10 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise. Actor, philanthropist, detective (ok, so technically that was also acting, but he was REALLY good). Most of us know Sinise from Forrest Gump, where he played a colorful Vietnam veteran, or from his role as Detective Mac Taylor on CSI: NY. Even if you’ve seen him in dozens of movies and TV shows, there’s a lot you probably don’t know about this Hollywood humanitarian. To fill in the gaps, we’ve done a crazy facts deep dive into the incredible life of Gary Sinise.

He didn’t always love acting

In high school, Sinise focused more on music and sports than on school itself. The Highland Park High School drama teacher suggested that the unenthusiastic student audition for a part in his school’s West Side Story production, though Sinise had never acted before. He wasn’t all that interested, but Sinise figured that he had nothing to lose. He auditioned and landed a role in his very first show.

“I fell in love with theater at that moment,” Sinise told The Patch. “Once I did that, all I wanted to do was plays.”

Gary Sinise Facts
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Gary Sinise co-founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago

Now one of Chicago’s most famous theaters, Sinise founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company a few years after he graduated from high school. Sinise and his former classmate Jeff Perry first started the company in a suburban church basement before moving to the city of Chicago in 1980.

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company remains one of Chicago’s most beloved theaters today, and it even helped launch the careers of John Malkovich, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, and many others.

Gary Sinise Steppenwolf
Credit: Instagram/garysiniseofficial

He co-created the Lt. Dan Band in 2003

Before he loved acting, Gary Sinise loved music. After his immensely successful role as Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, Sinise co-created a band and named it after his iconic character with musician Kimo Williams to entertain troops and perform at USO shows. The band has played hundreds of shows over the years, visiting military bases all over the world to raise the spirits of those serving our country.

Sinise explained on The band’s website, “We will continue to support organizations that are working hard for our veterans, our wounded service members, and their families,” he explained. “The band will be playing concerts to raise spirits, funds, and awareness for our nation’s severely wounded warriors, their families and all who serve.”

He played the role of CAPCOM on Epcot’s Mission: SPACE

If you visited Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park between the years of 2003 and 2017, chances you ran into Gary Sinise on your way out of Earth’s atmosphere. For 14 years, Gary Sinise played the part of CAPCOM, explaining your mission and helping you prepare for a mission to Mars.

Though actress Gina Torres replaced Sinise as CAPCOM in 2017, you can still get the full Sinise experience with an older video of Epcot’s Mission: SPACE. The Apollo 13 star explains your mission, your role, and the importance of working as a team. Pay close attention and do your best – few things are more crushing than disappointing Gary Sinise.

Sinise put on a spacesuit and flew in a U2 spy plane at 70,000 feet

In 2011, Sinise visited the Beale Air Force Base in California and completed a demanding day-long training to fly in a U-2 “Dragon Lady” spy plane. He became one of fewer than 1,000 people in the last 50 years to take the extremely taxing flight, which earned him a spot in what air force members call the “high flyer club.”

Sinise documented his training as well as the expedition itself in his documentary “High Flight,” which also discussed the ins and outs of the air force base and flight program.

The rosary dog tags worn by Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump were real

Sinise’s brother in law, Jack Treese, was a combat medic in Vietnam. He figured that any help he could get would be beneficial, so even though he wasn’t Catholic, he made his own rosary beads to hold his dog tag.

While on the set of Forrest Gump, Sinise was given a fake set of dog tags by the film’s costume designer. Rather than use the imitation dog tags, Sinise figured it’d be more meaningful to use the real ones – so he swapped them out.

Gary Sinise Lt. Dan
Credit: Instagram/garysiniseofficial

Veteran Dale Dye put the Forrest Gump cast through real-life military training

Dale Dye is a marine veteran turned actor, and outside of acting, he offers his expertise and serves as an advisor on movies that involve the military. One such movie was Forrest Gump – prior to filming, Dye put several actors including Gary Sinise through one hell of an orientation to military life.

