels was happy to make it happen. At 88 years old, White set a new record. Her episode, for which many of the show's female alums returned, also won rave reviews, and gave the show's highest ratings in 18 months. White won her fifth Emmy for this performance.

13. She is the oldest person to earn an Emmy nomination.


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In 2014, White earned an Emmy nod for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program for the senior citizen-centric prank show Betty White's Off Their Rockers. She was 92. She also holds the record for the longest span between Emmy nominations, between her first (1951) and last (so far).  

14. She loves junk food.

The key to aging gracefully has nothing to do with health food as far as White is concerned. In 2011, her Hot in Cleveland co-star Jane Leeves dished on White's snacking habits, "She eats Red Vines, hot dogs, French fries, and Diet Coke. If that's key, maybe she's preserved because of all the preservatives." Fellow co-star Wendie Malick concurred, "She eats red licorice, like, ridiculously a lot. She seems to exist on hot dogs and French fries." 

15. She wants Robert Redford.

A photo of actor Robert Redford
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White once gave this cheeky confession: “My answer to anything under the sun, like ‘What have you not done in the business that you’ve always wanted to do?’ is ‘Robert Redford.'” Though she has more than 110 film and television credits on her filmography, White has never worked with the Out of Africa star, who is 14 years her junior.

When Mississippi Once Banned Sesame Street

Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images
Children's Television Workshop/Courtesy of Getty Images

Since it began airing in the fall of 1969, Sesame Street has become an indelible part of millions of children's formative years. Using a cast of colorful characters like Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch, along with a curriculum vetted by Sesame Workshop's child psychologists and other experts, the series is able to impart life lessons and illustrate educational tools that a viewer can use throughout their adolescence. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone—even Oscar—who would take issue with the show’s approach or its mission statement.

Yet that’s exactly what happened in early 1970, when a board of educational consultants in Mississippi gathered, polled one another, and decided that Sesame Street was too controversial for television.

The series had only been on the air for a few months when the newly formed Mississippi Authority for Educational Television (also known as the State Commission for Educational Television) held a regularly scheduled meeting in January 1970. The board had been created by the state legislature with appointees named by Governor John Bell Williams to evaluate shows that were set to air on the state’s Educational Television, or ETV, station. The five-member panel consisted of educators and private citizens, including a teacher and a principal, and was headed up by James McKay, a banker in Jackson, Mississippi.

McKay’s presence was notable for the fact that his father-in-law, Allen Thompson, had just retired after spending 20 years as mayor of Jackson. Highly resistant to integration in the city during his tenure in office, Thompson was also the founder of Freedom of Choice in the United States, or FOCUS, an activist group that promoted what they dubbed “freedom of choice” in public schools—a thinly veiled reference to segregation. Mississippi, long the most incendiary state in the nation when it came to civil rights, was still struggling with the racial tension of the 1960s. Systemic racism was an issue.

Entering this climate was Sesame Street, the show pioneered by Joan Ganz Cooney, a former journalist and television producer who became the executive director of the Children’s Television Workshop. On the series, the human cast was integrated, with black performers Matt Robinson and Loretta Long as Gordon and Susan, respectively, appearing alongside white actors Jada Rowland and Bob McGrath. The children of Sesame Street were also ethnically diverse.

Zoe (L) and Cookie Monster (R) are pictured in New York City in November 2009
Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

This appeared to be too much for the Authority, which discussed how lawmakers with control over ETV’s budget—which had just been set at $5,367,441—might find the mixed-race assembly offensive. The panel's participants were all white.

The board pushed the discussion aside until April 17, 1970, when they took an informal poll and decided, by a margin of three votes against two, to prohibit ETV from airing Sesame Street—a show that came free of charge to all public television stations. (The decision affected mainly viewers in and around Jackson, as the station had not yet expanded across the state and was not expected to do so until the fall of 1970.)

The members who were outvoted were plainly unhappy with the outcome and leaked the decision to The New York Times, which published a notice of the prohibition days later along with a quote from one of the board members.

“Some of the members of the commission were very much opposed to showing the series because it uses a highly integrated cast of children,” the person, who did not wish to be named, said. “Mainly the commission members felt that Mississippi was not yet ready for it.”

The reaction to such a transparent concession to racism was swift and predictably negative, both in and out of Mississippi. Board members who spoke with press, usually anonymously, claimed the decision was a simple “postponing” of the show, not an outright ban. The fear, they said, was that legislators who viewed ETV as having progressive values might shut down the project before it had a chance to get off the ground. It was still possible for opponents to suffocate it before it became part of the fabric of the state’s television offerings.

The concern was not entirely without merit. State representative Tullius Brady of Brookhaven said that ETV exerted “a subtle influence” on the minds of children and that the Ford Foundation, which funded educational programming, could use its influence for “evil purposes.” Other lawmakers had previously argued against shows that promoted integration.

Grover is pictured at AOL Studios in New York City in May 2015
Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images

Regardless of how the decision was justified, many took issue with it. In an anonymous editorial for the Delta Democrat-Times, a critic wrote:

“But Mississippi’s ETV commission won’t be showing it for the time being because of one fatal defect, as measured by Mississippi’s political leadership. Sesame Street is integrated. Some of its leading cast members are black, including the man who does much of the overt ‘teaching.’ The neighborhood of the ‘street’ is a mixed one. And all that, of course, goes against the Mississippi grain.”

Joan Ganz Cooney called the decision a “tragedy” for young people.

Fortunately, it was a tragedy with a short shelf life. The following month, the board reconvened and reversed its own informal poll result, approving of Sesame Street and agreeing that ETV could air it as soon as they received tapes of the program. Thanks to feeds from Memphis, New Orleans, and Alabama, Sesame Street could already be seen in parts of Mississippi. And thanks to the deluge of negative responses, it seemed pointless to try to placate politicians who still favored segregation.

In the fall of 1970, the Sesame Street cast appeared in person in Jackson and was met by representatives from the board, which helped to sponsor the live performance, though it’s not clear any apology was forthcoming.

Sesame Street would go on to win numerous awards and accolades over the proceeding 50 years, though it would not be the only children’s show to experience censorship on public television. In May 2019, ETV networks in Alabama and Arkansas refused to air an episode of the PBS animated series Arthur in which a rat and aardvark are depicted as a same-sex couple getting married.

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