This Was A Thing: The Retro Podcast

This Was A Thing: The Retro Podcast

This Was A Thing: The Retro Podcast is the nostalgia podcast that dives deep into the pop culture happenings of yesteryear! Join hosts Ray Hebel and Robert W. Schneider as they delightfully dissect some of the greatest fads, trends, and one-hit wonders from pop culture history. From box office hits to box office flops, from high fashion to low fashion, This Was A Thing: The Retro Podcast is your one-stop-shop for all things nostalgia.


March 21, 2023 45 min

Since it's almost spring, it's the perfect time to throw out those ratty rags from last year and add some fresh looks to your wardrobe. So, to inspire your inner fashionistas, we’re taking a look back at the work of an unsung hero behind the outfits of Hollywood's early movie stars: costume designer Edith Head.

Ray teaches Rob about how Edith went from substitute teacher to Mae West’s costumer and confidante in only a few short year...

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In addition to being the birthyear of one Mr. Raymond Michael Hebel, 1987 was arguably defined by the stories of four women who came under intense public scrutiny for choices and actions which led the press to label them as "bimbos". And despite the fact that a collection of awful men with whom these women associated either harmed, betrayed, or even assaulted them, it wasn't those men who ultimately paid the highest price - it was ...

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Roll out the red carpet and grab a tub of Redenbacher's, because it's time to go to the movies. The Academy Awards are one of the most anticipated cinema celebrations in the world, so naturally, when the show seemed like it was losing its pizzazz, the producers need to find a way to spice things up again. And what better way to do that than to add in lavish production numbers, incongruous sketches, and appearances from some of the ...

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February 28, 2023 51 min

This one's got it all: true crime, big reveals, legal drama, Uta Hagen. So if any of those things spark your interest, then this one's for you, dear listener. Because even though this real-life case of a wealthy heiress’s mysterious coma initially seemed cut-and-dry, nothing was as simple as it seemed. Was Sunny von Bülow's coma the result of foul play? What was in that strange black bag her children discovered in their stepfather’...

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February 21, 2023 44 min

If there's one thing America's great at, it's franchising literally anything. Self-help book series, TV show spinoffs, Subways - we love a good franchise. And when it comes to America's global influence, the movie industry continues to be one of the biggest cultural exports from the USA to other countries. So, given that American films and movie stars have so much cultural cachet, and that quintessential love of franchises, it woul...

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Happy Valentine's Day, listeners! Or, if you prefer not to recognize this particular holiday, Happy Tuesday! Given that today's episode happens to fall on this uniquely American holiday all about capitalism-fueled love, we wanted to give you all something that fits the occasion. And what better way to celebrate a holiday of romance and rampant commercialism than an episode all about a book that sits squarely at the center of both o...

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February 7, 2023 52 min

Ah, to be 19 again. It's a time of possibilities, insecurities, of worrying about what adulthood is really going to be like. On the other hand, if you're Shawn Fanning or Sean Parker, your worries at 19 were a little bigger. As in, "multimillion-dollar legal battles with the entire music industry" bigger. And all because of a piece of software that let you listen to and download music from all across the internet...without paying t...

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You may remember This Was A Thing's deep dive last season into "The Super Bowl Shuffle," where the Chicago Bears showed everyone how a sports team song can become cultural phenomenon. Well, the "Shuffle" was great for sports fans, and even helped out Chicago communities that were in need. But in 1985, the same year that the "Shuffle" was recorded, another hit single was released that took the "celebrity fundraising song" conce...

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If you've ever ordered at a chain restaurant, then you know the homey feeling of knowing you're about to eat the exact same meal as you could get at any other location. And even though the Golden Arches or a pair of red braids and freckles are some of the most recognizable franchise mascots today, if we flashback to the mid-1900s, then Simple Simon and the Pieman would've been just as recognizable as those other icons. Why...

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Tony the Tiger, Jake from State Farm, the GEICO Gecko – so many ads are inseparable from their spokespeople. And maybe one of the most versatile and quirky of those characters, Mr. Ernest P. Worrell, would sell you anything from buttermilk to loans with his signature enthusiasm, stylish denim vest, and unforgettable catchphrase…

Ray teaches Rob about how Jim Varney, a.k.a. Ernest, and John Cherry created one of the most ico...

Here at This Was A Thing, we love a good political scandal. And even though they pop up like weeds nowadays, back in 1972, right before a story broke about a certain hotel and a certain series of tapes by a certain president who shall not be Nixoned, uh, named, the hot goss around Washington was all about one figure in particular. Especially because he could have been next in line to be the leader of the free world. 

Rob te...

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In a world before Zoom conferences, virtual meet-ups, and social media, getting together and connecting with other people took a lot of time, and traveling to other countries was pretty much a non-starter for any normal person. And when countries wanted to show off their shiny new inventions and of course make other countries jealous, how were they supposed to do that? Well, what if there was one, single, blowout event tha...

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December 27, 2022 45 min

In honor of the New Year, This Was A Thing is making some serious resolutions:

1. We're going to find even more ways to work Bea Arthur into future episodes. 

2. Ray and Rob are going to start a new Patreon perk - "Fight Club with Fred Silverman."

3. We will not program any computers in any way that could even possibly cause an infrastructure catastrophe.

If that last resolution sounds oddly specific and familiar, then you're ...

December 25, 2022 70 min

Happy Holidays to our favorite listeners! As a gift for your incredible support, we’re giving you TWO Patreon exclusive “Old Lucy” Level episodes that have a Christmas theme to them! Maybe this can replace the Christmas Songs that you have paired with the Yule Log you found on YouTube!

First up, Ray decided to take on the role of Mark Schroeder and become game coordinator for this VERY special episode. Rob gets quizzed ...

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December 20, 2022 42 min

Do you need a sunny day to sweep those winter clouds away? Join us for a little stroll down the memory lane of merchandising, because there's nothing more sure to lift you out of your blues than a certain Muppet with a nose like an orange, a song in his heart, and a vibrating motor installed inside his belly.

Ray teaches Rob about the origins for this best-selling behemoth, including how a chimpanzee news anchor served as p...

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December 13, 2022 56 min

After The French Connection and The Exorcist, William Friedkin needed something big. Something bold. Something daring. And when someone brought him the novel Cruising he found a property that more than fit the bill. Unfortuantely, it also ended up being a quagmire of political controversy and ambiguous plot lines that modern audiences are still trying to figure out.

Rob teachers Ray about the origins of the movie Cruising, ...

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December 6, 2022 47 min

It was love at first sight: you watched them enter the room, heard their adorable laugh, chatted with them all night, and thought to yourself: "Someday, I'm going to leave this person and want to split their assets 50-50…" 

Rob teaches Ray about "palimony" and talks through two landmark cases that catapulted the term into the zeitgeist; the history of common law marriage; why Ray has now named himself Marvin M. McMarvin Jr....

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November 29, 2022 54 min

Are you looking for a story that is 100% guaranteed to blow your mind? A true crime tale that'll leave you wondering how crooks got away with it for so long in the first place? Well, hold on to your girdle, because this one's a doozy. It's got everything: insurance scams, fake passports, an undercover sting operation, Israeli really bank accounts, and huge sales on some of the best TVs and VCRs around (sales tax not includ...

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Late-night TV celebrity interviews are fun diversions, but when Hollywood needs real, gritty, hard-hitting journalism, there's only one man for the job. And if it takes mispronouncing every single name in the business, then honey, he's way ahead of you.

Rob teaches Ray about Sammy LaBella, a.k.a. Skip E. Lowe, whose dreams of stardom led him to befriend, interview, and/or bed more Hollywood personalities than most people pr...

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November 15, 2022 53 min

Hankering to travel somewhere warm? Somewhere with exciting sightseeing? Somewhere you can be cursed by the spirit of a vengeful Egyptian monarch? Then have we got a place for you!

Ray teaches Rob about the archeologists responsible for the discovery of the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen, the Egyptian ruler who is now best known as King Tut; the misfortunes and maladies that befell many of those who uncovered the tomb; how...

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