25 Fun Facts About Godzilla

A scene from Godzilla (1954).
A scene from Godzilla (1954).
The Criterion Collection

Look out, Tokyo! On May 31, Godzilla is set to rise from the depths (again) and do battle with some familiar foes in Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. To celebrate his legacy, we’ve put together a list of things that even hardcore fans might not know about the world’s greatest city-stomper.

1. His original name, Gojira, was rumored to be the nickname of a tough guy at Toho Studios.

According to Ishiro Honda (who directed the first Godzilla film), “There was this big—I mean huge—fellow working in Toho’s publicity department, and other employees would say, ‘That guy’s as big as a gorilla.’ ‘No, he’s almost as big as a kujira [the Japanese word for whale].’ Over time, the two mixed and he was nicknamed 'Gojira.'"

It's a fun story, but in 1998, Honda’s widow dismissed this account, telling the BBC: “The backstage boys at Toho loved to joke around with tall stories, but I don’t believe that one."

2. Godzilla’s classic roar is a surprising mix of sounds.

In the original 1954 movie, Godzilla's iconic roar was produced by rubbing a pine tar-coated leather glove over a double bass string. As you can hear in the video above, Godzilla's roar has changed quite a bit over the years.

3. Godzilla was originally going to be a giant, mutated octopus.

It's part of movie lore by now: the original idea for Godzilla was that he would look something like a giant octopus. Ultimately, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka (smartly) decided to go with a more dinosaur-like design instead.

4. Godzilla went head-to-head with Charles Barkley.

In 1992, Godzilla and NBA star Charles Barkely faced off in a Nike ad. The commercial, which was filmed over the course of eight days, was also adapted into a comic book.

5. Godzilla hawked Dr. Pepper in 1985.

Nike wasn't the first brand that Godzilla shilled for. In 1985, he appeared in commercials for Dr. Pepper—and that wasn't even their first collaboration: The soft drink was featured in the 1984 film The Return of Godzilla and again in Godzilla 1985.

6. Japanese baseball star Hideki Matsui was nicknamed “Godzilla” early in his career.

People started calling Hideki Matsui “Godzilla” back in his high school days, both because of his monstrous hitting prowess and a bad case of teenage acne. The acne went away, but the nickname stuck. In 2009, he helped the New York Yankees bring home their 27th championship and was named World Series MVP for his efforts. But you know what’s even cooler? The fact that Matsui made a brief cameo in the 2002 film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.

7. A church in Zillah, Washington decided to have fun with a homonym.

The Church of God-Zillah was founded decades before the radioactive monster’s conception, but that didn’t stop the congregation from tipping its hat to the odd coincidence: just behind the church, a steel wireframe dinosaur statue can be seen clutching a cross and sign.

“I’m not really sure the denomination likes being affiliated with a big lizard … but so far they’ve been pretty cool,” Reverend Gary Conner said.

8. George Takei got his show business start dubbing Japanese monster movies.

Listen for George Takei's rich baritone in the English-language version of Godzilla’s second film, Godzilla Raids Again, which was first released in Japan in 1955. Previously, the Star Trek legend had broken into the film industry by doing similar work on Rodan, another Toho monster flick.

9. During an action sequence in 1964's Godzilla vs. Mothra, the Godzilla suit accidentally caught on fire.

Amazingly, this footage made the final cut (fast-forward to the 1:03 mark in the clip above to see it for yourself).

10. A Godzilla suit was stolen, then lost, then randomly washed ashore.

In 1992, one of the monster’s costumes (worth a whopping $39,000) was stolen from a Toho garage, only to be found washed up on the shores of Lake Okutama (near Tokyo), where it inadvertently terrified a woman who was out for a stroll.

11. A Batman vs. Godzilla crossover movie was discussed, but never produced.

“Holy thermonuclear breath, Batman!” Since this idea never saw the light of day, we can only imagine how Robin would’ve reacted to the irradiated giant.

12. Godzilla fought The Avengers.

From 1977 to 1979, Marvel ran a 24-issue comic book series featuring Godzilla, which saw him square off against both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

13. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1996) Contains A Godzilla Homage.

During the climax of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, an irate T. rex terrorizes San Diego. At one point in the carnage, a few Japanese tourists can be seen running for their lives, one of whom shouts (in Japanese), “I left Japan to get away from this!”

14. Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) was originally supposed to be a King Kong movie.

In the 1960s, Toho developed a story about King Kong fighting a massive lobster named Ebirah. Eventually, the studio’s American partners decided they didn’t like this concept, so Toho converted the basic premise into a new Godzilla adventure.

15. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) unwittingly caused an international controversy.

Though beloved by fans, 1991's Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah was condemned as “anti-American” by some Western viewers. A scene of particular contention took place during the Pacific theater of World War II and showed a troop of U.S. soldiers being massacred at the hands of a giant dinosaur as their Japanese adversaries look on in relief.

16. Two of the Godzilla's earlier films aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Godzilla vs. Megalon were riffed by TV’s favorite hecklers in 1991.

17. Shocker: Scientists say that Godzilla could never actually exist.

What a buzzkill. Paleontologist Mike P. Taylor claims that the limb cartilage in a Godzilla-sized animal would be crushed “like over-ripe watermelons” by its own body weight.

18. Godzilla (and his reptilian offspring) once promoted good parenting.

In 2008, Godzilla and his family starred in a PSA created by The Ad Council.

19. Paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter named a Triassic dinosaur after godzilla in 1997.

Gojirasaurus quayi was discovered in northeastern New Mexico in 1997. The creature was roughly 18 feet long and lived some 210 million years ago during the Triassic period. (Note that the scientific validity of this species has become a topic of debate.)

20. Patrick Stewart presented Godzilla with an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.

“We’ve all heard about his temper, about the people he stepped on on his way to the top,” Stewart said during the ceremony. “In this world of stars and superstars, it would be no exaggeration to say [that] he is the biggest.”

21. Godzilla has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Godzilla's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
iStock/stefanoborsani

Godzilla’s induction came in 2004 to commemorate his 50th birthday.

22. A Godzilla statue is on display in Tokyo.

Godzilla’s likeness stands guard outside the Hibiya Chanter building in Tokyo. The statue is 8.2 feet tall, excluding the platform. When this thing went up in 2018, it replaced an earlier Godzilla sculpture that had been a local landmark since 1995.

23. There’s a three-story Godzilla that doubles as a slide in Kurihama Flower Park.

Kids can slide down his tail, but might have misgivings about the entry point (as will some adults).

24. Godzilla has been referenced in countless cartoons, from Futurama to South Park to Animaniacs.

We’d be remiss if this list didn’t also acknowledge Reptar, a leek-green Godzilla look-alike adored by Tommy Pickles and company on Nickelodeon’s Rugrats series. The babies watch a Reptar movie in one episode, complete with badly-dubbed Japanese characters.

25. It takes an oxygen destroyer to kill Godzilla.

Over the course of his 65 years of existence, people have tried to come up with all sorts of inventive ways to kill Godzilla, from burying him in hot magma to attacking him with asteroids. But the monster has always prevailed ... unless there's an oxygen destroyer in the area. The fictional weapon made its first appearance in the original 1954 movie, and it will play a role in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, too.

"It appears as an important key item to the story, this is not a cameo," director Michael Dougherty told Cinema Today. "Of course there will also be other weapons created by humanity that will be shown."

This story has been updated for 2019.

Disney+ Users Are Already Facing Technical Problems

Pedro Pascal in The Mandalorian (2019).
Pedro Pascal in The Mandalorian (2019).
© 2019 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved

It seems that the highly anticipated Disney+ release did not go as smoothly as the company had hoped. Variety reports that the streaming service launched this morning, only to find its IT department being flooded with phone calls, tweets, and emails from angry users complaining of malfunctions.

Many customers took to social media to vent their frustration that they either couldn’t login into their account or couldn’t watch certain content.

The service did offer an explanation for all the technical issues via Twitter, posting, “The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our high expectations. We are working to quickly resolve the current user issue. We appreciate your patience.”

Too bad a little Disney magic couldn’t help them with these tech glitches.

[h/t Variety]

8 Surprising Facts About James Stewart

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

For a good portion of the 20th century, actor James Maitland “Jimmy” Stewart (1908-1997) was one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men. Stewart, who was often called upon to embody characters who exhibited a strong moral center, won acclaim for films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Vertigo (1958), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). In all, he made more than 80 movies. Take a look at some things you might not know about Stewart’s personal and professional lives.

