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

Husbands and Wives

• Texas actor Marco Perella has a lot of respect for Drew Barrymore, with whom he worked in a movie titled Home Fries — he played a bad guy to her good girl. After the filming of the movie was completed, a bouquet of flowers arrived at Mr. Perella’s home with a note reading, “Thanks for a wonderful time. Love, Drew.” Underneath the signature was a lipstick kiss. Of course, Mrs. Perella was very interested in this bouquet and note, although nothing unprofessional had ever occurred between her husband and Ms. Barrymore. Mr. Perella finally convinced his wife that Ms. Barrymore had no doubt sent flowers and notes to every actor involved in the movie, but he noticed when the movie came out that his wife watched — very carefully — the scenes between him and Ms. Barrymore.

• Donna Kloker of Great Falls, Montana, had a match-making student in one of the junior high courses she taught. The boy tried to match Donna with a barber in a barbershop where the boy shined shoes, even giving the barber Donna’s telephone number. (Unfortunately, she was busy on the night that the barber wanted to set up a date.) One day, when she took the class on a field trip to the police station, the barber was inside, paying a traffic ticket. The student yelled, “That’s him! That’s him!” Then he pointed to Donna and told the barber, “That’s her!” A few days later, Donna visited the barbershop — with the excuse of wanting to talk to her student — and some time afterward she and the barber were married.

• At a performance of Tannhaeuser at the Metropolitan Opera, the singer playing the part of the Shepherd Boy became ill, so the stage manager, Paul Schumann, asked his wife, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, to take over the part. However, when the Shepherd Boy was supposed to come on stage and sing, Ms. Schumann-Heink simply stuck her head above a stage rock and sang without showing more of herself. Later, when she was asked why she had done that, she explained, “The Shepherd’s Boy costume calls for tights, and that husband of mine — do you think he would let me step out before an audience and show my legs? Not he!”

• Ashe King worked at a dance studio and taught ballet. One day, a woman called to ask about the required clothing for her husband, who was thinking of taking a beginners’ class. Mr. King explained that her husband would need ballet slippers, ballet tights, and a dance belt. When the woman asked what a dance belt was, Mr. King answered that all male dancers wore one, as it served to keep everything from flopping around. The woman then responded, “I can assure you, my husband does not need one of those — he is too small!” (The woman’s husband never showed up for dance class, probably because he was too embarrassed.)

• One day, Jay Leno and his wife, Mavis, decided to get in their car and go out for pizza. On this particular day, a Gay Pride March was being held, and they drove into the midst of a confusing scene. A police officer motioned them forward, and since Jay thought the officer was trying to help him get through the confusion, he followed the officer’s directions. However, the officer put him in the midst of the parade. Jay and his wife drove for five miles as part of the parade, and all along the route he kept hearing people say, “Hey, look! I didn’t know Jay Leno was gay!” Mr. Leno’s wife thought this was hilarious.

• One cold night, children’s book author Joanna Cole and her husband, Phil, put an electric blanket on their bed incorrectly — her controls made his part of the blanket warmer or cooler, while his controls made her part of the blanket warmer or cooler. Joanna was freezing, so she kept turning up the heat. Eventually, she had turned up the heat as high as it would go and her husband jumped out of bed because he was burning up — only then did they figure out what had happened. According to Ms. Cole, she and her husband are not quite as mixed up as her characters Big Goof and Little Goof.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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

Gifts

• In the late 19th century, when the Crown Prince of Germany was engaged to the Princess, they stayed at Balmoral, where they found some white heather while walking. After they were married, the Crown Prince again stayed at Balmoral, where he found some white heather in the same place they had last found it. Knowing how much the Princess liked white heather, the Crown Prince sent it to her.

• Sara, the wife of world-famous tenor Richard Tucker, was proud of her husband. Once, a business associate was trying to come up with a good idea for a gift for Mr. Tucker, so he asked Sara if he should give him calling cards. Sara replied, “What does he need calling cards for? Everybody knows who Richard Tucker is.”

Grandparents

• When comedian Arte Johnson was growing up on a farm in Michigan, everyone canned their own vegetables. One day, his family was boiling the canning jars to sterilize them when someone noticed a mouse in a spill area under the stove. They immediately shouted for Grampa to come and take care of the mouse. Annoyed, he came running from the barn carrying a shotgun, then aimed at the mouse and fired. He missed the mouse, but he did manage to shatter every canning jar on top of the stove. According to Mr. Johnson, “The green beans exploded and were hanging from the ceiling like stalactites for weeks.”

• When Walter Slezak got a job acting in New York, his grandmother sent a note to the captain of the ship that would take him to America. The note said this: “My grandson is sailing on your ship to America. Please keep an eye on him and drive carefully.” The note amused the captain. On one occasion, Mr. Slezak was playing cards at 3:30 a.m., so the captain sent his steward to tell him it was time to go to bed. On another occasion, the seas were rough, so the captain sent Mr. Slezak a note: “I am driving carefully.”

• Ruth Anderson was the council president of the Akron, Ohio, Covenant Community Church. One year, her four-year-old granddaughter visited her all the way from Massachusetts. Ms. Anderson took her granddaughter to church, although her granddaughter’s parents were not regular church-attending people. The granddaughter was impressed by the experience and told her parents, “They have a place they go to here in Ohio. They call it church.”

• Poet Nikki Giovanni, author of “Ego-Tripping,” believes in family, and she also believes in being prepared. She feels that grandmothers ought to know how to bake cookies and other goodies for children, and when she learned that she would soon be a grandmother, she learned how to bake.

Husbands and Wives

• A couple of coincidences saved the lives of married dancers Marian Ladré and Illaria Obidenna Ladré. Because Mrs. Ladré couldn’t get a visa, she stayed behind in Romania while her husband went on tour in South America. Mrs. Ladré couldn’t get a visa because of a mistake made by her mother, who couldn’t speak much Romanian. When the Romanian bureaucrat asked her where her daughter was born, she thought they were asking her where her daughter was staying, and so she answered the question incorrectly. Because of the mistake, the bureaucrat wouldn’t give her daughter a visa. The mistake saved Mrs. Ladré’s life. Later, she started hemorrhaging and needed medical care immediately. If she had been in the jungles of South America, she would not have received the medical care she needed. At the same time Mrs. Ladré fell ill, her husband was on a train in the jungles of Brazil, unable to sleep because of worrying about his wife. The axle under his train car started burning. Because Mr. Ladré was awake, he was able to have the train stopped before an accident occurred.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Friends, Gays and Lesbians

Friends

• Ernestine Schumann-Heink had a problem when she first met Maurice Grau of the Metropolitan Opera Company — she did not have clothing fine enough for such an important meeting with such an important man. Fortunately, Lillian Nordica came to the rescue and lent her a silk dress — with a train — that made the necessary statement: The person wearing this dress is a prima donna. Later, Ms. Schumann-Heink embarrassed Ms. Nordica by thanking her publicly for the loan.

• Albert Einstein was a friend to the Curie family, including both Marie and her daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie. One day, Mr. Einstein and Ms. Joliot-Curie were talking about particle tracks, as Ms. Joliot-Curie’s daughter, Hélène, drew near them. Soon, young Hélène showed Mr. Einstein the “particle tracks” she had drawn. Mr. Einstein looked at the drawing, then told Ms. Joliot-Curie, “If you don’t watch out, she’ll become a theoretical physicist!” Hélène did.

• Tenors Richard Tucker and Luciano Pavarotti were friends. After a performance by Mr. Tucker, Mr. Pavarotti called to congratulate him, saying, “I just can’t believe it. I had to call you. You’re still the top tenor in the world — a phenomenon.” Whenever Mr. Tucker left a dressing room that would next be occupied by Mr. Pavarotti, he used to write on the mirror this message: “Buona fortuna.”

• Madame Giulietta Grisi once decided to commit suicide, so she ran to a river so she could drown herself. Fortunately, a friend followed her and convinced her not to drown herself — making the argument that she would be disheveled, muddy, and unglamorous when her body was fished out of the river.

• Children’s picture book creator Ezra Jack Keats never had children of his own, but that was OK because his friends had children. Often, he would ask a friend, “Can I come and see how children climb out of a pillowcase?” or “I’m going to the zoo — can I borrow a child?”

• Stan Laurel always had a great respect for his friend Oliver Hardy’s talents as a comedian. Whenever Mr. Laurel watched one of the great comedy team’s movies, he laughed at Mr. Hardy’s antics, not at his own.

Gays and Lesbians

• Some lesbians have unusual coming-out stories. One lesbian told her abusive stepfather that she was a lesbian, and he immediately told her to get out of the house or he would give her a beating worse than the ones he had previously given her. Her straight siblings decided to take advantage of the situation to also get out of an abusive home — her straight brother immediately told their abusive stepfather that he was gay and a month later her straight sister told him that she was a lesbian. The lesbian adds, “My stepdad started to catch on, though, when my mother told him she was a lesbertarian.”

• Lesbian comedian Kate Clinton has a niece named Grace. One day, Grace and a friend were playing together, and Grace’s mother heard Grace say, “Let’s pretend we’re gay!” Her friend asked, “What’s gay?” Grace explained, “It’s when two girls get together, dance, and have fun.” While watching the March on Washington in 1993, Grace asked her mother, “Now tell me again, Mom, why do ungay people not like Aunt Kate?”

Gifts

• Moravian soprano Maria Jeritza believed in causing a commotion and being talked about. When Beverly Sills was a child vocalist, she sang at a party where she met Ms. Jeritza, who presented her with a gold toothpick, saying, “You must become a character. You must make people talk about you. After we have all eaten, you pick your teeth with this gold toothpick, and you’ll see — everybody will be talking about you.”

• Diamond Jim Brady loved to eat. He once ate a box of chocolates that came from the small Boston firm of Page and Shaw. He loved the candy and ordered several hundred boxes for himself and as gifts for his friends. Unfortunately, the business was too small to handle such a large order. Therefore, Diamond Jim gave them an interest-free loan of $150,000 so they could expand their candy-making capacity.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Fathers, Father’s Day, Food, Friends

Fathers

• When Frank DeCaro, Jr., was born, his father did what he was supposed to and stayed in the hospital waiting room. However, although Frank, Jr., was born at 8 a.m., his father didn’t learn about it until five hours later because the physician forgot to tell him.

• When artist Louise Bourgeois was growing up, her father had a bad temper. At family dinners, her father always had a stack of cheap saucers by his side. That way, if he ever got angry, he could break a saucer instead of yelling at one of his children.

• The English can be reserved. After English contralto Kathleen Ferrier had made a major stir in the world of opera, Bruno Walter congratulated her elderly father on Ms. Ferrier’s success. Old Mr. Ferrier replied, “Yes, Kath’s not doing too badly.”

• When Groucho Marx got married for the third time, he sent his son this telegram: “If you’ve heard about this, please refund the price of this telegram. Love from us both.”

• When Jack Benny was young, his father gave him two gifts: a violin, in case he had any musical talent, and a monkey wrench, in case he didn’t have any musical talent.

• Isaac Newton’s father was illiterate. When he made out a will leaving his property, Woolsthorpe Manor, to his wife, he signed the will with an X.

Father’s Day

• Scaredy Kate is the pet cat of children’s book illustrator Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan. One Father’s Day, Scaredy Kate gave birth to five kittens by the athletic shoes sitting in a corner of Dyanne’s husband’s closet. They named the five Father’s Day gifts Adidas, Converse, Etonic, Nike, and Reebok.

Food

• When he was a child, the mother of young-adult book author Walter Dean Myers set up a tab for him at the local grocer’s — whenever young Walter was hungry, he could buy food and she would pay for it later. Walter, however, used the tab to buy chocolate, and soon all the neighborhood children knew that he could get “free” chocolate at the grocer’s. As you would expect, Walter ordered lots and lots of chocolate, and after his mother had spoken sharply to him and to the grocer, he didn’t have a tab anymore.

• Marilyn Hall’s mother-in-law once gave a dinner party for which the main course was a whole poached salmon. She instructed her new, foreign maid to bring in the salmon at a certain time “with a little parsley in the mouth.” The maid did as she was told, but the dinner guests were very surprised when she brought in the salmon — the maid had parsley in her mouth.

• Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller is still close to his old high-school teacher, Beverly C. Lucey. She remembers Penn and his friends sitting in the cafeteria eating their lunches — on the floor. This freaked out the vice principal, who wanted the students to sit in regular chairs at regular tables. Therefore, he ordered them to stand up. They did. Then he ordered them, “Sit down!” They did — back on the floor.

• Irwin Shaw’s son was raised in Paris and so was very sophisticated. After his first day in kindergarten, his nurse took him to a restaurant and asked what he wanted to order. He replied, “I’ll have a dozen oysters and a glass of white wine.”

Friends

• When children’s picture book creator Ezra Jack Keats was taking classes at the Art Students League, his best friend, Martin Pope, was taking science classes in college. Often, they would meet and have long discussions. Mr. Keats would walk Mr. Pope home, but since their discussion wasn’t finished, they would turn around and Mr. Pope would walk Mr. Keats home. Because their discussion still wasn’t finished, they would turn around again. Finally, they would say goodbye midway between their homes.

• A group of musical performers partied together, and guitarist Hermann Leeb said to composer Frank Martin, “What a pity that there isn’t any music that we could all play together!” The next morning, Mr. Martin called all the friends and asked them to come to his home. He had stayed up and written a piece for his friends and him to play together. “Berceuse” was written for piano four-hands, played by Madeleine Lipatti and Mr. Martin; guitar, played by Mr. Leeb; and voice, sung by the tenor Hugues Cuenod.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Fathers

Fathers

• H. Allen Smith’s father had many, many children. Whenever he wanted to read his newspaper, his numerous small children tearing around the house bothered him. Therefore, he invented a game to keep them quiet. One day he pulled a penny from his pocket, told his children to watch him, then he rubbed the coin on a rug until it shone like new. After that, whenever he wanted some peace and quiet, he would give each of his children a penny and tell them, “Go shine.”

• Aretha Franklin remained unspoiled despite becoming a rhythm and blues superstar with numerous Grammy Awards. She credits her father with ensuring that she did not become spoiled. At home, everyone in her family would be working — vacuuming, washing dishes, etc. — but young Aretha would sometimes stand around, doing nothing. Whenever this happened, her father would tell her, “See if you can find yourself around in that kitchen and introduce yourself to the trash.”

• When Shaquille O’Neal was 13 years old, he stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall and was growing so fast that new clothes became too small for him after only a few weeks. However, his size by itself did not make him a good basketball player. When Shaq was a high-school senior, his father criticized him, saying that he wasn’t playing hard enough. This criticism so motivated Shaq that in the very next game he scored 52 points.

• When Casey Stengel was a young man, he smashed an inside-the-park home run, but his shoelace came untied as he ran around the bases. The loose shoe made him run awkwardly, and he ended up staggering across home base. In the stands sat his fiancée, Edna Lawson, and her father. Proud of the home run, Ms. Lawson asked her father, “What do you think of my hero now, Pa?” Unimpressed with Casey’s base running, her father replied, “I just hope he lives till the wedding.”

• When Wayne Gretzky was two years old, his father, Walter, started training him to be a hockey star. After buying the smallest hockey stick he could find, he cut it down even more so that Wayne could use it. He even built a hockey rink — complete with lights! — in the backyard so that Wayne could practice, even at night. The practice paid off. Mr. Gretzky became perhaps the greatest hockey player ever.

• Comedian Tim Conway’s father pretended that he had very sharp vision. Occasionally while driving, he would say, “Wasn’t that a dime back there?” Then he would stop the car, and he and little Tim would get out, and sure enough, they would find a dime on the street. Not until he was an adult did Tim realize that his father had planted the dime on the street earlier just so he could “see” it later.

• The artist Bela Haas was wealthy, but tight with his money. Once a well-dressed man asked him for some money, saying that he knew that Mr. Haas was rich, but Mr. Haas replied, “My dear sir, I am indeed rich, but I’m not generous and I must tell you that as my money is the only thing I have to remember my late-lamented father by, I can never part with it.”

• While Groucho Marx’s son, Arthur, was in the Navy, Groucho visited him. Arthur helped him with the luggage, and with both his hands filled with luggage, he suddenly saw an admiral, who obviously expected to be saluted. Groucho came to the rescue. He saluted the admiral, then pointed to Arthur and explained, “He pays me to do his saluting for him.”

