The first decade in which the internet was widely used, the ‘90s were an exciting time, full of new technology, cultural trends and wacky styles – and when we think back on it, it’s difficult not to smile when we see where our favorite, most influential actors, musicians, TV shows and, yes, even politicians were then, and where they – and we – are now.
Jennifer Aniston’s “The Rachel”
The ’90s were full of groundbreaking shows that didn’t only change the way we think about TV, but the way we think about our culture in general. One of these shows was Friends, and one of the ways in which it left its mark was with Jennifer Aniston’s famous haircut, named “The Rachel” after her character. Everyone wanted a Rachel, but it turns out the trendsetting Aniston actually hated it herself!
In an interview with Glamour magazine, she said “I Think it was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen,” and even went so far as to call it “cringe-y.” Still, it’s hard to deny she looked pretty great in it!
Britney Spears’ Cousin
Remember Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” music video?
Well, it starts out with Britney sitting in class, impatiently tapping a pencil against her notebook. As the bell rings, Britney and all of her classmates burst out into the school’s hall and start dancing.
It’s a classic, but here’s one thing you might not have known: Turns out that Britney’s love interest in the video was played by none other than her real-life cousin – and professional dancer – Chad Spears.
That Time the Entire Cast of the Titanic Took PCP
Ok, so Titanic was one of the most successful films of all time, and its production was groundbreaking in scope, size and in the technical challenges it provided. But did you know that the entire cast and crew had to face a problem of a different kind during filming?
Apparently, at some point during production, an unknown person spiked the production’s food with PCP – a hard, hallucinogenic drug. Over 80 people had to be taken to the hospital, including the film’s director, James Cameron.
Larry David’s One Rule for Seinfeld Characters
’90s TV shows could sometimes get a little… well, touchy-feely. Friends, Full House and others would all focus on personal and emotional growth, and try to create uplifting endings to their episodes.
Not so with Seinfeld and its co-creator, Larry David. David had one rule for show scripts: no hugging, no learning.Seinfeld’s characters would stay petty, cold and self-obsessed throughout the show – and that’s part of what made them so great.
If you were a teen growing up in the ’90s, one fashion trend that you must have come across was the black, plastic chokers everyone seemed to be wearing. But what many ’90s kids don’t know is that chokers have been around since ancient times, and have surfaced and re-surfaced as a fashion trend for centuries. They were made extremely popular back in the 19th century by Queen Alexandra, for instance, and were known as “dog collars” in the 1940s. Crazy!
That Time a U.S Judge Told a Giant Corporation “to Chill”
Remember Aqua’s hit song, “Barbie Girl?”
Well, like any other incredibly successful intellectual property, lawsuits were not long in following in the wake of its success. Mattel, the toy company which owns the rights to the Barbie Doll, tried to sue Aqua’s record company for copyright infringement – but the lawsuit came to a close when a U.S Court of Appeals judge ruled that “the parties are advised to chill.”
That Time Furbies Were a National Security Threat
Today, every kid has a smart device that can photograph, record and interact with them in countless ways. But back in the ’90s, the most hi-tech gadget available to most kids was the Furby – which had “intelligence” – that is, it was rumored that they were able to pick up, learn and repeat words that were said around them.
And indeed, the Gremlin-like Furbies were quite smart. They started out speaking gibberish, but the more they were interacted with, the more English they spoke. That, and their ability to speak with each other via an infrared port installed on their foreheads, made some national intelligence agencies worry that Furbies might be capable of recording their surroundings – and ultimately, the horrifying, furry dolls were actually officially banned from agency offices!
American Pie – Wholesale
There are a lot of things about the ’90s that we love – and quite a few things that we’d love to forget. American Pie, for instance, is definitely not one of our fondest memories from that decade – but did you know that the actual pie used in the scene where… well, let’s just say, the scene from which the movie got its name – was actually a generic pie bought at Costco? Yeah, good luck thinking about that next time you eat a Costco apple pie!
