David Bruce: The Funniest People in Neighborhoods — Husbands and Wives

Husbands and Wives

 MAD magazine publisher William M. Gaines met his wife, Annie, through the mail. As a sophomore at Penn State, she was assigned a project on pollution, and she wanted an article on pollution that had appeared in MADmagazine. Unable to find it in her personal collection (she was a MAD fan), she sent a dollar bill to the offices of MAD and requested a copy of the article. Mr. Gaines sent her a note saying, “Never send cash through the mail,” and he enclosed both a check for $1 and an offer to send her the article for free — as long as she sent him a photograph of herself. She sent him a Playboy centerfold along with a detailed list of ways in which she did not resemble the centerfold model. Sometime later, they met in person and liked each other. (Things really got serious when Mr. Gaines met an ex-boyfriend of hers and noticed that the ex-boyfriend was heavy, like him.)

• When American realist painter Andrew Wyeth proposed to Betsy James, she accepted immediately. Later, she said, “I knew at some point somebody was going to find me and know what I was all about. And it happened. Just like that. Boom!” Betsy was responsible for making Andrew independent of the instruction of his father, the eminent illustrator N.C. Wyeth. One day, she saw the two men together with an illustration of an Indian head that Andrew was creating for a book jacket. N.C. was touching up the illustration. Enraged, she left the room, slamming the door behind her. Thereafter, N.C. left his son’s artwork alone.

• Gymnasts can have more than one dream. In 1974, Joan Moore seemed poised to become the United States’ first woman gymnast to win an Olympic medal. At the United States Elite Nationals in 1971, she tied for first in the all-around competition with Linda Matheny. In 1972, she tied for first with Cathy Rigby. In 1973 and 1974, she won with no ties. However, in late 1974, she gave up the dream of an Olympic medal for a dream that was also important to her. She gave up her amateur status and Olympic eligibility so that she and her then-husband, Bob Rice, could open a gymnastics school in Minnesota.

• Insult comedian Don Rickles is much different off stage than he is on. When he first met Bob Newhart’s wife, Ginny, he talked about how much he loved his one-year-old daughter, who was named Mindy, and how much he hated being separated from her when he was on the road performing. After Mr. Rickles had left, Ginny told Bob, “That is the most darling man I’ve ever met. You just want to hug him.” A little later, they caught Mr. Rickles’ act, in which he told the audience, “Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Newhart is here with his wife, a former hooker from Bayonne, New Jersey.” (Despite this beginning, they all became friends and have traveled the world together.)

• Married couples get divorced for different reasons. Early 20th-century cartoonist Rose Cecil O’Neill was divorced twice in an era when that was very unusual and very suspect. One of her divorces resulted from her habit of speaking baby talk. However, despite this habit she was very capable of producing serious work. One of her cartoons — on a postcard — was titled “Give Mother the Vote: We Need It” and showed her usual cute, cuddly cartoon characters with this verse underneath the cartoon: “Isn’t it a funny thing / That father cannot see / Why Mother ought to have a vote / On how these things should be?”

• After working at the Disney studio, animator John Sibley stopped for a drink. One drink led to another, and he arrived home late — very late. However, his loving wife was waiting for him. She was dressed very elegantly, made up very beautifully, and had been eagerly looking forward to her husband’s taking her out to dine and dance — as he had promised. (It was their wedding anniversary.) Mr. Sibley recognized his error, but being never at a loss for humorous words, he asked her, “What’s new?” Of course, his loving wife forgave him, but it took time. (Three years.)

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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