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This episode of the List Show features bizarre facts about historical figures, from weird facts about Albert Einstein to historical figures like Alan Turing and John D. Rockefeller. In case you forgot, The List Show is a weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John tells you some little known facts about historical figures!

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For more bizarre facts about historical figures, check out our article detailing the mysterious deaths of famous historical figures:
Hi I'm John Green, welcome to my salon, this is Mental Floss Video.

And did you know that in 1948 famous computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing ran a marathon in 2 hours 46 minutes and 3 seconds. The Olympic winning marathon runner that year only beat him by 11 minutes. And that's the first of lots and lots of interesting facts about historical figures I'm going to share with you today in this video, brought to you by our friends at Geico. 


Benito Mussolini spent time as a teacher, his students supposedly nicknamed him "the tyrant".

Mark Twain was born and died in Halley's Comet years, 1835 and 1910. He once said "It would be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet."

Speaking of interesting quotes, Charles Dickens once said "Little Red Riding Hood was my first love. I felt that if I could have married Little Red Riding Hood, I should have known perfect bliss."

Amelia Earhart first saw an airplane in 1908 and described herself as indifferent toward the thing of rusty wire and wood. 

Helen Keller loved dogs, she actually introduced the Akita breed to Americans from Japan.

And speaking of dogs Frank Sinatra once gave Marilyn Monroe a Maltese which she named Mafia Honey. 

John D. Rockefeller's dad had a similar title Devil Bill, he was a snake oil salesman and con artist type.

Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a romance novella about a soldier which was published after he died. 

Henry VIII was also a writer, he wrote a 30,000 word bestseller titled Defence of the Seven Sacraments before parting with the Catholic Church. 

Charlemagne had a pet elephant named Abu-Abbas.

Perhaps more dangerous, while at Harvard William Randolph Hearst had a pet alligator named Champagne Charlie.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth name was Michael.

And Pocahontas had multiple names over the years including Matoaka, Amonute and Rebecca.

Claude Monet's real first name was Oscar.

And while we're on the subject of artists, Pablo Picasso's first word peas was a shortened version of the Spanish word for pencil, lapiz.

Leonardo da Vinci was obsessed with water exploration, he tried to invent an underwater breathing device, shoes to walk on water and a life preserver.

In the 1860s, a woman named Lizzie Doten published poetry "by Edgar Allan Poe". She was a medium and claimed he'd visited her and she transcribed the poems that he told her. They were notably Edgar Allan Poe's worst poems.

Speaking of famous ghosts, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stayed at the White House in the 1940s and supposedly ran into the ghost of Abraham Lincoln there. But bare in mind that during Prohibition Winston Churchill arrived to the United States with a prescription for alcohol.

By the way, Abraham Lincoln shared a birthday with Charles Darwin: February 12th, 1809.

And Lincoln was a lawyer but he only had 18 months of formal schooling in his whole life. 

Speaking of presidents, in honor of the Bicentennial in 1976 George Washington was given the title General of the Armies of the United States, meaning no one has or ever will outrank him in the military.

Thomas Jefferson visited William Shakespeare's former home with John Adams, and they broke off some of the writers chair for a keepsake. 

It's believed, by the way, Shakespeare's wife and children were illiterate.

When Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates, he was offended by his low ransom and asked them to raise it. 

And Cleopatra and Marc Antony once created their own club called the inimitable livers, it revolved around feasts and drinking wine. 

J. R. R. Tolkien, on the other hand, founded the Viking Club while he was a professor at Leeds University.

In 2012, scientists named a prehistoric woodpecker the Australopicus neslonmandelai after Nelson Mandela. 

Albert Einstein has a very weird divorce settlement with his first wife in 1919, he told her that one of his papers would eventually win the Nobel Prize and he'd give her the winnings, and then in 1922 it happened.

Speaking of Nobel Prize winners, Wilhelm Ostwald made a special trip to see where Marie and Pierre Curie did their experiments. He would describe the scene as a cross between a stable and a potato shed.

One person who never won the Nobel Peace Prize, Mohandas Gandhi. However that's due to the fact that you can't receive a Nobel Peace Prize posthumously. No Nobel Peace Prize was given out in 1949, which was widely seen as the committee's way of honoring Gandhi.

During World War II, the French cut the lift cables in the Eiffel Tower, that way when Hitler visited he'd be forced to take the stairs if he wanted to go up, which he didn't.

Pope John Paul II once asked Mother Teresa if she would be a Cardinal and she declined.

And speaking of clergy, at Queen Victoria's coronation the Archbishop put the ring on the wrong finger and it got stuck.

