Colorado History

Ten Cool Pop-Culture References to Colorado

The Centennial State is known for more than a few things: great skiing, the beauty of the Rockies (the mountains, certainly not the ball team), the current Super Bowl-champ Denver Broncos and, yes, legalized pot, to name only a few. What Colorado isn’t widely known for is a relevance to serious pop culture; as unique as our state might be, we don't rate high in cool points. But we should. In honor of Colorado's 140th birthday, we've been rolling out lists of some of the things that make this state seem like Coolorado. Here are ten top pop-culture references to the 38th state:

10. Charles Schultz in Colorado Springs
The inimitable cartoonist lived in the Colorado Springs area back in the early 1950s, and even painted a Peanuts-themed mural on his daughter’s nursery wall. (That wall was donated to the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, and still sits on proud display there today.) The Peanuts brand is 66 years young this year, and the cartoon is over fifty; Colorado is lucky to play a part in that story. Speaking of which, bonus fun fact about Charles Schulz in the Springs: His neighbors were the Van Pelts and the couple had two kids, Linus and Lucy. No word on whether Linus owned a blue blanket.
9. Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead Finds Things to Do in Denver
No, it's not a Denver ghost story, but it is probably the most famous movie set in town. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 33 percent, this 1995 noir thriller didn’t end up thrilling too many critics — but the audience score is a respectable 73 percent, so that’s something. (The movie took its title from a Warren Zevon song, which is plain cool in and of itself.) Check out the movie for any number of reasons, not the least of which might be seeing Union Station in its pre-renovation state, as filming took place in and around Denver in August 1994. Which means you can also look at all that still-affordable real estate.

8. The Sleeper House
In 1973, filmmaker Woody Allen made a sci-fi comedy called Sleeper, which did boffo box office (making almost ten times its budget) and helped continue Allen’s successful run of movies in the Me Decade. The house where that movie was set has remained perched atop Genessee Mountain ever since. It was last sold for 1.5 million back in 2010, only four years after it had sold for twice that price. Maybe the cool factor doesn’t translate to sales price (though 2010 wasn’t a great year to be selling a house, even in the Denver area), but the “Hey, look, it’s that house from that movie!” reaction remains priceless.

7. Episodes of Here’s Lucy filmed at the Air Force Academy
In 1969, comedy legend Lucille Ball opened the second season of her series Here’s Lucy by taking on no less than the Air Force Academy with a show filmed extensively on location at the base in Colorado Springs. Lucy exhibits her usual comedic genius, misunderstandings happen, wacky hijinks ensue...and the path is successfully laid for Three’s Company to borrow the formula in the next decade.

6. Ice Castles Makes Everyone Cry
If you were a kid in 1978, then you probably saw Ice Castles, a teen tearjerker with Robby Benson and Lynn-Holly Johnson, about a star skater who goes blind and then overcomes her sudden and tragic disability. Filmed on location at the Broadmoor World Arena and featuring skaters from the Broadmoor as extras on the ice, the movie made the most of the sports environment in and around Colorado Springs. Oh, and emotional manipulation.

Keep reading for five more pop-culture references to Colorado.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen