David Bruce: Friends Anecdotes

• Kamala Masters, who teaches Buddhist meditation, once sailed with some friends in Hawaii. She felt seasick on the boat, so her friends urged her to get into the water. Because she didn’t have a life vest, she didn’t want to, but her friends persuaded her. Once she and some of her friends were in the water, a squall started blowing, and it blew the boat away from her. She started to panic, so her friends asked her to remember her Buddhist teachings, saying, “Kamala, what if these are your last moments? What do you want right now? Don’t you want more love in your heart? Don’t you want more compassion? What do you really want?” Kamala was very honest, and she admitted, “What I want right now is the boat!”

• The great black dancer Bill Robinson, aka Mr. Bojangles, once was in an all-night diner at 4 a.m. He ordered a meal, but the server told him, “We don’t serve your kind.” Mr. Bojangles took out his gun, laid it on the table, and then gave his order again. This time he was served, but after eating he was arrested by a rookie deputy. However, he was immediately released because he was a friend of the sheriff. Mr. Bojangles always took steps to become friendly with police officers in every town he played. His wife was also very good at public relations, writing the chief of police in each town her husband played to give warm wishes to the chief’s wife and to give free tickets to the show.

• John Barrymore and Greta Garbo appeared together in the movie Grand Hotel, and they got along very well together. Ms. Garbo nursed him through hangovers and even rearranged a couch during a lunch break so that Mr. Barrymore’s famed left profile would face the camera in the next scene. And whenever Mr. Barrymore thought that Ms. Garbo was feeling insecure, he would tell her, “You are the most entrancing woman in the world.” Much later, Mr. Barrymore was asked about their relationship together. He replied, “She is a fine lady and a great actress — and the rest is silence.”

• After Shannon Miller won five medals as an Olympic gymnast in Barcelona, Spain, she flew on to Washington, D.C., to meet several political VIPs. However, several people greeted her parents at the Oklahoma City airport when they arrived back in their home state. Among them were some people who worked with Claudia Miller, Shannon’s mother. They wore pajamas and bedroom slippers — because, they claimed, they wanted her to recognize the sacrifice they had made to come to the airport so late.

• One of Dini von Mueffling’s best friends was Alison Gertz, who had contracted HIV, which developed into AIDS. Dini met a man, they fell in love, he asked her to marry him, and she accepted. However, Dini was worried about what Alison would say when she told her. After all, Alison was dying of AIDS. She needn’t have worried. After learning that the man, Richard, had asked Dini to marry him after knowing her for only three months, Alison asked, “What took him so long?”

• The finals in the broad jump at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin featured a fierce competition between the American Jesse Owens and the German Luz Long. During the finals, they tied the Olympic record once and beat the record five times, but when the contest was over, Mr. Owens held both the new Olympic record and a gold medal. In defeat, Mr. Long was a good sportsman. He congratulated Mr. Owens, and the two athletes became friends.

• During the filming of Gilligan’s Island, Jim Backus and Alan Hale, who played Thurston Howell III and the Skipper, told lots of jokes. Because they knew so many jokes, it took them a long time to run out. When Mr. Backus finally ran out of jokes, he used to have his friends in New York call him very early in the morning in LA with a new joke so that he could tell the joke before Mr. Hale heard it.

• While arguing for a certain bill, Congressmen Ben Butler of Massachusetts referred to “my friends on the other side of the House.” Congressmen William Niblack of Indiana objected to this choice of words, saying, “The gentleman from Massachusetts will relieve us on this side of the House from some embarrassment if he will cease to call us his friends.”

• H.L. Mencken once told a group of friends at a party, “When I was a youngster in Baltimore the girls in the sporting houses used to call me Professor.” His host’s wife, Betty Compson, looked at him closely, then joked, “I thought your face was familiar.”

• Chastity Bono, the daughter of Sonny Bono and Cher, was still a teenager when she said to her best friend, “Gina, I have something to tell you. I think I’m gay.” Gina’s reaction was excellent — she shrugged and said, “What’s the big deal?”

• Rudolf Nureyev and Leonard Bernstein lived very close to each other in the Dakota on Central Part West in New York City. In fact, their apartments were separated by a party wall, and they used to tap on the wall occasionally to say hi to each other.

• Senator Henry Clay once saw President Martin Van Buren surrounded by people and so he told him, “You have many friends, my dear Van Buren.” The President pulled him aside and said to him, “Well, you see, the weather is very fine today.”

• A Gentile and a Jew were great friends. One day, the Gentile told the Jew, “My friend, thou art not a Jew but a Christian.” The Jew replied, “My friend, these qualities which you see in me and call Christian, I see in you and call Jewish.”

• Quaker humorist Tom Mullen has a black friend who tells him that he would look a lot better if he had some color in his cheeks — and in the rest of his body.

• “It is at all times easier to make friends than enemies.” — George Washington.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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