What I Learned at Life This Week

I love the show Jeopardy. And lately I’ve noticed that many of the categories in Jeopardy have coincided with trivia I learned recently researching stories for LIFE.

For example, in an episode last week one of the clues was asking for the name of the 1949 musical that won a Pulitzer Prize. And while researching information for a celebrity gallery, I stumbled upon the names of the 12 people who have won an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)—30 Rock has a funny episode where the character Tracy Morgan tries to achieve EGOT status. Two EGOT winners have also won Pulitzer Prizes: Marvin Hamlisch and Richard Rodgers (of Rodgers and Hammerstein). And Rodgers helped create South Pacific, which won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

After almost five months at LIFE, I think I’m ready to compete on Jeopardy.

Here are some other interesting tidbits I learned at LIFE this week:

The Pulitzer Prize is administered by Columbia University. Although a panelist carefully chooses the finalists each year, it starts out like most writing competitions. For a $50 entry fee, anyone can submit their work for review. A little pricy, but I had no idea it was so accessible, considering its prestige.

Eva Marie Saint, best known for her performances in On the Waterfront (1954)—-another Jeopardy clue—- and North by Northwest (1951) has been acting for 63 years and is one of the 12 EGOT winners. And age 86, she is still working. Next year, she will be voice acting for the animated mini-series, Avatar: Legend of Korra.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, competes in carriage driving, an equestrian sport he helped expand.

Less than 1,000 Westerners are allowed to visit North Korea each year.

The original Donkey Kong arcade game came out in July 1981. Nintendo had wanted to create a game based on Popeye, but did not receive the rights, so instead they created a game based on Popeye’s characters. DK is Bruno, the princess is Olive Oil, and the hero, later known as Mario, is Popeye. Mario was originally named Jumpman and he was a carpenter, but he was renamed after the landlord of the building for the American Nintendo company. The princess was originally named Pauline, after the wife of the American Nintendo’s CEO. It was the first game ever where the plot line was developed before the code. And although Mario is the protagonist, DK is supposed to be the main character. In the sequel game, Mario is the villain. The game was supposed to be called “Monkey Kong” but there was a translation mishap, and now the company maintains that it was supposed to always be called “Donkey Kong,” though no one really believes that.

Universal Studios tried to sue Nintendo for infringing upon their movie “King Kong.” But a few years before, Universal had won a suit against RKO for the same reason. In that case, Universal had argued that “King Kong” was now in public domain. Nintendo won the suit, and the judge ruled that Universal had to pay $1.8 million in lawyer’s fees, and Universal was infringing upon Nintendo by licensing the rights to Tiger’s “King Kong” game. The lawyer who represented Nintendo was John Kirby, and the company thanked him by naming one of their characters Kirby, and by giving him exclusive rights to name sailboats “Donkey Kong.”

The original poster for the Donkey Kong game was a little sexual:

And lastly, just for kicks (I actually learned this in my Intro to Magazines class), Pamela Anderson apparently pops a bottle of champagne everyday at 1 p.m. and drinks with friends. I’d like to know how that one started.


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