Illustration by Asaf Hanuka

Issue: Spring 2006

USC’s Lists & Urban Legends

From Dr. von KleinSmid's Cabinet of Mysteries…

Compiled by Annette Moore

The University of Southern California’s 125th anniversary has provided a prime incentive for Trojan historians to reflect upon the noble institution that brought us all together. It also inspired the Trojan Bookstores to commission a labor of an entirely different sort: USC’s First Book of Lists and Urban Legends, an accumulation of cardinal-and-gold odds and ends, a convoluted cul-de-sac of lists encompassing Trojan facts, figures and anecdotes, as well as a jumble of urban legends grounded in events and circumstances – some bona fide and some outright unverifiable. We invite you to explore with us a randomly selected sampling from this bit of Trojan miscellany.

Trojan Values, as Inscribed on the Trojan Shrine


Matt Leinart

Photo by Julie Jacobson

USC’s Heisman Trophy Winners

Mike Garrett

O. J. Simpson

Charles White

Marcus Allen

Carson Palmer

Matt Leinart

Reggie Bush

Things That Were Forbidden for Early USC Students

Using tobacco, in any form, in or about the “university building” (today’s Widney Alumni House)

Drinking intoxicating liquors, or even keeping such substances in their rooms or “elsewhere”

Being absent from their rooms after 10 o’clock at night for any reason other than attending to the sick

Engaging in loud conversation, loud laughing, wrestling, jumping or any other activity that would make unnecessary noise at the university

Leaving town without the knowledge and consent of the university president

Contracting debts without the knowledge and consent of their parents or guardians

Deporting themselves in a disorderly manner in boarding houses

Playing cards or engaging in gambling of any kind

Visiting establishments where drinking, billiards or gambling were permitted

Engaging in any breach of good morals or good order

Wearing corduroy trousers – except for juniors and seniors

Writing on or otherwise defacing the university building or furniture

Using “obscene or profane” language

Wearing firearms or other weapons

Honorific Epithets

“College of the Year 2000”
Time magazine and The Princeton Review

“Hot School”
Newsweek/Kaplan How to Get Into College guide, 2001

“Leadership Institution”
Association of American College and Universities, 2001

Top National University
U.S. News & World Report/ America’s Best Colleges, 2006

Illustration by Asaf Hanuka

The Legend of the

The Legend According to certain Trojan sources, the original plans for the Harbor Freeway called for the road to follow a straight line north from Exposition Boulevard. This would have resulted in a highway cutting diagonally across 28th Street toward the rear of the Automobile Club complex. Folks at USC weren’t pleased about this at all: It would have thwarted ambitions to expand the University Park campus northward, and bisected Fraternity Row.

Longtime USC Alumni Association executive director Arnold Eddy took credit for offering a solution. He proposed to have groups of three alumnae from each Trojan sorority make appointments with the head of the Freeway Planning Commission on consecutive days. During these meetings, the women were to ask as many questions and raise as many objections as they could, with the goal of taking up as much of the chairman’s time as possible.

The scheme brought positive results in no time at all. The chairman called Eddy within a matter of days to say: “Keep those women home. They are wearing me out! We will have the freeway go east of Figueroa Street.”

The Skinny Hey, if Arnold Eddy says it’s true, then it must be.

Oscar Statuettes Held or on Exhibit in the USC School of Cinema-Television Archives

Clark Gable
Best Actor
It Happened One Night

Edward G. Robinson
Honorary Oscar

Frank Sinatra
Best Supporting Actor
From Here to Eternity

Frank Sinatra
Special Oscar Short Subject
To the House I Live in

Frank Sinatra
Jean Hersholt
Humanitarian Award

David Wolper
Best Documentary
Hellstrom Chronicles

David Wolper
Jean Hersholt
Humanitarian Award

USC Cinema School
Best Short Subject
The Face of Lincoln

USC Alumni Nominated for Academy Awards in the Acting Category

Robert Stack ‘40
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, 1956
Written on the Wind

John Wayne
D.F.A. (honorary) 1968
Nominated for Best Actor, 1949
The Sands of Iwo Jima
Won for Best Actor, 1969
True Grit
Won for Producer, 1960
The Alamo

USC Trojan Marching Band’s Platinum Records

“The Dance”
by Fleetwood Mac
by Fleetwood Mac

Illustration by Asaf Hanuka

The Legend of the HUNCHBACK

The Legend Trojans have long claimed that the tower scenes in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), directed by William Dieterle and starring Lon Chaney, were filmed in the bell tower of USC’s Seeley Wintersmith Mudd Memorial Hall of Philosophy.

