2003 Trivia, History and Fun Facts

2003 Pop Culture History

Quick Facts from 2003:

  • World Changing Event: Myspace.com was launched.
  • The Top Song was Hey Ya! by OutKast
  • Influential Songs include: Unwell by Matchbox Twenty, Concrete Angel by Martina McBride, Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, and Dance With My Father by Luthor Vandross
  • The Movies to Watch include Finding Nemo, Gods and Generals, Bruce Almighty, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Elf
  • People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive: Johnny Depp
  • Notable books include: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Price of Boar’s Head deluxe ham in 2003: $5.99/pound
    Price of a movie ticket: $6.00
    Land O Lakes butter, 1 pound: $1.49
  • US 666, once a spur route of the decommissioned US Route 66, was changed to US 491, a spur of US Route 191, due to concerns using the number 666 for a road.
  • The Funny Guy was: Dane Cook
    The Funnier Guy was: Dave Chappelle
  • The Conversation: The United States Department of Homeland Security and what it would mean for average Americans.

Here are a few notable events from 2003:

  • The US led a coalition of countries in an invasion of Iraq, stating that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. These weapons were never found, and the invasion and its aftermath have been the source of much controversy and debate.

  • The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, resulting in the mapping of the entire human genome.

  • The space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crew members.

  • A massive heatwave occurred in European countries like France, where more than 15,000, over 70.,000 in total.

  • SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) emerged in China in 2003 and spread to several other countries before being controlled.

  • In the entertainment industry, Friends’ final episode aired on NBC, and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The Year of The Goat
The year of the goat is one of the 12 years in the Chinese zodiac cycle. The goat (also known as sheep or ram) is the eighth animal in the cycle.
The years of the goat include: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027, 2039, 2051, and 2063
The year of the goat is associated with creativity, gentleness, and calmness. People born in the year of the goat are said to be gentle, kind-hearted, and have a strong sense of creativity. They are also said to be sensitive, compassionate, and have a good sense of aesthetics. They enjoy the good things and appreciate beauty, art, and nature. They are also quite good at adapting to new situations, and they can work well under pressure. They are said to be great listeners and are often sought out for advice. They are also known to be quite selfless and are willing to help others.
Top Ten Baby Names of 2003:
Emily, Emma, Madison, Hannah, Olivia, Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Andrew
Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols:
Gisele Bündchen, Eva Mendez, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Julia Stiles, Lucy, Liu, Brittany Murphy, Jennifer Lopez, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Pamela Anderson, Scarlett Johansson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Halle Berry, Britney Spears, Kate Hudson, Beyonce, Julia Roberts, Selma Blair, Cameron Diaz, Hilary Swank, Renee Zellweger, Keira Knightley, Jessica Simpson, Denise Richards
The Heartthrob(s):
Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Heath Ledger, Hugh Grant, David Beckham, Ben Affleck, Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, Julian McMahon, Justin Timberlake, Adam Brody
“The Quotes”
“Where do buffalo wings come from? Chickens or buffaloes?”
-Jessica Simpson, on her Newlyweds reality show.

“He’s just not that into you.”
-Jack Berger, Sex In The City

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for Governor in 2003, he was hit with an egg during a rally; later, during the speech, Arnold responded with, “Now he owes me bacon.”

Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year:
The American Soldier
Miss America:
Erika Harold (Urbana, IL)
Miss USA:
Susie Castillo (Massachusetts)
The Scandals:
Angelina Jolie kissed her brother, James Haven, rather passionately at the Oscars. James claimed it was a quick peck, caught at the wrong second.

Paris Hilton’s sex tape was released with then-boyfriend Rick Salomon, One Night In Paris.

New York Times reporter Jayson Blair resigned after being confronted with evidence of fabricating quotes and details in at least 36 articles.

Natalie Maines, the lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, told a London crowd, “we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is From Texas.”

