Sunday, January 29, 2006


Did you ever notice that all phone numbers in movies, tv shows and radio shows that emanate from the great U.S. of A. Begin with 555 ? Here's a sample question from a puzzled viewer and an answer as to the origins of the standard prefix.

Dear Cecil:Why do all phone numbers in TV shows, movies, etc., have the prefix 555? Is it an FCC regulation? --Mary Jane, formerly of Lawrence, Kansas

Dear Mary Jane:Believe it or not, there are a few pinheads out there with nothing better to do than sit down and call every number they see on a television show or in a movie. "Hello, iscokesk there?" they say, chuckling at the sublimity of their wit. Generally,cokesk is not there, which causes a great deal of inconvenience for the poor sap who is. In one case several years ago a Peanuts strip carried a number that turned out to belong to a family in Moline, Illinois. Over 50 calls, ranging from plaintive requests to speak to Snoopy to less plaintive requests of a considerably darker nature, were logged in one evening.
Up until a few years ago, the phone company maintained a service that provided fictional (i.e., unused) numbers to producers and writers. But it soon developed, in this wide, wonderful country of ours, that there wasn't a single number that wasn't in use somewhere. The "555" gambit was created in 1973--no matter where you are, dialing the 555 number plugs you into directory assistance, where a legion of professionally trained operators awaits to answer the particular crankiness of your call. 555 isn't an FCC regulation, but simply a convenient creation of Ma Bell.


Now, I'm not to sure about Cecil's credentials but I'm sure he's spot on here. I noticed on a drive to the local pool the other day that a fish and chip shop had a phone number that begin with a 9555 and I commented that I'm sure they were happy when the 9 was added to the front of their number, would have stopped some crank calls. The 9 is a recent addition in Australia so I'm sure each state has similar.

I found this other website which lists many of the "555" numbers used in movies and tv shows. As someone mentions in the comments, these people have way too much time on their hands.

It will take me a while to verify this list as correct, so let's just assume it is.

No comments:

In keeping with the twitter theme.

Are You a Twitter Ninja?