David Bruce: Illness Anecdotes

• In the old days, people believed in the healing powers of kemeiyot  — religious texts written on parchment. One person who felt that this practice was a superstition was Rabbi Yechezkel Landau, who only once gave a kemeiyahto an ill woman. Convinced that she was dying, the woman was wasting away for no apparent reason. Because the ill woman believed that only a kemeiyahfrom the rabbi could save her, Rabbi Landau obtained a piece of blank parchment, then rolled it up in a cloth. He then gave it to the woman’s husband, telling him to tell his wife to wear the cloth around her neck for 30 days, then unwrap it and look at the parchment. If there was no writing on the parchment, that meant that she would be cured. The woman followed the Rabbi’s orders; after 30 days, she looked at the parchment, saw no writing on it, and immediately began to get better. Soon she was healthy again.

• Harry Crane was a radio comedy writer who suffered from diabetes. Once, he was at Nate ’n’ Al’s delicatessen when he felt an attack coming on and knew that he immediately needed some fruit to get sugar in his system, so he went to the counter and asked for an orange. However, the counterman refused to give him an orange because it wasn’t Mr. Crane’s turn to be served — with the result that Mr. Crane collapsed, became unconscious, and had to be taken to a hospital. One of his friends heard what had happened, and called him at the hospital, saying he wanted to visit and asking how to get there. “It’s easy,” said Mr. Crane. “You go to Nate ’n’ Al’s and ask for an orange.”

• Carl Jung was once asked by a patient to set up a session at a certain time. However, Dr. Jung replied that he did not have time to see him. Later, at the time the patient had asked for an appointment, he saw Dr. Jung relaxing at Lake Zurich. When he accused Dr. Jung of insincerity, Dr. Jung replied, “I really don’t have time to see you because I am keeping an appointment I have set up with myself. It is one of the most important appointments of my day.”

• When Anna Russell was attending the Royal College of Music in London, she was required to give singing concerts, at which all of the other students laughed at her. The director of the college, Sir Hugh Allan, stiffly informed her that the students were supposed to be serious about their studies. However, Ms. Russell really was serious and she sang the best she was able. Unfortunately, despite her love of opera, her voice was poor — the result of a field hockey injury to her nose, which she says ruined her “acoustics.”

• Marty Ingels was married to actress/singer Shirley Jones and was a capable comedian in the TV sitcom I’m Dickens — He’s Fenster. Unfortunately, through much of his career he suffered from panic attacks. Once, he stayed in his apartment for nine months, afraid to go out into the open air. He also once picked up his date for the evening — Shirley Jones — in a motor home so he technically wouldn’t have to leave his home.

• Don Marquis suffered a series of strokes, which made him unable to work. Low on funds, he resigned from The Players Club. The treasurer of the club, David McKinley, wrote him a letter, to which Mr. Marquis responded, “My dear Dave, I have your letter in which you express the hope that Dame Fortune may be smiling on me. She is, but it is the most sarcastic goddam smile I ever saw on anyone’s face.”

• In the old days of figure skating, competitions were held outside, causing hardship for both the skaters and the judges. Canadian judge John Machado once spent six hours in a blizzard, judging men’s figures during the 1936 Olympics in Germany. He finally was forced to leave the ice because he contracted pneumonia.

• Art Linkletter occasionally entertained in military hospitals where his audience consisted of soldiers with multiple amputations. Because he knew that the soldiers didn’t want sympathy, he would sometimes joke to people who had no arms, “Well, you guys aren’t going to be much of a help with the applause.”

• During the World War II, when the Germans were constantly bombing England, James Thurber underwent a series of eye operations. Harold Ross, editor of The New Yorker, visited him at the hospital and told him, “Damn it, Thurber, I worry about you and England.”

• One story about Al Jolson’s hypochondria concerns a doctor who told the famous singer about a disease that had no outward manifestations — even though a patient had the disease, he or she felt perfectly healthy. “My God,” shouted Mr. Jolson. “Those are my symptoms exactly!”

• While Jackie Gleason was in the hospital in an attempt to lose weight, the writers of The Honeymoonersdecided to see him to get his input on a script. However, when they arrived at the hospital, a nurse told them, “Mr. Gleason has gone home. He said he wasn’t feeling well.”

• A lazy, rich man asked Dr. John Abernethy what was the best treatment for gout — a disease that afflicted the leisure class. Dr. Abernethy replied that the best treatment for gout was to live on a working wage — and to work for it.

• Jimmy Durante once sat in his dressing room, looking at a handful of pills he was about to take — one for his heart, one for his liver, one for his kidneys, etc. He asked, “How do dem pills know where to go?”

• Bud Abbott of Abbott and Costello fame was an epileptic. Whenever Lou Costello noticed that Mr. Abbott was about to have a seizure, he stopped it from occurring by punching him hard in the stomach.

• According to Sydney Smith, gout is “the only enemy I do not wish to have at my feet.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


David Bruce’s Lulu Bookstore (Paperbacks)

David Bruce’s Amazon Author Bookstore

David Bruce’s Smashwords Bookstore

David Bruce’s Apple Bookstore

David Bruce’s Barnes and Noble Books

David Bruce’s Kobo Books

Free davidbrucehaiku #12 eBook (pdf)

Free davidbrucehaiku #11 eBook (pdf)

Free davidbrucehaiku eBooks (pdfs)

Free eBooks by David Bruce (pdfs)


Free eBook: YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIND: Volume 2

David Bruce’s Smashwords Bookstore: Retellings of Classic Literature, Anecdote Collections, Discussion Guides for Teachers of Literature, Collections of Good Deed Accounts, etc. Some eBooks are free.

2 thoughts on “David Bruce: Illness Anecdotes”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: