Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Candlestripe Post from a Boy Named Sue

It all started with a tweet from @puntersrealm:

INTERNATIONAL GLORY FOR MENORAH: Menorah put in an authoritative performance in the StanJames.com International Hurdle. http://bit.ly/eRB0Cd

My first thought when reading this tweet was that it went to a picture or a video of some guy in a menorah suit jumping over hurdles.

But I followed the link - and believe me, as you read this post, you'll want to follow the links - and ended up discovering that Menorah was actually the name of a horse.

But then the story threw me for a loop in its second paragraph:

The race had been billed as a shoot-out between the three exciting talking horses - the winner, the novice Cue Card and Paul Nicholls' Silviniaco Conti, and they filled the first three positions.

Now I had only heard the term "talking horse" used in one context, and people familiar with American television shows from the 1960s know what I'm talking about. Any attempt to search for a racing-related meaning for the term "talking horse" was stymied by all of the other mentions.

So, after amplifying the "International Glory for Menorah" story, I ended up looking at some of those other links, and found out something that surprised me.

Yes, according to a page at snopes.com, the horse originally hired to play Mister Ed in the pilot of the television show was not performing on cue, which caused excessive production costs. The solution was to go to the Jungleland animal park in Thousand Oaks, California and hire a Grevy's zebra named Amelia to perform in the pilot. This worked so well that Amelia was used during the entire series.

As snopes.com notes, "since the series was filmed in black and white, the viewing audience couldn't tell the difference." Snopes also cites related issues with black and white TV, including difficulties in televising NFL games in black and white when players ran into referees, and problems that prison guards encountered when watching Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison special on black and white monitors - some prisoners apparently slipped by the guards' impeded vigilance.

I encourage you to read the snopes.com post, which includes a wealth of evidence regarding the whole affair, including the challenges that had to be overcome in an episode in which Mister Ed leaned up against some black painted bars, and the impending appearance of color television that nearly killed the ruse.

And no, this snopes.com entry is not dated April 1. The actual date of the entry is 16 May 2008.

I turned to Google to find other sources about the story, and ended up at this snopes.com page which provided even more information about this whole episode. I encourage you to read this page also.

Now do you see why I told you at the beginning of this post to follow all of the links?
blog comments powered by Disqus