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh entered rehab for addiction to prescription drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone. This may have led to his hearing loss. (the radio talk show host is essentially deaf)

Michael Jackson was alleged to have engaged in sexual activities with a teenage boy (again).

Madonna Kissed Britney Spears at the VMAs

The Collar Bomb
Brian Wells was an American pizza delivery man who was killed on August 28, 2003, when a bomb locked around his neck detonated. The incident, which took place in Erie, Pennsylvania, is known as the “collar bomb” or “pizza bomber” case.

Wells had been delivering a pizza to a location on the outskirts of Erie when he was accosted by a man who claimed to be a police officer. The man forced Wells to wear a collar bomb and directed him to rob a nearby bank. After robbing the bank, Wells was taken into custody by the police, but the bomb detonated before it could be disarmed.

The case is notable for its complexity and the number of individuals who were eventually arrested and convicted in connection with the crime. It’s considered as a rare instance of a real-life criminal event that followed the scenario of a TV series or a movie.

The FBI had concluded that the crime was a “perfect crime” perpetrated by a group of criminals, but later investigations revealed the involvement of Wells himself in the crime. However, Wells’ family and some of the defendants maintain that he was an unwitting participant in the crime and was manipulated by the other individuals involved. The case remains controversial and is still being discussed by the media.

Welchia Computer Worm
Welchia, also known as the Nachi worm, is a computer worm that was first discovered in 2003. It was primarily spread through a vulnerability in the Windows operating system, known as the “Remote Procedure Call (RPC) DCOM” vulnerability. This vulnerability allowed the worm to propagate across networks and infect unpatched systems.

The worm was designed to target Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems, and it could exploit the RPC DCOM vulnerability without needing user interaction. Once a system was infected, the worm would attempt to download and install a patch for the vulnerability it had just exploited to protect the system from further attack.

In addition to patching the vulnerability, the worm also had several other malicious payloads, including:

  • Attempting to propagate itself to other systems on the network
  • Terminating several security-related processes and services
  • Downloading and running additional malware
  • Creating a backdoor on the infected system that could be used to control the system remotely.

Welchia was considered to be a significant threat when it was first discovered, as it was able to spread quickly across networks and caused disruptions to many systems. However, because the worm attempted to patch the vulnerability it was exploiting, some saw it as a “benign” worm.

Beloved TV Star Sudden Death:
John Ritter, age 54

HERO – 13-year-old Surfer Bethany Hamilton jumped right back on a surfboard after getting patched up from her shark bite, which took her left arm. A 2011 film, Soul Surfer, starring AnnaSophia Robb, was about her life.

HERO – Aron Ralston – while canyoneering in Utah, he was forced to amputate his right arm with a dull knife to free himself from a boulder. A 2011 film, 127 Hours, starring James Franco, was about the adventure.

HERO – Elizabeth Smart was found alive nine months after she was kidnapped. She has become an activist, working with Sexual Predator Legislation and the AMBER Alert system, and she spoke after the signing of the Adam Walsh Act. A TV movie about the ordeal, The Elizabeth Smart Story, was shown on CBS.

Pop Culture Facts & History:

Before 2003, if you changed wireless carriers, you would have to get a new phone number since carriers were not legally required to transfer your phone number.

Lord of the Rings: The Return Of The King won 11 Oscars, winning every category it was nominated for. For this reason, many consider it the greatest film of all time. Several books have been written regarding the making of the Lord of the Rings film series.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) was Sean Connery’s last movie role, as he didn’t like playing aging old men in movies.

The Cat costume Mike Myers wore in the 2003 live-action Cat in the Hat film was made out of wool and human hair.

Actor Paul Bettany proposed to Jennifer Connelly after 9/11. The two were not dating at the time; they met while filming A Beautiful Mind in 2001. They’ve been married since 2003.

In a study in 2003, shelter dogs were found to be more relaxed and quiet when listening to classical music. The dogs didn’t seem particularly interested in pop music or radio shows but exhibited more barking when heavy metal was playing.

