Hollywood Facts
Hollywood Facts

88 Entertaining Hollywood Movie Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published July 1, 2017Updated May 12, 2023
  • Originally, the term “movies” did not mean films, but the people who made them. It was generally used with disdain by early Hollywood locals who disliked the “invading” Easterners.[1]
  • The Wizard of Oz's Full Name is Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs. In the book, he explains that he called "myself O.Z., because the other initials were P-I-N-H-E-A-D."[16]
  • In "Shazam!" (2019), the doll from the movie "Annabelle" makes a cameo in the pawn shop scene. The director of "Shazam!" also directed "Annabelle: Creation."[8]
  • The first film ever made in Hollywood was D.W. Griffith’s 1910 In Old California, a biograph melodrama about a Spanish maiden (Marion Leonard) who has an illegitimate son with a man who later becomes governor of California. It was shot in two days.[6]
  • When Horace and Daeida Wilcox founded Hollywood in 1887, they hoped it would become a religious community. Prohibitionists, they banned liquor from the town and offered free land to anyone willing to build a church.[29]
  • The most filmed author is William Shakespeare, including straight film versions, modern adaptations, (West Side Story [1961], The Lion King [1994], etc.) and Shakespeare parodies.[1]
  • The shortest dialogue script since the introduction of talkies was written for Mel Brook’s Silent Movie (1976), which has only one spoken word throughout: “Non.”[1]
  • The first motion picture to depict a non-pornographic sex act was Extase (1933) starring Hedwig Kiesler, known later as Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000). Her character flees from an impotent husband, runs naked through the woods, bathes, and then has sex with a young engineer in a hut.l[21]
  • Interesting Annette Kellermann Fact
    Though photos have survived, the movie A Daughter of the Gods is now considered lost
  • The first nude scene in a major motion picture was of swimmer and actress Annette Kellerman (1887-1975) in A Daughter of the Gods (1916).[21]
  • The earliest known American pornographic film is the 1915 A Free Ride, a.k.a. A Grass Sandwich. The film was directed by “A. Wise Guy” and was written by “Will She.”[21]
  • The Western Hero most portrayed on screen has been William Frederick Cody, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill, followed by William Bonny, a.k.a. Billy the Kid.[21]
  • The first African-American to play a leading role in a feature film was Sam Lucas (1850-1916) who was cast in the title role of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1914). The first African-American actor to make a career in films was Noble Johnson (1881-1978).[21]
  • The American Humane Association (AHA) objected to the scene in the Shawshank Redemption (1994) where the character Brooks feeds his crow a maggot. The AHA stated it was cruel to the maggot, and it required that the crow be fed a maggot that had died from natural causes.[27]
  • In The Godfather (1972), John Marley’s (Jack Wolz) scream of horror in the horse head scene was real, as he was not told that a real horse head, which was obtained from a dog food company, was going to be used.[1]
  • The smallest set for the entire action of a movie in terms of confined acting space was the lifeboat in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944).[21]
  • The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.

    - Alfred Hitchcock

  • The first movie fashion fad was Hollywood star Mary Pickford’s (1892-1979) curls, which were augmented from the hair of Los Angeles prostitutes, employees of Bit Suzy’s French Whorehouse.[6]
  • In 1923, Mark Sennett, Harry Chandler, and the Los Angeles Times put up the “Hollywoodland” (later shortened to “Hollywood”) sign to publicize a real estate development. The sign cost $21,000.[1]
  • For The Twilight Saga: New Moon, each actor portraying one of the wolf pack was required to have documentation proving Native American descent.[28]
  • To Have and Have Not (1945) is the only instance when a Nobel prize-winning author (Ernest Hemingway) was adapted for the screen by another Nobel-winning author (William Faulkner).[29]
  • The director of 2012 (2009), Roland Emmerich, is a fan of rapper 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson. The Jackson Curtis character in the film is 50 Cent’s real name inverted.[25]
  • The “running W” was a trip wire to make horses fall over at the critical moment during filming. The device broke countless horses’ legs and necks. It is now illegal.[29]
  • Interesting Horse Movie Fact
    The tripwire killed and crippled many horses for the sake of dramatic effect

