• Late in life, Fanny Brice — radio’s Baby Snooks — enjoyed interior decorating, often decorating her friends’ houses for free (and disregarding their advice while doing so). She acquired her good taste in decorating through asking questions constantly and not pretending like she already knew everything. She also began talking about where to leave her money after she died. One day, when one of her little grandchildren was making more racket than usual, she said, “One more crack out of you, kid, and the money goes to UCLA.”
• Blossom Rock provided comic support in 1940s movies (and played Grandmama on TV’s Addams Family). In 1938, she and her husband hosted a party in which everybody came as they thought they would be in 50 years. Ms. Rock wore a tombstone. (Her costume was accurate; she died in 1978.)
• In high school, Pam Dawber liked to talk to her friends, even during choir. However, her teacher, Mr. Hunt, had a policy of giving students an F for the day if he caught them talking. During Pam’s senior year, Mr. Hunt told her that her talking in class had dropped her grade in choir to a D, but he would give her a C if she tried out for a singing role in the high school production of the musical Kismet. She did try out, she got the role, she discovered that she liked acting, and she decided to make it her life’s work. Today, she is widely known for playing “Mindy” in Mork and Mindy.
• As Michael Moore, director of Roger and Me, was watching Sunday morning television, he came across a political commentary program on which Fred Barnes, a conservative, deplored the state of modern American education, saying, “These kids don’t even know what The Iliad and The Odyssey are!” The next day, Mr. Moore telephoned Mr. Barnes, and he asked, “Fred, tell me what The Iliad and The Odyssey are.” Mr. Barnes replied, “Well, they’re … uh … you know … uh … okay, fine, you got me — I don’t know what they’re about. Happy now?”
• Russell Johnson, who played the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, could have been a good teacher. In Philadelphia, an educational channel conducted an experiment. First, it showed a class such clips as the Professor explaining how he recharged batteries from different metals and seawater, and how he made glass from sand, etc. Then a different class was taught the same information by a professional teacher. Evaluation of the two classes showed that the class watching the Professor learned the information four times as well as the other class.
• James Marsters, who played the vampire Spike on TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, knew that he wanted to be an actor after playing Eeyore the mournful donkey in a 4th-grade play. Unfortunately, after deciding what he wanted to do with his life, he was no longer interested in anything in school except what was relevant to acting. His mother made a valiant effort to convince him that chemistry and higher math were relevant to acting — but her effort was mainly unsuccessful.
• When Oprah Winfrey was five years old and in kindergarten, she wrote a letter to her teacher, saying that she felt that she deserved to be in a higher grade. Her teacher agreed, perhaps because Oprah had started to learn to read when she was only two and a half years old, and put Oprah in the 1st grade. Later, because of her educational attainments, Oprah was able to skip the 2nd grade, too.
• When comedian Alan Young got his own radio show, his agent told him that he would now be famous and lots of people would be very willing to take up his time. His agent also told him, “You are an important man now. Don’t waste your time talking to just anybody.” Later that day, an elderly gentleman started talking to him, but Mr. Young told him that he was busy. Then he whispered to his agent and asked who the elderly gentleman was. His agent whispered back, “That’s Lee Bristol, your sponsor.”
• David Hasselhoff starred in the TV series Knight Rider, in which his character played a good guy who drove around in a car named Kitt that had lots of artificial intelligence. Knight Rider was internationally popular, and when Mr. Hasselhoff was driving in Auckland, New Zealand, he saw two schoolchildren carrying Knight Riderbackpacks. When he came near them, he stopped the car, rolled down the window, and asked, “Have you seen Kitt?”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Television and Radio: 250 Anecdotes — Buy