During the last day of training, Dye made sure the actors would hit a host of roadblocks, leaving them lost in the swamps of South Carolina before being attacked by Dye and his crew. Sinise took the training extremely seriously, which often led Dye to push him harder than the other actors. To this day, Gary Sinise and Dale Dye remain friends.

Gary Sinise Dale Dye
Credit: garysinisefoundation.org

Sinise has won multiple awards for his efforts to support veterans

Sinise created the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to support veterans and their families. The actor is extremely active in the world of military and veteran charities and gives his time and money generously to support our nation’s heroes. In response to his efforts, he has been recognized by multiple organizations and honored accordingly.

Some of his honors include the USO Patriot Award in 2011, the Spirit of Hope Award in 2012, The Noble Award in 2015, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society Patriot Award in 2020, and dozens more. So unbelievably well-deserved.

Gary Sinise chose his role in Apollo 13

After securing Tom Hanks to play the role of Jim Lovell, director Ron Howard invited Gary Sinise to choose his role. Sinise chose to play Ken Mattingly, an astronaut taken off of the Apollo 13 mission just days before launch due to exposure to the measles.

The actor explained how he chose his role in the most Sinise way possible. According to IMDB, Sinise explained, “When I looked at it, I said, ‘I want to play that guy.’ Without him, they won’t get back.”

On-screen and off, Gary Sinise is the perpetual helper. Mr. Rogers would have been so proud.

An offhand joke made by Lt. Dan came to fruition

In a scene in Forrest Gump, Lt. Dan jokingly (sort of) states that if Forrest ever became a shrimp boat captain, he would become an astronaut. Well, Forrest got his Shrimp boat, “Jenny.” A year later, Sinise went on to star in Apollo 13 as astronaut Ken Mattingly (with whom he shares a birthday).

It’s good to know that even in character, Gary Sinise is honest and true to his word. It’s extremely fortunate that Lieutenant Dan said “astronaut,” and not “clown with a thirst for blood” or “retired.”

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.

Check out our previous edition where we featured crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Star Wars.

Fisher-Price Brings Back an Iconic Toy With a New Twist for Adults

A new phone is being released that is bulky, enormous, and looks like a child’s toy. And that’s because it is (or was) all of the things, as Fisher-Price is bringing back an iconic toy. The company announced this month the return of their Chatter Telephone, only this time, it’s for a different audience.

The company is celebrating the toy’s 60th anniversary by relaunching it aimed at adults. Mostly because kids have no idea what a rotary telephone is. They barely even know what a telephone is PERIOD. They see their parents holding tiny computers, texting people, and ignoring calls from grandma. But, IN OUR DAY, they had these things called telephones, and you’d have to turn them off to use the internet….

The phone will look just like you remembered it with the rainbow dial and ringtones and the moving eyes. But, in a savvy update, the company made it possible to pair with any phone using Bluetooth. That’s right, you can use that phone now for any call you actually decide to take.

 

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“Your first mobile phone is now a real phone,” Fisher-Price said in the description. “Once connected, your Chatter Telephone will be fully activated — routing outgoing calls via rotary dial and incoming calls via handheld pickup.”

“No swiping, or scrolling required. Bonus: reduction in screentime very likely.”

Only for nostalgia would the public get excited about a phone that does less and forces you actually remember a phone number, but it’s also a fun chance to show kids what it used to be like to get connected to another human.

The Chatter Telephone is on sale now.

Ubisoft Reportedly Developing a New Splinter Cell Game

It’s crazy to think that there hasn’t been a new Splinter Cell title since 2013’s Blacklist.  Considered one of Ubisoft‘s flagship series, our favorite black ops agent Sam Fisher has since fallen to the wayside in favor of other Tom Clancy properties such as The Division and Ghost Recon.  It felt like we’d never see a new Splinter Cell, but if this latest rumor is anything to consider, it looks like we won’t have to wait long to sneak back into the shadows.

As reported by VGC, development sources have told them that a new Splinter Cell has been put into production as a means of winning back frustrated fans.  Those looking for an actual Splinter Cell game have been unfortunately met with poorly received mobile and VR titles for the past decade.  VGC’s sources also mentioned that this new title is apparently in an early phase of production, but there’s a small chance it could be announced next year.

