18 Fun Facts About The Naked Gun

YouTube
YouTube

After his career-changing performance in Airplane!, Leslie Nielsen teamed up with Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker again for the ABC parody show Police Squad! in 1982. After six episodes, it was canceled (though some people were clearly watching it, as it was nominated for two Emmy Awards). Six years later, the show found new life and pronounced success as a comedy movie franchise, beginning with 1988’s The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!.

Nielsen returned as detective Frank Drebin, an inept police officer who uncovers an assassination plot against Queen Elizabeth II, and falls for the villain Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán)’s assistant, Jane Spencer, in Priscilla Presley’s first major film role. O.J. Simpson also took a repeated beating as Detective Nordberg. Here are some facts about the film that will make you notice birds singing, dew glistening on a newly formed leaf, and stoplights for the first time.

1. THE ORIGINAL TITLE FOR THE FILM SOUNDED TOO SIMILAR TO ANOTHER POLICE MOVIE FRANCHISE.

The Zuckers and Abrahams (known in shorthand as ZAZ) were informed by Paramount Pictures that Police Squad wasn’t a suitable title because it was too similar to Police Academy (Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach came out in March of 1988). The filmmakers were given a list of 20 other titles, and chose Naked Gun because “it promised so much more than it could ever possibly deliver.”

2. PRISCILLA PRESLEY HAD NEVER DONE COMEDY BEFORE.

She was cast by ZAZ for the same reason that other actors mostly known for serious roles were put in their movies: it makes the dry parody even funnier. Presley had worked on the show Dallas. Zucker often quipped that the only problem with her was when her ex, Elvis, visited the set.

3. GEORGE KENNEDY HAD WANTED TO WORK WITH THE ZUCKERS AND ABRAHAMS FOR YEARS.

George Kennedy (Ed Hocken) recalled in his memoir: “The first time I met ZAZ, the three of them were in their office at Paramount, and I read a headline from a newspaper in their waiting room: ‘Legless Boy Cartwheels Down Hill to Save Dad.’ A beat. Eruptions of laughter from all, and we were friends.” Kennedy was first offered Lloyd Bridges’ part in Airplane!, but was busy working and making good money acting in the ongoing Airport movie series.

4. KENNEDY WASN’T A FAN OF THE FILMING PROCESS.

Kennedy claimed that the Zucker brothers (David was the credited director for the first Naked Gun film) didn’t believe in doing any scene without 40 or more takes, and that telling a joke 40-plus times in front of a camera was “painful.”

5. THE ZUCKERS DIDN’T LOOK FAR FOR THEIR CASTING OF DOMINIQUE, LUDWIG’S SECRETARY.

She was played by Charlotte Zucker, Jerry and David’s mother.

6. THEY DREW FROM SEVERAL OLDER MOVIES.

The Charlotte Rampling and Robert Mitchum movie Farewell, My Lovely (1975) was where the scene of Priscilla Presley gliding down the stairs came from (the falling part was the comedic twist). The assassination attempt on Charles de Gaulle in The Day of the Jackal (1973) gave ZAZ the idea for the assassination plot against Queen Elizabeth II. Mad magazine, the Dirty Harry movies, and the cop series M Squad were other cited sources of satirization.

7. THE PAINTING DREBIN DESTROYED IS THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH'S THE BLUE BOY.

A copy of it anyway. The original is in The Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

8. IT WAS JOHN HOUSEMAN’S FINAL FILM ROLE.

Houseman played the middle finger-raising driving instructor. Houseman collaborated with Orson Welles on the infamous The War of the Worlds radio broadcast and on Citizen Kane. In 1974, he won a Best Supporting Acting Oscar for the his role in The Paper Chase. A week before The Naked Gun was released, Houseman also made a cameo in Scrooged.

9. WEIRD AL YANKOVIC’S CAMEO WAS A DREAM COME TRUE.

Police Squad! was his favorite TV show. He would have been satisfied with just being an extra in the movie. When the Zuckers heard that he was a fan, they wrote the scene of him on the plane.

10. WEIRD AL TOOK FIRST DATES TO SEE THE MOVIE, WITHOUT TELLING THEM HE WAS IN IT.

His dates “flipped out,” according to Yankovic. He always wore the same Hawaiian shirt as his big-screen self.

11. THE QUEEN’S RECEPTION WAS SHOT AT THE AMBASSADOR HOTEL.

The hotel permanently closed to guests one month later, and was demolished in 2005. You’ve seen the hotel in a number of films, including The Graduate, Pretty Woman, Forrest Gump, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

12. THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II ACTRESS MADE A LIVING AS A QUEEN ELIZABETH II IMPERSONATOR.

Jeannette Charles got her start in 1971, after she had a portrait of herself painted as a gift to her husband. The artist later remarked on her resemblance to Her Majesty in a newspaper interview. She appeared as the Queen in numerous TV shows and movies, including European Vacation and Austin Powers in Goldmember. Charles turned down a role in Ali G Indahouse because she thought the scene was disrespectful. Charles retired in 2004.

13. TIM MCCARVER WAS PAID A TINY AMOUNT FOR PLAYING ONE OF THE (MANY) BASEBALL ANNOUNCERS.

McCarver said he would have given back his “puny” salary to have actually been on set with Nielsen, who he was a huge fan of since he saw Airplane!.

14. REGGIE JACKSON WAS RETIRED BY THE TIME THE MOVIE CAME OUT.

He was an Oakland Athletic, not an Angel, for his final season in 1987.

15. YOU’VE PROBABLY SEEN THE GUY WHO SHOUTED "IT’S ENRICO PALLAZZO!" BEFORE.

Mark Holton was also bike thief Francis Buxton in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and Chubby in Teen Wolf.

16. NIELSEN PERFORMED FOR QUEEN ELIZABETH II IN 2005.

The two were both on hand for the Saskatchewan Centennial Gala to celebrate Nielsen’s birth province in Canada. The actor performed for a crowd of 13,000, which included the Queen.

17. THE NAKED GUN THEME SONG PLAYED AT NIELSEN’S FUNERAL.

Nielsen passed away on November 28, 2010 at the age of 84 and was laid to rest in Fort Lauderdale. Dominik Hauser’s theme played as the Canadian Mounted Police carried his coffin.

18. ED HELMS IS SET TO STAR IN A NEW NAKED GUN MOVIE.

David Zucker said he has no involvement in it, despite being asked.

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

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Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Nintendo

- Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $199 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

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9 Things Invented By Accident

These sugary summer treats were an accidental invention.
These sugary summer treats were an accidental invention.
Daniel Öberg, Unsplash

Not every great invention was created according to plan. Some, in fact, were the result of a happy accident. In November 2020, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced that the COVID-19 vaccine it had developed in partnership with Oxford University was 90 percent effective when administered in a dosing regimen they had discovered thanks to some “serendipity.” This wasn't the only unintentional discovery in history, of course. From penicillin to artificial sweeteners, all nine of the everyday items below were invented entirely by accident.

1. Penicillin

On September 28, 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovered that a petri dish of staphylococcus bacteria that had been inadvertently left out on the windowsill of his London laboratory had become contaminated by a greenish-colored mold—and encircling the mold was a halo of inhibited bacterial growth. After taking a sample and developing a culture, Fleming discovered that the mold was a member of the Penicillium genus, and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. Corn Flakes

The two Kellogg brothers—Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his younger brother (and former broom salesman) Will Keith Kellogg—worked at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, where John was physician-in-chief. Both were strict Seventh-day Adventists, who used their work at the sanitarium to promote the austere dietary and moralist principles of their religion (including strict vegetarianism and a lifelong restraint from excessive sex and alcohol) and to carry out research into nutrition, and the impact of diet on their patients. It was during one of these experiments in 1894 that, while in the process of making dough from boiled wheat, one of the Kelloggs left the mash to dry for too long and when it came time to be rolled out, it splintered into dozens of individual flakes. Curious as to what these flakes tasted like, he baked them in the oven—and in the process, produced a cereal called Granose. Some later tinkering switched out the wheat for corn, and gave us corn flakes.

