Happy Columbus Day . . . Observed! (What? No greeting card?) Okay, before we cut loose on the historical misrepresentations, inaccuracies and consequences surrounding the man generally credited with discovering the New World, let's all at least agree on one thing: Christopher Columbus makes for one super-cool real-life movie hero. (Right up there next to Mahatma Gandhi and Rocky Balboa, ya know?) Heck, we even like ole Chris when he plays the sidekick comic foil, like he does in Night At the Museum. (Added bonus to anyone who remembers an animated Columbus sailing the ocean blue with Bugs Bunny in an early Looney Tunes cartoon.) Movies about the explorer tend to play fast and loose with the actual facts, but that's what we love about Hollywood's treatment of biopics.
Compiled by Steve Spears, Times staff writer
Five memorable Christopher Columbus flicks
•11492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE (1992) A French actor (Gérard Depardieu) playing an Italian dreamer who has the hots for a Spanish queen (Sigourney Weaver). Only in America. Still, it's widely regarded the most sympathetic and humane portrait of the explorer.
•2CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: THE DISCOVERY (1992) Magnum P.I. (Tom Selleck) as the King of Spain? Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) as Torquemada? Throw Benicio Del Toro and Catherine Zeta-Jones into the cast, and we almost forget who played Columbus. (It was Georges Corraface.)
•3CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1949) Two-time Oscar winner Fredric March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Best Years of Our Lives) was Hollywood's first big-name Columbus.
•4CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1985) This not-so-cleverly named made-for-TV miniseries starred up-and-coming Gabriel Byrne as Columbus, Max von Sydow as the king of Portugal and Faye Dunaway as Queen Isabella of Spain.
•5HOME ALONE (1990) Hey, it was directed by Chris Columbus. That counts, right?
Top 5 weekend films
Dollar amounts in millions
Couples Retreat, $35.3
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, $12
Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D, $7.7
Paranormal Activity, $7.1
Top 5 prime-time TV shows
NFL Football: San Diego vs. Pittsburgh (NBC)
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS)
Source: Nielsen Media Research; week ending Oct. 4
Top 5 songs on iTunes
3, Britney Spears
One Less Lonely Girl, Justin Bieber
Party in the U.S.A., Miley Cyrus
Whatcha Say, Jason DeRulo
Fireflies, Owl City
Source: iTunes Music Store
Top 5 searches on Yahoo
Columbus is still cool
Christopher has been top Columbus since 1492, so it's only natural a few cities around the United States would borrow his name. In fact, more than two dozen cities or townships are named after him. Obviously, we have our favorites.
•1COLUMBUS, OHIO We hear they play a little football up there at Ohio State … in between performances by the Best Damn Band in the Land. (Hint: Next time you play Florida in football, don't have the band play a Titanic-themed halftime show. Bad karma.)
•2COLUMBUS, GA. A popular site to film military movies (thanks to nearby Army post Fort Benning), including The Green Berets and We Were Soldiers.
•3COLUMBUS, IND. Any town named one of the "Ten Most Playful Towns in America" by Nick Jr. magazine has to make our list!
•4COLUMBUS, NEB. Home to Glur's Tavern, the self-proclaimed oldest bar west of the Missouri River. We'll drink to that!
•5COLUMBUS, Ky. Almost home to the U.S. Capitol after a fire wiped out D.C. during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. Alas, the move failed in the U.S. Senate by a single vote. (Good thing: The town was ravaged by a flood in the 1920s.)