15 Fabulous Facts About Sex and the City

HBO
HBO

Still wondering if you’re a Carrie, a Miranda, a Charlotte, or a Samantha? It has been exactly 20 years since Sex and the City first premiered on HBO and instantly pushed cosmos, Post-it note break-ups, and Mr. Big into the cultural lexicon, and affection for the groundbreaking series has yet to diminish. The Sarah Jessica Parker-starring show offered a fresh, funny, and very frisky look inside the lives of four very different New York City gals. But even a show as beloved and written about as Sex and the City still has some secrets to spill, and we’ve found a handful of trivia bits that might surprise even its most hardcore fans.

1. CARRIE BRADSHAW ISN’T EXACTLY CANDACE BUSHNELL.

Even casual fans of the series know that Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, is based on author Candace Bushnell, who penned her own sex column in the New York Observer back in the 1990s, which she then adapted into the essay collection also known as Sex and the City. Although Bradshaw and Bushnell have a lot in common, they’re not the same woman. Bushnell started writing for the Observer in 1994, using her own name and adventures to seed her wickedly funny column with salacious, true-life tidbits. But writing such stuff under your own name can be tricky—Carrie found that out the hard way plenty of times—and Bushnell eventually started writing stories about “Carrie” and her friends. Although she still pulled these stories from her own life, her semi-autobiographical heroine afforded Bushnell a special kind of freedom. You can still read some of her original columns over at the Observer’s website.

2. CARRIE’S ADDRESS ISN’T REAL.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City (1998)
HBO

Carrie supposedly lived in a very chic apartment for the entire run of the series—a rent-controlled Upper East Side brownstone located on East 73rd Street, between Park and Madison Avenues. Swanky location, right? Too bad it was doubly fictional. Carrie’s building number was 245 (a nonexistent number that, if it did exist, would be located further east, between Second and Third Avenues) and the exterior shots were actually filmed in the West Village, at 66 Perry Street.

3. SAMANTHA AND MIRANDA’S ADDRESSES AREN'T REAL EITHER.

Although the other ladies moved around during the course of the series, each of them had their own signature abode, none of which actually exist. Samantha’s Meatpacking District loft at 300 Gansevoort Street isn’t real (that address doesn’t exist), while Miranda’s Upper West Side apartment is also fictional. Charlotte’s chi-chi address at 700 Park Avenue is, however, a real one, and it’s home to a 21-floor co-op that specializes in large apartments. (The cheapest pad on sale there right now—with its two bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms—is on the market for $2,295,000.)

4. SARAH JESSICA PARKER WANTED TO QUIT THE SHOW EARLY.

Even though Parker had a no-nudity clause in her Sex and the City contract (which explains all those sexy scenes that feature Carrie in cute bras and nothing less), she was still nervous about the sexual content of the series. Back in 2010, she told The Sun, “I was not comfortable with nude scenes, scenes with sex toys, or vulgar language—so I did not do any ... My character, Carrie, kissed a lot of men—but that's as far as it went. I had the maturity to control my panic about the whole series and what it meant. At one point, after the pilot show of Sex and the City was made and they wanted me to sign up for the series, I wanted to get out of it.”

5. IT WAS THE FIRST CABLE SHOW TO WIN THE EMMY FOR OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES.

Winner for Outstanding Comedy Series, 'Sex in the City' at the 53rd Annual Prime-Time Emmy Awards held at the Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles, CA., Nov. 4, 2001
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Although HBO has had great success with their dramatic series, Sex and the City was the network's first comedy series to win Emmy gold in 2001. It maintained that record until 2015, when Veep won the coveted award (which it won again in 2016 and 2017). 

6. THE FOURTH WALL-BREAKING LASTED FOR MORE THAN ONE SEASON.

Early episodes of Sex and the City feature one majorly jarring element that was later jettisoned from the rest of its run: characters breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the camera. Although Miranda, Charlotte, and random supporting characters did it in the pilot episode (even Skipper did it!), eventually only Carrie turned to the camera to chat it up. Most fans remember this as a strange quirk of the series’ first season, but it actually lasted until the second season, as its last appearance reared its ugly (and talkative) head in “The Freak Show,” the third episode of season two.