3. Teflon

Polytetrafluoroethylene—better known as PTFE, or Teflon—was invented by accident at a DuPont laboratory in New Jersey in 1938. Roy Plunkett, an Ohio-born chemist, was attempting to make a new CFC refrigerant when he noticed that a canister of tetrafluoroethylene, despite appearing to be empty, weighed as much as if it were full. Cutting the canister open with a saw, Plunkett found that the gas had reacted with the iron in the canister’s shell and had coated its insides with polymerized polytetrafluoroethylene—a waxy, water-repellent, non-stick substance. Du Pont soon saw the potential of Plunkett’s discovery and began mass producing PTFE, but it wasn’t until 1954, when the wife of French engineer Marc Grégoire asked her husband to use the same substance to coat her cookware to stop food sticking to her pans, that the true usefulness of Plunkett’s discovery was finally realized.

4. Slinky

In 1943, naval engineer Richard T. James was working at a shipyard in Philadelphia when he accidentally knocked a spring (that he had been trying to modify into a stabilizer for sensitive maritime equipment) from a high shelf. To his surprise, the spring neatly uncoiled itself and stepped its way down from the shelf and onto a pile of books, and from there onto a tabletop, and then onto the floor. After two years of development, the first batch of 400 “Slinky” toys sold out in just 90 minutes when they were demonstrated in the toy department of a local Gimbels store in 1945.

5. Silly Putty

At the height of World War II, rubber was rationed across the United States after Japan invaded a number of rubber-producing countries across southeast Asia and hampered production. The race was on to find a suitable replacement—a synthetic rubber that could be produced inside the U.S. without the need of overseas imports, which eventually led to the entirely unexpected invention of Silly Putty. There are at least two rival claims to the invention of Silly Putty (chiefly from chemist Earl L. Warrick and Scottish-born engineer James Wright), both of whom found that mixing boric acid with silicone oil produced a stretchy, bouncy rubber-like substance that also had the unusual ability of leaching newspaper print from a page (an ability that changing technology has now eliminated).

6. Post-It Notes

Pexels, Pixabay

In 1968, a 3M chemist named Dr. Spencer Silver was attempting to create a super-strong adhesive when instead he accidentally invented a super-weak adhesive, which could be used to only temporarily stick things together. The seemingly limited application of Silver’s product meant that it sat unused at 3M (then technically known as Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing) for another five years, until, in 1973, a colleague named Art Fry attended one of Silver’s seminars and struck upon the idea that his impermanent glue could be used to stick bookmarks into the pages of his hymnbook. It took another few years for 3M to be convinced both of Fry and Silver’s idea and of the salability of their product, but eventually they came up with a unique design that worked perfectly: a thin film of Spencer’s adhesive was applied along just one edge of a piece of paper. After a failed test-market push in 1977 as Press ’N Peel, the product went national as the Post-It note in 1980.

7. Saccharin

In 1878 or '79 (sources differ), Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist studying the properties of oxidized coal tar at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, discoveredwhile eating his meal one evening that food he picked up with this fingers tasted sweeter than normal. He traced the sweetening effect back to the chemical he had been working with that day (Ortho-sulfobenzoic Acid Imide, no less) and, noting its potential salability, quickly set up a business mass producing his sweetener under the name Saccharin. Although quickly popular (and equally quickly controversial), it would take the sugar shortages of two World Wars to make the discovery truly universal.

8. Popsicles

The first popsicle was reportedly invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson in 1905, when he accidentally left a container of powdered soda and water, with its mixing stick still inside, on his porch overnight. One unexpectedly cold night later, and the popsicle—which Epperson originally marketed 20 years later as an Epsicle—was born.

9. Safety glass

Safety glass—or rather, laminated glass—was accidentally discovered by the French chemist Édouard Bénédictus when he knocked a glass beaker from a high shelf in his laboratory and found, to his surprise, that it shattered but did not break. His assistant informed him that the beaker had contained cellulose nitrate, a type of clear natural plastic, that had left a film on the inside of the glass. He filed a patent for his discovery in 1909, and it has been in production (albeit in various different forms) ever since.