• The producers of the 1980s TV series Family Tieshad a hard time convincing NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff that Michael J. Fox was a good choice to star as Alex P. Keaton, the greedy Republican kid. Mr. Tartikoff argued, “The kid’s good, but can you see his face on a lunchbox?” Family Ties, of course, became a huge hit, as did Mr. Fox’ Back to the Futuremovies. The producers of Family Tieseventually gave a Michael J. Fox lunchbox to Mr. Tartikoff, along with a note: “Dear Brandon, this is for you to put your crow in.”
• Once in a while, William M. Gaines, publisher of MADmagazine, would invite all the artists and writers to a dinner in a fancy restaurant. (This was a very good idea, as it allowed people—many of them freelancers who just stopped by once in a while to drop off material—to get to know each other. Because there were so many MADmagazine employees, they would ask the waiters if they could push some of the tables together. Once given permission, they would quickly form a circle of tables around the waiters, leaving no exit.
• American movie producer William Fox grew up poor. Once, when he was small, his family sent him to the butcher to “borrow” a pound of meat. The butcher smiled, gave him the meat, and then asked when the little boy was going to return the favor. Little Billy promised when he was a big man that he would see to it that the butcher was taken care of. After he grew up, he gave the butcher a high-paying job to provide meat for the movie stars at Fox’s movie studio.
• Jane Schmidt awoke one Saturday morning to discover that her husband was making breakfast. To show that she appreciated his thoughtfulness, she sat on his lap and gave him a hug. Later, in the afternoon she and her husband were having a “heated discussion” when their four-year-old son walked in and said, “Mommy, try to remember how you felt when you were on Daddy’s lap.”
• At the Grand Hotel in Venice, Robert Benchley discovered that his room was next to the kitchen, and by listening carefully he could hear what the cooks said about the various dishes the customers were ordering. The cooks praised certain dishes, and deprecated other dishes, so Mr. Benchley was able to learn which dishes to sample and which dishes to avoid.
• Richard Watson, a philosopher, used to love to eat cheap candy while reading. He frequently ate one pound of candy at a sitting — and he didn’t even notice when the manufacturers starting producing 24-ounce bags of candy. In fact, he remembers once sitting down with a 2-pound bag of candy orange slices and a book and eating every candy orange slice. (Eventually, he started jogging and maintained a healthy weight.)
• Gioacchino Rossini was a big eater. Unfortunately, he once dined at the home of a host who served small portions. After the dinner of small portions had been served, his host said, “I do hope you will soon do us the honor of dining here again.” Mr. Rossini replied, “Certainly. Let’s start now.”
• Bernie Fein was the co-creator of TV’s Hogan’s Heroes. He borrowed the name of the lead character, Colonel Robert Hogan, from an actor friend of his, whom he cast in the series’ 15th episode. In gratitude, Mr. Hogan shared a real “Hogan’s Hero” with Mr. Fein — a 5-foot hero sandwich filled with meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomato, and spices.
• During World War I and immediately after, food was in short supply in Germany. Walter Slezak moved from Germany to begin acting in Holland, where he rejoiced to learn that food was plentiful. To celebrate, he went into a restaurant and ate 11 servings of a favorite treat — whipped cream with powdered sugar. (Yes, he was a little heavy.)
• In the days of the buffalo hunters, the professionals were tormented by the antics of the amateurs, who didn’t know what they were doing and made a mess of things for everybody. Eventually, the professional hunters gave the amateur hunters all the meat they wanted so that the amateurs wouldn’t scare all the buffalo away.
• Buddy Hackett was guesting on Jack Paar’s Tonight Showwhen Mr. Paar did a live commercial for Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer. Mr. Hackett interrupted the commercial: “I tried it, but I had to give it up. I eat slow, and it was tenderizing my lips.”
• Donald Houston was asked his opinion about the survivors of an airplane crash who had resorted to cannibalism to survive. He replied, “I think they started off on the wrong foot.”
• Australians swear by this recipe for cockatoo: Put the cockatoo and an ax-head in a can, then boil until the ax-head is soft. At that time, the cockatoo is ready to eat.
• James Boswell once asked Dr. Samuel Johnson whether good cooks were more essential than good poets. Dr. Johnson replied, “I don’t suppose that there is a dog in town but what thinks so.”
• Mark Twain once put a spoonful of very hot soup in his mouth and then turned his head and spit it out. He then remarked to his friends, “Some darn fools would have swallowed that.”
• Professional musicians are often asked to entertain at the dinners they attend. A wealthy society woman asked Fritz Kreisler to come to her dinner and to bring his violin, but he replied, “My violin never dines out.”
• At a dinner Herbert Cardinal Vaughan asked Rabbi Hermann Adler, “When may I have the honor of serving you some ham?” Rabbi Adler replied to the cardinal, “At Your Eminence’s wedding.”
• According to Reuben “Bud” Robinson, a pig eats so much not because he’s greedy, but because he’s trying to make a hog of himself.
• I’m a self-made man. It took a lot of pasta dishes to get where I am today.” — overweight actor James Coco.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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