Don't Dream It, Be It
75 Things Fans Should Know About 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'
Many publications have presented listicles over the years in tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). People Magazine even got in on the act in 2015 for the film’s 40th anniversary. This list is a sincere labor of love. Whether you’re a TRHPS virgin eager to learn more about this musical masterpiece, or you're a savvy elder who knows this list like the back of their own hand...
“Give yourself over to absolute pleasure.”
Here Are 75 Things Every Virgin, Fan and Elder Should Know About Their Beloved Rocky Horror Picture Show.
1. HGTV’s Hilary Farr, co-host of Love It or List It (2008-present), has a very small part in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She portrays Betty Munroe who marries Ralph Hapschatt (Jeremy Newson). At the time, she was credited in the picture as Hilary Labow. The 66-year-old T.V. personality enjoys a net worth of approximately $7 million today.
2. Patricia Quinn (Magenta) revealed she was less than impressed when she met Meat Loaf, but when he sang Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul for the first time Quinn said, “I just fell off my chair!"
She was quite impressed with her co-star’s vocal pipes.
3. Tim Curry wanted to come across as more of a baddie in the film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. As Curry put it, Frank-N-Furter became more of a night club, Las Vegas performer on stage.
“I wanted to make him a bit more evil on film,” Curry said.
4. Actor Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors) said once in an interview, “We thought we were making ‘The Sound of Music’ (1965) for the '70s.”
5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Fan Club President is Sal Piro. Now known as one of the Rocky Horror Elders, which is a distinction given to the first generation of Rocky Horror fans, Piro was studying in the seminary to become a priest when he first saw TRHPS.
6. Even iconic films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show have their problems. After Betty and Ralph bid farewell, at the wedding, Brad and Janet are standing right in front of the church doors. As Brad waves to his newly married friends, who are now off-screen, the boom microphone can be seen briefly dipping into the scene from directly above Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon.
7. In January of 1978, only 35 prints of The Rocky Horror Picture Show were in existence. But thanks to the swelling midnight madness which followed the film’s initial 1975 release, 202 prints of the movie were in circulation by January 1979 to accommodate the picture’s growing cult status across the world.
8. Richard O’Brien is the man responsible for nearly five decades of delightful decadence, and he also portrays the Handyman Riff Raff in the movie. However, O’Brien wrote the original script (play) with himself in mind to play Eddie the Delivery Boy. However, the musical’s original director felt O’Brien would make a much more convincing Riff Raff, and the rest is stage and cinematic history.
9. Actress Susan Sarandon (Janet Weiss) said her favorite costume was probably her bra and half-slip. The actor said she felt “comfortable” on set even if she was partially naked. What was difficult for Sarandon was the working conditions, but more on that later.
10. The Rocky Horror Picture Show cost approximately $1.3 million, and it was shot in only six weeks, but it brought in less than $300,000 during its original theatrical run. However, thanks to rereleases, midnight shows and video sales over the years, TRHPS went from being an absolute flop in 1975 to hauling in a staggering $113 million (Box Office Mojo) domestically. IMDb provides a much higher gross in U.S. sales: $139.8 million. According to The New York Post, adjusting for inflation, Rocky Horror has made the equivalent of $479 million as of 2016.
11. The skeleton stuffed in the clock-casket, as The Time Warp song begins, is rumored to have been real! Whether it was truly bones or a plastic, TRHPS’ spooky prop sold at a 2002 Sotheby’s’ auction for 35,000 pounds.
12. Actor Tim Curry had the pleasure of meeting Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Curry said in interviews Charles only vaguely recognized him from television. Diana on the other hand flashed Curry “a wicked smile” and said, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show quite completed my education.”
13. Don’t lose your head. Watch closely during Meat Loaf’s performance of Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul! As Eddie rides his motorcycle up the ramp, and the guests start scrambling, one of the Transylvanians accidentally knocks the head off the prop statue. The blooper happens on the far left of the screen.
14. Sal Piro said in an interview Dori Hartley was one of the first shadowcasters before the term denoting the ultimate fan participators had even been coined.
“Dori was the first real audience member to assert herself as Frank,” Piro explained.
And since 1977, she has been synonymous with the character of Dr. Frank-N-Furter who Tim Curry brought to life in the film and on stage.
