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You’re My Inspiration

February 1, 2016

More fascinating secrets behind where the architects of pop culture get their ideas. Some of these may surprise you.

Annie Wilkes

The psychotic nurse in Stephen King’s Misery (played by Kathy Bates in the 1990 movie) was based on pediatric nurse Genene Jones, imprisoned for overdosing kids and then reviving them so she would be seen as a hero. (Not all of them survived.) King also based Annie on his own demons: “I was having such a tough time with dope. Annie was my drug problem, and she was my number-one fan. God, she never wanted to leave.”
Stephen King's "Misery" inspiration

Long John SilverInspiration for the one-legged pirate in "Treasure Island"

The one-legged pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Treasure Island was based on a friend, poet William Henley, who was a loud, gregarious fellow with only one leg. “I will now make a confession,” wrote Stevenson to Henley years later. “It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver.”

Moe Szyslak

Matt Groening modeled The Simpsons’ grumpy bartender after a bartender named Red Deutsch, who was known for his angry responses to prank callers. Moe’s face is a combination of a gorilla and comedian Rich Hall. When Hank Azaria auditioned for the part, he mimicked Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. Groening told him to make the voice “more gravelly,” and Moe was born.

Skull and Roses

The Greatful Deal logo inspiration.The Grateful Dead’s logo was created in 1971 by Stanley “Mouse” Miller, who was designing a concert poster for the band. He found a 1913 edition of the eleventh-century Persian poem The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám, illustrated by E. J. Sullivan.
One of Sullivan’s drawings was the image of a skeleton wearing roses on its head. “I thought, ‘That might work for the Dead.’”

“I’d Buy That For A Dollar!”

In “The Marching Morons,” a 1951 sci-fi story by Cyril M. Kornbluth, a popular catchphrase of the future is “Would you buy that for a quarter?!” In 1987 RoboCop screenwriter Edward Neumeier added 75 cents and made it a popular catchphrase in futuristic Detroit.
Robocop
Uncle John's Canoramic Bathroom Reader

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