The word “McJob” was added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2003, defined as “a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement.”

The original “Dunkin’ Donut” from Dunkin’ Donuts had a pastry handle for dipping into coffee. It was discontinued in 2003 because it had to be cut by hand.

Despite a central theme of the X-Men comics being the mutants are still human – Marvel successfully won a court case in 2003 to classify the X-Men action figures as ‘non-human toys’ to avoid higher tariffs.

Disneyland and Disney World are “national defense airspace” no-fly zones and have been since 2003.

After the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, the debris field stretched from Texas through Louisiana, and the search team was so thorough they found nearly 84,000 pieces of the shuttle, several murder victims, and a few meth labs.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was initially called “Operation Iraqi Liberation” but was quickly changed to “Operation Iraqi Freedom” due to the acronym spelling out “OIL.”

In 2003, US President George W. Bush started PEPFAR, providing antiretroviral drugs to African nations, lowering the AIDS rate by 10%, and saving 1.1 million lives.

The detective show Columbo, starring Peter Falk, aired its first episode in February 1968 and aired its last episode 35 years later in January 2003

The Human Genome Project mapped the structure of DNA, and all the specific information it contained completed its work.

In 2003 the “@” symbol was added to Morse code using the symbol “•–•-•”, the first and only addition to Morse code since WWII.

The original Gameboy wasn’t discontinued until 2003.

Queen are the only group in which every member has composed more than one #1 single, and hence, all four members were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003.

US Route 666, nicknamed The Devil’s Highway was renamed to Route 491 in 2003, and within days of the announcement nearly all the old signs containing the number 666 were stolen as souvenirs.

In 2003 Dodge built and sold nine motorcycles with a viper V-10 engine called the Dodge Tomahawk.

Leonardo Notarbartolo stole diamonds worth 100M Dollars after getting past a lock with 100M possible combinations, infrared heat detectors, a seismic sensor, Doppler radar, a magnetic field and security guards in Antwerp, Belgium. He was later caught because he left a partially eaten sandwich near the crime scene

Jon Lech Johansen, a self-trained software engineer who created software that decoded DVD copy protection. Johansen defended himself against computer hacking charges, arguing he owned the DVDs and didn’t access anyone else’s information. He was acquitted in 2003.

A pair of Miami radio DJ’s prank called Fidel Castro in 2003. They pretended to be Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to get Castro on the line and had a brief chat before telling Castro he had been fooled. Castro responded with a brief verbal tirade. The radio station was later fined $4,000.

On May 25, 2003, two men boarded an empty Boeing 727 at an airport in Angola and flew off into the sunset. The FBI and CIA conducted a massive search, but neither the men nor the plane was ever seen or heard from again. it is one of the largest aircraft ever to disappear.

In 2003 a herd of wild elephants released a group of captive antelopes from a game reserve in Southeast Africa. The herd’s matriarch undid the gate’s metal latches with her trunk & then pushed it open. The antelope took their chance & ran into the bush, followed by the elephants.

In 2003, Juan Catalan was cleared of murder charges after outtake footage shot for “The Car Pool Lane” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm showed him and his daughter attending the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves baseball game some 20 miles from the crime scene at the time of the murder.

The chief officer of the German-owned cargo ship RMS Mülheim got into difficulties while on watch. His trousers caught in his chair mechanism and while trying to free himself, he tripped and knocked himself unconscious. The ship was grounded on rocks while he was out and broke up.

Steven Bartman, sitting in Section 4, Row 8, Seat 113 of the stands at Wrigley Field, reached for and deflected a foul ball that Cubs left fielder Moises Alou was trying to catch. The Florida Marlins won the game and the chance to be in the World Series. Steven is a decent guy and still a Cubs fan by all reports. He received a World Series ring when the Cubs won in 2016.

