• Walt Disney was uncoordinated but fiercely competitive, and during the Great Depression (when jobs were very, very scarce), his employees did not want to throw or tag him out when he played in one of their lunchtime softball games. Disney employee Jack Kinney once witnessed a game in which Walt Disney hit a grounder to second base. Although the second baseman could have fielded the softball easily, he booted the softball instead into right field. Because the softball had stopped rolling, the right fielder was forced to pick it up, and he immediately threw it to the third baseman instead of the first baseman. The third baseman threw it to the second baseman. The second baseman had no choice but to throw it to the first baseman. The first baseman deliberately bobbled the ball, and when uncoordinated Walt finally made it to first base, the first baseman dropped the ball. Result: Walt was credited with a single. Moral: If you are uncoordinated but want to be a great athlete, just be the guy who does the hiring and firing in the midst of a depression.
• As a child, Tod Sloan (who was later a famous jockey) worked in a carnival with “Professor” Talbot, who among other activities rode in a hot air balloon. One day, the Professor, who had never seen a parachute, made one by looking at a picture and using it as a model. He then announced to the crowd that he would go up in the balloon and his little boy would jump from the balloon and float down to earth with the parachute. Tod asked, “Who’s your little boy?” The professor said, “You are.” Tod exclaimed, “Like h*ll I am!”
• In 1916, pitcher Jack Nabors was in a game that was tied 1-1 in the ninth inning, and he let the other team walk in the winning run—on purpose. Why? He explained, “If they think I’d stand there in that sun and pitch another nine innings waiting for our bums to make another run, they’re crazy.”
• As a young actress just starting in show business, Eve Arden quickly learned not to be absent minded. She once finished a play’s first act, went to her dressing room, took off her costume and removed her makeup, and then left the theater to take a bus home — only to find the theater manager running after her and yelling, “Second act!” She returned to the stage wearing galoshes and no makeup, where she discovered her fellow actors desperately ad-libbing lines such as “I saw her in the garden, I think” and “She’ll probably be here any minute.”
• Early in her career, actress Diana Rigg was regarded as something of a kook by her neighbors because she used to lose her keys a few times a year and be forced to gain entry to her apartment by throwing a milk bottle through a window.
• British actor Pete Postlethwaite has a rugged face. When he was studying at the Bristol Old Vic, he ran out of money to pay for the completion of his course of study. However, the head of the school knew that the young man had real talent, so he told him, “Listen, I have a hunch you’re going to do all right in this business, so I’m going to put down the outstanding amount as a debt and then, in a few years’ time, I’ll write it off as a bad debt.” Of course, this comment made Mr. Postlethwaite happy, although the next comment did not. The head of the school unfortunately added, “Of course, when you’ve got a face like a f**king stone archway, you can’t go wrong.” Mr. Postlethwaite once acted in a play by Restoration playwright William Congreve, and co-star Prunella Scales sent him a telegram praising his performance. According to Mr. Postlethwaite, she wrote that “I was the best Restoration truck driver she’d ever worked with.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — Buy
The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Buy