The Skinny In fact, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was filmed entirely on location in the San Fernando Valley. There is one movie that features the Mudd Hall tower, however, and that’s Big Man on Campus (1989) – ironically, a film whose original title was The Hunchback of UCLA.

Illustration by Asaf Hanuka

The Legend of the WIDNEY FIRE

The Legend It’s been alleged that Widney Alumni House – USC’s beloved albeit curiously mobile designated historic landmark – once was seriously threatened with destruction. Back in the summer of 1922, a lone graduate student in chemistry was conducting research in a small second-floor room when a flask containing absolute alcohol suddenly cracked and the liquid ignited. Before he could do anything, the wallpaper caught fire. The blaze erupted between the student and the room’s only sink. It being summer, there was no one around to help, but fortunately the student was able to rush to another room and draw water to extinguish the rapidly spreading flames. The student, so it’s told, was none other than Robert Evans Vivian, who went on to serve as dean of USC’s engineering school for 18 years, and for whom USC’s Vivian Hall of Engineering is named.

The Skinny One source of this story is the late John R. Reynolds, former director of University Relations and a consummate Trojan historian. Still, dean Vivian didn’t mention any such escapade in his book, The USC Engineering Story. Maybe it’s a ‘SCecret he would have preferred to have taken to his grave.

As an aside, Widney Alumni House has a longstanding affinity with students and fire. In the earliest days, when the city still lacked electricity, students tended wood-burning stoves in what then was known as “The University Building” to earn part of their tuition.

Surgical “Firsts” by USC Physicians

First double-lobar lung transplant from living-related donors

First gene therapy procedure on a newborn

First transfusion-free (bloodless) live donor liver transplant

First dual kidney and liver transplant from live donors

First Whipple procedure (surgery used to treat pancreatic cancer) using hand-access laparoscopy

First removal of a chest tumor using the da Vinci Surgical System

First implantation of a retinal prosthesis into a patient, as part of an FDA-approved trial

USC’s Rhodes Scholars

Frank Swain

J. F. Goley

Gerald Brown

James J. O’Toole

Patrick C. Haden

Holly C. Wyatt

Tara M. Silvestri

Desmond Koh

USC’s Marshall Scholars

Roland L. Trope

Andrew L. Oros

Jacob M. Chacko

Paul D. Miller

David M. Chacko

Nilay U. Vora

John Wayne

A Few of USC’s Most Prominent Celebrity Dropouts

Let’s face it, when fame and fortune beckon, it’s hard to resist packing up the books and hearkening to the call…

Hugh Beaumont
TV actor who played Ward Cleaver in “Leave it to Beaver”

Art Buchwald
Litt.D. (honorary) 1993
Humorist, syndicated columnist, winner of a 1982 Pulitzer Prize

Jackie Coogan
Silent movie child star

J. Paul Getty
LL.D. (honorary) 1976
Industrialist and founder of the Getty Oil Company

Macy Gray
Pop/rock vocalist

Lionel Hampton
D.Mus. (honorary) 1984
Trendsetting jazz musician, drummer and bandleader

Daryl Hannah
Film actor

Michael Landon
Film and television actor; credits include the television series “Bonanza” and “Little House on the Prairie”

John Raitt
Broadway star

Jonathan Silverman
Film and television actor

Robert Stack
Film and television actor

John Wayne
D.F.A. (honorary) 1968
Film actor; credits include Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and True Grit (1969)

David L. Wolper
D.F.A. (honorary) 1996
Film and television producer

Models for the Trojan Shrine

The Trojan Shrine was presented to the university as a gift from the Alumni Association on June 6, 1930, as part of USC’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Russ Saunders
Star fullback on Trojan teams of 1927, 1928 and 1929, and player in the 1930 Rose Bowl

Ernie Pinckert
USC football player in 1929, 1930 and 1931, and All-American

The Legend of the TOWERING TOWER

The Legend The story goes that the globe-shaped finial was placed atop the Von KleinSmid Center after Waite Phillips Hall of Education was erected because Chancellor von KleinSmid was disappointed that his namesake building’s carillon tower would not be the tallest structure on the campus.

