12 Legendary Facts About Legends of the Hidden Temple

For Nickelodeon viewers whose tastes leaned more toward the cerebral than the booger-infested obstacle courses of Double Dare, the network had a solution: Legends of the Hidden Temple, the 1993-95 game show for history buffs that still had enough action to fill a Spielberg movie. Through four rounds of physical and intellectual challenges, two-member teams tried to navigate a massive Universal Studios set that looked like a Mayan minefield. Check out some facts on the show’s origins, why it made kids cry, and how it didn’t have the budget to let too many of its youthful contestants win.

1. THE GUARDS TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

If a team was able to successfully pass the show’s first three rounds—which included answering trivia on the Steps of Knowledge and crossing a giant moat—they were “rewarded” with an obstacle course inside the Temple that was a confusing mass of puzzles, rooms, and Temple Guards that would pop out to terrify the tired children. One contestant named Keeli told SBNation.com in 2013 that the sight of a Guard bursting from a hidden compartment on set reduced her to tears. “I'm 31 and I can't go to haunted houses,” she said. “I'm deathly afraid of things popping out of closets and doors.” Another contestant got so upset that she puked in the Pit of Despair.

2. PRODUCERS PICKED THE HOST ALMOST AT RANDOM.

Being a game show host takes a very unique skillset—though Nickelodeon and producers didn’t seem to care much about that one way or another. Host Kirk Fogg told Buzzfeed that he was more or less picked at random out of a headshot catalog and asked to audition by reading some play-by-play from a teleprompter. It was his first-ever hosting gig.

3. THERE WAS A MAN INSIDE OLMEC.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

One of Temple’s most memorable elements was the giant head of Olmec, a faux-stone carving that would narrate the proceedings and offer underwhelming advice to the contestants. (The head's name was probably a nod to the Olmec, a civilization that predated the Maya and made giant stone heads.) According to Fogg, Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of Olmec, was actually inside of the 6-foot-tall head with a microphone and a script. As he spoke, he’d control the movement of the statue’s mouth with a lever. When he wasn’t talking, Baker would kick back in the head and read a book or jump out and watch the stunts.

4. THE FIRST EPISODE TOOK 18 HOURS TO SHOOT.

In addition to the expected production hang-ups typical of any inaugural episode, Temple had the added stresses of an elaborate set and physical challenges that were difficult to coordinate. Fogg told Albany’s WCDB Radio that their first contest took over 18 hours to shoot. By the time of the Temple Run, the exhausted contestants were sobbing. The show eventually worked out the kinks, getting a shooting day down to a far more manageable 12 hours. (They also had a nurse on set in case any kids keeled over. By all accounts, no children were seriously harmed.)

5. THE DARK FOREST SMELLED TERRIBLE.

Temple Guard and stunt supervisor Michael Lupia told a Legends fan site that his least-favorite room in the Temple was the Dark Forest. In addition to having to wait inside of a fake tree, the limbs cut into his arms and the entire room smelled like “three years’ worth of B.O.” (Foam rubber is not friendly to cast sweat.)

6. THE SILVER MONKEY WAS DECEPTIVELY DIFFICULT.

Many a viewer has screamed at their television watching incompetent adolescents try to assemble the seemingly simple Silver Monkey: There are only three parts. But according to Fogg, the reason contestants had so much trouble with it is because they were trying to do it with the monkey facing away from them, a clock running out, and the threat of Guards always looming. Easier said than done.

7. PRODUCERS COULDN'T LET TOO MANY KIDS WIN.

Fogg told Great Big Story in 2016 there was a good reason only 30-odd teams wound up finishing the final obstacle course out of the show’s 120 episodes: Producers didn’t have the budget to award a grand prize to too many kids. The Temple Run was designed to be incredibly difficult so they wouldn’t exceed their maximum allotment of eight prizes per season. (All of the kids got a pair of sneakers for competing, though.)

8. THE GRAND PRIZE WAS KIND OF MISLEADING.

Out of the limited prizes producers were allowed to give out, a trip to Universal Studios was often featured during the broadcast episode. This made little sense, as the contestants were often from the Orlando area where the show was taped on the Universal Studios lot. The “real” prize, according to one contestant, was a trip to Busch Gardens. Another contestant won a bike, a CD player, and a trip for two to Vermont.

9. THE KIDS WERE PAIRED AT RANDOM.

According to a former contestant named Anthony, the two-person teams were usually the result of kids being herded into a staging area and paired together at random by a production assistant. They’d have a few minutes to strap on their gear and get to know one another before falling into the moat. Not all of them got along, either: Keeli said she feared she'd be bounced from the show during the trivia portion because her partner was "an abject idiot."

10. IT WON A CABLEACE AWARD.

In 1995, the National Academy of Cable Programming honored Temple with their CableACE award for Best Game Show Special or Series. (Owing to the Emmys increasingly recognizing cable programs, the ceremony was discontinued in 1998.)

11. THERE WAS A TV MOVIE.

Legends of the Hidden Temple via Facebook

Since Legends was inspired by the action-adventure film genre—producer David Greenfield once said he wanted kids to feel like they were in the middle of an Indiana Jones movie—it was only fitting for it to eventually morph into one. Nickelodeon announced in 2016 that the show would be adapted into a live-action television movie about three kids faced with solving the puzzles of Olmec.

12. OLMEC WAS SOLD OFF TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER.

In 2002, Nickelodeon unloaded many of its props and set from their 1990s heyday to clear out their Universal Studios location. One ex-staffer told author Mathew Klickstein (Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon) that Olmec’s foam rubber head was up for sale. “I wanted to buy it,” he said, “but my wife would’ve killed me.”

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

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To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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10 Fascinating Facts About Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac reading poetry.
Jack Kerouac reading poetry.
Phillip Harrington // Alamy Stock Photo

Around midnight one September evening in 1957, Jack Kerouac and his girlfriend, Joyce Glassman, went to the local newsstand. They were looking for the morning issue of The New York Times and its review of Kerouac’s new book, On the Road. There it was, on page 27: a rave review by critic Gilbert Millstein, who declared that “Its publication is a historical occasion.”

That one review changed Kerouac’s life, making him the most famous Beat Generation member and allowing him to publish numerous novels—many of which would draw from his own life.

1. Jack Kerouac’s childhood nickname was “Memory Babe.”

Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. His father, Leo, was an insurance salesman and later owned a print shop; his mother, Gabrielle, was a homemaker. French, not English, was his first language, and throughout his life, he felt a cultural estrangement as a French-speaker in the United States.

As a child, Kerouac had an astounding memory: He could accurately remember scenes and conversations from the past, which caused his friends to call him “Memory Babe.” He would use this talent in his novel The Town and the City to describe the typical New England family life. According to biographer Ann Charters, since his boyhood life wasn’t as idyllic as the story required, he combined elements of his own childhood alongside memories of his friends’ lives.

2. A friend inspired Jack Kerouac to be a writer.

After skipping the sixth grade, Kerouac attended Bartlett Junior High School, where he met Sebastian Sampas. The two shared a love of theater and literature and formed a deep friendship. Thanks to Sampas’s influence, Kerouac joined the school’s Scribbler’s Club. In his Lonesome Traveler, published in 1960, Kerouac wrote, “Decided to become a writer at age 17 under influence of Sebastian Sampas, local young poet who later died at Anzio beach head” in World War II. Kerouac married Sampas’s sister, Stella, in 1966.

3. Jack Kerouac’s poems were influenced by a Japanese poet.

Seventeenth-century Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō used Buddhist themes like nature, enlightenment, and the cycle of life, along with plain language, when writing haiku poems. Kerouac loved haiku, writing copious amounts of it and incorporating it into his novels—though he disregarded the syllable count many associate with the form, saying instead that “Pop———American (non-Japanese) Haikus” were “short 3-line poems, or ‘pomes,’ rhyming or non-rhyming, delineating ‘little Samadhis’ if possible, usually of a Buddhist connotation, aiming towards enlightenment.” A sample of his Bashō-inspired work:

In my medicine cabinet
the winter fly
Has died of old age

—Kerouac

As the author’s friend, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, would say, “He’s the only one in the United States who knows how to write haiku… [he] talks that way, thinks that way.”

4. Jack Kerouac got married to escape jail.

In 1944, future Beat writer Lucien Carr murdered his friend David Kammerer. Carr claimed that Kammerer was gay and had been stalking him; Carr also said that Kammerer was continuously making advances at him, even though Carr turned him down. Carr claimed that, to protect himself, he had stabbed Kammerer to death with his Boy Scout knife. (This type of excuse for murder would later come to be known as the “gay panic defense.”) After filling Kammerer’s pockets with rocks, Carr dumped his body into the Hudson River. He then went to see his friends Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs; Carr said he and Kerouac went to a nearby park to dispose of the evidence. Later, Kerouac was arrested and jailed as a material witness to the crime.