Unfortunately, that’s where the report ends.  It’s pretty barebones but hey, at least it’s something!  Fans have been itching for a proper Splinter Cell game for quite some time now.  It looks like their wish could finally be granted.

Splinter Cell was and still is a pretty awesome stealth video game series, but it typically gets overshadowed by Metal Gear Solid.  Both feature gravel-voiced heroes going on secret spy missions, but that’s pretty much where the comparisons end.  Splinter Cell doesn’t have hours upon hours of spoken dialogue, and later iterations opted for much more action-oriented combat.  It could even be argued that Fisher handles better than Snake, with all his cool spy moves.

Personally, my favorite part about the Splinter Cell games was the multiplayer.  As long as that makes a return, I’ll be happy.  Spies vs Mercs was a blast and required some real coordination amongst teammates.  The 2v2 mode was pretty much perfected in 2005’s Chaos Theory, with each team having a variety of gadgets at their disposal.  The Spies played in third-person and could sneak through vents and get the drop on their opponents in order to complete objectives, while Mercs were played in first-person and packed some real firepower in order to guard said objectives.  If they could bring back the co-op mode from 2010’s Conviction too, that’d be cool.  Of course, as with any of these rumors, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  I guess I’ll just have to calm down until something actually gets announced.

Studio Wouldn’t Allow Robin Williams To Be in Harry Potter

Robin Williams has been in a lot of great movies, from sophisticated fare like Good Will Hunting, for which he won an Oscar, and Dead Poets Society to fun flicks like Mrs. Doubtfire to Aladdin. Turns out there was one group of movies he wanted to be a part of but wasn’t able to: the Harry Potter adaptations.

Christopher Columbus, the director of the first two Potter films (as well as Home Alone, and the Williams’ starring Bicentennial Man), recently confirmed to Total Film the actor was hoping to play werewolf and Potter ally Remus Lupin. This rumor had been floating around for a while, but there was a very specific reason Robin couldn’t do it: despite his talent for mimicry and impersonations, Williams just wasn’t British enough!

The studio had a rule for the Potter movies that no non-English actors would be cast.

It was out of Columbus’s hands, but he still had to break the news. “I had a conversation with Robin Williams, who wanted to play Lupin,” he said. “It was very difficult for me to say ‘It’s all British. There’s nothing I can do.’”

In 2001, during an interview with the New York Post, Williams admitted his disappointment. As usual, he lightened the mood with a joke.

There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on [using] American actors. Maybe one day. Say if [Harry] goes to Yale and becomes president.”

It’s too bad that Williams took his own life a few years back, for many reasons. Now we can add “won’t get to play Dumbledore in the Harry Potter remakes” to the list.

Think about it: he would have made an AMAZING Dumbledore.

Guy Fieri Announces That He Is the Final Super Smash Bros. DLC Character

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might have thought they just revealed their final character, but they would be wrong.

On Twitter, “The Mayor of Flavor Town” himself revealed in a shocking twist that he will be the final Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC character, not Sora from Kingdom HeartsCheck out his sweet intro below.

I know this is just a joke, but I don’t want it to be.  I seriously want this to happen.  Could you imagine just annihilating opponents and knocking them off-screen while Fieri’s character says things like “Holy moly, Stromboli!“?  I could see his dash move being him jumping into his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible and cruising across the battlefield and running Pikachu over.  THAT is the Smash Bros. game I want to play.

Celebrities and video games.  Man, it gets me every time.  If it’s not Fieri, it’s Brendan Fraser ignoring a fan while he plays Nintendo Switch.  Maybe Fraser plays Smash Bros.  I say we get him and Fieri into The Dad Gaming – Super Smash Bros Ultimate Facebook group.  If Fieri’s so confident with his skills that he wants his own character in the game, well, that’s a guy I’d want on my team.  While we’re at it, we should also invite the dentist that offers free cleanings if you can beat him at Smash Bros. too.  He seems like a solid choice as well.

