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

Husbands and Wives

• Comedian Bob Newhart’s first date with his future wife, Virginia “Ginny” Quinn, was inauspicious. Mr. Newhart wasn’t hungry, so he ordered a drink at the restaurant and watched her as she ate. This made her so nervous that she spilled mayonnaise on her dress. Mr. Newhart then announced that they were going to visit Carl Reiner and his family — people whom Ginny had never met. Once again, Ginny was nervous and during the entire visit she used her purse to cover the mayonnaise stain. About their first date, Ginny says, “I could have killed Bob.”

• Ivan Jadan, the premier lyric tenor of the Bolshoi Opera from 1928-1941, sang at the wedding of Barbara Mitchell, a friend in the Virgin Islands. He sang “The Lord’s Prayer” at the wedding, then he sang Russian and Ukrainian folk songs at the reception. He was quite a good singer. After listening to him for over an hour, Barbara knew that it was time for her and her husband to go on their honeymoon, but she asked her mother, “Do I really have to leave?” (A man who had heard Mr. Jadan sing once remarked, “He doesn’t sing; he prays.”)

• When Mark Twain wanted to marry Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a wealthy family in Connecticut, her father asked him to provide character references. Mr. Twain gave him the names of some prominent men, including ministers, whom he had known in the West. Unfortunately, the men reported that Mr. Twain was “born to be hung” and would end up in a “drunkard’s grave.” Nevertheless, Mr. Langdon allowed Mr. Twain to marry his daughter, saying, “Take the girl. I know you better than they do.”

• The 18th-century eccentric Timothy Dexter, who lived in Newburyport, Massachusetts, wanted a street named after himself in the town. The town officials declined to do so, and even Mr. Dexter’s wife thought that it was a bad idea. However, Mr. Dexter found a novel way to get revenge on his wife. He simply woke up one morning and started referring to her as “the ghost that was my wife.” She continued to live with him from that year, 1795, until he died in 1806, but he denied her living presence for all those years.

• When Albert Schweitzer met and fell in love with Helene Breslau, he had already formed a plan to go to Africa as a physician. He knew that his plan would result in lots of hardship, and he told Helene that he was worried that the hardship would be too much for her. Helene replied, “I will take a training course in nursing, and then you won’t be able to get along without me.” That’s exactly what happened. She did take the training course, and she went to Africa as Dr. Schweitzer’s nurse and wife.

• In his Answer Man column, film critic Roger Ebert answered a question by Matt Sandler about who was the world’s most beautiful woman by saying that she was Indian actress Aishwarya Rai. In a later Answer Man column, a reader stated that Mr. Ebert should have answered the question by saying, “My wife.” However, Mr. Ebert had a good reason for not answering the question that way: “Matt Sandler asked about women, not goddesses.”

• Stephen Wozniak is famous because he and Steven Jobs started Apple, Inc. together. Mr. Wozniak met his wife when she dialed a Dial-a-Polish-Joke phone line he had set up. He talked with her for a few minutes, then said, “I bet I can hang up faster than you.” He won, but a few days later she called him again and they set up a date. To decide whether to marry her, he flipped a coin — and kept on flipping it until it said to marry her.

• Some spouses are very accommodating. While illustrating his Caldecott Medal-winning children’s book, Jumanji, Chris Van Allsburg used photographs and models, as well as drawing from his imagination. He needed to draw pictures of monkeys, but he couldn’t find any photographs of monkeys in the exact poses he needed, so his wife posed for him and he drew the monkeys using her as the model.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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