The most played song on American radio during the twentieth century was You've Lost That Loving Feeling which was written by Barry Mann, Phil Spector, and Cynthia Weil.  Although recorded by different artists, the song is the only one in history to be played over 8 million times on the radio. That amounts to about 45 years if the song was played back to back!  Three songs were played 7 million times: Never My Love, Yesterday, and Stand By Me (in that order).
Source: The BMI Top 100 Songs (BMI)
 
"Weird" Al Yankovic received a Bachelor's degree in Architecture in 1981.  He also served as valedictorian of his high school at age 16.
Source: VH1's Behind the Music
 
The oldest business in the United States of America is the cymbal company Zildjian which was founded in Constantinople in 1623.
Source: American Heritage of Invention & Technology, Winter 2000
 
Every act that has had a Billboard Top 40 hit whose title included the name of a different recording act, that other act had at least one Top 40 hit at the same exact time.  Some examples (not a complete list):
  • 1964:  The song We Love You Beatles by the Carefrees was on the charts while The Beatles had seven songs of their own in the Top 40.
  • 1984-85:  Rick Springfield had the minor hit Bruce while Bruce Springsteen was charting himself with Born in the U.S.A.
  • 1987: Both the ABC song When Smokey Sings and Smokey Robinson's song One Heartbeat were in the Top 10 at the same time.
  • 1992: Weird Al had the hit Smells Like Nirvana at the same time that Nirvana had the hit Come As You Are.
Source: Chart Beat Chat, Billboard Online, April 28, 2000
 
There are approximately ten million bricks in the Empire State Building.
Source: A&E Top 10 Architectural Wonders
 
The lightning that we see actually goes from the ground to the sky in what is known as the "return stroke" at 1/3 the speed of light.  We can't see the initial "stepped leader" that passes from the sky to the ground.
Source: USA Today Weather Book by Jack Williams (1992, page 127)
 
From space, the brightest man-made place is Las Vegas, Nevada.
Source: Understanding Electricity, The Learning Channel, March 27, 2000
 
Janis Joplin's will called for a party for 200 people at her favorite pub in San Alselmo, California at a cost of $2,500.00.
Source: The People's Almanac #2 by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace (1978, page 1200)
 
Contrary to common belief, elephants are not afraid of mice.  Go to any zoo and chances are that the mice are living in the same quarters as the elephants.  The mice eat the grain and nest in the hay that is so common to elephant habitats.
Source: National Geographic web site
The Carpenters signature song, We've Only Just Begun, was originally part of a television commercial for a California bank.  The music played in the background of a scene in which a newlywed couple had, of course, just begun their lives together.  Richard Carpenter saw the commercial and sculpted it into the classic song that we know today.
Source: The liner notes of the Carpenters' album The Singles 1969-1973
Actress Cheryl Ladd started her career as the singing voice of the character Melody on the 1970's cartoon Josie and the Pussycats.
Source: Cheryl Ladd in an interview on Live with Regis & Kathy Lee (8/24/99)
The most common invention of the 19th century was the washing machine.  Between 1804 and 1873, at least 1676 patents were issued by the United States Patent Office for various forms of this device.
Source:  Household Wonders (The History Channel)
The five most stolen items in a drugstore are batteries, cosmetics, film, sunglasses, and, get this, Preparation H.  Apparently people are just too embarrassed to purchase the last item.  And, just in case you are curious, one of Preparation H's main ingredient is shark liver oil.  The oil not only helps shrink hemorrhoids, but will shrink any tissue.  As a result, many older women in Florida use the stuff to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles!
  Source:  Do Pharmacists Sell Farms? by Vince Staten (1998, Simon & Schuster)
 
It's widely known that Alexander Graham Bell beat Elisha Gray to the patent office by a mere two hours with his application to patent the telephone.  However, ten years after Bell's patent was issued, patent examiner Zenas Wilber admitted in a sworn affadavit that he had taken a $100 bribe from Bell, had taken a loan from Bell's patent attorney, and had given Bell the complete details of Gray's caveat.  Hmmmm....
Source: Inventor's Digest, July/August 1998, pages 26-28.
 