Kerouac couldn’t post bail, so he asked his girlfriend, Edie Parker, to borrow the money from her parents. Edie, however, wouldn’t do it unless he promised to marry her, which he did. Kerouac also said they would move to Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where he’d get a job to repay the loan. On August 22, Kerouac married Edie Parker and was soon released. He made good on his promises, but their marriage would soon go downhill and was eventually annulled.

Kerouac later referenced Kammerer’s murder in his autobiographical novel Vanity of Duluoz, writing that he had told the character based on Kammerer where the character based on Carr was going on the night of the murder and had watched “him rush off to his death.”

5. Jack Kerouac didn’t take care of his daughter.

In late 1950, Kerouac married Joan Haverty, and in February 1952, Haverty gave birth to their daughter, Janet Michelle. But the couple separated before Janet was born, and Kerouac denied paternity, refusing to make child support payments.

6. Jack Kerouac and Gore Vidal slept together.

Author Gore Vidal first met Kerouac in 1949 at the Metropolitan Opera, but beyond a little flirting, nothing happened. That would change in 1953, when Kerouac and Vidal met again at New York City's San Remo Cafe. Kerouac had intended to introduce Vidal to Burroughs, but Kerouac flirted relentlessly with Vidal, and Burroughs eventually left. After that, according to Vidal, he and Kerouac went to the nearby Chelsea Hotel, where they had sex. Later, Kerouac would write a fictionalized account of the encounter in The Subterraneans: “[He] is a well-known and perfectly obvious homosexual of the first water, my roaring brain---we go to his suite in some hotel--I wake up in the morning on the couch, filled with the horrible recognition, ‘I didn’t go back to Mardou’s at all.’”

7. Alan Watts wasn’t a fan of Jack Kerouac’s interpretation of Buddhism.

Kerouac published his novel The Dharma Bums, which portrayed his fictional alter ego learning Buddhism, in 1958. Kerouac’s portrayal of Buddhism was popular among the youth of the day, but famous Zen teacher Alan Watts wasn’t a fan.

“Beat Zen is a complex phenomenon,” Watts wrote. “It ranges from a use of Zen for justifying sheer caprice in art, literature, and life to a very forceful social criticism and ‘digging of the universe’ such as one may find in the poetry of Ginsberg and Snyder, and, rather unevenly, in Kerouac. But, as I know it, it is always a shade too self-conscious, too subjective, and too strident to have the flavor of Zen.”

Watts would publish his famous written work, Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen to distinguish between formal Zen and the Beat’s style of Zen. To Watts, formal Zen was liberation from conventional thought, while the Beat’s style of Zen was simply a revolt against culture or social order.

8. Jack Kerouac has been accused of anti-Semitism.

When Kerouac sat down for an interview at New York’s Northport Public Library in 1964, he talked about a wide range of subjects, among them his friend Allen Ginsberg, religion, and race relations. He also discussed his views of Jewish people. According to Paul Maher in Kerouac: The Definitive Biography, the author had a theory “that the strife over civil rights for African Americans was initiated by an ‘invasion’ of Russian Jews into America.” Kerouac reportedly stated, “After they [Jewish people] had established themselves here, they then took the Negro out and flung him at America and hide behind his skirts so that we will forget about anti-Semitism because we’re worried about Negroes now.” These statements led to Kerouac being accused of anti-Semitism—which he vehemently denied.

9. Jack Kerouac liked to paint.

Writing wasn’t Kerouac’s only talent: The author was also an artist. He drew his first self-portrait when he was 9, and created vast amounts of artwork—working in everything from pencil to oils to watercolors—as an adult. Like the characters in his novels, Kerouac often based his artworks on people he met.

10. Jack Kerouac was an influence on Hunter S. Thompson.

As a 21-year-old, future Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson did not have kind words for Kerouac or his work, writing in a letter that “The man is an ass, a mystic boob with intellectual myopia. The Dharma thing was quite as bad as The Subterraneans and they're both withered appendages to On The Road—which isn't even a novel in the first place.” A few years later, Thompson called Kerouac’s Big Sur a “stupid, sh**ty book.” But his opinion seemed to have mellowed with age: In 1994, he reportedly said he “never would have become a writer were it not for On the Road,” and acknowledged four years later that Kerouac “was a great influence on me.”