It’s the Year 2021 and Doom Is Now Playable on Twitter

At this point, we’ve seen Doom played on everything from pregnancy tests to a calculator powered by 200 potatoes.  Is it any surprise that it’s now playable on a social media platform?

Over on Twitter, someone has created a Tweet2Doom bot account, which now means you can attempt to complete the original Doom on Twitter by using various commands in Twitter replies to this specific account.

Now, it’s not exactly like you’re literally playing the game.  Think of it like a turn-based RPG or a strategy game.  Gameplay essentially boils down to you using a combination of letters and numbers to input commands to the game and then figuring out the number of frames that you’d like the action you’ve just input to be performed for.  After you’ve input your desired commands, it plays back a video in-game of what you’re doing.  It’s kind of like when Twitch played Dark Souls and Pokemon.  At first, it might sound impossible to actually accomplish anything (and it usually starts with you constantly running into walls), but there are playthroughs where people are literally getting through levels and fighting off demons.  It’s pretty spectacular.

If you’re interested in giving it a shot yourself, there’s a full set of rules on how to play pinned on Tweet2Doom’s Twitter account.  There are even speedruns currently happening as we speak if you really want to get crazy.  Seriously, I’m not joking.  You read that correctly.  There are actual speedruns for the Twitter version of Doom.  The human race is a wild bunch.

Any guesses as to what Doom will show up on next?  A Fisher-Price tablet powered by dirty diapers?  Maybe instead of a calculator powered by 200 potatoes, a potato powered by 200 calculators?  It sounds crazy, but at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Indiana Jones 5 and MCU Movies Delayed Until 2023

It’s starting to seem like the universe doesn’t want another Indiana Jones movie.

Indy 5, which was delayed by the pandemic and was then delayed after star Harrison Ford got hurt on set, much like he did during the Force Awakens shoot – it’s almost like he’s too old for this shit! – and now those production delays have forced the release of the movie to get pushed back another year, to 2023.

The movie, which is being directed by James Mangold (Logan) and co-stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Mads Mikkelson, is purported to have a time-travel element – and some recent photos from the set showing old-fashioned ships and what look like Roman soldiers – seem to bear that theory out. As does the fact that the franchise is pretty iconic and valuable, and the studio may be seeking a way to extend it beyond its star’s ability to continue swashbuckling.

Perhaps the time travel element will bring a younger Indy on board, or an alternate Indy. We’ll see, just not for a few more years.

We’ll also have to wait a bit longer for some of the highly anticipated MCU movies. Stick with me here: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness got pushed from March to May, taking Thor: Love and Thunder’s spot and pushing the Norse god’s fourth flick to July, which forces Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to move to November, when The Marvels, the Captain Marvel sequel was meant to premiere. Now that will hit theaters in February 2023 and will bump the next Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to late July 2023.

The multiverse works in mysterious ways.

The good news is all of those movies are still happening. The bad news is, that includes Indiana Jones 5.

Netflix’s “Ozark” Ready To Start Finishing the Series With a Bang

It’s the beginning of the end for Netflix’s Ozark, as the Jason Bateman-starring family drama has an official premiere date for its fourth and final season. Netflix announced this week the addicting thriller will debut Part 1 on January 21st. The fourth season will be broken into two parts of seven episodes each.

We got more than a date, though, as we also got the first teaser trailer for the critically-acclaimed show.

“Money is, at its essence, that measure of a man’s choices,” says Marty in the beginning of the teaser. The Byrde family has a lot on the line as they expand their footprint in the Ozarks, and have made more than a few enemies along the way.

As Bateman’s wife in the show, Wendy Byrde (played by the excellent Laura Linney) says later in the trailer: “Sometimes, if you don’t move forward, you die.”

And now, Ozark is doing both! It is moving forward with the first part of season 4, but we know some major resolution is on the horizon, as it will be tidily wrapped up in 14 more episodes.

