Ask Mr. Know It All

Q. What happened to Jimmy the Greek?

S.E.B., Shenandoah, Pa.

A. Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos, better known as Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, was a Las Vegas bookmaker. He was well known for his 12-year stint on the CBS Sunday morning pregame show “The NFL Today.” During his segment, he appeared with sportscaster Brent Musburger and predicted the results of that week’s NFL games. Snyder and Musberger had a strained working relationship. The story goes that Musberger made a disparaging remark about Snyder’s mental capabilities — so Snyder punched him in the face. Snyder also brought fellow sportscaster Phyllis George to tears over personal comments he made. From then on, Snyder taped his segments in advance.

On Jan. 16, 1988, CBS fired Snyder after he made a demeaning comment about the superiority of African-American athletes.

Snyder suffered from diabetes in his later years and died in Las Vegas on April 21, 1996, at age 77.

Q. Who introduced chiropractic healing to the world? What does the word mean?

W.A., Virginia Beach, Va.

A. Although the basis for chiropractic medicine dates back as far as Hippocrates (c. 460-357 B.C.), the “Father of Medicine,” it was Canadian-born Daniel David Palmer (1845-1913) who formally introduced the practice in Davenport, Iowa, in September 1895. The word “chiropractic” was created by combining the Greek word for “hand,” “chiro,” and “practical,” “praktikos.”

Q. Who was the first American president to take up golf?

A.C., Wilmington, Del.

A. William Howard Taft was not only the first president to throw out the first pitch on opening day (of the 1910 season), he is also the first chief executive to play golf, at least on a regular basis.

Q. The military issues K rations. What does the “K” have to do with it?

K.J.M., Carbondale, Ill.

A. Ancel Keys, an American scientist, studied the influence of diet on health. While working for the U.S. Department of Defense during World War II, he created balanced individual meals for combat soldiers. They were named K rations in his honor.

Q. In the 1950s or ’60s, there was a kid’s show with a female host named Mary Hartline. Do you know the name of the show?

M.L., York Harbor, Maine

A. Mary Hartline was seen on the children’s show “Super Circus,” where she was the assistant to ringmaster Claude Kirchner. The show ran from January 1949 through mid-1956. In 1955, the show moved from Chicago to New York, where Jerry Colonna took over as ringmaster and Sandy Wirth became his assistant. Hartline briefly had a TV show of her own during the first half of 1951, “The Mary Hartline Children’s Show.”

Q. There is an actress who has appeared in several movies portraying Queen Elizabeth II. Who is she?

L.H., Fountain Hills, Ariz.

A. The Queen Elizabeth II lookalike is Jeannette Charles. She’s portrayed the queen in numerous movies, including “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” (1985), “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” (1988) and “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002).

Q. The mechanical shark used in Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” was nicknamed Bruce. Why that name?

K.C., Bangor, Maine

A. He was named after Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Ramer.

Q. Before Julius Caesar created a 12-month year, when did Romans celebrate the new year?

L.H., St. Louis, Mo.

A. Around 700 B.C., two months were added to the Roman calendar, January and February. Prior to that, March was the beginning of the year.


Actors Morris Chestnut and Verne Troyer were born on New Year’s Day in 1969.

Q. Where I live, it’s a custom for people to set off fireworks during the first minutes of the new year. I’ve been in places where guns were fired, or bells and horns were used to make noise. What’s with the noisemaking?

N.L., Troy, N.Y.

A. In some cultures, there was a belief that making noise would drive away bad spirits.

Q. My maternal grandmother, born and raised in Scotland, often called New Year’s Day Nearday. What does that mean? She had a special name for New Year’s Eve, too. Do you know what that name might be?

H.N., Fort Worth, Texas

A. Your grandmother was calling New Year’s Day “Ne’erday,” a contraction of New Year’s Day in Scots dialect. In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is called “Hogmanay.” It’s a night of celebration with friends and relatives well into Ne’erday.

Q. Where on Earth is the last place to experience the old year?

J.F., Jamaica Plains, N.Y.

A. The last inhabited place to celebrate the New Year is American Samoa, in the South Pacific, which is just east of the international date line. Some sources say the last place is either Howland Island or Baker Island. Both islands are very small and both are uninhabited, making party life a bit dull.

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

2013/2014 Gary Clothier

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