• The father of Sid Fleischman, author of the McBroom comedy series of children’s books, owned a taxicab. One day, he discovered that if he hit a pothole, the meter would jump ahead, thus increasing the fare the passenger had to pay. After making this discovery, he learned the location of every pothole in the city.

• Jay Leno’s father didn’t understand the importance of major celebrities maintaining some form of privacy. Whenever he learned that someone was a big fan of Jay, he would give the fan Jay’s private telephone number and say, “Call him up! He’d love to hear from you!”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Fathers

Fathers

• Edward Jenner wanted to find a vaccine to prevent smallpox. He had learned that people who had contracted cowpox or swinepox were immune to the disease, so he decided to experiment to see if deliberately giving people the mild diseases of cowpox or swinepox would keep them from contracting the deadly disease of smallpox. He would have used himself as a guinea pig, but he had previously recovered from smallpox and so had acquired immunity. Therefore, he gave his own son swinepox, then later injected him with smallpox. The smallpox had no effect on his son. This experiment led to the adoption of vaccines to fight smallpox and saved an enormous number of lives.

• When children’s book author Lois Lowry was nine years old, she wanted a man’s woolen hunting shirt she frequently looked at in a shop window. Her father noticed that she wanted the shirt, and so he took her into the store to try it on. Of course, even the smallest size was much too large for her, but her father bought it for her anyway. In her autobiography, Looking Back: A Book of Memories, Ms. Lowry writes, “I wore it for years. I loved that shirt. I loved my father for buying it for me. I loved the entire world for being the kind of world where such a shirt, and such a father, existed.” She also recognizes that buying the shirt was practical — she never outgrew it.

• Emilio Diaz, the father of actress Cameron Diaz, was a true sports nut, and he taught his two daughters, Chimene and Cameron, to love sports, too. When he woke up on Sunday mornings when his daughters were young, even before he raised his head from his pillow, he would shout, “FOOTBAAALLLL.” He also teased his two daughters by telling them occasionally to go and play on the freeway. Of course, they understood that he was joking. Cameron and her parents have a good relationship, and she even decided to quit smoking to set a better example after her parents pointed out that they had seen her smoking in seven of her movies.

• Comic singer Anna Russell once did some nude modeling — artistic, not pornographic. (The photographer’s wife and female assistant were always present during the photo sessions.) Ms. Russell had a nice figure, although she did not care for her face so much — but then, the photographer did not take photographs of her face. One of the photographs appeared in a London newspaper, where her father saw it, but fortunately he did not recognize her. After looking at the photograph, her father remarked, “It’s amazing what people will stoop to for money.”

• Comedian Robert Klein’s father never ate vegetables because he thought salad was a dish fit only for cows. As a result, his bowel movements were infrequent. Once, when Robert was young, the urge suddenly came on his father, who dashed for the bathroom. Immediately, he yelled for Robert to bring him an umbrella. Robert did as he was told, and when he opened the door to the bathroom, he saw his father sitting on the throne, and above his father, hanging on a clothesline, were his mother’s dripping undergarments.

• One way for a man to become a feminist is to have a daughter who is a feminist. In 1854, Elizabeth Cady Stanton spoke to the legislature of New York about women’s rights, saying, “We ask no better laws than those you have made for yourselves … simply on the ground that the rights of every human being are the same and identical.” Before she gave her speech, she read it to her father, who was a respected jurist. At first, her father threatened to disinherit her, but eventually he helped her with the speech’s legal analysis.

• Once, when her father was visiting her, lesbian comedian Kate Clinton invited some of her friends over for dinner. She did establish one conversational rule ahead of time (for her own comfort) — no talk about gay sex. As the dinner progressed, she and her friends discussed such topics as gay politics and gay theory, and at the end of the dinner, she turned toward her father and asked, “What do you think we as gay people can do to make more bridges to straight people?” Her father paused, then answered, “Keep talking.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Education

Education

• Richard A. Watson, a professor of philosophy at Washington University, refuses to have a television set in his home. He relates in his book Good Teaching that this used to upset his young daughter, Anna, because when she said she wanted to watch TV, he told her to go to someone else’s house. However, when Anna became a college student, she began to think that her father had been right to keep TV out of their home. At her university, she discovered that many students were watching TV four to six hours a day, and she wondered when they found time to study.