Why do ostriches bury their heads in the sand?  They actually don't.  In a study of 200,000 ostriches over a period of eighty years, no one reported a single case where an ostrich buried its head in the sand (or attempted to do so). 
Source: Reader's Digest Strange Stories, Amazing Facts, 1976, p. 324
 
Charles Lindbergh achieved great fame for being the first man to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.  What most people don't know, however, is that two men had achieved the same goal eight years earlier!   Flying for sixteen and a half hours from June 14 to June 15, 1919, Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten-Brown had copiloted a Vichers-Vimy twin-engine plane nonstop from Newfoundland across the Atlantic to Ireland.    Lindbergh was just the first person to do it alone.
Source: Fabulous Fallacies by Tad Tuleja (1982, The Stonesong Press, pages 4-5)
 
Contrary to popular belief, only one alligator has ever been found in the New York City sewer system.  The 125 pound (57 kilogram) alligator was pulled out by four boys way back in 1935. 
Source:  National Geographic's New York Underground
 
A South Korean movie theater owner decided that the movie The Sound of Music was too long.  His solution?  He shortened the movie by cutting out all of the musical scenes!
Source: Uncle John's Fourth Bathroom Reader, 1989, page 63
    .
In four separate instances between October 1987 and February 1988, small pink frogs rained down from the sky on to various parts of Great Britain.  Scientists are still uncertain as to where these frogs originated, although some have traced them back to the Sahara desert.
Source: The World's Most Incredible Stories, 1998, page 66.
 
The Malaysian government decided to solve their disease-carrying mosquito problem by spraying the infested areas with DDT.  This worked, but the  cockroaches then devoured the dead mosquitos.  This was followed by the region's gecko lizards consuming the roaches.  The geckos did not die from the residual poison (surprisingly), but their central nervous systems were greatly affected, causing the lizards to slow down.  Moving up the food chain, the cats ate the slow-moving lizards and started to die off in large quantities.  Of course, fewer cats means more rats, and the country's rat population soared.  As a result, the World Health Organization was forced to step in and ban the DDT.  In an effort to restore the ecological balance, they flew in planeloads of cats to kill the rats.
Source: The Best, Worst, & Most Unusual by Bruce Felton and Mark Fowler, 1994, p. 180, Galahad Books
 
Two hundred and twenty six soldiers lost their lives way back in 1850 when they crossed a suspension bridge that spanned the Maine at Angers, France.  It turns out that they were all marching in step and had caused an increased resonance (vibration) to the bridge.  Ever since, troops are ordered to rout step (march out of step) when crossing a bridge.
Source: Why Some Shoes Squeak by George W. Stimpson, 1984, p. 115
 
The phrase "Often a bridesmaid but never a bride" actually comes from an advertisement for Listerine mouthwash.  The text was written by Milton Feasley and first appeared in 1925.  The advertisement was so successful that it ran for more than ten years.
Source: Our Times: The Illustrated History of the 20th Century, Turner Books, 1995, p. 187
 
A man named Angus McDonald was a lookout man for an explosives company in Johannesburg, South Africa.  One April Fool's Day, he decided to pull the ultimate prank.  He put on an oversized uniform and hid his head inside.  To the casual passerby, it appeared that his head had been blown off.  McDonald's joke blew up in his face, however.  The story (and photo) was picked up by the newswires and McDonald was fired from his job.
Source: Weird Wonders and Bizarre Blunders by Brad Schreiber, 1989, Simon & Schuster, p. 43-44.
 