7. IT’S STILL THE INSPIRATION FOR A BUS TOUR.

It makes sense that Sex and the City, one of those “oh, it’s like New York City is its own character!” series, spawned a bus tour of the show’s various New York City-set locations back in 2001. But it’s a little surprising that the tour is still going. Run by On Location Tours, the three-and-a-half-hour tour has now been operating for 17 years—nearly three times as long as the series was on the air—and it shows no sign of slowing down. It operates seven days a week, complete with stops at Magnolia Bakery (for cupcakes) and Bleecker Street (for shopping). And, yes, it does drive by Carrie’s stoop (the one on Perry Street, naturally).

8. NATASHA ONLY APPEARED IN SEVEN EPISODES.

Sex and the City featured a ton of very memorable recurring characters, from Candice Bergen as Enid Frick, Carrie’s Vogue editor, to Frances Sternhagen as Bunny MacDougal, Charlotte's one-time mother-in-law. But few guest stars had quite the same impact as Bridget Moynahan as Natasha Naginsky, Mr. Big’s second wife. Considering how deeply the introduction of Natasha changed Carrie’s life (and her relationship with Mr. Big), it’s surprising that Moynahan only popped up in seven episodes, spread out over the second and third seasons. Her last appearance? The 17th episode of season three, “What Goes Around Comes Around,” in which Carrie desperately tries to make amends.

9. THE SHOW ADDRESSED 9/11 IN ITS OWN WAY.

The September 11th attacks occurred in between half-seasons, as the fourth season was split in two and the first run ended on August 12, 2001. When the show returned on January 6, 2002, the opening credits had been altered so as to not show the Twin Towers, which originally appeared twice, once with the show’s title, once with “Starring Sarah Jessica Parker."

Of the change, led by producer Michael Patrick King, Parker—who watched the towers collapse—told New York Magazine: “Like the rest of us, I had had all sorts of mixed feelings about the Twin Towers ... But once they were gone, they were beloved." They were replaced in the credits by the Empire State Building.

10. THE SHOW DIDN’T INVENT THE COSMO, BUT IT CERTAINLY POPULARIZED IT.

The ladies’ cocktail of choice, the pink-hued vodka sipper, may have risen to frothy fame thanks to the series, but the drink is believed to have been invented way back in the 1930s. Although its exact provenance is up for debate (no one can agree on whether it was first made in Provincetown or Miami or somewhere else), no one questions that its '90s popularity is due to its many, many appearances on the show. Pair it with a Magnolia Bakery cupcake and you’ve got yourself one heck of a Sex and the City snack.

11. THERE WAS A REAL MR. BIG.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth in 'Sex and the City'
Paramount Home Entertainment

Given the true-life (and true-love) events that inspired Bushnell’s original columns, it should come as little surprise that there was a real Mr. Big and he has actually been identified. Although the series’ Big was a big-time financier and entrepreneur, his inspiration—Ron Galotti—was a publisher whom Bushnell met at a party in 1995. The pair dated for about a year, but his presence was felt in her columns—and in Carrie’s own story—for years to come.

12. KRISTIN DAVIS USED TO HIDE THE SHOW FROM HER FAMILY.

Kristin Davis was concerned that the show’s risqué subject matter—and even its title—would shock her family, so she didn’t tell her grandmother about it and asked her parents not to watch it. But her attitude changed over time, and she later confessed that her parents had started watching the show after her grandmother passed away. Davis's dad, a psychology professor, really got into it, even using the show as part of his college lectures on "Marriage and Sexuality."

13. KIM CATTRALL WAS WORRIED SHE HAD BEEN CAST AS SOMEONE’S MOTHER.

Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon in 'Sex and the City'
Paramount Home Entertainment

As the oldest member of the cast, Kim Cattrall was a little blown away by the fact that the series wanted her to play the role of Samantha Jones, a sexy singleton, and not someone’s mom. Back in 2002, she commented, “I never thought I'd be playing this character at this age in my life ... I thought I'd be playing somebody's mom ... The other girls on the show are 10 years younger than I am, so I have to get enough sleep and work out and watch what I eat. Just running around New York City is a good way to keep in shape.”