• The father of Robert Newton Peck, author of such young people’s novels as A Day No Pigs Would Die, was a Shaker — a member of a pacifist religious group who practiced simple living. Robert was the only child to go to school, and actually, his parents didn’t want him to go to school. His teacher realized this, and when she met Robert’s father, she told him, “Thank you for giving me Robert. I shall try to be deserving of your trust.” Robert’s father replied, “Whatever he breaks, I’ll pay for.”

• Richard A. Watson, the author of Good Teaching, has a sister named Connie, who wanted to go to college. Unfortunately, she never managed to go and so ended up in the type of job a high-school graduate usually ends up in. Whenever a college student in the company she works for moans and groans about bad teaching at the university, she looks the student in the eye and asks, “You want to end up at my age with a job like mine?”

• Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the author of such children’s books as Shiloh and The Agony of Alice, loved making up stories even when she was in kindergarten. One day, her kindergarten teacher asked each of her students to make up a story, which she would write down. Young Phyllis dictated her story, then stood in line again to dictate a second story, then stood in line again to dictate a third story. Finally, her teacher told her that that was “quite enough turns for one day!”

• When Jason, Candy Chester’s son, was three years old, the church they attended began to meet in a local school while waiting to move into a new building. Both the school and the church had folding chairs, so to keep the chairs from being mixed up, church members painted “Jesus” on the church’s folding chairs. One day, Jason said that he could spell the word “chair,” then he spelled “J-E-S-U-S.”

• When he was in the third grade, Newbery Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli wore his cowboy outfit — complete with hat, guns, jodhpurs, and spurs — to school. His teacher took the outfit in stride and asked, “Jerry, would you like to do something for us?” Young Jerry went up in front of the class and sang, “I Got Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle.” As accompaniment for himself, he shook his spurs.

• Even as a 14-year-old youngster, entertainer Jennifer Lopez took her craft seriously. During a dance class, her teacher saw that she looked upset as she struggled during class. Thinking that she had boyfriend trouble, he asked her what was wrong. She replied, “I just want to be better.” Impressed by her seriousness about dance, he replied, “You will.”

• When she was a little girl, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, enjoyed her first day of school, but she was surprised that she had to go back to school — she thought that after she had gone one day, she had finished school and she never needed to go back.

• For a while, computer guru Bill Gates went to an all-boys’ private school named Lakeside. When the school went co-ed, Mr. Gates programmed the school’s computer to give him a schedule that made him the only boy in classes filled with girls.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Daughters, Death, Easter

Daughters

• When Paul Krassner’s 16-year-old daughter lost her virginity, she let him know by calling him on the telephone and playing Carly Simon’s “Daddy, I’m Not a Virgin Anymore.” His emotions were conflicting. On the one hand, he was proud that she had found an original way of letting him know that she was entering into a new phase of her life. On the other hand, he was jealous because he was still a virgin at her age.

• Sometimes, opera singers carry on snatches of conversation during live performances. While they were performing in Aida, Zinka Milanov whispered to George London, “George, how’s the new baby? I understand she’s a darling.”

Death

• While attending school at Exeter, Robert Benchley was required to write a paper on a practical subject—he choose to write on the topic of embalming and even did research, interviewing a local undertaker. Later, when humorist George Ade died, the adult Benchley got out of bed and went out and had a good time, telling stories about Mr. Ade and drinking. According to Mr. Benchley, “When a great humorist dies, everybody should go to a place where there is laughter, and drink to his memory until the lights go out.” When Mr. Benchley died, his will, in which he left everything to his wife, was exactly one sentence long: “Confident that she will adequately provide for our two sons, and any child hereafter born to us, I make no provision for them, but give all my property to Gertrude D. Benchley, absolutely, appointing her Executrix without security.”

• As English National Opera soprano Leslie Garrett’s grandfather lay dying in a hospital, one of his nurses discovered that Ms. Garrett was his granddaughter. The nurse exclaimed, “Gosh, Leslie Garrett’s the most famous opera singer in the country.” Her grandfather sat up and told the nurse with his last words, “The world, young lady — she’s the most famous in the world!”