15. Actor Jonathan Adams portrayed the role of the criminologist in the original London production of The Rocky Horror Show, but for the film he played the part of Dr. Everett Scott. In the movie, Charles Gray took over the part of the criminologist.
16. The biggest faux pas in TRHPS comes courtesy of the production team. During the scene where Dr. Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams) is captured by the giant magnet, the set designer Brian Thomson forgot to build a door for Scott’s wheelchair to come through. Thus, Scott crashes through the wall as Brad screams, “Great Scott!” Cue the toilet paper!
17. The newspaper Janet reads in the car is titled The Plain Dealer, but a plastic cover is used to make the periodical more prop than paper when she covers her head in the rain later. The newspaper itself never would have survived the pounding rains, and attendees of Rocky Horror midnight shows can certainly attest to this. As it appears on screen, only the small portion (corners) Susan Sarandon holds gets wet.
18. Shock Treatment (1981) is an indirect sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Richard O’Brien writes and stars, and Jim Sharman once again directs. The characters Brad (Cliff De Young) and Janet (Jessica Harper) are in the story, but you won’t find other Rocky Horror characters other than Ralph and Betty Hapschatt. Actors Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell and Charles Gray all return, but sadly they portray different characters.
19. Rocky Horror pulls a Die Hard (1988). In the famous action film starring Bruce Willis, his character John McClane’s t-shirt changes colors from white to olive green during the course of the movie. In TRHPS, Janet’s overshirt is clearly light blue when Miss Weiss and Brad walk through the rain singing Over at the Frankenstein Place. But once they meet Riff Raff, and do The Time Warp, Janet’s cardigan is off-white. Some have argued it’s simply a matter of lighting, but it’s a continuity issue: They are not the same garment.
20. Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, was considered for the role of Eddie the Delivery Boy by the powers-that-be. The producers gave director Jim Sharman two choices: 1) Hire high-profile musicians for the movie, and receive a larger budget. 2) Cast who you want and receive a much smaller budget. Of course, Sharman went with option two. In an interview, Meat Loaf also revealed both Presley and drummer Keith Moon (The Who) frequented the U.S. stage play.
Meat Loaf said, “If Keith Moon was in the house that particular night – there was nine people in the cast – on stage there would be nine bottles of champagne lined up across the front of the stage, and [I’d] go ‘Oh, Keith Moon’s here!’”
21. David Bowie’s make-up artist Pierre La Roche (Aladdin Sane; Ziggy Stardust) worked on TRHPS. Tim Curry admitted La Roche’s redesigned approach to Frank-N-Furter’s look was much more refined. Curry said, “In the theater, I’d just kind of stick it on already.”
22. Rocky Horror holds the unique distinction of being the longest-running theatrical release in cinema history. Since its original opening in 1975, TRHPS has appeared continuously in cinemas all over the world. This is in large part thanks to the cult following the picture achieved in its midnight showings beginning in the mid-to-late 1970s.
23. During a partial TRHPS reunion panel alongside Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell, actor Barry Bostwick was asked what his favorite scene was in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
“My favorite scene was any scene that Nell [Campbell] showed her nipples.”
It’s become clear over the years through performances, interviews and appearances Bostwick is nothing if not witty.
24. It was hoped horror movie maestro Vincent Price would portray the Criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but Price couldn’t participate due to a scheduling conflict. Price saw the staged production in London’s West End on opening night, according to Richard O’Brien, and one wonders how Price's participation might have affected the film's history.
25. Richard Nixon makes a cameo in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, sort of. Listen carefully as Brad and Janet drive in the rain storm because you can hear the former president giving his 1974 resignation speech on the car radio. Another faux pas occurs here because the events of the film are said to happen in November, according to the Criminologist, but Nixon’s speech was given in August.
26. The Frankenstein Place is now known as The Oakley Court Hotel in Windsor. The ominous-looking castle appears in a number of Hammer’s horror flicks including The Brides of Dracula (1963) and The House in Nightmare Park (1973).
Oakley Court aka “The Old House” was built in 1859 and refurbished to become a grand hotel over 100 years later in 1981. The castle is still open for business as a hotel/tourist attraction. And for as little as GBP 148.50 a night, you can stay in Frank-N-Furter’s lair.
