1.The iconic scene in Clueless where Cher is being mugged and hesitates to lie on the ground because she is wearing an Alaïa dress is inspired by something that really happened.
According to Amy Heckerling — who wrote and directed the movie — she was once having dinner with some agents when one of them told the story he had heard about another agent who had been mugged while he was wearing an Armani suit. When the mugger told him to get on the ground, he replied, “But this is Armani!”
2.“Don’t Turn Around” was a huge hit for Ace of Base in 1994 — when it peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the song is actually a cover of a Tina Turner B side.
Tina recorded the song in 1986 as a B side to her single “Typical Male.” The song was cowritten by Diane Warren and coproduced by Bryan Adams.
3.Both Nirvana and MTV thought their now-iconic episode of Unplugged was going to be a disaster.
According to drummer Dave Grohl, the band was not used to playing acoustically, and the rehearsals they had for the show had all been terrible.
4.“Scream” was not meant to be a duet between Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson. It was supposed to be what would eventually become her own single, “Runaway.” According to her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, they were asked to work on Michael’s HIStory album. The duo created five tracks — including “Scream” and “Runaway” — for it, and they presented the songs to Janet first to get her feedback before presenting them to Michael.
However, upon hearing them, Janet said that Michael would like “Scream,” but she hoped he didn’t pick “Runaway.” Well, he did like “Scream,” and she got to keep “Runaway” for herself. The breezy track would become the lead single from her greatest hits album, Design of a Decade: 1986–1996.
5.In 1993, Mattel released the Earring Magic Ken doll. However, it wasn’t a hit with its intended audience and actually went on to became a huge seller among gay men. This was mainly because he was dressed in sorta ’90s gay club clothes, had an earring, and highlights — oh, and the fact that he appeared to be wearing a “cock ring” as a necklace.
The doll was produced as part of the Earring Magic Barbie line. And while it was selling well, it was discontinued and the remaining dolls were recalled. It also led to Mattel having to issue this interesting statement: “We’re not in the business of putting cock rings into the hands of little girls.”
6.The Spice Girls did not come up with their nicknames; it was a magazine editor and his staff who came up with them as part of a feature they were running on the group.
According to Scary Spice, the journalist who wrote the feature (for the UK’s Top of the Pops magazine) was “too lazy” to remember their names and just gave them all nicknames. Honestly, the journalist’s laziness was probably one of the best things that could have happened to them.
7.According to the series creator, Darren Star, the opening credits to Sex and the City were inspired by the opening credits to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Of course, you can’t think of the SATC opening credits without thinking of Carrie’s white tutu. However, according to Darren, while Sarah Jessica Parker and the show’s costume designer Patricia Field loved the idea of Carrie wearing a tutu, he was unsure about it. He only agreed to allow them to have her wear it if they could shoot an alternative opening with her in a simple blue dress.
8.“Vogue” is one of Madonna’s most iconic songs, and a huge hit that went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. But it was originally meant to be the B side to “Keep It Together,” which was the fifth single from her album Like a Prayer.
But after hearing the finished track, executives at Madonna’s label, Warner Bros., thought that it was too good to be a B side, and it would be a good track for her upcoming album, I’m Breathless (aka the Dick Tracy soundtrack). Also, Madonna was inspired to put all the celebrities’ names in the song as a nod to Warren Beatty, who came from the golden age of Hollywood era and dated a lot of famous women (including her).
9.Prior to landing the part of Rachel on Friends, Jennifer Aniston had filmed six episodes of a CBS sitcom called Muddling Through — that aired during the summer of 1994. Since the show hadn’t been picked up for a full season, it allowed Jennifer to audition for the role of Rachel. However, this created one big conflict, because if Muddling Through became a hit and got picked up for a whole season, Jennifer would’ve been contractually obligated to stay on the show, and the role of Rachel would’ve been written off the show midway through Season 1.
In fact, this was such a concern that they even shot Friends promotional photos without Jennifer in them. Luckily for her, NBC and the producers of Friends liked her character and wanted to keep her on the show, so NBC came up with a very sneaky plan to cancel Muddling Through. They began running unreleased original Danielle Steel made-for-TV movies during the same time slot as Muddling Through. The move worked because it pulled the female demo away from the show, and CBS ended up canceling the series.
10.Toni Braxton did not want to record “Un-Break My Heart” because she thought it was too adult-contemporary sounding, and she wanted a younger sound (she was only around 27 when she recorded the song).
Ultimately, she recorded it because the producers she was working with told her it would be a hit. And it went on not only to be a huge hit but also to become her signature song. She even recorded a version of it in Spanish.
