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If you were anything like me, Unsolved Mysteries was one of your favorite shows during your childhood and teenage years. It was a series that paved the way for a number of major shows that discussed true crime — and actually helped bring awareness to issues in society that we never would have paid attention to otherwise.
This was a series that had a lot of big time fans, and to a point, got a bit obsessive for some of us. Most people who watched Unsolved Mysteries as much as I did would swear that they were the ultimate fan who knew every little detail about the much-loved television show.
But, we're willing to bet that there are some things you never knew about Unsolved Mysteries, including the small details below.
There was an 'Unsolved Mysteries' before Unsolved Mysteries.
One of the things you never knew about Unsolved Mysteries is its origins as a series of TV specials. The original specials were called Missing...Have You Seen This Person? and were a trio of specially aired programs that were made in hopes of ending missing persons cases that went cold.
The specials, which aired in 1986, were so successful that producers decided to expand the series into a television show that covered all kinds of unsolved cases and mysteries. The end result of the planning was the Unsolved Mysteries we all still know and love.
Early 'Unsolved Mysteries' episodes lacked a lot of the features that made the show iconic.
Could you imagine an Unsolved Mysteries without Robert Stack? The first couple of episodes actually had others hosting it — until they were able to hire Stack for the position.
Robert Stack also explained that interviewing the people who had the strange happenings occur to them was a huge part of the show's production. Without their narration, no script could be written and actors would be unable to do their jobs.
Many producers believe that Robert Stack's stonefaced narration was part of the reason why Unsolved Mysteries got such high ratings and so many Emmy Awards. We're inclined to agree.
Reenactment actors weren't always a thing, either.
We're willing to bet that this is one of those things you never knew about Unsolved Mysteries, or if you did, thought it wasn't true. It just seems so far-fetched in modern TV to hear of something like this — but it is true! In early episodes, some people actually played themselves in reenactments.
The earliest episodes of Unsolved Mysteries didn't always have actors on hand for the reenactments. In many cases, they would ask the people who were actually there for the mysteries to reenact what happened when they saw family members disappear.
Once actors appeared, there were codes that would let bigwigs know if an actor was bad. The biggest indicator of bad acting was heavy narration and few lines given to actors. The more talking actors you see, the better the acting was.
Shockingly, 'Unsolved Mysteries' is actually really cheap to make.
This is one of the things you never knew about Unsolved Mysteries, simply because you probably weren't part of the industry.
People don't realize how expensive television is, even back in the 90s. In those days, a single episode of television cost, on average, around $1.5 million to make — even when it dealt with true crime or news.
Producers told NBC that they could make an episode of Unsolved Mysteries for around 40 percent to as low as 25 percent of the cost. On average, the series cost around $375,000 per episode, which made it one of the cheapest shows on NBC.
There was a formula that was designed to get viewers watching.
There are things you never knew about Unsolved Mysteries involving its design that may surprise you. One of them is that the four-section style of the show was specifically designed to get and retain viewers.
Producers realized that people tended to zero in on one of four topics. So, almost every Unsolved Mysteries episode would have an unexplained death portion, a lost love portion, as well as two sections on paranormal phenomenon.
Lastly, there was always an update from a prior episode, which added continuity. If they didn't have a solved case, then they'd discuss one of the earlier unsolved murders that can't be explained with newer information.
Cosgrove explained the reasoning behind the structure this way:
“The idea was to have four different segments in four different areas so people would find something that they liked.”
Variety is the spice of life — and apparently, Unsolved Mysteries, too.
'Unsolved Mysteries' accidentally caused an explosion at a church.
One of the stranger things you never knew about Unsolved Mysteries is the time it accidentally blew up a church.
If you remember that strange story about how the church choir all ended up coming to church late, only to find that the church had a fire that would have killed them had they arrived on time, then you might see where this is going.
Producers were given the go-ahead to use a church that was slated for demolition in the middle of Nebraska for this scene. The idea was that they'd make a mild explosion and get shots of it, leaving demo crews to properly tear down the church later on.
Unfortunately, the special effects guy ended up going a bit overboard, and annihilated the church mid-shot. The shot was ruined by 20 minutes of falling debris, rendering the scene unmakeable.
When asked what he put inside the church, the guy replied, "95 dynamite sticks and 10 gallons of gasoline." Smart move, bro — the guy was presumably fired for this costly mistake.
A number of A-list celebrities got their big break on this classic 90s show.
Some of the things you never knew about Unsolved Mysteries involve the names that got their big break through the show. Matthew McConaughey, for example, got noticed by producers after his shirtless self appeared as the show's first murder victim.
Other major names that made it big via Unsolved Mysteries included Stephanie Weir, Cheryl Hines, and Daniel Dae Kim. So, if you wanna see what they looked like before they got big, watch old Unsolved Mysteries episodes.