The Project Quantum Leap experiment was "designed around" Sam's and Al's brain wave patterns. It has a yearly budget of $2.4 billion. Sections mentioned include a Motor Pool and a Research Unit to Ziggy (the computer that first seemed to be male but later decided to use a female voice and persona) that they take off-line at the end of the month to save money. The Project is housed at Stallion's Gate, New Mexico, in the desert, inside a butte. The Control Room, Waiting Room, and Imaging Chamber are ten floors down from the surface (or at least from where the cars are parked).


Sam's father, John Beckett, died of a coronary in 1972. Sam's mother is Thelma. Sam's paternal grandfather died at age 57. Grandma Nettie died before 1969.

Sam's sister Katie was born in 1957, the year of the big flood at the farm. She grew up to elope with an abusive alcoholic, Chuck. She married Lt. Jim Bonnick (see MAGNUM P.I.!), and lives in Hawaii with Jim and Thelma.

Sam's brother Tom is about seven years older than he is. Tom was an all-State basketball player in his high school senior year, and a Navy Seal in Vietnam. Sam has feared heights since age 9, when Tom took him to a Tarzan movie; afterward, Sam swung from the barn loft on a rope, but froze. In the original timeline, Tom died in Vietnam. During a Leap, Sam changed time and Tom lived, but as a result young Al Calavicci, an escaping POW, was recaptured and spent another year as a prisoner.

Sam was born August 8, 1953 in Elk Ridge, Indiana. At two, he was reading. At five, he did calculus in his head. As a child, he liked trains and memorized train timetables. In 1957, at age four, he wrote to Captain Galaxy of the TV show asking the captain to explain his theory of time travel (which involved a string; Sam later co-invented the string theory of quantum physics with Professor LoNigro while in the Professor's cabin in the Berkshires). In 1962, age 9, he was given a sled for Christmas by his father. In 1964/5 the family took a cross-country trip crammed into a station wagon. It apparently wasn't a great time. Sam and his Dad talked a lot over ping-pong games. When they went to town, Sam got two cinnamon sticks, John two peppermint sticks.

Sam completed four years of MIT in two years and was the youngest ever to graduate summa cum laude ("with highest honors"). He has seven degrees. One is in ancient languages, one is in quantum physics, one is probably medical, but allegedly none is in psychology. He doesn't speak Hungarian, but speaks seven modern languages (including French, Spanish, and Japanese) and four dead ones. A mega-nerd, he joined no fraternities while in the university.

Sam met Donna Elissi in 1984 right after she left Project Star Bright as she turned thirty. She was to marry Sam on June 5th at the Old Mission Chapel but didn't show up in the original timeline; they are now married.

Sam has a photographic memory. He knows judo, karate, tae kwan do. He can't play pool. He doesn't believe in tarot, reincarnation, or crystal balls.

He sleeps in the nude.


Al has a little Russian blood on his mother's side. His father is from Abruzzi, Italy. Dad and his girlfriend used to sneak Al out of the orphanage on Saturday nights for homemade risotti with chianti. Dad apparently exposed him to his first sexual encounter. He was a construction worker. Al had an Uncle Jack, presumably paternal, who looked like the middle-aged Al, and a maternal Uncle Steve who was crippled up with arthritis after a lifetime of working in the mines; he appears to have been a Leaper himself.

Al's little sister Trudy was retarded. Their mom couldn't handle it and ran off with an encyclopedia salesman. Dad was sent to the Middle East, so Al was put in the orphanage and Trudy in an institution, where she died of pneumonia in 1953. When Al was ten, his dad returned from working the oil fields in Saudi Arabia. They bought a small house. Dad got cancer and went into the hospital, but told Al all would be okay if he prayed. Al went to church every day...but his father died, and Al returned to the orphanage.

Since Al was 23 in 1957, he must have been born ca. 1934.

When he was eight, Al had a pet cockroach named Kevin, but the orphan in the next bed had a lizard, which ate Kevin.

When he was ten, Al ran away and picked the pocket of Charles "Black Magic" Walters, a pool hustler. Magic said Al could stay with him until they found Al a family; bought him a jacket; and taught him the trade. Together they went to Chi, St. Louis, and the Big Easy, until Magic got arrested for shooting pool in a whites-only pool hall, and Al was sent back to the orphanage.

