From x-entertainment, I don't protest that I'm merely the last of 560,000 websites to discuss the fabled Three Men and a Baby ghost, but I can't help myself. When news of this seeming specter poured into newscasts in 1990, my friends and I took it as proof positive that ghosts completely and totally existed.
Retelling the story is an almost needless formality, because everyone already knows it. Everyone…except frequent comment-leaver and mother-of-one, "kb." It's kb's fault that I get to tell the story with a clear conscience.
Millions around the world bore witness to the exploits of Ted Danson and the other two guys as they found themselves in the utterly hysterical position of raising an abandoned baby girl. What most moviegoers somehow missed was an otherwise forgettable scene where, if you look close, monsters will eat you:
As Three Men and a Baby moved to television airings and tape rentals, the world turned its eyes to the peculiar boy arrow-marked in the photo above. Neither an actor nor something seemingly of this world, the boy stood motionless, looking somewhere between stoic and fuzzy, as Danson and The Woman Portraying Danson's Mom acted their parts completely oblivious to the walking dead among them. It was impossible to imagine that this ghost-laden scene made it in the can without ever being caught by a member of the crew, and when things sound impossible, they can only be the doings of SUPERNATURAL POWERS.
There was a perfectly acceptable explanation for everything, but I'll get to that in a minute. As the story went, this horrible THING was in fact the ghost of a boy who, depending on which version of the story was told, died on the set, died in the house that the movie was shot in, died via shotgun blast, or died via forcibly injected foreign antibodies that refused to live up to their name. The ghoul wasn't making its presence known for revenge or anything; evidently, the boy just wanted his fifteen minutes, however postmortem.
If you watch the scene with the mindset that it could possibly maybe be a real ghost, it's dang creepy. I was all of ten or eleven years of age when the story broke, and soon after, one of the major networks gave Three Men and a Baby its first television airing. I watched the film and waited for that scene with a stomach full of pretty moths, and when I finally caught my first glimpse of the poor dead boy, it wasn't a minute later that every light in our house was on and I was wrapped firmly in whatever sufficed as a security blanket back then. I was absolutely floored. A ghost! A real, live ghost on display for the world to see!
All of my friends were similarly impressed, and in a world full of so many debatably great things, I think this marked the only time that everyone seemed to agree that something was awesome. After watching so many "real" ghost stories on television where the only visual evidence consisted of pictures of orbs or sketches by the same guys who did concept art for Spaced Invaders, finally, we had our smoking gun.
Only, we didn't. In truth, the ghost was merely a life-sized cardboard standee of Ted Danson — a leftover prop from one of the commercials his character starred in. Cut scenes from the film revealed that the standee was actually a running gag, so the fact that it was in plain sight during a scene that actually made it into the movie is sloppy, but hardly suspect. I found this news appalling, not because I didn't believe it, but because it meant that I no longer had a valid reason to watch Three Men and a Baby anymore. I came for the ghost, but secretly, I delighted in the acerbity and heartfelt moments. I understand that acerbity isn't a truly fitting description, but I just found out that it's an actual word and I just had to use it right here and now. "Acerbity." Sounds like a newly discovered planet, or one of the many animal pilots in Starfox's death squad.
I don't think I've ever come closer to really believing in ghosts as I did when I thought a cardboard Ten Danson was one of them. The universe seemed bigger, then.