During the production, Oakley Court didn’t have heat. The film was nightmarish to work on because the sets at Bray Studios were leaky, devoid of warmth and there was a crazy shortage of bathrooms.
27. A courageous stunt double handles most of Meat Loaf’s motorcycle antics in the lab. Close-ups of Meat Loaf riding recklessly were captured as he was pushed around in a wheelchair. Ah, the magic of motion pictures. Despite all the safety precautions, Meat Loaf was still injured when he fell out of the wheelchair during one take. Bloodied, the musician carried on. His stunt double wasn’t so lucky. The brave artist tried to soften Meat Loaf’s fall when the wheel chair crashed, but the stuntman broke his leg in the carnage.
28. In addition to Oakley Court, other remnants of Hammer Horror appear in TRHPS. The tank Frank-N-Furter uses to bring life to his beautiful creature was used in The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), and the mummified dummy in the tank was also used by Bray Studios in Revenge of Frankenstein.
29. The very first midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show took place in Greenwich Village at the Waverly Theater in New York City on Friday, April 1 of 1976. Admission for the 12 a.m. screening was $3. By the end of 1977, thanks to the late-night upheaval, Rocky Horror became a cult phenomenon. From NYC, Rocky began appearing in cinemas in towns across the south from Austin, Texas to St. Louis, Missouri.
30. Lorelei Shark portrayed the lips of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for ads and the movie poster. Shark was a Playboy model, and she was also a spokesperson for FM-98 “The Loop” in Chicago. However, it is Patricia Quinn’s lips we see at the beginning of TRHPS film.
31. Richard O’Brien said his original play, and later the film, were inspired by his love of horror and sci-fi movies. O’Brien’s staged production was simply titled The Rocky Horror Show, and it debuted in London at the old Royal Court Theatre in 1973. The musical played in the theater’s upstairs, 62-seat space rather than on the main stage. This last summer marked the musical’s 45th anniversary; the movie was released two years later in 1975.
32. Peter Hinwood (Rocky Horror) was an Adonis, and an underwear model, but he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. In post-production, Australian musician Trevor White was brought in to dub the vocals for Hinwood’s performances including his big number: The Sword of Damocles. The life of a thespian wasn’t in the cards for Hinwood either. Instead, Peter later became an antiques dealer.
33. The Usherette is also referred to as Trixie or Miss Strawberry Time. Trixie is the first character fans see on stage in The Rocky Horror Show, but she is noticeably absent from the film adaptation.
34. Actor and comedian Steve Martin auditioned for the part of the hero, Brad Majors. In the end, Barry Bostwick won the role, but audiences wouldn’t have to wait long to see Martin come to prominence as The Jerk in 1979.
35. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the Silver Screen debut of Tim Curry. Curry first appeared on Television Theatre From… (1968) in the episode Sinking Fish, Move Sideways. He was credited as James Curry. Mr. Curry continued his television and theater work until 1975 when he reprised the now famous role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the film adaptation of Richard O’Brien’s musical.
36. According to an interview with Richard O’Brien, Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon were dating during the film’s production.
37. Patricia Quinn said in an interview she accepted the role of Magenta, so she could sing the opening number: Science Fiction, Double Feature. On stage, the actress playing Magenta pulls double duty as the Usherette. The Usherette performs Science Fiction, Double Feature in theater productions but not in the movie because an usherette doesn't appear in the film.
Obviously, Quinn was put out when she discovered she would not sing the song in the film version. Rather, it is Richard O’Brien who performs the number, but Quinn does provide the large, red lips you see lip syncing on screen. Ultimately, Quinn accepted the movie role because she was so impressed by the costumes she saw.
38. “Little” Nell Campbell used to tap dance for her customers when she worked as a soda jerk in a small café. Campbell said in interviews this is how she landed the role of Columbia for the play which led to her being recast in the motion picture.
39. During the dinner scene, in which Meat Loaf is served, keep your eyes on actress Susan Sarandon when her co-star Barry Bostwick pounds his fist at the table. Bostwick accidentally smashes Sarandon’s hand, and her painful response made the final cut of the film.
