Facts About All Things '90s We Just Learned In 2021

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Vote up the most totally '90s facts we dug up in 2021.

Ah, the 1990s. The decade of Bill Clinton and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The rise of the Internet and the fall of the Soviet Union. O.J. Simpson and The Simpsons. Jagged Little Pill and "Achy Breaky Heart." Cell phones and Tony Blair, rave culture and Rachel's haircut, Tuesdays With Morrie and first-person shooters... the list goes on.

It was a heady time, and the politics, the pop culture, the technology of the 1990s are still with us today in myriad ways. Here's a grab-bag of striking 1990s facts we turned up in 2021. Vote up the ones that feel the most irrepressibly, indelibly... '90s!


  • M. Night Shyamalan Said Haley Joel Osment's 'Sixth Sense' Audition Was 'Magical'
    Photo: The Sixth Sense / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
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    M. Night Shyamalan Said Haley Joel Osment's 'Sixth Sense' Audition Was 'Magical'

    When The Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan first met a young Haley Joel Osment during his audition, he knew Osment was meant for the part of Cole Sear.

    Shyamalan reflected on his first meeting with Osment in a 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, saying:

    There was something magical about his audition. When I left the room, I told the casting director, "I don’t know if I want to make the movie if it’s not with that kid."

  • Anne Heche Said Harrison Ford Was ‘A Hero’ For Working With Her After She Came Out
    Photo: Six Days, Seven Nights / Buena Vista Pictures
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    Anne Heche Said Harrison Ford Was ‘A Hero’ For Working With Her After She Came Out

    Around the time that the action/adventure/rom-com Six Days, Seven Nights was gearing into production, rising star Anne Heche was having some career trouble.

    Heche had brought then-partner Ellen DeGeneres as her plus-one to the premiere of 1997's Volcano, setting off a storm of controversy and gossip. In an era when it was still not the done thing for top stars to be openly gay, Heche feared bad publicity would cost her a spot in the Harrison Ford picture.

    Ford himself phoned Heche to put her concerns to rest. As she later recalled:

    He said, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn who you're sleeping with. We're gonna make the best romantic comedy there is, and I'll see ya on the set." He's one of my heroes. He fought a battle for me, and I would be on any desert island with him any day.

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    Paul Reubens Bounced Back From His Scandal And Brought Pee-wee To Broadway

    After being detained for indecent exposure at a Florida adult theater in 1991, Paul Reubens (best known by his stage persona Pee-wee Herman) struggled to get his career back on track.

    "I felt like they were insinuating like, well, I was sitting in you know, a darkened movie theater, in my Pee-wee suit," Reubens said years later, reflecting on an incident he feels was blown out of proportion. "I mean that didn't seem like a crime to me. It didn't seem like anyone's business but my own."

    For a long time, he kept a low profile, popping up occasionally at the 1991 MTV movie awards or doing small parts in films like 1992's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Batman Returns.

    In 2011, Reubens brought Pee-wee to Broadway. He released a new Pee-wee film with Netflix in 2016, and in 2020 he announced that he was taking Pee-wee back onstage for a two-month tour. The updated Pee-wee Herman Show played in 25 cities across the country. Following each performance on tour, there was a screening of Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

  • Cher Had 60+ Outfit Changes In 'Clueless,' Which Is 97 Minutes Long
    Photo: Clueless / Paramount Pictures
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    Cher Had 60+ Outfit Changes In 'Clueless,' Which Is 97 Minutes Long

    Throughout the duration of the 97-minute movie, Alicia Silverstone's character Cher had more than 60 outfit changes, each one carefully planned and executed. 

    Clueless was ahead of its time with the clothing choices, setting trends that continue to have an impact on fashion. Costume designer Mona May talked about the outfit changes in a 2020 interview:  

    It was a huge undertaking, and there was not a big budget. I had to be clever in creating these looks. And as a costume designer, I think what's really important is to really create the characters. When we were starting to research and going to high schools, it was all grunge: baggy pants, oversized shirts, and plaid for boys and girls. [S]o the inspiration really had to come from Europe. We had to see what we could buy, scrounge, or borrow. We couldn't make calls and just go, “Hey, we're doing this movie, can you send a bunch of stuff?”

  • Kurt Cobain’s Whole Personality Changed At 9 When His Parents Divorced
    Photo: Montesano High School / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
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    Kurt Cobain’s Whole Personality Changed At 9 When His Parents Divorced

    It's hard to imagine that Kurt Cobain wasn't always Kurt Cobain, the dark, enigmatic grunge frontman who took his own life at the height of his fame, but the singer had a pretty normal childhood up until he was 9 years old. Apparently, Cobain was an ebullient kid who listened to The Beatles and the Monkees, and liked to draw Disney characters.

    "He was this little human being who was so bubbly. He had charisma even as a baby. He was funny, and he was bright," recalled his aunt Mari.

    Then his parents divorced and everything went downhill. After his mother left, Cobain started to see the world from a darker point of view, which may have contributed both to his artistic perspective and his later substance use.

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    Anarchist Collective Chumbawamba Had An Unlikely Hit With 'Tubthumping'

    If you were conscious in 1997, the punchy, aggressive chorus of Chumbawamba's smash hit "Tubthumping" was inescapable. It came at you from car radios, at parties, in bars, on MTV. Surrender was the only option.

    Chumbawamba, an anarchist punk collective formed in 1982, are probably one of the odder bands to have ever achieved an international mega-hit. "The success of that song came as a surprise, really," recalled co-founder Danbert Nobacon in an AV Club interview. "We had similar-sounding songs which we played live, certain uplifting songs that the audience recognized. It taking off like that was a shock."

    Vocalist Alice Nutter noted that the process of writing was done collectively - as all things were with Chumbawamba. "Someone would do the music and we’d sing nonsense nursery rhymes over it, and we would have to write the lyrics. Quite a few of us would do that... We were more of a gang than a band." The song was inspired by the sound of a drunken next-door neighbor warbling "Danny Boy."

    Nutter is still proud of "Tubthumping." "That song still has a life, and I still love it," she says.