Ask Mr. Know It All

Q. I heard that the number 42 has been retired from Major League Baseball. If that’s true, why was Yankee Mariano Rivera, who retired in September 2013, still wearing the number?

P.D., Lubbock, Texas

A. Number 42 was retired in the MLB in 1997 in honor of Jackie Robinson on the 50th anniversary of his signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. This is the first and only time a player’s uniform number has been retired from Major League Baseball. Under the terms of the retirement, a grandfather clause allowed the few players who wore number 42 to continue doing so in tribute to Robinson. The Yankees’ Mariano Rivera was the last player in Major League Baseball to wear jersey number 42.

Q. True or false: Actor Alan Ladd ran a hot dog/hamburger stand called Tiny’s Patio.

R.J., Fayetteville, N.C.

A. True: Before the diminutive actor hit it big, he did.

After Ladd graduated from North Hollywood High in 1934, he borrowed $150 and opened a small hamburger and malt shop in North Hollywood across from the local pool, hoping his reputation as a former swimming star would help business. He called it Tiny’s Patio. His reputation didn’t help, and he closed the business within a year.

Q. I was surprised to read that Margaret Mitchell, the author of “Gone With the Wind,” died at a young age. What was the cause?

A. Mitchell’s cause of death was a speeding car. In August 1949, Mitchell and her husband, John Marsh, were crossing a street in Atlanta when a speeding off-duty taxi driver in a private car struck the author. She died five days later from the injuries. She was only 49.

Q. In the late 1950s, there was a movie gimmick in which all patrons received a free $1,000 life insurance policy in case they died during the show. I went, and — luckily — my heirs did not collect. Do you know what the name of the movie was and whether it is available for purchase?

T.J., Wilmington, Vt.

A. The movie was “Macabre” (1958), directed by the king of gimmick promotions, William Castle (1914-1977). Some movie theaters hired models dressed as nurses to stand near a medicine chest, while others posted a sign asking that doctors inform management where they were sitting in case their professional services were needed.

The movie is available on DVD or to stream on your computer.

Q. What was Shirley Temple’s birth name? When and where was she born? I once read that her hairstyle always had the same number of curls. Is that true?

D.B.C., Hamburg, Pa.

A. Shirley Jane Temple was born April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, Calif. Her mother, Gertrude, styled her hair in 52 pin curls for each film.

Q. I was paging through a book about World War II and saw some political cartoons drawn by a Dr. Seuss. I know of only one such person — the author of “The Cat in the Hat.” Is this the same Dr. Seuss?

C.C., Victoria, Texas

A. I don’t think of Dr. Seuss — Theodor Seuss Geisel — as a political cartoonist either, but from 1941 to 1943, he drew more than 400 such cartoons for the New York newspaper PM in support of the American effort in World War II. He also drew a set of war bond cartoons for many newspapers.

If you are interested, Richard H. Minear released a book, “Dr. Seuss Goes to War,” in 1999. About 200 of Seuss’ drawings have been reproduced there.

Q. Many years ago I saw a silent movie called “The Wizard of Oz.” No one believes me; I’m beginning to doubt that I really did see the movie. Does this movie exist?

Y.J., Cherry Hill, N.J.

A. It does! “The Wizard of Oz” was released in 1925. In the silent movie, Larry Semon played the scarecrow and Oliver Hardy played the Tin Woodsman. The movie received good reviews, although not nearly as good as the 1939 classic. The two films have drastically different plots.

It is available for purchase.

Q. Who co-starred with Gerald McRaney on the TV show “Simon & Simon”?

D.D., Ashland, Pa.

A. Jameson Parker and Gerald McRaney played brothers A.J. and Rick Simon, two San Diego private detectives, on “Simon & Simon.” The show was a giant hit for most of the ’80s, but in the closing years of the decade, its ratings declined. It was finally canceled in January 1989.

Send 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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