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Anna Paquin and Alexander Skarsgard in "True Blood."

John P. Johnson,

The Vikings' march through pop-culture history

  • Article by: NEAL JUSTIN
  • Star Tribune
  • March 2, 2013 - 3:28 PM

* 992 A.D.: Leif Ericson beats Christopher Columbus to North America by 500 years. Remains bitter that he doesn’t have his own national holiday.

1848: Richard Wagner starts working on “The Ring Cycle,” a series of four operas based on Norse characters, none of whom is named Gollum.

1941: Frans Bengtsson’s novel “The Long Ships” is published. Set in the late Vikings age, it becomes as popular in Swedish libraries as keys to the washroom.

1958: Hollywood gathers an all-star cast led by Kirk Douglas for “The Vikings.” Tony Curtis’ character suffers the worst fate, forced to wear a leg-revealing leather jerkin and sentenced to be eaten alive by crabs.

* 1961: In the Minnesota Vikings’ very first game, third-round pick Fran Tarkenton comes off the bench and throws for four touchdowns in the win. Now that’s incredible.

* 1962: The Mighty Thor, the Vikings’ go-to god, makes his Marvel Comics debut. Makes the mistake of not patenting the phrase “Hammer Time.”

1973: Hagar the Horrible, the Middle Ages’ version of Al Bundy, starts invading newspaper comic sections.

1974: German TV premieres a new animated series, “Vicky the Viking,” in which a 10-year-old Norseboy applies smarts over swords.

1983: Swedish band Heavy Load releases “Stronger Than Evil,” considered to be the first “Viking metal” song.

* 1989: Future Oscar winner Tim Robbins dons the horned helmet in Terry Jones’ “Erik the Viking.” Manages to keep dating Susan Sarandon.

* 2008: Eric Northam, a Viking before becoming a vampire, saves Sookie for the first of many times in the series premiere of “True Blood.”

* 2010: DreamWorks releases “How to Train Your Dragon,” an animated movie that suggests Vikings aren’t the only species to be misunderstood.

Neal Justin

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