today in 1921, the birthday of Sheb Wooley.
By name, he’s best known for a hit novelty song from the 50s called the “Purple People Eater.”
But if you’re a movie fan, you may know his voice even better: Sheb Wooley is believed to be the guy who gave the Wilhelm Scream.
Once you hear it, you know it, and it’s been in hundreds of movies.
The first was a 1951 movie called “Distant Drums.”
Sheb Wooley was one of the actors providing extra vocal effects for the production.
He, or possibly a colleague, was told to make the sound of a guy being bitten, and dragged into water, by an alligator.
It wasn’t just your standard “aaaaagh,” the scream had a distinctive high-pitched sound to it, and so other moviemakers started using it as a stock sound effect.
In 1953, the scream showed up in a movie called “The Charge At Feather River,” when a character named Private Wilhelm got shot in the leg with an arrow.
Movie audiences didn’t necessarily know one scream from another, but people who worked on sound for movies did.
One of them was Ben Burtt, who is best known for his work on the original Star Wars movies.
Burtt noticed that the scream in the 50s ant movie “Them” was the same scream in the 60s action movie “The Green Berets,” and so on and so on.
He traced the sound back to its earliest appearances and nicknamed it the “Wilhelm Scream” after Private Wilhelm.
Then, he added it into “Star Wars”; you can hear one of the Stormtroopers give that legendary yelp as he falls into one of the big ventilation shafts in the Death Star.
Other sound designers started adding the scream into their movies as a long-running inside joke.
It’s also in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Toy Story” and “Batman Returns,” to name a few.
Next time you’re watching a movie, listen for it.
And if you hear it, you can really sound like a movie expert by saying “hey, isn’t that the scream from the 1951 movie ‘Distant Drums’?”
This week in 1976, a challenging moment for then-President Gerald Ford.
While visiting the Alamo as part of the country’s bicentennial celebrations, Ford took a plate at an outdoor buffet and bit into a tamale – with the corn husk still on the outside.
Eventually he got things sorted out.
Does That Scream Sound Familiar? (ABC News)
No one told Ford tamales need to be unwrapped (Houston Chronicle)