Short Stories: Rejecting the Fathers of Hand Washing and Rocketry (Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis & Dr. Robert Goddard)

Did you know in the late 1800s, doctors didn’t wash their hands between procedures? When Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis – an obstetrician in Vienna – realized women in his hospital were dying at staggering rates, he implemented staff-wide mandatory hand washing. Maternal death rates dropped by 90%. But doctors weren’t happy. Semmelweis was called “crazy,” told his idea was superstitious, not scientific.

Rejecting Johnny Unitas

Johnny Unitas is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. But once upon a time, the boy with the big hands and the golden arm was 6’1 and 140 pounds. He was told he was too slight to play high school football. He was rejected by Notre Dame. He was drafted, then cut from the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was told he’d never make it in the NFL. Join us as we tell Johnny-U’s incredible story – from pile driving to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Rejecting Walt Disney

The Walt Disney Company is worth $147B today. With over 800 films to its name, multiple television networks like ESPN and ABC, Pixar, Marvel, streaming, resorts and theme parks worldwide, it’s the second-largest media conglomerate in the world. But before Mickey, before poisoned apples and before roller coasters, Walt Disney was rejected. He was fired from a local newspaper for “lacking creativity.” He was told drawing cartoons did not a proper career make. And his very first animation company went under. Join us this week as we tell Disney’s story – from bankruptcy to billions.

Rejecting The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world. 300 million people have climbed its stairs – or its elevators – since the landmark first opened in 1889. You’ve seen it in countless movies, you’ve marvelled at its 20,000 lights. But did you know back when its design was first revealed to the public, 300 of France’s most-respected cultural luminaries called it “a humiliation, a mockery and an odious column of bolted metal?”

Rejecting Nina Simone

Nina Simone is ranked #21 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time. She was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and released over 40 albums in her lifetime. But back when Simone was an 18-year-old pianist, she was rejected from music school. She faced doubt, racism and abuse at every turn. Then she found her voice.

Rejecting Alan Ruck

Alan Ruck has several iconic roles under his belt. Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Stuart Bondek in Spin City, and most recently, the eldest Roy boy Connor in Succession. But would you believe that after Ferris Bueller, Ruck was jobless, penniless and took a job at a Sears warehouse? This week we look at a much requested post-success rejection story.

Rejecting Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel are one of the greatest musical duos of all time. But before “The Sound of Silence” filled the airwaves, the pair’s debut album was a total flop. So much so that the partnership effectively split. Then their producer called – he remixed their best song.

Rejecting Hayley Wickenheiser

Hayley Wickenheiser is widely considered one of the greatest female hockey players of all time. She’s the longest-serving member of Canada’s national team with seven World Championships and four Olympic gold medals to her name. But before becoming Canada’s women’s all-time leader in international goals, assists and points, Wickenheiser was told hockey was for boys. She was rejected for teams, bullied on the ice and kicked off of teams solely on the basis of sex. Join us this week as we tell Wickenheiser’s incredible story.

Rejecting Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey is Ace Ventura. He’s the Grinch. He’s Bruce Almighty. He’s Truman Burbank. Need we say more? But in 1989, Carrey was getting routinely crucified on stage, rejected for parts and was nearly starving to death – living in a bachelor apartment with a baby basket on the floor. Then one day, he wrote himself a check for $10M for “acting services rendered” – dated five years away.

Rejecting Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal is the man of the moment. In 2020 he was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainers of the Year, and in 2023 he became one of the highest-paid actors on television. But only 10 years ago, Pascal was struggling to make rent, rejected for parts and told he was aging out of Hollywood – quick. Until one afternoon, when he picked up a script for a 30-something bisexual Lothario from the 15th century…