Cost of a Superbowl ad in 2003: $2,100,000

NOT a Surprise:
Liza Minelli and David Gest divorced after their 2002 marriage
The Habits:
Wearing Chandelier Earrings
Wearing Monogrammed Shirts and Coats while carrying monogrammed bags
Wearing Uggs with Cargo pants
The Disaster:
On Feb 1, Space Shuttle Columbia broke up while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, Ilan Ramon, Kalpana Chawla, David M. Brown, Laurel Clark and Commander Rick D. Husband all died in the disaster
2003 Toys inducted to the National Toy Hall of Fame:
Alphabet Blocks, Checkers
1st Appearances & 2003’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents:
Beyblades, Bionicle, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Flavas dolls, Barbie as Supergirl, Barbie as Wonder Woman
Best Film Oscar Winner:
Chicago (Presented in 2003)
2003 Entries to The National Film Registry:
Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman (released in 1974)
Atlantic City (released in 1980)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (released in 1969)
The Chechahcos (released in 1924)
Dickson Experimental Sound Film (released in 1894/95)
Film Portrait 
(released in 1972)
Fox Movietone News: Jenkins Orphanage Band 
(released in 1928)
Gold Deggirs of 
(released in 1933)
The Hunters (released in 1957)
Matrimony’s Speed Limit (released in 1913)
Medium Cool (released in 1969)
National Velvet (released in 1944)
Naughty Marietta (released in 1935)
Nostalgia (released in 1971)
One Froggy Evening (released in 1956)
Patton (released in 1970)
Princess Nicotine; or, The Smoke Fairy (released in 1909)
Show People (released in 1928)
The Son of the Sheik (released in 1926)
Tarzan and His Mate (released in 1934)
Tin Toy (released in 1988)
The Wedding March (released in 1928)
White Heat (released in 1949)
Young Frankenstein (released in 1974)
Young Mr. Lincoln (released in 1939)
The Big Movies: (according to boxofficemojo)
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2. Finding Nemo
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
4. The Matrix Reloaded
5. Bruce Almighty
6. X2: X-Men United
7. Elf
8. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
9. The Matrix Revolutions
10. Cheaper By The Dozen

Broadway Show – Avenue Q (Musical) Opened on July 31, 2003 and closed on September 13, 2009

Broadway Show – Wicked (Musical) Opened on October 30, 2003

2003 Most Popular TV Shows:
1. American Idol (Fox)
2. CSI (CBS)
3. Survivor: All Stars (CBS)
4. Friends (NBC)
5. Survivor: Pearl Islands (CBS)
6. The Apprentice (NBC)
7. ER (NBC)
8. CSI: Miami (CBS)
9. Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS)
10. Without a Trace (CBS)

2003 Billboard Number One Songs:
November 9, 2002- January 31, 2003:
Lose Yourself – Eminem

February 1February 7:
Bump, Bump, Bump – B2K featuring P. Diddy

February 8March 7:
All I Have – Jennifer Lopez featuring L.L. Cool J

March 8May 9:
In Da Club – 50 Cent

May 10May 30:
Get Busy – Sean Paul

May 31June 27:
21 Questions – 50 Cent featuring Nate Dogg

June 28July 11:
This Is The Night – Clay Aiken

July 12September 5:
Crazy In Love – Beyonce featuring Jay-Z

September 6 – October 3:
Shake Ya Tailfeather – Nelly/P. Diddy/Murphy Lee

October 4December 5:
Baby Boy – Beyonce featuring Sean Paul

December 6December 12:
Stand Up – Ludacris featuring Shawnna

December 13, 2004February 13, 2003:
Hey Ya! – OutKast

World Series Champions: Florida Marlins
Superbowl XXXVII Champions: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NBA Champions: San Antonio Spurs
Stanley Cup Champs: New Jersey Devils
U.S. Open Golf Jim Furyk
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Andy Roddick/Kim Clijsters
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Roger Federer/Serena Williams
NCAA Football Champions: USC
NCAA Basketball Champions: Syracuse
Kentucky Derby: Funny Cide