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.

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.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Remembering Rebecca: 11 Facts About Daphne du Maurier's Enduring Novel

Lily James as Mrs de Winter and Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter in Rebecca (2020).
Lily James as Mrs de Winter and Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter in Rebecca (2020).
KERRY BROWN/NETFLIX

“Rebecca, always Rebecca. I should never be rid of Rebecca,” laments the second Mrs de Winter in Daphne du Maurier’s beloved 1938 novel Rebecca. Mention the title to any bibliophile and they will no doubt give you many reasons why the novel has charmed and captivated so many generations over the years. So it's hardly surprising that this gothic thriller about a nameless young woman—who is swept off her feet by a wealthy widower, taken to live in his estate off the Cornish coast, and haunted by memories of his first wife—is the subject of Netflix’s next big-budget original.

The film, which stars Lily James (Downtown Abbey) and Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) arrives on Netflix on October 21, 2020. As you wait for the new adaptation to drop, here are a few facts about this enduring novel to keep you curious. **Warning: Spoilers below!**

1. Rebecca was first published in 1938 and has never gone out of print.

Selznick International Pictures, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

Since it was published in 1938, Rebecca has never gone out of print [PDF], selling 2.8 million copies between 1938 and 1965. Over time, the novel has transformed from bestseller to cultural classic, with many stage and screen adaptations, including an Oscar-winning film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940, and a 1993 book sequel by Susan Hill titled Mrs de Winter. In 2017, English bibliophiles voted Rebecca their favorite book of the past 225 years.

2. The heroine of Rebecca, Mrs de Winter, remains unnamed throughout.

Rebecca, after whom the novel is named, is dead when the story begins. She is brought to life via the impressions and memories other characters have of her and her lingering presence in Maxim de Winter's estate, Manderley, via her scent, her handwriting in books, and the carefully preserved clothes that remain in her wardrobe. Mostly, we see her through the eyes of the new Mrs de Winter, the "heroine" of the novel who, paradoxically, remains unnamed—a choice that surprised many fans of the book, including Agatha Christie [PDF].

3. Daphne du Maurier struggled with writer’s block while writing Rebecca.

Daphne du Maurier circa 1947.Ben van Meerendonk, AHF, IISG, Amsterdam // Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Du Maurier struggled with a serious case of writer’s block when she began writing Rebecca. She discarded the first 50 pages of an early draft, telling her publisher: "The first 15,000 words I tore up in disgust and this literary miscarriage has cast me down."

4. Once she got past her writer’s block, Daphne du Maurier wrote Rebecca in four months.

Once she got past her early writing challenges, du Maurier wrote quickly and completed the manuscript for Rebecca in four months. Her secret? Arranging to spend time away from her children. “I am not one of those mothers who live for having their brats with them all the time,” du Maurier later wrote.

5. Rebecca has been celebrated as an important piece of feminist literature.

Initially marketed as a romance novel with Rebecca as the villainous, menacing wife, feminist interpretations of du Maurier’s novel now see it as a critique of gender power dynamics and a sexist society’s fear of powerful women. Some feminist critics suggest du Maurier intended for Maxim de Winter to be the real villain—the controlling husband who not only murders Rebecca when she refuses to play the obedient wife, but also oppresses and alienates the second Mrs de Winter, marrying her after the most unromantic of proposals: “I am asking you to marry me, you fool.”

6. In 2007, to mark the centenary of Daphne du Maurier's birth, the BBC produced two documentaries on the author.

Daphne, directed by Amy Jenkins, was based on Margaret Forster's biography of du Maurier which revealed, for the first time, du Maurier’s bisexuality. For the second documentary, The Road to Manderley, director Rick Stein set off in search of the author's world in Cornwall.

7. Some scholars believe Rebecca's second Mrs de Winter reflected Daphne du Maurier's sexual fluidity.

Some critics have wondered to what extent the character of the second Mrs de Winter was influenced by the author’s complicated and fluid sexuality. As Margaret Forster points out in her 1993 biography, du Maurier didn't think her desire for women made her a lesbian. The word transgender was not yet in common use then, but the author saw herself as female on the outside “with a boy’s mind and a boy’s heart.”

In the novel, the narrator casts herself as an androgyne, a friend and companion to Maxim, "a sort of boy," and obsessively wonders about Rebecca’s absent body, how she wore her coat, the color of her lipstick, her scent “like the crushed petals of azaleas."

8. Rebecca’s Manderley was inspired by two real-life estates.

A photo of Milton Hall.Julian Dowse, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

The secretive mansion which lends the novel its famous opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," was partly inspired by Milton Hall [PDF], an estate near Cambridge that du Maurier spent time at as a child. When she wrote Rebecca nearly 20 years later, du Maurier told Milton Hall's owner that she based Manderley's interiors on her memories of the "big house feel" [PDF] of Milton during WWI.

The other estate du Maurier had in mind when imagining Manderley was the Menabilly estate in Fowey, Cornwall. Du Maurier fell in love with the house when she was 21 years old. Five years after Rebecca was published, she convinced its owners to lease her the home. But just like Manderley is forever lost to Mrs de Winter in a fire, du Maurier was forced to move out of Menabilly in 1969.

9. Daphne du Maurier has been accused of plagiarizing parts of Rebecca from Brazilian author Carolina Nabuco's book The Successor.

Brazilian critics have long argued that du Maurier plagiarized Rebecca from Brazilian author Carolina Nabuco's 1934 book, The Successor. While the two novels do share striking plot similarities, the allegations were never proven one way or another. Du Maurier also faced a lawsuit in 1947 for allegedly plagiarizing Edwina DeVin McDonald’s novel Blind Windows and the short story "I Planned to Murder my Husband." Du Maurier denied any charges.

10. During World War II, a copy of Rebecca was discovered among the possessions of two captured German spies.

British intelligence officers determined that a copy of Rebecca had been used by the Germans during World War II as a code key.

11. Rebecca has been adapted to a variety of media.

Rebecca had been adapted for film several times, but the best-known adaptation is Hitchcock’s 1940 film of the same name. It’s also been adapted to television a number of times, as a radio play, and an opera.