10 Facts About The Walking Dead

Alan Clarke/AMC
Alan Clarke/AMC

The Walking Dead won’t die. The AMC series about survivors of a zombie apocalypse—many of whom eventually stop surviving—has marched on even with its splintered tibia sticking out of its shin. Its ninth season is back in session, boldly pressing forward without intrepid leader Rick Grimes. The series based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book saga is attempting to prove that it can thrive and evolve beyond its biggest star (even as they prep three spin-off films with Andrew Lincoln back in the saddle as Grimes).

The series is a genuine phenomenon. It carved out a space on television by redefining prestige to include fat zombies ripping in half when they get pulled out of a well, bat-wielding nihilists, and eye-popping action sequences. The Walking Dead has beguiled and irritated fans, but it’s been willing to outlast the competition by killing off favorite characters and ensuring that no one is safe.

1. The cast gets together for a last supper when a character dies.

Cooper Andrews as Jerry, Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa
Gene Page/AMC

As the rare show that kills its main characters with fierce regularity, The Walking Dead started its own tradition of holding Death Dinners for those about to bite the dust. “It gives everyone a chance to get properly sauced and say, ‘We’re going to miss the hell out of you,’” Sarah Wayne Callies (who played Rick's wife, Lori Grimes) told The Huffington Post in 2012. As the show grew in popularity, they began pretending that these get-togethers are cast birthday parties (so waitstaff won’t get wise and spoil who’s getting bit next).

2. Rick Grimes has been wearing the same underwear the entire time.

Supply runs are mostly limited to medicine, food, and survival necessities, which means characters have to make do with what they have. The show takes that limitation seriously, which is why the good Sheriff is still rocking the same black Levi's, regardless of wear and tear. But it turns out that Rick is also holding on to what’s underneath. The blue boxer shorts he had on in the hospital in the first episode? He’s still got ‘em. Don’t get too grossed out, though. It’s been nearly a decade for us, but only about two years in-show time since the zombies erupted.

3. Zombie actors have to attend zombie school.

Before trying to eat Michonne or Daryl, aspiring "walkers" have to attend a seminar where they get tips on the specific style of the show’s undead, followed by auditions where executive producer and horror effects legend Greg Nicotero chooses the best stumblers. Some keys to success include staying loose and avoiding sticking your arms straight out like Frankenstein’s monster.

4. Even the opening credits are deteriorating.

Everything falls apart. That includes the lettering and logo for the show’s opening credits, which have been yellowing and crumbling for the past eight seasons. The ninth season logo features greenery—signaling a change in the story’s direction, a sense of rebuilding, and the return of nature.

5. They use CGI to erase zombie breath.

Walkers in a scene from 'The Walking Dead'
Gene Page/AMC

The actors playing the zombies are amazing, but they can’t hide their breath when it’s cold outside. To add to the otherworldly nature of the monsters (and to be biologically accurate), the producers have to remove breath steam from the undead figures who wouldn’t be breathing. The show uses a ton of CGI. A lot of it is what you might expect, but there are also little details like that making the show even better.

6. A fan bit Norman Reedus.

Five years into playing a character who could potentially outlast all 7 billion zombies, Reedus was unable to thwart an attack in real life when an overzealous fan bit him on the chest at New Jersey’s Walker Stalker Con. The actor took it in stride and didn’t press charges, but the fan was banned from the convention for life. No matter how much you love a show, please don’t bite people.

7. It takes place in the same universe as Breaking Bad.

Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon in 'The Walking Dead' season 3
Gene Page/AMC

Fact: Merle (Michael Rooker) has blue meth in season one. Another fact: His brother confirms that his dealer was a scrawny white boy who said, “I’m going to kill you, bitch.” These two elements point to Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman being Merle’s dealer, which ties the two AMC universes together. (The network even weighed in on it.) Glenn (Steven Yeun) also drives the same Dodge Challenger with racing stripes that Walter White bought his son (and later had to return to “Glenn’s Car Lot”). Those are solid homages to a pioneering show, but the theory that Walter White’s blue meth caused the zombie outbreak is still way, way out there.

8. The show doesn’t use the word “zombie.”

The Walking Dead’s low-key slogan is, “Don’t say the Zed word.” That’s a reference that no one in The Walking Dead universe would get because Shaun of the Dead (as well as other zombie-based entertainment) doesn’t exist there. Robert Kirkman breaks his own rule in the comic book occasionally, but the show has stuck to calling them walkers, skin-eaters, deadheads, wasteds, deadies, rotters, and dozens of other names to avoid saying what we all know they are.

9. The zombies are eating ham.

Zombies on 'The Walking Dead' season 5
Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Instead of chowing down on long pig, the actors playing walkers wrap their lips around juicy bits of ham. They used to get barbecue sauce to help it go down, but the vinegar messed up their make-up, so now it’s just ham with fake blood all over it. Actor Vincent Martella said it was a challenge to eat a person on the show, not because of the ham, but because of the mindlessness. “When you eat someone you have to look like an animal devouring prey,” he told Today. “You can’t look like you have any specific motive or where you’re going to take a bite."