That Time Maroon 5 Played on Beverly Hills 90210
Back in 1997, Adam Levine and his band were still in high school, and weren’t known as Maroon 5 – but they were slowly making their way towards musical stardom. Their band, back then, was called Kara’s Flowers, and while they were a bit unpolished, they were good enough to make it on to Beverly Hills 90210 as a band playing in one of the episodes.
Kara’s Flowers would later morph into Maroon 5 – one of the most successful bands in recent musical history.
That Time the T-Rex in Jurassic Park Came to Life
Jurassic Park was an impressive film when it came out, and it’s even more impressive today, considering its visuals hold up in comparison to modern effects and CGI. In fact, the film’s animatronic dinosaurs were so good, that when water would get into their circuits and cause them to jerk around, the cast and crew of the film were often alarmed, feeling like they were in the presence of a real, living primordial predator.
“The T. rex went into the heebie-jeebies sometimes,” producer Kathleen Kennedy said in a recent interview. “Scared the crap out of us. We’d be, like, eating lunch, and all of a sudden a T-rex would come alive.”
Who Voiced the Dinosaurs?
Jurassic Park’s effects weren’t just limited to visuals. In fact, many claim that the film’s most memorable aspect was its bone-chilling sound effects.
Of course, we have no idea what sounds dinosaurs really made – if they made any sounds at all! – so when the film’s sound designer set out to create a believable roar for the T-Rex, he had to get creative. While you might think he went around recording birds of prey, lions and other menacing predators, the T-rex’s roar is actually a warped version of his adorable Jack Russel Terrier puppy!
That Time Fake Internet Rumors Became a Thing
Remember the random rumors like, “Did you know!? The average person eats EIGHT SPIDERS A YEAR in their SLEEP!!”
Well, we’re here to tell you that’s actually wrong!
Back in 1993, the term “fake news” hadn’t been invented yet, but long email chains of facts, rumors and outright lies were already circulating widely between friends and co-workers. When PC columnist Lisa Holst wanted to “demonstrate the gullibility of email recipients,” she drafted an email full of bogus facts and began circulating it. Soon enough, the email took on a life of its own, and the bogus “facts” in it spread like wildfire – but we can trace it all back to that one email.
That Time Kentucky Fried Chicken Dropped “Chicken” From Their Name
In 1991, Kentucky Fried Chicken underwent a rebranding process, and officially changed their name from the long-winded “Kentucky Fried Chicken” to “KFC.”
With KFC’s greasy junk food reputation, many assumed the reason for this change was legal: was it possible KFC weren’t selling chicken, but rather, something else – and were covering their bases, legally? Were they growing their meat in vats, or harvesting roadkill? While it’s a fun conspiracy theory, the answer is, of course – no. KFC still sell chicken.
That Time President Bush Puked on Japan’s Prime Minister
In 1992, on an official visit to Japan, President George H.W. Bush felt ill – and ended up vomiting directly in the Japanese Prime Minister’s lap. The event was, of course, televised, and made such an impact in Japan that it gave rise to a new word in the Japanese language: “Bushusuru” – or, in a loose translation, “to do the Bush thing.”
Bush recovered quickly, and thankfully, the Japanese Prime Minister was gracious and understanding.
That Time We Found Out Baywatch’s Cast Were Afraid of Water
From 1989 until 1999, Baywatch took millions of viewers from all over the world to the fantasy version of L.A County’s beaches – and while David Hasselhoff was, in fact, a well-trained water athlete himself, major parts of the show’s cast actually suffered from a debilitating fear of water, and were very concerned about having to jump into the open ocean during filming. We’re not talking about minor characters here, either! The list of water-phobics contains some of the show’s biggest names, including Carmen Electra, Pamela Anderson and Pamela Bowen!
We All Got Addicted to Solitaire
Let’s face it – if it wasn’t for Microsoft Windows, most of us would probably not know what Solitaire was. But have you ever wondered why Microsoft chose to include that strange card game in every copy of their successful operating system? Apparently, there’s a method to the madness.
