Ask Mr. Know It All

Q. The movie “The Full Monty” and the Broadway show of the same name were fantastic entertainment. What is a “full monty”?

W.N., Ames, Iowa

A. A “full monty” is, essentially, “the works.” It’s a common British slang term. There are several suggestions of the origins — take your pick: One source says it came about from a tuxedo rental business in England, which was owned by Sir Montague Burton. If you wanted a complete dress suit, you would order the full monty. There is another explanation saying it derives from a Spanish card game, where the pile of cards on the table is called a “monte.” And finally, some say it comes from Field Marshal Montgomery’s alleged habit of wearing his full set of medals.


“Pomology” is the science and practice of growing fruit.

Q. Where was the first kindergarten formed?

G.V., Salem, Mass.

A. Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) created the system of preschool education, kindergarten (German for “garden of children”), in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg, Germany. His idea was a less formal approach to learning, using creative play, games, stories and other activities instead.

Margarethe Meyer-Schurz founded the first kindergarten in America in 1856 in Watertown, Wis. She conducted the lessons in German.

Q. I came across an old advertisement for Bill Haley and His Saddlemen who were performing at a local establishment. By any chance is this THE Bill Haley?

E.M., Trenton, N.J.

A. It is. In 1948, Haley was recording with a group named the Four Aces of Western Swing. The following year, the group broke up and Haley formed a new band, The Saddlemen, named to reflect their country style. In 1952, the group was renamed Bill Haley With Haley’s Comets. Eventually, the group would be called Bill Haley and His Comets, and would go on to record hits such as “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and “Rock Around the Clock.”

Q. Angel Falls is the highest waterfall in the world. What is the tallest waterfall in North America?

I.M.M., Andover, Md.

A. You are right, at 3,212 feet, Angel Falls, in Venezuela, is the highest waterfall in the world. In North America, Yosemite Falls in California is the tallest at 2,425 feet.

In comparison, Canada’s section of Niagara Falls, Horseshoe Falls, is a mere 174 feet high, while the American Falls is 182 feet high (according to the National Geographic Society). But with a combined width of 3,600 feet, Niagara Falls is nearly 400 feet wider then the height of Angel Falls.

Q. Where was Dolly Parton born? What is her given name? What was her first hit recording?

J.K., Vincennes, Ind.

A. Dolly Rebecca Parton was born Jan. 19, 1946, and grew up in Locust Ridge, Tenn. At age 10, she got started in show business when she appeared on a TV variety show. Her first hit was “Dumb Blonde” in 1967. Parton says, “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb. And I also know I’m not blonde.”

Q. When and where was actor James Garner born? How did he get into acting?

K.H., Spokane, Wash.

A. Born April 7, 1928, in Norman, Okla., Garner was named James Scott Bumgarner. He was the youngest of three children. He was drafted into the Korean War, where he earned two Purple Hearts. After the war, he received his first acting role, a small part on Broadway.

In 1955, Garner won a few bit parts on TV’s “Cheyenne,” and later got a $175-a-week contract at Warner Bros. Studio boss Jack Warner insisted he drop the first syllable of his last name. Garner became the biggest star on television, but his paycheck did not reflect his star status. In 1960, he sued to get out of his contract and turned his back on television to concentrate on the big screen. In all, he has appeared in more than 40 films and in numerous TV series and movies.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

2013 Gary Clothier

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