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6 Famous People From History (And Their Totally WTF Hobbies)

We all have that one thing we like to do that’s a bit weird; the kind of stuff that people speak of in hushed tones as they stare at your back from the other side of the room (or maybe that’s just my paranoia talking).

However, we never think of some of our most iconic figures from history having these habits – they are our idols, surely they couldn’t stoop so low? Well, I have news for you; they did, and their habits were even weirder.

From taking pictures on the toilet to obsessing over pigeons, these great geniuses of their times had some unusual ways of passing their own. Take a read and, who knows; maybe it will make you feel better about your own weird habits (or give you a new one).

 

#1. Louis Armstrong and his toilet.

Louis Armstrong was one of the greatest jazz musicians of his time, but it turns out, not all of him was making sweet, sweet music – in fact, quite the opposite. 

Louis, like many celebrities, was always dieting and his weight yoyoed at an alarming rate. One of the ways he lost the pounds was through laxatives, and he used many different kinds including one called Pluto water.

 However, these were difficult to transport, and so Louis had to suffer in silence until he accidentally discovered a product called Swiss Kriss – and it blew his mind. Almost literally.

Thomas Pluck

The after effects of taking the product caused something that “sounded like applause” according to the man himself, and after he had finished, he had to crawl back to bed.

 Nevertheless, Louis was so satisfied with Swiss Kriss that when fans asked him what his secret to weight loss was (he lost over 100 pounds just on Swiss Kriss), he sent them pictures of him on the toilet.

He never even got a paid sponsorship to advertise the product which shows just how much he admired it. I would still have preferred an autograph though…

 

#2. Benjamin Franklin and his Morning Routine

Benjamin Franklin was a great inventor, writer, politician and one of the founding fathers, but you may not want to try what he liked to do to get the juices of his brain flowing.

 Every morning, he would wake up, open the curtains… and then proceed to remove all his clothing.

David Martin

Calling them ‘air baths,’ Benjamin would sit in his chambers reading or writing for up to an hour naked, leaving it all hanging loose right in front of his window. 

People who may have walked past wanting to see a glimpse of the great man may have gotten more than they expected.  

 

#3. Charles Dickens and his Cat Bob 

If you were to ask Charles Dickens whether he was a cat or dog person, he would have answered with the cat. He was so much of a cat person that he owned a house full of them; he had so many cats that one learned a trick of snuffing out candles just to get his attention. 

Charles, however, still had his favorites and that cat was a little deaf cat called Bob who would follow him around, making the pair inseparable.

New York Public Library

When Bob sadly died, Charles was heartbroken and wanted to honor his faithful feline friend. While most pet owners would have gone for a nice funeral and spot in the garden, Charles decided he needed a more vivid reminder. 

He had Bob’s paw stuffed and then attached to an ivory blade, making his cat into a letter opener. He even had ‘C.D In Memory of Bob’ carved onto the handle. All of his other cats might have been grateful they weren’t his favorite after that.

 

#4. H.G. Wells and his Little Wars

H.G. Wells may be the man most famous for bringing us the novel The War of the Worlds, but he also invented something equally as nerdy; table top war games. 

One night, when he and his friend Jerome K. Jerome were sitting around bored, they decided to pass the time by firing a toy cannon at some toy soldiers. It was fun but evidently didn’t have enough rules for Wells, and so he began to devise a proper game with rules and turns and soon enough, Little Wars, the first recreational war game, was born.

Samuel Begg, Illustrated London News

At first, Wells played the game in his parlor like any Edwardian gentleman, but soon he got annoyed by all the distractions and women who kept coming in and ruining it. 

After that, he moved it outside and still with his friend Jerome; they crafted their battlefield. Their game, which was sort of like the Edwardian Call of Duty, was a huge hit and H.G. Wells hoped that this would curb people’s desire for war as the game was very testing. 

Given that it came out in 1913, the year before World War One, he may have needed to rethink his rules.

 

#5. Mark Twain and his Celebrity Crush

It’s almost funny thinking of high figures we obsess over, having obsessions of their own. But for author Mark Twain, his obsession wasn’t just a TV character – it was Joan of Arc, the French peasant girl who led France to victory in the Hundred Years War.

 His obsession was supposed to have started when he was a printmaker and read a page that described one of her miracles when she changed the direction of the wind. This had such an effect on him that he went on a 12-year trip to every place she had been desperate for any information about her.

The Awl

This extended period of research ended up in a book, Personal Recollections Of Joan Of Arc, which Mark had serialized in Harper’s Magazine. Despite putting it under a fictional name, people instantly knew it was him and wondered what the heck their hero was doing. 

Mark, however, didn’t care and continued to gush about the French Maiden, even arguing with other writers who didn’t portray her as the beauty he imagined (maybe forgetting that she had been a peasant girl after all).

Mark lived to see her become a saint and was even made speechless by a Joan of Arc impersonator putting a laurel on his head. I bet that was in his dreams for years.

 

#6. Nikola Tesla and his Pigeons.

Nikola Tesla is among the greatest minds of our time, but even in his age, he was seen as very eccentric. The man wasn’t the most social person, so who could he speak to about his rivals who sabotaged him, and the frustration of losing all his work? Well, pigeons of course.

Nikola Tesla

Tesla lived in New York hotels for much of his life, and he developed the habit of going down to the public library and feeding the pigeons there. 

However, when he couldn’t do that, he just opened the windows and let the birds feed in his room instead. The hotels didn’t like this, and he was thrown out of three different places before one realized that having him there was good publicity and decided just to put pegs on their noses while cleaning his room.

PBS

His devotion to pigeons only grew when he grew older and more isolated; he would badger other people to feed them when he no longer could and he even fell in love with one bird, an all-white beauty who could supposedly find him anywhere in the city.

 According to Tesla, she was the purpose to his life, and when she died, he turned his back on everything, even science. It wasn’t the constant work of his rivals trying to ruin his life that broke him; instead, it was the death of a white bird that was his only comfort.

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