10. The little girl zombie from the pilot episode came back in season 8.

The first episode established the show’s tone by having Rick Grimes shoot a teddy-bear-holding little girl named Summer. She was going to eat his face off, but the action still stole away a portion of Grimes’s humanity and pointed to the bleachers on The Walking Dead being nasty, brutish, and not short. For its 100th episode, the series brought back Addy Miller to play a zombie very similar to the iconic one she played when she was 10 years old.

7 Weird Super Bowl Halftime Acts

Al Bello, Getty Images
Al Bello, Getty Images

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez seem like natural choices to perform the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl, but the event didn’t always feature musical acts from major pop stars. Michael Jackson kicked off the trend at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, but prior to that, halftime shows weren’t a platform for the hottest celebrities of the time. They centered around themes instead, and may have featured appearances from Peanuts characters, Jazzercisers, or a magician dressed like Elvis. In honor of Super Bowl LIV on February 2, we’ve rounded up some of the weirdest acts in halftime show history.

1. Return of the Mickey Mouse Club

The era of Super Bowl halftimes before wardrobe malfunctions, illuminati conspiracy theories, and Left Shark was a more innocent time. For 1977’s event, the Walt Disney Company produced a show that doubled as a squeaky-clean promotion of its brand. Themed “Peace, Joy, and Love,” the Super Bowl XI halftime show opened with a 250-piece band rendition of “It’s a Small World (After All).” Disney also used the platform to showcase its recently revamped Mickey Mouse Club.

2. 88 Grand Pianos and 300 Jazzercisers

The theme of the halftime show at Super Bowl XXII in 1988 was “Something Grand.” Naturally, it featured 88 tuxedoed pianists playing 88 grand pianos. Rounding out the program were 400 swing band performers, 300 Jazzercisers, 44 Rockettes, two marching bands, and Chubby Checker telling everyone to “Twist Again."

3. Elvis Impersonator Performs the World’s Largest Card Trick

Many of the music industry's most successful pop stars—like Prince, Madonna, and, uh, Milli Vanilli—were at the height of their fame in 1989, but none of them appeared at Super Bowl XXIII. Instead, the NFL hired an Elvis Presley-impersonating magician to perform. The show, titled “BeBop Bamboozled,” was a tribute to the 1950s, and it featured Elvis Presto performing “the world’s largest card trick.” It also may have included the world's largest eye exam: The show boasted 3D effects, and viewers were urged to pick up special glasses before the game. If the visuals didn't pop like they were supposed to, people were told to see an eye doctor.

4. The Peanuts Salute New Orleans

Super Bowl XXIV featured one of the last halftime acts that was completely devoid of any musical megastars. The biggest celebrity at the 1990 halftime show was Snoopy. Part of the show’s theme was the “40th Anniversary of 'Peanuts,'” and to celebrate the milestone, performers dressed as Peanuts characters and danced on stage. The other half of the theme was “Salute to New Orleans”—not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the comic strip.

5. A Tribute to the Winter Olympics

Super Bowl XXVI preceded the 1992 Winter Olympics—a fact that was made very clear by the event’s halftime. The show was titled “Winter Magic” and it paid tribute to the winter games with ice skaters, snowmobiles, and a cameo from the 1980 U.S. hockey team. Other acts, like a group of parachute-pants-wearing children performing the “Frosty the Snowman Rap,” were more generally winter-themed than specific to the Olympics. About 22 million viewers changed the channel during halftime to watch In Living Color’s Super Bowl special, which may have convinced the NFL to hire Michael Jackson the following year.

6. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye

“Peace, Joy, and Love” wasn’t the only Disney-helmed Super Bowl halftime. In 1995, Disney produced a halftime show called “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” to tease the new Disneyland ride of the same name. It centered around a skit in which actors playing Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood stole the Vince Lombardi Trophy from an exotic temple, and it included choreographed stunts, fiery special effects, and a snake. Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett were also there.

7. The Blues Brothers, Minus John Belushi

The 1990s marked an odd period for halftime shows as they moved from schlocky themed variety shows to major music events. Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 perfectly encapsulates this transition period. James Brown and ZZ Top performed, but the headliners were the Blues Brothers. John Belushi had been dead for more than a decade by that point, so Jim Belushi took his place beside Dan Aykroyd. John Goodman was also there to promote the upcoming movie Blues Brother 2000. The flashy advertisement didn’t have the impact they had hoped for and the film was a massive flop when it premiered.

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
Getty Images

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
Getty Images

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.


Getty Images

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
Getty Images

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.


Getty Images

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
Getty Images

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.

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