There’s always a ton of pressure for a beloved show to stick the landing right. Sometimes, it all plays out as well as it can (Breaking Bad). Other times, it completely undercuts everything the show has been building to for years and leaves fans feeling betrayed (cough *Game of Thrones season 8*). And then there are some that are so ambiguous it leaves fans confused for decades (*The Sopranos*).

The teaser trailer is pretty great, and Bateman has said previously to the media that the supersized season will bring supersized problems for the Byrde family. He also said he’s excited to “end with a bang” so you can be sure season 4 won’t be about a harmonious end to the family’s involvement with a Mexican drug cartel.

Michael J. Fox Will Receive Honorary AARP Award for Parkinson’s Advocacy

In the midst of enjoying his massive Back to the Future success, Michael J. Fox’s world was turned upside-down. At just 29 years old, in 1991, the talented actor was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease. For nearly a decade, Fox kept his condition under wraps. He coped privately, figuring out what his life would look like under his new and difficult circumstances.

In 1998, Fox spoke publicly for the first time about Parkinson’s. Rather than focusing on his own life, however, Fox chose to turn his attention to Parkinson’s as a whole. In 2000, he founded The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, dedicating his time and energy to both advocacy and his ultimate goal: finding a cure for Parkinson’s.

In a virtual ceremony on December 15, Michael J. Fox will receive an honorary AARP Purpose Prize award for his extensive work in Parkinson’s advocacy and research.

“AARP is honored to celebrate these extraordinary older adults, who have dedicated their lives to serving others in creative and innovative ways,” AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said on AARP’s website. “During these trying times in our country and globally, we are inspired to see people use their life experiences to build a better future for us all.”

Fox undoubtedly goes above and beyond to improve the lives of those living with Parkinson’s disease. The Michael J. Fox Foundation raised over $700 million for Parkinson’s research so far, and with every passing year, the foundation continues to grow. AARP wants to honor Fox’s commitment to the cause, and in addition to the award itself, they will contribute $50,000 to his foundation.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s single, urgent goal is to eliminate Parkinson’s disease,” the foundation’s website states. “Even in the face of tremendous challenges, our promise to push Parkinson’s research forward remains steadfast. We’re problem-solvers and we’re optimistic.”

Grateful Dead T-Shirt Auctioned by Sotheby’s Fetches $17k

Last week, a painting by notorious guerilla street artist Bansky was auctioned off for a record-breaking amount. The amount was noteworthy for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the painting was half-shredded! But it isn’t the only half-shredded piece of art that’s worth something.

If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of vintage t-shirts, and by vintage, I mean “older than my kids and also my marriage.” Most of mine are band and/or concert-related, and until today, I thought their only value was sentimental. And then I learned that a vintage Grateful Dead t-shirt was auctioned off for thousands of dollars!

$17,460 was the high bid according to Defunkd a resource for authentic vintage t-shirts. But after factoring in Sotheby’s fees and uncle Sam’s cut, the final price tag was actually $19,315.80.

The shirt’s value is not merely due to the design and its excellent condition after 60 years, or the fact that it was designed by a Hells Angel, but is also due to the fact that it comes from the collection of Dan Healy, an audio engineer with a working relationship with the legendary jam band. It may also be the first Grateful Dead t-shirt ever made, or so says Bo Bushnell, the man who bought it and a collector of 1960s motorcycle club artifacts.

“It was the first t-shirt that the Dead released,” Bo Bushnell told Defunkd after he won the auction.

Grateful Dead t-shirt
(Credit: Sotheby’s)

The auction site described the shirt:

“Designed by the Hells Angel, Merry Prankster, and graphic artist Allan “Gut” Terk, a key figure in California counterculture in the 1960s. Friends with Ken Kesey, he was the painter of the Pranksters’ “Further” bus in 1964 and designed the Acid Test Graduation posters. By 1967, through his work for the Dead, he was acclaimed in the Bay Area music scene for his t-shirt and poster art.”

Obviously, there are some special circumstances surrounding this shirt, and not many bands have as devoted a fan base as the Dead, so I wouldn’t expect any of your beloved band shirts to fetch quite as much on the auction market.

But I’m gonna go look through my collection just in case…