At the orphanage, Al was known as "Al the Pick" because he could pick locks. His favorite candy was red licorice; he'd start on one end, and Shirley Mulcahy on the other....In the fourth grade, he took Hannah Gretza into the cloakroom...Once he ran away from the orphanage and joined the circus. He did summer stock to get out of the orphanage. While young, he had a probation officer. One of Al's worst memories is being 15 and getting busted by her parents just as he...well, you can imagine.

At 16, Al was a Golden Gloves champ. "I'll always be 16 in my heart," he said, which seems very likely. That year, he had three girls in the orphanage alone!

His first motor vehicle as a 1948 Harley "Knucklehead" motorcycle. He gave girls rides but notes "there's one thing that's impossible to do on a bike." One imagines that he did try.

Al spent some long cold nights at MIT, warmed up by a little Lithuanian girl, Danessa, who did research in the chemistry lab. Another time he mentions a deaf lab partner, Dora, the brightest woman he knew; she wouldn't sleep with him. Dora could read lips. He notes that he loved fraternity pranks while in college.

Al was given the nickname "Bingo" by his buddy Stack after Al developed an oil leak 30 minutes out. Trying to fix it, he hit his head on the wing, and woke up facing blonde triplets. When he was rescued the next day and asked how he spent the night, he smiled blissfully and said, "Bingo-bango-bongo."

Al flew a Cougar.

Al was in Pensacola as a Navy cadet with Dave Healey when he first heard the song "Tequila." In 1955, he was in flight school and had a fling with "Miss Gun Turret of 1955."

In 1957 in Florida, he had an affair with Lt. Lisa Sherman, wife of Jack Sherman, who was also cheating on her. In the original timeline, on June 22, 1957, Al was arrested on the charge of raping and killing Commander Ryker's wife, a sexual tease who had been unable to seduce Al. Since Lisa told Commander Hugh Dobbs of the Reserves (Al's defense attorney) that they were together in a motel that night, he was freed, but Lisa, blinded by tears, died in a car crash. Sam changed this so that she died without providing the alibi, and Al was executed. On a second try, figuring out that Al's cigar-smoking buddy Chip borrowed his car and accidentally killed the women, Sam had Bingo leap into himself after swearing to keep Chip with him that night. This time, no one died.

1958 was Al's plebe year in Annapolis. Jack Kerouc's On the Road changed Al's life. The repressive, boring, stupid Fifties became adventurous, with spirituality, jazz in coffeeshops, free love. In 1958, when Jack Kerouac gave a speech at St. John's College, he partied with Al and a bunch of Navy guys.

He was a starting pitcher for the Navy team, with the lowest earned run average in the league.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he flew an F-4 Phantom Express over Cuba.

A cigarette smoker, Al didn't take up cigars until Vietnam. He and Chip were tailpipe buddies and flew together off and on for ten years, until Chip caught a SAM missile over Haiphong.

As a Naval pilot, his A-4 went down in late 1967 (alternatively, January 1967) in the highlands near Cham Hoy in Vietnam. He was held in a tiger cage, unable to stand or sit down, eating weevil-infested rice and drinking rainwater he caught in his mouth. He got one bowl of rice a day. He spent at least five years as a POW. (Changed to six after Sam saved his brother Tom's life at the expense of a rescue mission that would've brought Al back.) Al was repatriated in 1973.

Beth, wife number one, says that as an ensign, Al claimed anyone above ensign was a horse's ass. Now he's an Admiral, with top security clearance.

At some point, he was stationed in Japan.

In the early 1980's, Al was part of the Star-Bright Project. He first met Sam Beckett when Sam entered the lab and found Al with a hammer, drunk and mad, smashing a vending machine that ate his dime. The government wanted to fire him, but Sam kept him on because he sensed that underneath, Al was a wonderful person. Al has told Sam, "You're the only person who believed in me when I gave up believing in myself."

When they were building the Imaging Center for Project Quantum Leap, Al and Sam played only "The Impossible Dream," Sam's favorite record.

Al describes the "Five Stages of Sex" as Denial, Sex, Acceptance, Divorce, and More Sex (if you're lucky).

Married five times, Al often gets confused as to which wife came when. For instance, he has said his first wife was a redhead, but Beth was manifestly not. He has referred to Sharon as both his third and fourth wife. His "second or third" wife was Hungarian. The divorce attorney for #2, whoever she was, cost him every penny he had. He spent his honeymoon on the train to Niagara Falls with his first, third, and fifth wives. He claims that #4 mothered him and used to cut his steak in restaurants, so he doesn't eat meat.