14. THE SHOW’S FINALE REALLY WAS INTENDED AS AN ENDING.

Although Sex and the City has spawned two feature films—and rumors of a third movie continue to pop up from time to time—producer Michael Patrick King (who directed both of the feature films) originally believed that the show ended just as it was meant to. In 2004, mere months after the show aired its final episode, King said at a panel, “Nothing we did in the series was altered to save something for the movie ... This is exactly the way we wanted to end the series. We’re proud of what we did.”

15. SARAH JESSICA PARKER PUSHED FOR DIVERSITY.

When Blair Underwood joined the cast as a love interest for Miranda back in 2003, it marked the injection of a long-needed bit of diversity in the show’s cast. Of the casting, Cynthia Nixon (Miranda herself) said, “We all of us, and no one more than Sarah Jessica, had lobbied for this for a long, long time ... I'm a huge fan of the show, but if we had area in which we really could use improvement, it's certainly this one ... I think it's about time.”

An earlier version of this article ran in 2016.

12 Good Ol' Facts About The Dukes of Hazzard

Getty Images
Getty Images

When The Dukes of Hazzard premiered on January 26, 1979, it was intended to be a temporary patch in CBS’s primetime schedule until The Incredible Hulk returned. Only nine episodes were ordered, and few executives at the network had any expectation that the series—about two amiable brothers at odds with the corrupt law enforcement of Hazzard County—would become both a ratings powerhouse and a merchandising bonanza. Check out some of these lesser-known facts about the Duke boys, their extended family, and the gravity-defying General Lee.

1. CBS's chairman hated The Dukes of Hazzard.

CBS chairman William Paley never quite bought into the idea of spinning his opinion to match the company line. Having built CBS from a radio station to one of the “Big Three” television networks, he had harvested talent as diverse as Norman Lear and Lucille Ball, a marked contrast to the Southern-fried humor of The Dukes of Hazzard. In his 80s when it became a top 10 series and seeing no reason to censor himself, Paley repeatedly and publicly described the show as “lousy.”

2. The Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee got 35,000 fan letters a month.


Getty Images

While John Schneider and Tom Wopat were the ostensible stars of the show, both the actors and the show's producers quickly found out that the main attraction was the 1969 Dodge Charger—dubbed the General Lee—that trafficked brothers Bo and Luke Duke from one caper to another. Of the 60,000 letters the series was receiving every month in 1981, 35,000 wanted more information on or pictures of the car.

3. Dennis Quaid wanted to be The Dukes of Hazzard's Luke Duke—on one condition.

When the show began casting in 1978, producers threw out a wide net searching for the leads. Dennis Quaid was among those interested in the role of Luke Duke—which eventually went to Wopat—but he had a condition: he would only agree to the show if his then-wife, P.J. Soles, was cast at the Dukes’ cousin, Daisy. Soles wasn’t a proper fit for the supporting part, which put Quaid off; Catherine Bach was eventually cast as Daisy.

4. John Schneider pretended to be a redneck for his Dukes of Hazzard audition.

New York native Schneider was only 18 years old when he went in to read for the role of Bo Duke. The problem: producers wanted someone 24 to 30 years old. Schneider lied about his age and passed himself off as a Southern archetype, strutting in wearing a cowboy hat, drinking a beer, and spitting tobacco. He also told them he could do stunt driving. It was a good enough performance to land him the show.

5. The Dukes of Hazzard co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat met while taking a poop.

After Schneider was cast, the show needed to locate an actor who could complement Bo. Stage actor Wopat was flown in for a screen test; Schneider happened to be in the bathroom when Wopat walked in after him. The two began talking about music—Schneider had seen a guitar under the stall door—and found they had an easy camaraderie. After flushing, the two did a scene. Wopat was hired immediately.

6. Daisy's Dukes needed a tweak on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Bach’s omnipresent jean shorts were such a hit that any kind of cutoffs quickly became known as “Daisy Dukes,” after her character. But they were so skimpy that the network was concerned censors wouldn’t allow them. A negotiation began, and it was eventually decided that Bach would wear some extremely sheer pantyhose to make sure there were no clothing malfunctions.

