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Halloween trivia

It seems popular culture has invaded one of my favorite holidays, Halloween, judging by a list of popular costumes this year.

 A lot of people will dress as someone from the popular television shows, “Duck Dynasty” or “Breaking Bad.”

Of course, with the popularity of another television show, “The Walking Dead,” zombies soon will be seen wandering the streets.

The “Despicable Me” movies have inspired youth in their costume choices, and some older girls will of course dress as Miley Cyrus.

I’ve always been more traditional in my costumes, having dressed as Casper, the friendly ghost as a 4-year-old back in the 1950s.

Perhaps you recall a picture I mentioned in an earlier column where my brother and I were standing in our costumes at our front door prior to trick-or-treat, he with cowboy hat, kerchief and cap pistol and me with a cheap, old plastic mask held in place with a rubber band and wearing what looked like pajamas with feet.

Now for some Halloween trivia, followed by a few trivia questions of my own.

w Jack o’Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday

w Halloween was bought to America by European immigrants, who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes

w Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the Roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees

There’s more trivia regarding a few of my favorite science fiction/horror films and characters.

Boris Karloff, otherwise known as Frankenstein’s monster in the original Universal movie, was a stage name.  His real name was William Henry Pratt.

Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi, was made in 1931, followed by Frankenstein, with Boris Karloff, also in 1931.

Karloff starred in “The Mummy,” made in 1932, but not as the mummy.

“The Wolf Man,” starring Lon Chaney Jr., came along in 1941 and perhaps the last of the most recognizable Universal monsters, “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” swam into movie theaters (3D style no less) in 1954.

Lugosi, who became a star with the release of “Dracula” in 1931, was offered the role of Frankenstein’s monster.

He declined, saying his face would be hidden by makeup, therefore cramping his acting style.

Karloff accepted that role, making him a star, but Karloff in turn declined the lead role in “The Invisible Man,” made in 1933 for almost the same reason, that he would be invisible for the vast majority of the film.

Claude Rains accepted that role, which made him a star.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon series included three films, including the original, followed by “Revenge of the Creature” and “The Creature Walks Among Us.”

Clint Eastwood made his screen debut playing a lab technician in “Revenge of the Creature” in 1955, and he followed that up with another uncredited role as a jet pilot in a squadron that napalms a giant spider in the 1955 sci-fi film, “Tarantula.”

Ricou Browning, who played the Creature from the Black Lagoon in underwater scenes in all three films, is the last surviving Universal monster.

Best known for his underwater stunt work, Browning directed underwater scenes in the James Bond movie, “Thunderball” and later “Caddyshack.” 

Just a few tidbits from a guy who probably had nothing else better to do growing up except wake up at odd hours of the morning on weekends to watch movies.