Did you ever wonder what the WD in WD-40 stands for?  The name was lifted right out chemist Norm Larsen's laboratory notebook.  Way back in 1953, he was trying to concoct an anti-corrosion formula, which worked on the basic principle of displacing water.  On his 40th try, Larsen finally got it right.  Hence the name WD-40.  It literally means Water Displacer, 40th try. 
Source: WD-40 website
 
Back in 1956 recording artist Johnny Mathis was forced to make the decision between trying out for the United States Olympic team (his specialty was track) or recording his first album for Columbia Records.  He chose the latter and went on to become the eighth biggest selling album artist of all time.  His 1958 album, Johnny’s Greatest Hits, was the first Greatest Hits album ever marketed, spending three weeks at #1 and 490 consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Pop Album chart (that’s almost 9 years!). 
Source: The Music Of Johnny Mathis: A Personal Collection
 
The Bank of Vernal, in Vernal, Utah (where else?) is the only bank in the world that was built from bricks sent through the mail.  Way back in 1919 the builders realized that it was cheaper to send the bricks through the United States Postal System (seven bricks to a package) than to have them shipped commercially from Salt Lake City. 
Source: The Best, Worst, & Most Unusual by Bruce Felton and Mark Fowler, 1994, Galahad Books
 
Before the invention of anesthesia, speed was a highly regarded trait in a surgeon.  Dr. Robert Liston of London was among the fastest.  But, speed comes with some cost.  In one particular operation, Liston killed three people.  The patient actually survived, but later died of gangrene.  During the operation, Liston accidentally cut of the fingers of his surgical assistant, who soon died from an infection.  Liston even managed to slash through the coattails of a colleague who was observing the operation - he was so sure that his vital organs had been punctured that he died of fright! 
Source:  Oops! by Paul Kirchner, 1996, Rhino Records
 
Way back on August 13, 1903, police entered the Liverpool, England home of William and Emily Shortis.  Worried friends had contacted the authorities because the couple had not been seen for several days prior.  There they found William near death.  Oddly, he was pinned under the dead body of his 224 pound wife.  Did she die during a moment of passion?  Not at all.  The coroner concluded that William was following Emily up the stairs of their home when she lost her balance and tumbled down the steps, pulling him down with her.  Emily immediately died from a blow to the head, trapping William under her body for over three days.  Sadly, William did not survive his injuries, either. 
Source:  The 20th Century by David Wallechinsky, 1995, Little, Brown, & Co.
 
Frenchman Michel Lotito has a very unusual diet.  Born on June 15, 1950, he has been consuming large quantities of metal and glass since he was nine years old.  To date, he has eaten supermarket carts, television sets, bicycles, chandeliers, razor blades, bullets, nuts and bolts, lengths of chain, phonograph records, computers, and an entire Cessna 150 light aircraft (which took him nearly two years to consume).  It seems that his body has adjusted to this unusual diet, as he eats nearly two pounds of metal every day.  His technique includes lubricating his digestive tract with mineral oil, cutting the parts into bite-size pieces, and then consuming a large quantity of water while eating this junk.  Most people would prefer a nice glass of wine with their dinner. 
Source: Reader's Digest Facts & Fallacies, 1988, Reader's Digest
 
Madame Marie Curie was the first person ever to win two Nobel Prizes.  Her first was in Physics (1903) and the second in Chemistry (1911).  So what did she do with the money?  She used part of the prize to both change the wallpaper and to put a modern bathroom into her Paris home. 
Source: The People's Almanac by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace, 1975, Doubleday and Co.
 
Marijuana was not illegal in the United States until October 1, 1937, when Congress passed the "Marijuana Tax Act".  Total debate time on the House of Representatives floor concerning this issue: 90 seconds.  This act did not actually ban the substance - it simply said that one could not sell marijuana without a license.  Of course, Congress refused to issue any licenses.  Congress finally banned marijuana outright in 1970. 
Source: The Unbelievable Truth! by Jeff Rovin, 1994, Signet Books
 
Everyone knows that spinach is loaded in iron and makes you stronger - Just look what it has done for Popeye's career.  Well, Popeye was wrong.  So were all of those parents that stuffed it down their kids' throats.  In reality, spinach has no more iron in it than any other vegetable.  This spinach misconception dates back to the 1950's when a food analyst made an error while calculating the iron in spinach.  His decimal place was off by one place, suggesting that spinach had ten times as much iron content than it really did. 
Source: Spinach (link no longer available)