7. Nancy Reagan was fan of The Dukes of Hazzard's Daisy.

Shirley Moore, Bach’s former grade school teacher, went on to work in the White House. After Bach sent her a poster, she was surprised to hear back that then-First Lady Nancy Reagan was enamored with it. “I’m the envy of the White House and I’m having your poster framed,” Moore wrote in a letter. “Mrs. Reagan saw the picture and fell in love with it.” Bach sent more posters, which presumably became part of the decor during the Reagan administration.

8. The Dukes of Hazzard's stars had some very bizarre contract demands.

Wopat and Schneider famously walked off the series in 1982 after demanding a cut of the show’s massive merchandising revenue—which was, by one estimate, more than $190 million in 1981 alone. They were replaced with Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer, “cousins” of the Duke boys, who were reviled by fans for being scabs. The two leads eventually came back, but it wasn’t the only time Warner Bros. had to deal with irate actors. James Best, who portrayed crooked sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, refused to film five episodes because he had no private dressing room in which to change his clothes; the production just hosed him down when he got dirty. Ben Jones, who played “Cooter” the mechanic, briefly left because he wanted his character to sport a beard and producers preferred he be clean-shaven.

9. A miniature car was used for some stunts in The Dukes of Hazzard.

As established, the General Lee was a primary attraction for viewers of the series. For years, the show wrecked dozens of Chargers by jumping, crashing, and otherwise abusing them, which created some terrific footage. For its seventh and final season in 1985, the show turned to a miniature effects team in an effort to save on production costs: it was cheaper to mangle a Hot Wheels-sized model than the real thing. “It was a source of embarrassment to all of us on the show,” Wopat told E!.

10. The Dukes of Hazzard's famous "hood slide" was an accident.

A staple—and, eventually, cliché—of action films everywhere, the slide over the hood was popularized by Tom Wopat. While it may have been tempting to take credit, Wopat said it was unintentional and that the first time he tried clearing the hood, the car’s antenna wound up injuring him.

11. The Dukes of Hazzard cartoon went international.


YouTube

Warner Bros. capitalized on the show’s phenomenal popularity with an animated series, The Dukes, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired in 1983. Taking advantage of the form, the Duke boys traveled internationally, racing Boss Hogg through Greece or Hong Kong. Perhaps owing to the fact that the live-action series was already considered enough of a cartoon, the animated series only lasted 20 episodes.

12. In 2015, Warner Bros. banned the Confederate flag from The Dukes of Hazzard merchandising.

At the time the series originally aired, little was made of the General Lee sporting a Confederate flag on its hood. In 2015, after then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke out against the depiction of the flag in popular culture, Warner Bros. elected to stop licensing products with the original roof. The company announced that all future Dukes merchandise would drop the design element. Schneider disagreed with the decision, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Is the flag used as such in other applications? Yes, but certainly not on the Dukes ... Labeling anyone who has the flag a ‘racist’ seems unfair to those who are clearly ‘never meanin’ no harm.'”

8 Surprising Facts About Paul Newman

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

With roles as varied as pool shark “Fast” Eddie Felson in 1961’s The Hustler (and 1986's The Color of Money) and alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin in 1982’s The Verdict, Paul Newman never conformed to type. The versatile actor spent decades as a movie star, auto racer, and part-time salad dressing pitchman. In honor of what would have been Newman’s 95th birthday on January 26, 2020, take a look at some lesser-known details of the performer’s life and career.

1. Paul Newman originally wanted to be a football player.

Born in Cleveland and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Paul Newman was the offspring of Arthur, a sporting goods store owner, and Teresa, whose love of theater eventually proved contagious. But Newman originally had his sights set on a sports career. He played football in high school and college before enlisting in the U.S. Navy Air Corps, where he served as a radio operator (as he was ineligible to be a pilot due to being colorblind).

When Newman returned home in 1946, he attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio on a football scholarship. After getting arrested for fighting and being kicked off the team, Newman decided to shift his major to theater. He eventually wound up in summer stock and then the Yale School of Drama before heading off to be a full-time actor in New York.