  • According to the Movie Mistakes website, the movies with the most goofs are Apocalypse Now (1979) 390, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) 296, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) 289, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) 267, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 262.[24]
  • The three main actors in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) all met an untimely death. James Dean died in a car crash, Natalie Wood drowned, and Sal Mineo was stabbed to death.[1]
  • Bela Lugosi’s (1882-1956) face was used as a model for Satan in Walt Disney’s production Fantasia (1940). Lugosi was famous for playing Count Dracula on the stage and on screen.[29]
  • D.W. Griffith (1875-1948), a pioneering Hollywood film director, is credited with using the first close-up, the long shot, the fade-out, and other film techniques in his 1915 groundbreaking and highly racist film The Birth of a Nation (a.k.a. The Clansman), a film that portrayed the Ku Klux Klan in a positive way.[21]
  • Interesting John Wayne Facts
    John Wayne was among the top box office draws for three decades
  • The Hollywood star who played the most leading roles in feature films was John Wayne (1907-1979), who appeared in 153 movies. The star with the most screen credits is John Carradine (1906-1988), who has been in over 230 movies.[21]
  • With an alleged budget of $280 million, Avatar is one of the most expensive movies of all time. The word avatar is Sanskrit for “incarnation” and is used in Hindu scripture to refer to human incarnations of God.[9][26]
  • Thomas Edison invented the first moving pictures, which were small film images that could be viewed in a box. Initially, he was opposed to showing movies on the big screen because he thought one-on-one viewing would be more profitable.[4]
  • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for a boycott of the 1947 Disney film Song of the South, an adaptation of the Uncle Remus stories that showed happy slaves on a plantation. Though the film inspired the Disneyland ride “Splash Mountain,” the film has never been released in its entirety on home video in the U.S.[6]
  • In the 1969 musical Paint Your Wagon, star Clint Eastwood sang “I Talk to the Trees, But They Don’t Listen to Me.” Eastwood says the experience prompted him to start producing and directing his own movies.[29]
  • David O. Selznick was fined $5,000 for the line “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” in Gone with the Wind (1939). The Catholic Legion of Decency gave the movie a B rating, citing that the film was “morally objectionable in part for all.”[3]
  • The first movie to be filmed in Technicolor was Becky Sharp (1934).[21]
  • The first movie to gross over $100 million was Jaws (1975).[21]
  • The first African-American Oscar winner was Hattie McDaniel who was awarded the 1939 Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Twenty-four years would lapse before another African-American would win: Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field (1963), which was filmed in just 14 days.[1]
  • In the 1985 horror film Day of the Dead, zombies are actually feasting on turkey legs that were barbecued in a special way to look like human flesh.[17]
  • Interesting Movie Effect Fact
    Wouldn't you want to gnaw on these?

  • The original title for Ghostbusters (1984) was “Ghost Smashers.”[6][23]
  • After a difficult battle with censors, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) was the first movie released with the stipulation that no one under age 18 would be allowed in the theater.[21]
  • The shortest performance to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor was Anthony Quinn’s eight-minute tour de force as Gauguin in Lust for Life (1956). The shortest performance to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress was Beatrice Straight’s 5 minutes and 40 seconds performance in the 1976 film Network.[21]
  • The first picture to sweep all five major Academy Awards—winning for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (adaptation)—was Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The second movie to do the same was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).[21]
  • The first feature film created solely with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) was Toy Story (1995). Over 800,000 hours of mathematical equations went into the film, which works out to more than a week of computer time for every second on the screen.[21]
  • The first movie shot in CinemaScope was The Robe (1953).[21]
  • The character most frequently portrayed in horror films is Count Dracula, the creation of the Irish writer Bram Stoker (1847-1912).[1]
  • Interesting Count Dracula Fact
    Count Dracula is the most often portrayed horror movie character

  • In Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), live trained birds were thrown at actress Tippi Hedren (1930-). For part of the sequence, some birds were tied to her with nylon threads so they wouldn’t fly away. Shooting would stop every few minutes so blood could be painted on her skin and her clothing could be torn.[1]
  • The laser swords in Star Wars (1977) were actually fiberglass rods coated with a highly reflective material. Light was reflected onto the rods by mirrors in front of the camera lens and color was later enhanced by animation.[4]
  • In The Exorcist (1973), Regan (Linda Blair) turns her head almost completely around to face backward. A life-like dummy with a swivel neck performed the famous scene. The sound of her neck turning was made by twisting an old leather wallet around a microphone.[1]
  • It took 15 crew members to operate each of the three full-scale (25-foot) mechanical sharks used in Jaws (1975).[1]
  • A real bridge with a real train crossing it was blown up for the 1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai.[1]
  • When early executives at Warner Brothers were having financial difficulties, they decided to take a risk on this unusual first-time film: The Jazz Singer (1927), the first “talkie” picture.[6]
  • Gary Cooper was the first choice for the part of Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (1939), but Cooper had just signed a contract with Goldwyn Studios, and Goldwyn was unwilling to lend him to MGM.[29]
  • Interesting Mary Pickford Fact
    Pickford was known as "Queen of the Movies"
  • The first Hollywood movie star is arguably Mary Pickford (1893-1979), who along with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith formed United Artists Corp (1919). At the peak of her popularity, she made a record-breaking $10,000 a week (over $196,000 in 2008 USD).[6]
  • The swimming pool used in the opening scene of Sunset Boulevard (1950) was the same one James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo played at the bottom of in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).[29]
  • One 10-minute scene in Heaven’s Gate (1980) cost nearly $4 million. The film is not only one of the most notorious flops of all time, but the noted amount of animal abuse during filming prompted the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to authorize the American Human Society to monitor the use of animals in all subsequent filmed media.[29]
  • Girl-next-door actress Doris Day rejected the role of Mrs. Robinson, the middle-aged sexpot with a penchant for younger men in The Graduate (1967).[29]
  • Adolph Hitler put studio head Jack Warner on his “extinction list” because of his film Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939).[29]
  • Katherine Hepburn, Loretta Young, Helen Hayes, and Lana Turner all tested for Gone with the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara. Even Lucille Ball read for the part.[1]
  • Planet Vulcan in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) is actually Yellowstone National Park.[1]
  • The famous “burning of Atlanta” scene in Gone with the Wind (1939) consisted of burning the old sets from King Kong (1933), The Last of the Mohicans (1936), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936).[29]
  • There were 124 midgets hired to play munchkins in The Wizard of Oz (1939). One midget fell into a studio toilet and was trapped there until somebody finally found him.[21]
  • When Clark Gable was filmed sans undershirt in It Happened One Night (1934), wives all over the country stopped buying their spouses the undergarment, causing a depression in undershirts in the 1930s.[29]
  • The most expensive black-and-white movie ever made was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966). Production costs totaled $7.5 million, due in large part to the salaries of its stars, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.[21]
  • The most extensive screen tests in the history of motion pictures were held for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. MGM shot 149,000 feet of black-and-white test film and another 13,000 feet of color film with 60 actresses.[21]
  • The largest cast of living creatures in a Hollywood film were the 22 million bees employed by Irwin Allen in The Swarm (1978).[21]
  • Interesting Bee Fact
    The largest cast of living creatures in a Hollywood film were the 22 million bees employed by Irwin Allen in The Swarm (1978)