Later, Sarandon gets sweet revenge when Riff Raff and Magenta interrupt the Floor Show. Watch Bostwick’s face after Richard O’Brien’s Riff Raff says, “we return to Transylvania.” Sarandon accidentally steps on Bostwick’s toe with her high heel, and you can see the grimace all over Brad’s face.
40. Believe it or not, musician Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones) wanted to vie for the coveted role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
41. In addition to Sarandon having pneumonia, Barry Bostwick was battling the flu for part of the production, but you’d never know it from his stellar performance. That’s what happens when there’s no heat on the set, no bathrooms and the castle is leaking.
42. Filmmakers wanted the lovely Susan Sarandon to appear nude in TRHPS, but she refused.
43. Rocky Horror’s midnight madness extends far beyond simply the English-speaking world. For example, The Museum Lichtspiele cinema in Munich, Germany has continuously shown the movie since June 24, 1977. You can stop by and see TRHPS every Friday and Saturday night at 11 p.m.
44. In 1975, Meat Loaf attended a matinee screening of TRHPS in Philadelphia with Jim Steinman and Ellen Foley (Night Court). Meat Loaf revealed only he, Steinman and Foley were in the theater which spoke to the film’s ominous opening.
“There was nobody in the theater but us three,” Meat Loaf said in an interview.
45. While portraying Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the original stage production, Tim Curry initially approached the mad scientist with a German accent. However, Curry eventually changed his performance. He said the change was partially inspired by a woman he bumped into on a bus, and his own mother and Queen Elizabeth II played a part in how he finally voiced Frank-N-Furter, too.
46. In an interview, Richard O’Brien recounted the dedication of his co-star Susan Sarandon. Sarandon came down with an illness “almost immediately,” according to the actress, which turned out to be pneumonia. While completing the pool scene, O’Brien said Sarandon had a fever, and she was shaking uncontrollably. While O’Brien felt Sarandon should have seen a doctor, Susan didn’t miss a beat and continued to work on the project.
47. Richard O’Brien penned a direct sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show titled Revenge of the Old Queen. The unproduced, follow-up script to TRHPS can be found online in its entirety if you’re interested in reading the further adventures of Riff Raff and the Transylvanians.
48. Tim Curry, Richard O’Brien, Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn and Jonathan Adams appeared in both the feature film and the original theatrical production of Rocky Horror. In fact, Curry and O’Brien even reprised their roles of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Riff Raff respectively on Broadway. The Broadway show opened in New York in March 1975 at the Belasco Theater, but the musical’s first appearance in the U.S. was in 1974 at The Roxy in Los Angeles.
49. The late film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 2 ½ stars in his original review on August 18, 1976.
“It belongs on a stage, with the performers and audience joining in a collective send-up,” Ebert wrote. “It’s one of those movies you have to use a lot of hyphens to explain. A horror-rock-transvestite-camp-omnisexual-musical parody.”
50. Richard O’Brien’s wife at the time was Kimi Wong, and Wong appears as one of the Transylvanians in TRHPS.
51. American composer, singer and songwriter Carole King is a fan of TRHPS. In fact, according to an interview with Meat Loaf, King was one of the first people who dressed up as Magenta when The Rocky Horror Show began its Broadway run in the '70s.
52. Actor and television personality Christopher Biggins starred as one of the Transylvanians in TRHPS. According to Biggins, there were a lot of drugs present on set.
“We were stoned every single day,” Biggins said of himself and those supporting actors portraying the aliens under Frank-N-Furter’s thumb.
53. Richard O’Brien and Tim Curry are the only cast members to have appeared in the original, Broadway and film productions of Rocky Horror. Curry also has the distinction of being the only cast member to appear in the 1974 stage version at the Roxy in Los Angeles.
54. Susan Sarandon is an Oscar-winning actress (Dead Man Walking), but she is not the only A-List talent to be associated with Rocky Horror. Iconic television personality Dick Cavett (Criminologist) and rock star Joan Jett (Columbia) appeared in the Broadway revival, while Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito shared time as the criminologist alongside George Lopez’s Dr. Everett Scott in the 35th anniversary tribute in 2010.
55. The official Facebook page of The Rocky Horror Picture Show enjoys 1.5 million likes and followers.
56. Brad Majors’ solo Once in a While was shot, but it was ultimately excluded from the final cut of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The song is included in the staged productions, and the 1975 cinematic performance by Barry Bostwick can be found online.