2. Paul Newman thought his first film was the worst movie ever made.

After stints on stage and in television, including roles in Playhouse 90, Newman was offered the starring role in 1954’s The Silver Chalice, about a Greek slave who crafts the cup used during the Last Supper. While the $1000 weekly salary was welcome, the film was not. Newman later asked friends to sit through it while drubbing it as the worst film ever made. He had better luck two years later when he played boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956). In 1958, Newman earned his first of 10 Academy Award nominations for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

3. Paul Newman was often mistaken for Marlon Brando.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward standing outdoors, circa 1962
Paul Newman and wife Joanne Woodward, circa 1962.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Early in their respective careers, Newman was regularly approached by people who thought he was Marlon Brando. Rather than correct them, he would oblige their request for an autograph by signing, “Best Wishes, Marlon Brando.”

4. Paul Newman frequently enjoyed faking his own death.

Newman, who was described by most who knew him as an affable man, had a mischievous streak that often manifested in practical jokes on his directors. A frequent target was George Roy Hill, who directed Newman in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1973’s The Sting, and 1977’s Slap Shot. Newman cut Hill’s desk and car in half during filming of the first two films. While making Slap Shot, he crawled behind the wheel of a wrecked car and pretended he had been in an accident, much to Hill’s horror.

While making 1960’s Exodus, Newman pranked director Otto Preminger by tossing a dummy off a building knowing Preminger would think it was him: Preminger collapsed in shock. He repeated the joke during shooting of 1973’s The MacKintosh Man, tossing another dummy off a 60-foot building in front of director John Huston.

5. A movie introduced Paul Newman to racing.

It was starring in the 1969 racing film Winning that led Newman down a path of competitive racing in his private life. In 1972, Newman started driving on an amateur level before winning his first professional race in 1982. At age 70, he was part of the winning team in the 1995 Daytona 24-Hours sports car endurance race and continued to drive through 2005. The hobby was one of the few things that could get Newman, who was notoriously press-shy, to open up to media. “I’ll always talk about racing because the people are interesting and fun, the sport is a lot more exciting than anything else I do, and nobody cares that I’m an actor,” Newman said. “I wish I could spend all my time at the racetrack.”

6. Richard Nixon considered Paul Newman an enemy.

Actor Paul Newman is pictured in Venice, Italy in 1963
Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images

President Richard Nixon, who was no stranger to controversy, liked to keep tabs on people he considered volatile and in opposition to his politics. While that normally included political figures, his “enemies list” also included Newman. The actor earned the honor by supporting 1968 presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey and being an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War. Oddly, Newman and Nixon had some personal history: Both men shared use of a Jaguar on loan from an automobile dealer. When Newman learned that Nixon was driving the car during part of the week, he left a note saying Nixon should find no trouble operating a car with a “tricky clutch,” a nod to Nixon’s “Tricky Dick” nickname. When Nixon gathered his list of rivals in 1971, Newman’s name was on it. The actor later got a copy and had it framed.

7. Martha Stewart helped put Paul Newman’s salad dressing on the map.

Today it's not uncommon for major actors to lend their images to food and alcoholic beverages. In the early 1980s, it was unusual, though Newman wasn’t looking to make history—only salad dressing. The actor enjoyed mixing an oil and vinegar blend and giving it out to friends and family around the holidays. With friend A.E. Hotchner, Newman bottled a batch and dispensed it over the 1980 Christmas season. Martha Stewart, who was then a caterer, was living in Newman's neighborhood at the time and reported a blind taste test was in favor of the dressing. Newman agreed to put his face on the bottle and call it Newman’s Own. The dressing and the foods to come—including spaghetti sauce—generated profits that Newman donated entirely to charity. As of 2015, the company has delivered an estimated $430 million to charitable causes.

8. Paul Newman once offered part of his salary to a co-star.

While making the 1998 film Twilight with Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon, Newman was surprised to discover that both he and Hackman were making considerably more than Sarandon, despite all three receiving equal billing. Sarandon told the BBC in 2018 that Newman then offered to give up a portion of his salary to make things equitable.

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