Thanksgiving is over. We’re all now living with a fridge full of leftover cranberry sauce and a couple big dents in our credit cards after Black Friday shopping. Our thoughts begin to turn to tree trimming and wrapping gifts. But before we get too deep into the tinsel and carols, let’s take one last moment to reflect on that day of thanks. What are you thankful for? What do you have — or not have — that makes you feel grateful? ThereAreGiants has compiled a short list of influential tall men throughout history who have all given us something to be thankful for!
Around this time every year, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS passes out buckets at the end of all shows’ curtain calls asking for donations on the Great White Way. For the past quarter century, many of us have put money in the Broadway Cares buckets without considering why the organization exists and who the influential people behind it were. The name of one man — or in this case, one giant — says it all.
Rodger McFarlane would have seemed like your ordinary New York City transplant. The 6-foot-7 son of an Alabama soybean farmer was a high school football star and a U.S. Navy veteran. But, like the rest of us, McFarlane was searching for something else; something bigger than his GIANT self.
What he found started as a volunteer position with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center in NYC, where he famously ran the first AIDS crisis counseling helpline from his home phone. Rodger then served as the group’s executive director until 1985. At the same time, members of the Producers’ Group started Broadway Cares, which raised money raised earmarked for many different AIDS organizations around the country, including Equity Fights AIDS. The Broadway community pushes to be at the forefront of fundraising every year — it puts together events like an annual Easter Bonnet competition every spring and Broadway Bares, the annual burlesque show it started in 1992.
McFarlane served as executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS from 1989 to 1994. He oversaw the merger of BCEFA and his own foundation, ACT UP, which still work together. Gypsy of the Year, one of the groups’ longest-running (24 years) and most profitable events, brings together the self-proclaimed “gypsies” of the Broadway, off-Broadway, and National Touring companies to put on a show. The gala event, held at New York City’s New Amsterdam Theatre, is a variety revue to culminate the six-week fundraising efforts from different houses to see can raise the most money.
It may sound silly to include this 6-foot-7-inch brute, clad in his trademark red and yellow, with leaders and innovators. Your knowledge of him may not extend beyond how he changed the way professional wrestling was perceived.
We can’t ignore the impact of the hysteria, later known as Hulkamania, that rose in the 1980′s. Hogan and his larger-than-life act and stature have captivated fans and audiences for more than three decades. He may have a sordid past, but whatever your opinion of Hogan and his profession may be, he stands as one of the most requested “people I want to meet” by terminally ill children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And he meets those requests — every single one. This little-recognized act of kindness qualifies GIANT Hulk Hogan, aka Terry Bollea, as a reason — though maybe not for us — for many children everywhere to be thankful.
Robert E. Sherwood
Why We’re Thankful: This true giant (6’8”) and original member of the Algonquin Roundtable was one of the nation’s first film critics and most influential, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights.
With works of as varied and classical as “Abe Lincoln from Illinois” on both stage and screen, “Waterloo Bridge” and the Pulitzer Prize winning pieces “Idiot’s Delight” and “There Shall Be No Night,” his work has always had an air of high intellect to go along with strong entertainment values. According to many reports, he also did some serious speech writing for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in which the coined the phrase “arsenal of democracy” originated from.
A strong example of his work that holds both intentions and entertainment is “The Best Years of Our Lives.” This is a tale of
three servicemen home from the World War II and how they and their families readjust to life. It is an incredibly emotional and hauntingly realistic portrayal starring Fredrich March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, and real life double amputee Harold Russell. The film is a vicious reminder of the ways in which we move on without people and how going from whizzing bullets to working at a bank has it’s tragic consequences.
Most notably is Sherwood’s longest lasting piece from the big screen. “Rebecca,” the 1940 noir thriller from Alfred Hitchcock with its stark Gothic touches, still transcends the melodramatic cliches along the way. It is still Hitchcock’s only film to win an Oscar (Best Picture) and has most recently been adapted for stage in Germany and Austria in the form of a musical.
Steve Jobs’ efforts and influence on the modern world are insurmountable. Born in San Francisco to a pair of unmarried college students and later adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, he was always pushed to learn to read, to learn simple electronics, and eventually to attend college. Jobs did go to college in 1974, albeit for only six months. Dropping out was the first step in his long trek to becoming one of the electronics world’s most influential men.
Again and again, 6-foot-2-inch Jobs’s vision and foresight into what personal electronics could be always helped him bounce back and, in some cases, both exceed everyone’s wildest imaginings and convince us that we needed his inventions. In the late 1980s he bought a small software company that would eventually become Pixar Animations Studios. Pixar has created some of the biggest critical and commercial successes of the past two decades, including the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Up.
With each new product release, Apple has proven to be a forward thinker. The iPod revolutionized the music industry, changing how it approaches music distribution. You can run a business from the iPhone — the fastest-selling smartphone on the market. One may argue, that Apple’s very existence in its current capacity has kept tens of thousands of people employed, created tens of thousands of other employment opportunities, and has put the American Dream that we all doted as dead back into the palms of our hands and the depths of our pockets. There was nothing this GIANT couldn’t do and, even in his absence, continues to do.
Though our list is short, it contains four very upstanding GIANT gents. We encourage you, though the stuffing platters and candied yams are gone, to continue to find ways to be thankful for everyone — both close and removed — in your life.