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Urban legend or absolute reality? Historian Albert Jack clarifies a few famed claims.


Charlie Chaplin lost a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.

“At the height of Chaplin’s fame, look-alike contests were popular,” says Jack. “On one occasion, Chaplin, dressed casually and not in character, entered one. As the story goes, he failed to make the final stages of the competition, which was actually won by his brother.”


Gum stays in your system for seven years. 

“While it’s an easy way for parents to convince their children not to swallow gum, this tale is simply not true. Gum passes through the intestines in the same way corn does—without breaking down completely. Don’t tell the kids!”


Winston Churchill was a Druid.

“Not only was Britain’s most famous prime minister a member of the mysterious ancient priesthood, but his signature ‘V is for Victory’ salute is a traditional Druid symbol demonstrating the Law of Fives, which suggests that all things happen in fives. Two fingers up and three down equals five.” 


A man lived in the terminal of a French airport for nearly 20 years.

“In 1988, Iranian refugee Mehran Nasseri was detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport for travelling without identification. A French court ruled that he could not be forced to leave the country, but refused him a visa. Despite eventually being granted residency, Nasseri chose to stay at the airport until 2006.”


Walt Disney is cryopreserved at Disneyland.

“It’s rumored that Walt Disney had himself frozen while awaiting a cure for lung cancer. In fact, he died without knowing his illness was terminal, so no such arrangements would have been made. Disney’s cremated remains rest in peace in Glendale, California.”



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