• Ernestine Schumann-Heink had a problem when she first met Maurice Grau of the Metropolitan Opera Company — she did not have clothing fine enough for such an important meeting with such an important man. Fortunately, Lillian Nordica came to the rescue and lent her a silk dress — with a train — that made the necessary statement: The person wearing this dress is a prima donna. Later, Ms. Schumann-Heink embarrassed Ms. Nordica by thanking her publicly for the loan.
• Albert Einstein was a friend to the Curie family, including both Marie and her daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie. One day, Mr. Einstein and Ms. Joliot-Curie were talking about particle tracks, as Ms. Joliot-Curie’s daughter, Hélène, drew near them. Soon, young Hélène showed Mr. Einstein the “particle tracks” she had drawn. Mr. Einstein looked at the drawing, then told Ms. Joliot-Curie, “If you don’t watch out, she’ll become a theoretical physicist!” Hélène did.
• Tenors Richard Tucker and Luciano Pavarotti were friends. After a performance by Mr. Tucker, Mr. Pavarotti called to congratulate him, saying, “I just can’t believe it. I had to call you. You’re still the top tenor in the world — a phenomenon.” Whenever Mr. Tucker left a dressing room that would next be occupied by Mr. Pavarotti, he used to write on the mirror this message: “Buona fortuna.”
• Madame Giulietta Grisi once decided to commit suicide, so she ran to a river so she could drown herself. Fortunately, a friend followed her and convinced her not to drown herself — making the argument that she would be disheveled, muddy, and unglamorous when her body was fished out of the river.
• Children’s picture book creator Ezra Jack Keats never had children of his own, but that was OK because his friends had children. Often, he would ask a friend, “Can I come and see how children climb out of a pillowcase?” or “I’m going to the zoo — can I borrow a child?”
• Stan Laurel always had a great respect for his friend Oliver Hardy’s talents as a comedian. Whenever Mr. Laurel watched one of the great comedy team’s movies, he laughed at Mr. Hardy’s antics, not at his own.
Gays and Lesbians
• Some lesbians have unusual coming-out stories. One lesbian told her abusive stepfather that she was a lesbian, and he immediately told her to get out of the house or he would give her a beating worse than the ones he had previously given her. Her straight siblings decided to take advantage of the situation to also get out of an abusive home — her straight brother immediately told their abusive stepfather that he was gay and a month later her straight sister told him that she was a lesbian. The lesbian adds, “My stepdad started to catch on, though, when my mother told him she was a lesbertarian.”
• Lesbian comedian Kate Clinton has a niece named Grace. One day, Grace and a friend were playing together, and Grace’s mother heard Grace say, “Let’s pretend we’re gay!” Her friend asked, “What’s gay?” Grace explained, “It’s when two girls get together, dance, and have fun.” While watching the March on Washington in 1993, Grace asked her mother, “Now tell me again, Mom, why do ungay people not like Aunt Kate?”
• Moravian soprano Maria Jeritza believed in causing a commotion and being talked about. When Beverly Sills was a child vocalist, she sang at a party where she met Ms. Jeritza, who presented her with a gold toothpick, saying, “You must become a character. You must make people talk about you. After we have all eaten, you pick your teeth with this gold toothpick, and you’ll see — everybody will be talking about you.”
• Diamond Jim Brady loved to eat. He once ate a box of chocolates that came from the small Boston firm of Page and Shaw. He loved the candy and ordered several hundred boxes for himself and as gifts for his friends. Unfortunately, the business was too small to handle such a large order. Therefore, Diamond Jim gave them an interest-free loan of $150,000 so they could expand their candy-making capacity.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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