Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revealed

Season 3 Episode 1

Brown Betty

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Sep 16, 2003 on TLC

Episode Recap

1. In San Quentin, a prisoner has been sitting on death row for several years, his execution tied up with one loophole after another. Tired of the wait, he shreds several red playing cards, stuffs them in a rod from his bed and uses the ink and the steam from the radiator in his room to kill himself. Such an event really happened to a man named William Caugot on October 20, 1930. 2. A tourist in the Mexican desert discovers a rare species of cactus and brings it home, but when he sprays it one day, it trembles. Wondering about it, he calls up an expert who orders him from the house and brings in expeerts to torch the cactus. It turns out the cactus was filled with deadly spiders. This story has alternate versions, but while the separate aspects are factual by themselves, no such incident could really happen. 3. A couple buy a car and drive it home several miles away, but they are amazed as to how much gasoloine it takes. The wife computes they are getting 200 miles to the gallon and writes the manufacturer to thank them. A few days later, strange men arrive, steal a device from the car and escape. Afterward, the car runs about the same as any other car. It turns out the car was a misplaced secret prototype. This legend is held up as proof of a secret conspiracy suppressing energy-efficient technology that really did once exist but is not being made possible. 4. A stressed out businessman meets a young lady on a train. He's married, but he meets her in his apartment and spends the night with her only to wake up the next morning robbed, without his clothes and in a deserted passenger car. The story first started appearing around 1971, and while every detail is based on real events, there's no account to prove it ever really happened. 5. A young girl about to be married is self-conscious about her pale skin, but tanning salons won't allow her to tan for longer than half hour sessions, so she goes to several salons for several sessions to get her tanned look in time. At her wedding, she has bad breath she masks from mints and later dies just after taking her vows. It seems she had cooked her intestines to death. This urban myth is baed on the confusion a tanning bed using UV lights works like a microwave; it just could not really happen, although one lady in Portage, Indianna did fatally burn herself in a tanning bed. She may be the basis for the myth.