The Skinny Without a doubt, the indomitable Rufus Bernhard von KleinSmid had no intention of leaving anything short of a larger-than-life legacy at USC. Tony Lazzaro, USC’s associate business manager and director of campus development at the time, saw a metal orb on one of the buildings at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York and proposed a similar structure as a finishing touch for the tower. President Topping and other university administrators concurred, and the finial was added in 1966, one year after the Von KleinSmid Center opened and two years before Waite Phillips Hall was completed in 1988.

(Incidentally, at 167 feet, the Von KleinSmid Center Tower stands eyeball to eyeball with the University Park campus’s tallest edifice, the Seeley G. Mudd Building, while Waite Phillips Hall comes in second at 156 feet.)

Illustration by Asaf Hanuka

Trojan Inventions and Achievements That Have Shaped American Popular Culture

Educational Television
USC English professor and distance-learning pioneer Frank C. Baxter created “Shakespeare on TV,” the first course to be taught on television for college credit in Southern California. The program ran for several years beginning in 1953 and eventually garnered Baxter two Emmy awards.

THX – a set of design and quality control standards for theater sound production – was created by USC School of Cinema-Television production professor Tomlinson Holman, who won a 2001 Academy Award for scientific and technical special achievement. (“THX” stands for “Tomlinson Holman’s eXperiment.”)

Tom Morey ’57 – who now goes by the name Y – forever changed the sport of surfing when he created the Boogie Board in 1971. In 2003 he was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame for his contributions to the sport. He not only invented the Boogie Board, but also designed the first interchangeable fin system for surfboards and founded what is considered to be the first pro surfing competition in Ventura.

Bozo the Clown
Larry Harmon ’50 licensed, popularized and portrayed the character of “Bozo the Clown.”

Childhood friends and USC classmates Richard Knerr ’47 and the late Arthur K. “Spud” Melin ’48 founded the blue-chip fad merchandiser Wham-O, which has been responsible for developing and popularizing such blockbuster fads as the Hula Hoop, Frisbee, Superball and Slip ’n Slide.

Recycling Symbol
While a senior at USC in 1970, Gary Anderson ’70, MA ’71 entered a nationwide contest sponsored by the recycled paperboard producer Container Corporation of America in connection with the inaugural Earth Day celebration. Challenged to create a design to symbolize the recycling process, Anderson came up with the famous “chasing arrows” symbol – winning the top prize among more than 500 submissions and creating a mark recognized by millions of people around the globe.

“People’s Court”
Former superior court judge Joseph A. Wapner ’41, LLB ’48 presided over small-claims cases from 1981 to 1993 in the widely popular television series “People’s Court.”

Just a Few of the Feature Films Shot on the University Park Campus

Astronaut’s Wife
USC location: Physical
Education Building pool

The Bachelor
USC locations: Doheny Memorial Library, Hahn Central Plaza

Being John Malkovich
USC location: Bing Theater

The Caine Mutiny

USC location: Mudd Hall of Philosophy exterior

Forrest Gump
USC locations: Marks Hall exterior, Bovard Administration Building exterior, Allan Hancock Foundation Building exterior

The Four Seasons
USC location: oral surgery room in the Dentistry Building

The Graduate
USC locations: Von KleinSmid Center exterior, Doheny Memorial Library, Alumni Memorial Park

Inventing the Abbotts
USC locations: Gwynn Wilson Student Union exterior, Associates Park

Legally Blonde
USC locations: Trousdale Parkway, Bovard Administration Building

Love and Basketball
USC locations: Physical Education Building gym, Cromwell Field