57. The original draft (play) for The Rocky Horror Show was only good for 40 minutes of on-stage action, so Time Warp was written to expand the musical. In the movie, Columbia’s tap dancing skills were unleashed, and the final film has a runtime of 100 minutes.
58. In 2005, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was added to the Library of Congress (LOC) National Film Registry. Other notable movies joining the LOC that year included House of Usher (1960), Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and Cool Hand Luke (1967).
59. In 2000, Peter Hinwood (Rocky Horror) reflected on his brief acting career, and revealed why he didn’t pursue it further.
"One, I can’t act,” Hinwood said. “Two, I cringe with embarrassment every time I see myself on film. Three, I relish a quiet, peaceful life.”
60. Frank-N-Furter’s green gown exhibits a peculiar reddish triangle which was originally sported by Nazis (pointing down) as an identifier for imprisoned homosexuals in concentration camps. However, the insignia (pointing up) is a symbol for gay rights.
61. As with most video cassettes of the day, The Rocky Horror Picture Show cost $89.95 when it was released on VHS for the first time in 1990.
62. The imagery of Magenta’s lips during Science Fiction, Double Feature is inspired by artist Man Ray’s 1936 painting titled Observatory Time: The Lovers aka The Lips.
63. The rumor the cast and crew participated in an Easter Egg hunt runs rampant to this day thanks to evidence which reveals Easter Eggs on set. Photos taken at the time of the production reveal eggs under Frank’s throne and on one of the set’s lights, as well as other areas. Movies today are celebrated for their “Easter Eggs,” but Rocky Horror’s were quite literal.
64. Richard O’Brien said the film’s director Jim Sharman enjoyed pranking the cast and crew. During the dinner scene, Sharman told only Tim Curry what was really under the tablecloth. When Dr. Frank-N-Furter removes it and reveals Eddie’s corpse, the casts’ reactions are real because only Curry knew what was coming.
65. Peter Hinwood auctioned off the gold-colored costume shorts his character Rocky Horror wore in the film for $1,000. The winning bid went to the Hard Rock Café, and the trunks are part of the HRC’s memorabilia collection.
66. Costume designer Sue Blane’s original and creative work is often credited for influencing punk rock fashion.
67. Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me is an iconic song now, but Susan Sarandon admitted she had a severe phobia when it came to not only singing but humming in public. Sarandon said she approached the audition by reading the role of Janet Weiss for laughs. Laughter ensued, and Sarandon was encouraged to overcome her fear of singing. Of course, she won the role.
68. Tim Curry said he was hesitant about the role because he feared that if The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a hit, “it [Frank-N-Furter] might be a difficult image to shake off.”
69. Tim Curry, Patricia Quinn, “Little Nell” and Richard O’Brien all make cameos, without their make-up, during Ralph and Betty’s wedding which follows with Brad and Janet singing Dammit, Janet! The four stars are mimicking the 1930 painting American Gothic by artist Grant Wood. Many, if not most, of the Transylvanians also appear as members of the wedding party.
70. Rather than dye her hair, Patricia Quinn sprayed her locks red every day to achieve Magenta’s fiery, on-screen look.
71. Because Rocky Horror was created rather than born, Frank’s beautiful creature should not have a belly button or an umbilical cord. Thus, the make-up effects team came up with a plug to conceal actor Peter Hinwood’s navel.
72. The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s costume budget fell somewhere between 1,000 and 1,600 pounds, which was miniscule compared to the film’s total budget of $1.3 million!
73. Despite the stage production already being called The Rocky Horror Show, TRHPS’ working title was They Came From Denton High.
74. Third time’s the charm. Peter Hinwood’s appearance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show was the most prominent of his four acting credits. Prior to TRHPS, Hinwood appeared as Hermes in the 1968 mini-series Odissea, before appearing in Roddy McDowall’s horror flick The Ballad of Tam Lin (1970) aka The Devil’s Widow.
75. In one of his most candid interviews, Richard O’Brien discussed approaching Rocky Horror with actors who didn’t quite understand the genre. O'Brien would tell those actors:
“When you’re acting, it’s just B-movie acting, and when you’re singing it’s your rock-and-roll dreams come true.”