11.Steven Spielberg’s involvement with Jurassic Park really happened by chance. He was originally meeting with the book’s author and his decadeslong friend, Michael Crichton, about a medical-drama film script Michael had written (that eventually would become the TV series E.R.).
However, as the two were about to begin to talk about the script, Michael brought up what his next, not-yet-published novel would be about: dinosaurs being brought back to life using DNA. Steven loved the story, called Jurassic Park, and that’s all they ended up talking about for the next few hours. He then had Universal buy the film rights as soon as they were available in May 1990 — six months before the book was even published.
12.Family Matters‘ Steve Urkel was named after a real person. In fact, Steve was only supposed to appear in one episode, so the series co-creator, Michael Warren, decided to name the character after his friend (who was named Steve Erkel) as a joke.
When the character’s popularity took off, it made the real Steve Erkel’s life difficult because he would constantly get prank calls, and people assumed he was using a fake name whenever he gave his name.
13.Tom Hanks had serious doubts that Forrest Gump would be a success. Earlier this year, during a New Yorker Live event, Tom admitted that he asked the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis, if anybody would care about the movie, adding that he then said, “This guy sitting on a thing in these goofy shoes and this cuckoo suit with a suitcase full of Curious George books and stuff like that. Are we doing anything here that is going to make any sense to anybody?”
14.In 1995, Princess Diana created an “It bag” frenzy after she was gifted with a Dior bag by the first lady of France, Bernadette Chirac. The bag became so popular because of Diana that Dior named it after her: the Lady Dior.
The bag was originally named the Chou Chou when it debuted in 1995. The following year, Dior changed the name to the Lady Dior in honor of Diana and her making the bag so popular.
15.It was the success of Kris Kross (who were best known for their hit song “Jump”) that would ultimately change Mariah Carey’s career. The duo were discovered and produced by Jermaine Dupri, and the buzz around them led him to meet with Mariah through their label. At the time, she was working on her fifth album and wanted to move away from her old sound and into a merger of hip-hop, pop, and R&B.
The first song they worked on together was “Always Be My Baby,” which would become her 11th No. 1 single and was arguably her best song. Jermaine and Mariah would continue working together over the years, most notably on her comeback album, The Emancipation of Mimi.
16.The “Can I keep you?” scene in Casper is one of the most memorable movie scenes of the ’90s for millennials. But it almost didn’t happen; originally, Casper wasn’t ever supposed to become a human.
The scene was only added after Steven Spielberg — who was producing the movie — brought in J.J. Abrams to do an uncredited rewrite of the script, and he decided to change the ending.
17.It was shooting Harriet the Spy that led Rosie O’Donnell to create The Rosie O’Donnell Show — but it was actually more out of necessity. The film was shot in Toronto and had long hours. At the end of the shooting days, Rosie noticed that her infant son, Parker, was more attached to their housekeeper. This made her realize she needed a New York–based job with shorter hours in order to spend more time with him.
So Rosie came up with the idea of doing a daytime talk show as the solution. As Vulture puts it, it was a “then-radical daytime-television experiment” to do a talk show that was centered on interviewing celebrities and engaging with the live studio audience. But it worked, and the show would go on to change television.
18.And last, Crystal Pepsi was actually not a flop…at first. In an interview with Thrillist, David Novak, the former Pepsi marketing executive who came up with the idea for it, said that in 1992, sales for classic colas like Coke and Pepsi were leveling off, and clear and caffeine-free sodas were growing in popularity. So he came up with the idea to create a clear and caffeine-free soda that tasted just like Pepsi. David then tasked their then–food scientist, Surinder Kumar, with creating it.
However, Pepsi never gave Surinder the closely guarded actual recipe for Pepsi, so he had to guess it while substituting ingredients to keep it clear. David also told Surinder that the soda would have to go in a clear bottle — which Surinder tried to dissuade him from, as he knew it would make the drink go bad if it was exposed to sunlight.
Pepsi released Crystal Pepsi in a few test markets in April 1992, and it created a lot of buzz. However, David and Pepsi wanted to launch it nationally at the 1993 Super Bowl, so they rushed to do so. And it did initially do very, very well, with Crystal Pepsi making $474 million in sales by March 1993. But a lot of those sales ended up being more novelty purchases from people wanting to try it but never buying it again (because it didn’t taste like Pepsi and didn’t taste that good, period); and then, of course, people started to report that it tasted weird (because it had been exposed to sunlight). In 1994, Pepsi ended up discontinuing Crystal Pepsi.