BETH was married to Al for 8 years, but only with him for two, due to his Navy career. She said flying was his first love, the Navy his second, Beth the third. He didn't want children, because they'd be dragged from base to base. He left for a second tour of duty in Vietnam just four months after the first one ended. Al always accused Beth of being too much the romanticist. She loved call lilies. She was a Naval nurse. After Al was MIA for four years, Beth had him declared dead and remarried Dirk Simon, a lawyer.

SHARON fought the divorce for 8 months and in the settlement got Chester, described by Al as a real good dog. She wore a pink nightie on their honeymoon. Later, Sharon tries to sue for more alimony, but postpones the hearing to have her Mercedes worked on. Al reports that the matter has been closed: "We examined each other's briefs and decided to call it even."

RUTHIE was Jewish and taught Al the basics of Hebrew. He also loves to dance the Horah, and eats lox and gefilte fish. He saw FIDDLER ON THE ROOF five times. He says rather mournfully that Ruth never called him a mentsch. He "never realized how much family meant to me until Ruthie was gone."

MAXINE met Al in a tattoo parlor in Jersey City, New Jersey. On their honeymoon, she was nude with mint-leaf-flavored toenails. She had long straight blonde hair. Maxine wanted to be a pro roller skater, but kept falling on her tushie, so she tried ice skating, but finally ran off with a bricklayer. He used to fight with her all the time. Al divorced her because he was 99.9% sure she was cheating on him with a Marine, but after the divorce he found out she was innocent. Apparently they didn't remarry but did get back together on a sexual basis, presumably when she tried ice-skating, ending with her running off with another man.

In the premiere, Al takes "Martha" to a Lakers game and a party with the team afterward. He takes "Brenda," who is the "cute little redhead in Coding" into the filing room to celebrate Sam leaping out of 1956. "Denise," whom he met at a party, is writing Al's life story, and he describes her as having an incredible pair of boobs. He claims the only thing he never did was the twins at the Fitness Center; he refers to this as "the bingo-bango-bongo." He learned quick-drawing of guns from Fifi "Boom-Boom" Larue of New Orleans, the best quick-draw artist in the USA (and a stripper). She had a matched pair of .44s in matching little sequined holsters in her act, and he studied her very closely. He knew a stripper named Velvet in Las Vegas. He can't play piano, but knew Evita Evilita, who played classical music with her nose and modern music with her...this story gets cut off.

TINA met Al in Las Vegas over a poker table. She has her name tattooed on a private part of her anatomy. She briefly ran off with Dr. Gooshman, the little chief programmer with bad breath, but gave him a case of mouthwash and dumped him, claiming she never slept with him. Al doesn't know it, but she is still having an affair with Gooshie. Although he dates Tina, Al has no qualms about cheating on her.

Tina always thought Sam was "kind of cute." She has a crocodile in a pit at home. A blonde in spiked high heels and a tight dress, with a squeaky voice, she is a Pulse Communication Technician with the Project.

In the Civil Rights days, Al was in Selma. He has a lot of black friends, and can make great chitlins and collard greens.

During the 1960's, Al visited NY to attend photo shoots with a photographer buddy.

Al knows his rock & roll and English lit, especially love stories like WUTHERING HEIGHTS and ROMEO & JULIET.

He loves classic motorcycles and is good with technical equipment.

Al says things like "Yumola" and "You swim with the sharks, you get bit" and "Geez Louise."

He likes making love with the lights on.

He loves weddings.

He doesn't like dead bodies.

He gambles.

He drinks.

A senator described him at a hearing on the Project as "highly respected and decorated."

He took fencing lessons once.

On the cutting edge (or over the edge) of fashion, Al wears a big ring on his right hand. He often wears shades and smokes or carries a stogie. He may wear a white linen suit; a metallic gold jacket with a big collar; a pumpkin orange peasant blouse with red suspenders; a rust-colored suede suit; and so on. If it's colorful, he likes it.

Al can be seen by children under five; dogs; the insane; some dying people. Psychics do seem to sense his presence.

Copyright 1999 - 2013, Jane A. Leavell. All rights reserved.

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