• A tourist approached the driver of a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park and asked, “How many people can you take?” The driver answered, Five.” The tourist said, “But I have a family of six.” The driver replied, “What do you want me to do about it? Shoot one of them?”

• At the Russian funeral of her husband, Sergei Grinkov, Ekaterina Gordeeva carried a bouquet of wilted red and yellow flowers. They were the last thing he had given to her before dying unexpectedly of a heart attack on November 20, 1995, in Lake Placid, New York.

• For a while, Wilson Mizner worked in Hollywood, adding gags to comedy scripts. While working on the screenplay of The Merry Wives of Reno, Mr. Mizner learned that his brother Addison was dying, so he telegraphed him, “Stop dying. Am trying to write a comedy.”

Easter

• When children’s book illustrator Lisa Campbell Ernst was young, her family had a pet dog named Heidi. Heidi had a good appetite, but she often hid part of her food so she could eat it later. Because she was an indoor dog, she hid food in the family’s furniture — Lisa’s father once found a pancake hidden in his favorite chair. One Easter, Lisa and her siblings received three beautiful Easter baskets filled with candy and eggs. Of course, they left the baskets at home while they attended church, and when they returned, they found that Heidi had gotten into the Easter baskets, eaten a good deal of the edibles, and hidden the rest. The Easter hunt was decidedly non-traditional that year, as the family found candy and eggs hidden all over the house. Even though the children couldn’t eat the candy and eggs, they still felt that Heidi had made a wonderful Easter bunny.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships — Christmas, Couples, Daughters

Christmas

• When she was a child, E.L. Konigsburg, author of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, could not sing well. Her elementary school class was divided into bluebirds and redbirds. The bluebirds sang, and the redbirds listened. Young Elaine was a redbird. However, at Christmas, the redbirds were allowed to sing carols. Young Elaine wanted to sing, so she did, but because she was Jewish, whenever a carol referred to “Jesus” or “Christ,” she hummed.

• When Ivan Jadan, the premier lyric tenor of the Bolshoi Opera from 1928-1941, was three years old, he received a beautiful toy horse on wheels for a Christmas present. He had been taught to keep himself and his possessions clean, so one day soon after Christmas, he grabbed a brush and wheeled his horse to the river to wash it. Unfortunately, his horse was made of papier-mâché, and after he had washed it, nothing was left but the wheels.

• On Christmas day, 1911, artist Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris. Of course, everyone was celebrating Christmas, and the doctor who delivered Louise told her very apologetic mother, “Madame Bourgeois, really, you are ruining my festivity.”

• When Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day, 1642, the two women helping his mother thought he would die quickly, so when they went out to get him medicine, they didn’t hurry back. Instead, they sat on a wall and rested.

Couples

• Stand-up comedian Fran Capo made her fiancée learn what it was like to be a stand-up comedian before they were married. He killed the first time he did his act, so she made him do it again. This time, he bombed. Figuring that he knew what the extremes of a stand-up’s life were like, she said, “OK, now you can stop.” She also made him appear in a movie with her — they both were extras, and he was made up as a punk carrying a doll penetrated by a knife. They took a photograph together, which he sent to his mother with the note, “This is the girl I am going to marry.” Ms. Capo says, “She was thrilled.”

• Norman Lear, who revolutionized television sitcoms in the 1970s, wanted to propose to his then-girlfriend, Lyn, as they were vacationing in Kauai. She was very relaxed, lying in a hammock, and Mr. Lear knew he shouldn’t disturb her, but he was so nervous he decided to propose right then. Unfortunately, although he is a writer, the right words would not come to him. He said, with increasing desperation, “How can I show you? How can I tell you? WHAT CAN I DO?” Lyn, who was busy relaxing, replied, “You can leave me the f — k alone.”

• Hispanic movie actor Antonio Banderas has been successful at avoiding the stereotype of the Latin lover in Hollywood, although he is handsome, successful, and sexy. In real life, he has sometimes been unsuccessful in his pursuit of females. Once, he got down on one knee and declared his love for a girl, and she ignored him. (Of course, he was only five years old then.)

