David Bruce: The Funniest People in Television and Radio: 250 Anecdotes — Religion, Respect, Soap Operas, Stunts

Religion

• Billy Graham occasionally appeared on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar, for which he was criticized by people who felt that preachers should not know celebrities. However, Mr. Graham said that Jesus went among the sinners and therefore he could go on Jack Paar’s show.

Respect

• NBC News Washington correspondent John Yang is highly respected, very traveled, and completely gay. He could pass as straight, but he chooses not to, saying, “There are certain things about myself that are immutable, and some of them are obvious. I’m Asian. I mean, anyone who sees me on the air or hears my last name knows that. And in a way, I felt that I can’t pass as not being Asian, so why should I pass as being straight?” Many conservative politicians really don’t care if someone is gay, although you may not be able to tell that from their public pronouncements. After a conservative Republican Senator (unfortunately, not named) read an article in which Mr. Yang’s sexual orientation was mentioned, he called Mr. Yang and said, “John, I saw that thing about you in the magazine. I just want to tell you it doesn’t make any difference to me. You’re still the best d*mned reporter I’ve ever dealt with.” The senator then asked, “I haven’t said anything wrong, have I?” Mr. Yang replied, “No, Senator. You said just the right thing.”

• Marti Noxon was extremely happy when she got a job writing for the first season of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a midseason replacement series on the WB — a network that was then pretty much at the bottom of the TV barrel. Of course, shaking with excitement and happiness, she called her mother to give her the good news, but after she said the names of the series and the network, her mother paused, then said, “Oh, honey, next year you’ll do better.” Another person who didn’t get much respect was Sarah Michelle Gellar, who starred as Buffy. She told all her friends about her new role, but they weren’t impressed. Ms. Gellar said, “You try being on a midseason replacement show on the WB called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and see how much respect you get.” Fortunately, as everyone knows, the series became a cult favorite and stayed on the air for seven seasons.

Soap Operas

• Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, and Hugh Franklin, a professional actor who played a leading role on the TV soap opera All My Children, were happily married for many years. Ms. L’Engle once talked to a taxi driver and speculated about whether her and her husband’s many years of marriage had set a record for the longest-lasting marriage between an author and an actor. The taxi driver turned to her and said, “Lady, that’s not a record — that’s a miracle!”

• During the Great Depression, radio shows of every kind were very popular. Women, of course, enjoyed the soap operas of the day, including Our Gal Sunday. In fact, women could walk around the block in New York City in the summer and not miss a word of their favorite soap opera because every radio would be tuned to it and in the days before air conditioning every window and many doors would be open.

Stunts

• Of course, stunt men and stunt women played an important part in the filming of the 1960s tongue-in-cheek TV spy series The Avengers. However, you may be surprised to read that in some cases stunt men performed the stunts of Diana Rigg, who played Mrs. Emma Peel. For example, in the episode “The Bird Who Knew Too Much,” Peter Elliott performs Mrs. Peel’s high dive into the swimming pool. In many cases, however, stunt woman Cyd Child designed and performed Mrs. Peel’s dangerous stunts.

• In the TV series The New Avengers, actor Gareth Hunt performed a dangerous stunt in which he smashed through a glass window. In doing so, he cut his forehead and began bleeding. His co-star in the series, Patrick Macnee, who played an older John Steed, leaned down to him and said, “Dear boy, the biggest stunt I ever do is getting in and out of the car.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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