Question: When I was a kid, I played Candy Land every day. Now my children play the game. How long has it been around? -- T.R., via email

Answer: Candy Land was invented in 1948 when Eleanor Abbott was home in San Diego, recuperating from polio. To help occupy her time, she developed games and activities for youngsters who also had polio. One of her creations was Candy Land. At the urging of some friends, she submitted her idea to Milton Bradley, which purchased the game and introduced it to the public in 1949, after which it became a children's classic.

Candy Land was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2005.

Q: Why do we "carry a torch" for someone? -- L.L., Twentynine Palms, Calif.

A: One of the best explanations I read claims the term came about in the 19th century, and it has political origins. During this time, politics utilized parades, speeches and bands. In addition, to show your support for a candidate, it was common to carry a torch at a rally. In time, "carrying a torch" for someone took on a romantic notion more than a political statement.

I have no idea if the term "getting burned" in a relationship has anything to do with "carrying a torch."

Q: Is there a word for people who constantly use big words? -- O.L., Burley, Idaho

A: They're called "sesquipedalians."

Q: On "The Flintstones," what were Wilma and Betty's maiden names? -- N.B., Harrisonburg, Va.


A: Wilma's maiden name is Slaghoople; however, during at least one episode, several friends remember her as Wilma Pebble. Fans of the show seem to accept the inconsistency and recognize Slaghoople as her maiden name. As for Mrs. Rubble, she was known as Betty Jean McBricker before tying the knot with Barney.

Q: I'm sure every baseball fan knows the answer to this, but I don't. Are Ty and Cy really the first names of Cobb and Young? -- I.S., Lexington, Tenn.

A: Cobb's first name was Tyrus, Young's was Denton. Cy's nickname came from cyclone, after his cyclonelike fastball.

Q: Who was the first college player to be drafted in the National Football League? -- V.B., Richmond, R.I.

A: In 1936, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Jay Berwanger, a halfback from the University of Chicago. He was the first recipient of the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, which was called the Heisman Trophy the following year. The Eagles did not want to pay his demand of $1,000 per game and traded him to the Chicago Bears. George Halas offered him $13,500, but Berwanger wanted $15,000 per season, so he walked away from an NFL career having never played. He was born in 1914 and died in 2002 of lung cancer.

Q: Harry Houdini was born Ehrich Weiss. How did he come up with his stage name? -- M.K., Jim Thorpe, Pa.

A: Actually, he was born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Hungary, on March 24, 1874. Immigration officials changed the spelling of his name when his family came to America around 1878. He took his stage name after French magician Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic. He died on Oct. 31, 1926, at age 52.

Q: Who is Robert of "Robert's Rules of Order"? -- T.A., Bishop, Texas

A: On May 2, 1837, Henry Martyn Robert was born in South Carolina. Twenty years later, he graduated with honors from West Point, receiving his commission in the Corps of Engineers. He went on to have a distinguished career in the Army, retiring in 1901 as a brigadier general.

In the 1860s, he was asked to hold a church meeting but didn't know how. After doing some research, he discovered there were no set rules, so he decided to establish a set of guidelines, which he published in 1876. "Robert's Rules of Order" quickly became the authority on parliamentary procedure. Robert died on May 11, 1923, in Hormel, N.Y.

Q: Help me, Mr. Know-It-All; you're my only hope. I once rode a cable car that was counterbalanced by another car. When one went up the hill, the other went down. This type of system has a special name, but I can't recall it. -- O.P.K, Manchester, N.H.

A: Sounds like you are describing a funicular railway, also called inclined railway. The word "funicular" comes from the Latin "funiculus," which means " rope." You can find these types of railways all around the world.

Q: I am positive I saw Robert Redford in the Broadway play "Barefoot in the Park" in 1963. My husband and dinner guests say I am wrong; they claim he was in a film of that name. Who is right? -- G.H., Boulder, Colo.

A: You are both right. Redford was a co-star in the Neil Simon play, which opened in 1963. In 1967, he was in the movie with Jane Fonda.

Q: Is "The Old Farmer's Almanac" really old? -- M.R., Bath, Maine

A: I suppose that all depends on what you call old -- after being published for 221 years, I'd say it is. Robert Thomas published the first "The Farmer's Almanac" in 1792, during George Washington's first term as president. In 1832, the word "Old" was added to the title of the publication, but it was dropped three years later. In 1848, "Old" was added again, this time permanently.

Q: Who was the first U.S. president to wear contact lenses? -- R.C.R., Glenwood, Iowa

A: Lyndon B. Johnson started wearing contacts in 1964.

Q: Were the Mills Brothers really brothers? Wasn't the father in the group? -- G.L.T., Binghamton, N.Y.

A: They were, indeed, brothers. The four, all born in Piqua, Ohio, were John Jr. (1910-1936), Herbert (1912-1989), Harry (1913-1982) and Donald (1915-1999). Their father formed a barbershop quartet called the Four Kings of Harmony, where the brothers learned their close harmonies. The Mills Brothers performed around the area, and they later moved to New York City. The group hit it big in 1931 and signed a three-year radio contract. In 1936, tragedy struck when group leader John Jr. died of a lung ailment. His father, John Sr., replaced his son and the group continued their rise to stardom.

Q: What are the names of Popeye's nephews? I recall Olive Oyl's relatives were mentioned. Do you know their names?-- B.K., Waco, Texas

A: The names of Popeye's nephews are Peepeye, Poopeye, Pipeye and Pupeye. Olive Oyl's parents are Cole and Nana Oyl, her brother is Castor Oyl, her cousin is Sutra Oyl, her Uncles are Lubry Kent Oyl and Otto Oyl, and her niece is Deezil Oyl.

Q: What is the real name of former "Seinfeld" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus? When and where was she born? -- N.L., Flagstaff, Ariz.

A: Her real name? It's Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She was born on Fri., Jan. 13, 1961, in New York City but was raised in Washington, D.C. Louis-Dreyfus studied theater at Northwestern University. She worked with several comedy groups and landed a job with "Saturday Night Live" in 1982. She married "SNL" writer Brad Hall, who she knew in college, in 1987. She made her movie debut in 1986 in the Woody Allen film "Hannah and Her Sisters." On "Seinfeld," she played the role of Elaine Benes, the ex-girlfriend of Jerry Seinfeld. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children, Henry and Charlie.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.