1. Jimmy Stewart had a degree in architecture.

Acting was not James Stewart’s only area of expertise. Growing up in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where his father owned a hardware store, Stewart had an artistic bent with an interest in music and earned his way into his father’s alma mater, Princeton University. There, he received a degree in architecture in 1932. But pursuing that career seemed tenuous, as the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. Instead, Stewart decided to follow his interest in acting, joining a theater group in Falmouth, Massachusetts after graduating and rooming with fellow aspiring actor Henry Fonda. After a brief turn on Broadway, he landed a contract with MGM for motion picture work. His film debut, as a cub reporter in The Murder Man, was released in 1935.

2. Jimmy Stewart gorged himself on food so he could serve the country in World War II.

Colonel James Stewart leaves Southampton on board the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth, bound for home in 1945.
Express/Getty Images

Stewart was already established in Hollywood when the United States began preparing to enter World War II. After the draft was introduced in 1940, Stewart received notice that he was number 310 out of a pool of 900,000 annual citizens selected for service. The problem? Stewart was six foot, three inches and a trim 138 pounds—five pounds under the minimum weight for enlistment. So he went home, ate everything he could, and came back to weigh in again. It worked, and Stewart joined the Army Air Corps, later known as the Air Force.

3. Jimmy Stewart demanded to see combat in the war.

Thanks to his interest in aviation, Stewart was already a pilot when he went to war; he received additional flight training but wound up being sidelined for two years stateside even though he kept insisting he be sent overseas to fight. (He filmed a recruitment short film, Winning Your Wings, in 1942, which was screened in theaters in the hopes it could drive enlistment.) Finally, in November 1943, he was dispatched to England, where he participated in more than 20 combat missions over Germany. His accomplishments earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf clusters, among other honors, making him the most decorated actor to participate in the conflict. After the war ended, he returned to a welcome reception in his hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania, where his father had decorated the courthouse to recognize his son’s service. His next major film role was It’s a Wonderful Life.

4. Jimmy Stewart kept his Oscar in a very unusual place.

After winning an Academy Award for The Philadelphia Story in 1940, Stewart heard from his father, Alex Stewart. “I hear you won some kind of award,” he told his son. “What was it, a plaque or something?” The elder Stewart suggested he bring it back home to display in the hardware store. The actor did as suggested, and the Oscar remained there for 25 years.

5. Jimmy Stewart starred in two television shows.

Actor James Stewart is pictured in uniform
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

After a long career in film through the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, Stewart turned to television. In 1971, he played a college anthropology professor in The Jimmy Stewart Show. The series failed to find an audience, however, so was short-lived. He tried again with Hawkins in 1973, playing a defense lawyer, but that show was also canceled. (Stewart also performed in commercials, including spots for Firestone tires and Campbell’s Soup.)

6. Jimmy Stewart hated one version of It’s a Wonderful Life.

While Stewart had just as much affection for It’s a Wonderful Life as audiences, one alternate version of the film annoyed him. In 1987, he sent a letter to Congress protesting the practice of colorizing It's a Wonderful Life and other films on the premise that it violated what directors like Frank Capra had intended. He described the tinted version as “a bath of Easter egg dye.” Putting a character named Violet in violet-colored costumes, he wrote, was “the kind of obvious visual pun that Frank Capra never would have considered.” Stewart later lobbied against the practice in person.

7. Jimmy Stewart published a book of poetry.

In 1989, Stewart authored Jimmy Stewart and His Poems, a slim volume collecting several of the actor’s verses. Stewart also included anecdotes about how each one was composed. His best known might be “Beau,” about his late dog, which Stewart read to Johnny Carson during a Tonight Show appearance in 1981. By the end, both Stewart and Carson were teary-eyed.

8. Jimmy Stewart has a statue in his hometown.

For Stewart’s 75th birthday in 1983, his hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania honored him with a 9-foot-tall bronze statue. Unfortunately, the statue wasn’t totally ready in time for Stewart’s visit, so they presented him with the fiberglass version instead. The bronze statue currently stands in front of the county courthouse, while the fiberglass version was moved into the nearby Jimmy Stewart Museum.

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