David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Problem-Solving, Siblings, Sons

Problem-Solving

• When he was 13 years old, Steven Spielberg had a problem with a bully who tormented him. He solved the problem by inviting the bully to star in a film he was making of soldiers fighting the Nazis in World War II. During the filming of Battle Squad, the two boys became best friends.

• Even when Aretha Franklin was a school child, she had exceptional musical ability. Whenever the class became too rowdy, her teacher would settle the students down by asking young Aretha to play the piano and sing for them.

• Sometimes, adopted children can be annoyed by nosy questions such as this: “Is that your real brother?” Some adopted children use the answer, “He isn’t fake!”

Siblings

• While managing the Hotel Rand in New York City, Wilson Mizner created a few rules for residents to follow. They included, “No opium-smoking in the elevators,” “Guests must carry out their own dead,” and “No piano-playing before 5 p.m. as it may disturb the other guests.” One day, Mr. Mizner and a friend were walking down the street where the Hotel Rand was located, and Mr. Mizner crossed to the other side of the street, advising his friend, “Never walk under the hotel’s windows. The girls throwing keys down to their friends will knock your brains out.” His brother Henry, a preacher, once stayed at the hotel, so Mr. Mizner went to an employment agency to hire several women and children to sit in the hotel lobby and look respectable.

• When children’s book author Tomie DePaola was in kindergarten, his mother got pregnant, and he let her know that he wanted a sister with a red ribbon in her hair, although his mother told him that he wouldn’t know if he had a brother or a sister until the baby arrived. When the baby arrived, he had a sister. As his parents were bringing the baby home, his mother and father stopped by Woolworth’s, where they bought a red ribbon and tied it in his baby sister’s hair before showing her to him for the first time.

• Buddy Ebsen is perhaps best known as Jed Clampett in the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies; however, he and Vilma Ebsen were a popular brother-and-sister dance team in the 1930s. Buddy was very protective of his sister. Whenever she left in a taxicab, she used to look back and see him writing down the license number of the taxi in a notebook.

• As a boy, movie director Steven Spielberg played pranks on his younger sisters: Sue, Anne, and Nancy. He once locked them in a closet with a skeleton that had a light glowing in its eye socket. And he once cut off the head of Nancy’s favorite doll, then put it on a platter of lettuce, surrounded it with tomato slices, and served it to her.

Sons

• One night, children’s book author/illustrator David McPhail stayed up very late creating an illustration in which the character Henry Bear plays music in the rain. Despite his hard work, he wasn’t sure whether he had correctly drawn the rain, but he knew that if he stayed up any later and worked on the illustration, he could ruin it. Early the next morning, Tristan, his five-year-old son, woke him up. Tristan had the illustration in his hand, and he told his father, “Henry Bear playing music in the rain — it’s good!”

• Feminist Betty Friedan sometimes felt guilty when something she wanted to do for herself interfered with an activity that involved her children. For example, she once turned down a chance to take a class in writing for television so that she could attend her son’s Cub Scout meetings. However, after a few months, her son asked her if he could stop going to the Cub Scout meetings because they were boring. After that, she felt less guilty about doing the things she wanted to do for herself.

• While acting in Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte, Feodor Chaliapin saw Boris, his son, in the wings. Although the scene required Mr. Chaliapin to be on his knees, crying, he managed to wink at his son with the eye not facing the audience, and even to whisper his son’s Russian name: “Borka, Borka.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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