• One of ballerina Darci Kistler’s best roles has been that of Princess Aurora in Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. When she first learned that she had gotten the role, her mother told her, “Now your prince will come.” A few months afterward, Ms. Kistler married dancer Peter Martins.

• Lesbian comedian Suzy Berger tells audiences that on her answering machine is this message: “You’re reached the home of Suzy Berger and Jodie Foster.” When the audience members laugh, she stares at them and says, “It could happen.”

Daughters

• As the author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling frequently travels from book signing to book signing. However, often she is too busy signing her autograph and meeting with her fans to see the sights in some of the places she visits. During a trip to Seattle, Jessica, her six-year-old daughter, was gleeful because she was able to go up in the Space Needle and her mother couldn’t because she was too busy.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Relationships —Children

Children

• James M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, loved children. He sometimes used to go on walks with young children and find a peapod in a hollow tree. He would tell the children that the peapod contained a letter written by a fairy and when he opened the peapod, sure enough, he found a tiny letter that he read to the children.

• Mary Cassatt loved to paint children, but sometimes they did not want to be her models. One of her nephews, Gardner, Jr., appeared in her painting, Boy in a Sailor Suit, but at one point he grew tired of posing and spat in her face. The boy’s mother locked him in a closet as punishment, but Mary bought him a box of chocolates.

• One Sunday, Virginia K. Barnes sat behind the pastor’s wife and son. Before the sermon, the son asked his mother if he could be excused to go to the nursery, but his mother said that he was six years old and too old to go to the nursery. The son protested, “But, Mom, I heard it [the sermon] last night and it’s a long one.”

• As a youngster, Buster Keaton was thrown about on stage by his vaudevillian parents. In real life, he was also thrown about. When he was three years old, a cyclone picked him up — sucking him right out of a hotel window — whirled him around for a little while, then deposited him safely on the ground.

• Clifford Goldsmith was the original author of The Aldrich Family, a radio program about the troubles of teenager Henry Aldrich. Mr. Goldsmith frequently used the antics of his own children in his plots for the program, and he claimed to worry that his own children might sue him for plagiarism.

• J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, enjoyed the TV cartoon series Animaniacs. When her daughter Jessica was small, Ms. Rowling asked her to wake her up when Animaniacs came on early Saturday morning. Jessica did so by gleefully jumping up and down on her mother’s bed.

• As a child, Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, wanted to fit in with the children in her neighborhood, so for a week she wore a clothespin on her nose as she slept in an attempt to make it look more American and less Chinese. The only thing that happened was that her nose got sore.

• When she was two years old, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, got a baby sister: Dianne. Her parents gave J.K. some Play-Doh while they took care of Dianne. J.K. did exactly what any typical two-year-old would do when given some Play-Doh — she ate it.

• When Walter and Jamie Tevis moved to New Haven, Connecticut, a four-year-old girl came over to talk to them. Mr. Tevis asked, “Little girl, would your mother want you to be visiting strangers?” The little girl answered, “You’re not strangers. I know you now.”

• Opera singer Leo Slezak and his wife were very conscientious about the health of their children. Whenever the Slezak family ate in restaurants, the parents ordered boiling hot water and washed all the silverware before allowing their children to eat.

• George Inness, an important American landscape artist, was totally devoted to his work. One day, a visitor asked him how many children he and his wife, Lizzie, had, and Mr. Inness didn’t know! He replied, “Lizzie will be here soon. She knows.”

• Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice, was a terror. When her father was the President of the United States, little Alice enjoyed telling visitors to the White House that her father beat his children each and every day. (She was lying.)

• Dorothy Hamill’s autobiography, On and Off the Ice, contains some photographs her parents took of her when she was a baby and when she was a very young girl. The photographs are labeled, “Early publicity shots.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

The Funniest People in Relationships — Buy

The Funniest People in Relationships — Buy The Paperback

The Funniest People in Relationships — Kindle

The Funniest People in Relationships — Apple

The Funniest People in Relationships — Barnes and Noble

The Funniest People in Relationships — Kobo

The Funniest People in Relationships — Smashwords: Many formats, Including PDF