  • The largest number of fatalities ever in a production of a film occurred during the shooting of the 1931 film Viking. Twenty-seven people died, including the director and cinematographer, when a ship they were shooting from exploded in the ice off the coast of Newfoundland.[21]
  • The scene in which Judy Garland sings “Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz (1939) was almost cut from the movie. Assistant producer Arthur Freed is credited with convincing MGM exec Louis B. Mayer to keep the scene.[29]
  • The longest take in a movie is in Andy Warhol’s Blue Movie (1996), which consists of a 35-minute uninterrupted scene of Viva and Louis Waldon making love.[21]
  • The greatest number of takes for one scene in a film is 324 in Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 City Lights.[21]
  • The first film studio in the world was Thomas Edison’s “Black Maria,” a frame building covered in black roofing paper built at the Edison Laboratories in New Jersey. It cost $637.67 to build in 1893.l[21]
  • The first Hollywood stunt man was ex-U.S. cavalryman Frank Hanaway who was cast in The Great Train Robbery (1903) for his ability to fall off a horse without hurting himself.[21]
  • The first Hollywood stunt woman was Helen Gibson who doubled for Helen Holmes in the first 26 episodes of The Hazards of Helen (1914). She was trained as a trick rider and married to cowboy star Hoot Gibson.[21]
  • Interesting Yoda Fact
    See the resemblance?
  • Albert Einstein's face inspired the artistic designer of the Star War's character, Yoda.[22]
  • The last wholly silent film produced for general distribution was George Melford’s The Poor Millionaire (1930) with Richard Talmadge (who played the hero and the villain) and Constance Howard.[21]
  • According to BodyCounts.com (which counts only onscreen killings, not characters killed in planet explosions), the movies with the largest body counts are The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) 836, Kingdom of Heaven (2005) 619, 300 (2007) 600, Troy (2004) 572, and The Last Samurai (2003) 558.[14]
  • The first film to receive an X rating under the Motion Picture Association of America system of classification was the anti-establishment Greetings (1968) with Robert de Niro, though it later received an R.[21]
  • The Muppet Movie (1979) was cut by New Zealand Censors on grounds of gratuitous violence. Sweden banned E.T. (1982) for children under 11 because it claimed the film showed parents being hostile to their children.[21]
  • During the “chest bursting” scene in Alien (1986), director Ridley Scott had the actors unexpectedly showered with actual entrails bought from a nearby butcher shop so that their screams of horror would be real.[12]
  • Landmark movies Bonnie & Clyde (1967), The Graduate (1967), and Easy Rider (1969) signaled a shift from “Classic Hollywood” movies to “New Hollywood” or “Post-Classical Hollywood” films because they broke several social taboos and traditional filming techniques.[15]
  • Some of the dinosaur sounds in Jurassic Park were created from tortoises mating[10]
  • In the 2014 film, Godzilla, the famous monster is only seen for 8 minutes.[30]
  • Little Known Movie Facts
    Over 74% of lead roles in Hollywood go to men
  • Over 74% of lead roles in Hollywood go to men.[19]
  • When adjusted for inflation, Gone with the Wind is the highest grossing movie of all time.[2]
  • Samuel Jackson has uttered “motherfucker” 171 times in 27 different movies.[18]
  • Sean Bean and Bela Lugosi have died in a higher percentage of film and TV projects than any other living actor, with 0.32 deaths per film.  Mickey Rourke and John Hurt are close behind, at 0.31 deaths per film.[7]
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was the first American film to show a toilet being flushed on screen.[20]
  • Mickey Mouse's ears are always turned to the front, no matter which direction his head is pointing.[5]
  • Tom Cruise's real name is Thomas Mapother.[5]
  • The characters of Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.[5]
  • In Mexico and Venezuela, the movie "Grease" was released under the name "Vaselina."[13]
  • In the book "Gone With the Wind," Scarlett O'Hara was originally named Pansy O'Hara until a publisher recommended a name change.[11]

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