Marathon Man
USC location: Stonier Hall

USC location: Taper Hall of Humanities

Personal Best
USC location: Commons cafeteria

The Ring
USC location: Hoose Library

Thirteen Days
USC location: East Library

Torn Curtain
USC location: Bovard Administration Building

Young Frankenstein
USC location: Hoffman Hall

Trojan Major League Baseball MVPs

Fred Lynn
Boston, American League
Most Valuable Player, 1975

California, American League Championship Series
Most Valuable Player, 1982

California, All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, 1983

Randy Johnson
Arizona, World Series Most
Valuable Player, 2001

Illustration by Asaf Hanuka

The Legend of the TROJAN COLUMN

The Legend The Trojan Column, a gift to USC from the Republic of Turkey in 1952, was long believed to have been a relic of the ancient city of Troy. In fact, the presentation plaque reads: “This section of a column from the legendary Troy, quarried and polished without the aid of iron tools at an unknown date before 1200 B.C., stood in the courtyard of a public building, believed to have been a temple of Trojan Apollo.…”

The Skinny We hate to break this to you, but in 1994, USC faculty member John Pollini – professor of classical art and archaeology – determined that the column’s a fake. It was probably quarried from an area around the city of Troy, but it’s made of a material and in a style that date not from the classical period, but much later – circa 30 B.C. to A.D. 400.

Furthermore, there was no official statement from the Turkish government indicating that the column fragment actually came from ancient Troy. At the dedication ceremony, a professor from the University of Ankara stated simply that this “piece of stone” was “part of the soil of [his] own ancient country.”

Another Trojan Invention That Shaped American Popular Culture

Color Television
USC physics professor Willard Geer brought color to the world of television in the early 1950s with the invention of the Geer color tube. The tube fired three beams of electrons (one for each primary color) on a screen of small, inverted pyramids.

Women Deans at USC

For current schools whose names have changed over the years, we’re using the current one.

Martha Boaz
USC School of Library Science
1955 to 1978

Elizabeth Monk Daley
USC School of Cinema-Television
1991 to present

Marilyn Flynn
USC School of Social Work
1997 to present

Karen Symms Gallagher
USC Rossier School of Education
2000 to present

Arlien Johnson
USC School of Social Work
1939 to 1959

Sherry P. May
USC School of Continuing Education
1983 to 1986

Mrs. C. S. Nellis
USC Thornton School of Music
1884 to 1886 (principal)

Dorothy Wright Nelson
USC Gould School of Law
1968 to 1980

Alice C. Parker
USC Graduate School
1994 to 1996

Jane Pisano
USC School of Public Administration (now part of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development)
1991 to 1998

Madeline Puzo
USC School of Theatre
2002 to present

Barbara Solomon
USC Graduate School
1986 to 1988 (acting)
1988 to 1994 (dean)

Barbara Solomon
USC School of Theatre
1992 to 1993 (interim)

Lucy H. Stagg
USC Thornton School of Music
1886 to 1890 (principal)
1893 to 1895 (dean)

Ruth Weisberg
USC School of Fine Arts
1995 to present

Beulah Wright
USC College of Oratory
1903 to 1918

Elizabeth M. Zelinski
USC Davis School of Gerontology
2004 to present

Trojan Who Got the Copyright on Love

Leo Buscaglia ‘50, AM ‘54, PhD ‘63

An alumnus and longtime professor at USC, Buscaglia initiated a non-credit self-actualization course called Love 1A in 1969. The course begat a book, Love, in 1972, the title of which – to the author’s amazement – had not previously been claimed.

Illustration by Asaf Hanuka

The Legend of the SPACE ALIENS

The Legend During and after World War II, rumors abounded about the building that housed USC’s human centrifuge – which was built to test the effects of weightlessness, first on monkeys and then on humans, in simulated space. In particular, it was said that the facility contained space aliens.

The Skinny It’s not surprising that a certain air of mystery surrounded USC’s human centrifuge. For many years, USC was the only university to house such an instrument. It was installed in 1943 and used in the development of the G-suit to prevent pilot blackout during World War II as well as in research related to the first U.S. space missions. Several important discoveries emanated from the centrifuge, including the development of a partial-pressure suit for emergency extreme-altitude protection and a blood-pressure recording device for continuous monitoring of test subjects. About any testing on extraterrestrials, however, the scientists remain mum.