While today, dragging, dropping, right clicking and other mouse functions may seem as simple as moving our arms, back in 1990, people still needed to learn how to use the two-buttoned device. Microsoft hoped that the game would help improve users’ “clicking and dragging” skills – which it actually totally did!
That Time Wes Craven Made Drew Barrymore Cry
We all remember Scream’s opening scene: a hysterical Drew Barrymore sobbing on the phone as she speaks with her future killer.
If you were convinced by her horrified sobs, it was with good reason. Turns out, Drew’s crying was real. As Barrymore was shooting the scene, director Wes Craven was with her on the other side of the line, telling her horrific stories about animal abuse in order to provoke an emotional response. Creepy – but effective.
America Ordered a Record Number of Pizzas Because of a Trial
If the glove fits… eat pizza. If there’s one legal event that symbolized the last decade of the 20th century in America, it’s probably O. J. Simpson’s trial. An entire nation was glued to the screen as the real-life drama unfolded in front of their eyes in a live video broadcast, and the event remains one of the most watched programs in television history, with 95 million viewers.
For comparison, the Game of Thrones finale brought in about 7 million viewers. Although it aired during the work day, it didn’t stop people from tuning in – and ordering in.
That Time Russia’s President Asked Clinton About the O.J Trial
President Boris Yeltsin was elected in 1991, and served as the first president of the Russian Federation, after the fall of the Soviet Union. He led historic changes both within Russia and in his nation’s relations with America and the Western World. But when he first met the leader of the Western World, President Bill Clinton, his first question wasn’t about policy, diplomacy or economics.
No, his first words to the American president after the end of the cold war were “Do you think O.J. did it?” What Clinton’s answer was, though, we’re not sure.
That Time the Whole World Was Obsessed With Something Called “Egg Friends”
“Wait, what? I don’t remember that,” you might be thinking. “What’s an egg friend?” Apparently, in a loose translation, the word “Tamagotchi” means “egg friend” in Japanese.
By the mid-’90s, Tamagotchis were one of the highest selling toys in toy history. People collected them, traded them and hung them from key chains and Jansport backpacks decoratively. The digital pets were invented by Aki Maita, a Japanese toymaker – and earned her the dubious honor of receiving the 1997 Ig-Nobel Prize in Economics, “for diverting millions of person-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets.”
That Time They Turned a 19th Century Book Into a Pop-Culture Hit
Clueless, the 1995 movie, helped launch the careers of several movie stars – most notably Alicia Silverstone’s – and gained cult status as a teen movie masterpiece. But what many people don’t know about this beloved movie is that its characters, plot and themes are all based on Emma, the early 19th century novel by Jane Austen.
In Emma, the title character, like Clueless‘ Cher, is also a spoiled socialite trying to find her place in the world – but most viewers were completely unaware of the source material!
That Time Liv Tyler’s Step-Dad Played Her “Teen” Co-Star
Empire Records was an audacious, taboo-breaking film in many respects – a fact which helped it gain its legendary cult status. But in addition to the depictions of substance abuse and depression, behind the scenes, there was another weird thing going on.
Liv Tyler’s co-star, “Berko,” was played by the actor Coyote Shivers – who was also married to Liv’s mother at the time. So while on screen they were roughly the same age and in the same social group, in real life they were generations apart.
Liv Tyler Almost Starred in The Big Lebowski
It’s hard to imagine, but somehow, most of human history passed by without the existence of The Big Lebowski. Even harder to believe, however, is that the role of Bunny Lebowski almost didn’t go to Tara Reid.
That’s right – Liv Tyler was a major contender for the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece – as was Charlize Theron, who would star with Tyler in That Thing You Do! a year after Lebowski was released. Reid was a relative unknown at the time, but her part in Lebowski helped make her a huge star.
Katie Holmes Passed On a Dawson’s Creek Audition
Dawson’s Creek‘s producers really wanted to have Katie Holmes in the role of Joey Potter – but Holmes was still in high school by the time the auditions started, and told the production she wouldn’t be able to make it to the auditions because it was the same night as her high school play. Luckily for Holmes, the producers decided to let her send in a video audition – and the rest is, as they say, history.