After the firework display at Marie Antoinette and the future Louis XVI's wedding went wrong and killed over a hundred people, the couple gave their months allowance to support the survivors. She was a nice lady! She never said "Let them eat cake", she gave one of months allowances to the family of people who were killed by her fireworks. What else do you want a queen to do, she only got 12 allowances a year.

Wolfgang Mozart met Marie Antoinette in 1763, by the way. They were both about seven years old, and he was playing music for her family in Vienna. It's said that he proposed marriage to her.

And a teenage Beethoven performed for Mozart. Mozart allegedly said afterwards "Keep your eye on him, someday he'll give the world something to talk about."

In 1909, the famous hairdresser Monsieur Antoine invented the bob haircut while working in Paris. He said that Joan of Arc was his inspiration, so she's kind of a fashion icon.

Did you know that Aristotle thought that women had fewer teeth than men, he did.

Ernest Hemingway went undercover for the Soviet Union in 1941 and his code name was Argo.

Speaking of which, Mikhail Gorbachev won a Grammy in 2004 for a collaborative album, in which famous figures read the fable Peter and the Wolf.

And in 1963, Mohammed Ali released an album when he was still known as Cassius Clay, it was titled I Am The Greatest and it was mostly spoken word, and it was awesome. 

Let's talk about some other sports stars, Jesse Owens was actually named James Cleveland Owens, JC for short. A teacher once misheard JC and started calling him Jesse, he eventually just switched names.

Before becoming a baseball player Babe Ruth was trained to be a tailor and a shirt maker.

And after life as a baseball player Jackie Robinson campaigned for Richard Nixon. 

Later in his life Christopher Columbus wrote that the apocalypse was coming and that he had caused it by traveling to the New World, which you know still might not have been totally wrong. I feel like it's a little too early to declare victory on that front. 

Alexander the Great founded a city called Bucephala, which he named after his horse. That was kind of a nice change of pace actually from over the 70 cities he named after himself. 

The first time a young Gloria Steinem spent a full year in formal school was when she was 12. 

Maya Angelou once said her favorite item of clothing were her Ugg boots.

And speaking of fashion, it's believed that Queen Elizabeth I owned two thousand pairs of gloves.

Princess Diana had to have multiple rehearsals before her wedding just tot get use to the 25 foot long train on her dress.

Ben Franklin liked to take what he called "air baths" which was just lounging around his house naked for about an hour.

And fellow inventor Thomas Edison proposed to his second wife in Morse code.

Leo Tolstoy also proposed in code, by writing just the first letter of each word in his question, which was over a dozen letters. He recycled that idea in his novel Anna Karenina. Because you know why waste a great idea like that just on your spouse. 

In the 1930s Nikola Tesla paid a hotel bill by promising the management he would give them one of his inventions, a death beam. He said it was worth $10,000, in fact of course a death beam would be worth much more. But when they went too fetch it, it was just a bunch of random electronics in a box. 

Rosa Parks sued the band Outkast for using her name in one of their song titles. 

Someone removed Galileo's middle finger 100 years death and it is now at the Galileo Museum in Florence.

Walt Disney gave his housekeeper of 30 years company shares for holiday bonuses and when she died in 1993 her estate was worth 9 million dollars.

Karl Marx was jailed for drunkenness while at college.

Elvis Presley only ever performed in the United States and Canada.

Sigmund Freud had over 30 separate cancer-related surgeries in his life.

And Mao Zedong was very good at calligraphy, in fact his work is still on display all over China.

Malcolm X once copied the entire dictionary into his handwriting. He also read each page out loud to improve his public speaking.

When he was ten years old Neil Armstrong mowed the grass at his local cemetery.

Paul McCartney did a voice in the Simpsons episode Lisa the Vegetarian, he did this on the condition that Lisa would stay a vegetarian for the entire run of the show, which she has.

And speaking of the Simpsons, the reason Mr. Burns answers the phone with "Ahoy-Hoy!" is because that's how Alexander Graham Bell thought his invention should be answered.

One of Genghis Khan's top generals once belonged to a rival tribe and almost killed Genghis in battle, which impressed Genghis so much that he had him join the Mongol army as an officer.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton wanted to donate her brain after her death to scientists at Cornell University but her children didn't let it happen when she died. I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you that no matter what my children say I want my brain to stay inside of my rotting corpse.

Isaac Newton believed that the world would end no sooner than 2060, so we should have some time left.

And finally I return to my salon to tell you that Florence Nightingale was a frequent user of pie chart like graphs, they were invented about 20 years before she was born but she help popularize the format.

Thanks for watching Mental Floss Video, which is made with the help of all of these lovely people and thanks again to our friends at Geico for making this video possible. Let me know in comments your favorite fact about a historical figure, mine is that Nikola Tesla was in love for a little while with a pigeon. Anyway, that's a story for a different time.

As we say in my hometown Don't Forget To Be Awesome!