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David Bruce: The Kindest People: Heroes and Good Samaritans (Volume 1) (Free PDF)

3. A Very Good View

In July 2011, Prince Harry of England helped 10-year-old Mia Solli, a Norwegian schoolgirl on vacation, to watch from an excellent vantage point — the Prince’s shoulders — two songs performed in concert by the Black-Eyed Peas at London’s Hyde Park. Before lifting her onto his shoulders, Prince Harry joked, “If you fall down, it’s not my fault! Are we cool?” Mia, who had found it difficult to see the Black-Eyed Peas through the huge crowd, was thrilled by the Prince’s good deed, saying, “I’m going to tell everyone I met Prince Harry. He was really kind and nice.” Her uncle, Tom Armstrong, said about the Prince, “He seemed like a good guy with his feet on the ground.”

4. “It is a Sacred Thing to Me”

Enrico Caruso once told some friends that he would never again sing a certain Neapolitan song that a hand organist was playing in the street. He then explained why. During World War I, five Italian workingmen came to the New York hotel where Mr. Caruso was staying and asked to see him. Mr. Caruso expected that they would ask him for money, as so many people did, but he allowed them to see him. Instead of asking for money, however, they wanted to pay him $200 to sing for them. They especially wanted to hear some songs of Naples before they boarded a ship to take them to Italy so they could fight in the Italian army. Mr. Caruso told them, “Come back tomorrow. Bring as many friends as you wish. I will sing to you — free.” The next day 100 Italians showed up, and Mr. Caruso sang Neapolitan songs. The last song he sang was the one that had been played by the hand organist. Mr. Caruso said, “It is a sacred thing to me. Never will I sing it again as long as I live.”[2]

5. “Let’s Get Loud”

Jennifer Lopez had a lot of fans at an elementary school — P.S. 37 — for autistic children on Staten Island, New York. Teacher Kathy Amati and a paraprofessional had shown the children Ms. Lopez’ video for the song “Let’s Get Loud,” and the children liked it so much that they watched it everyday and learned the song lyrics and Ms. Lopez’ dance moves. Under Ms. Amati’s direction, the children wrote Ms. Lopez in 2008, hoping that she would send them autographs and photographs. Ms. Lopez did more than that — she requested and received permission from the school to attend the children’s graduation, and she surprised the children that June by singing “Let’s Get Loud” for the 10- and 11-year-olds at their graduation.

6. A Prayer Answered

Opera great Leo Slezak once was concerned about the flooding that occurred in a small Austrian town where he and his family were staying. As the water lapped at the house he was renting, he promised God that if the water should recede, he would give a charity concert to help the inhabitants of the town. Almost immediately, the water began to recede. The charity concert was a huge success, but Mr. Slezak’s landlady was so impressed that such a benevolent celebrity as Mr. Slezak was staying in her house that she raised his rent.

7. “He was Nice to Everybody — He Never Acted the Great Tenor”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso knew and liked Irish tenor John McCormack. Geraldine Farrar remembered that Mr. Caruso was kind to Mr. McCormack: “When McCormack was having a particularly bad attack of stage fright, before his cue to go on, Enrico would go up to him, as he stood nervously in the wings, and say something funny to him to cheer him up and make him forget his nervousness.” According to Ms. Farrar, Mr. Caruso “was always doing things like that. He was nice to everybody — he never acted the great tenor.” Mr. Caruso could be humble. In St. Petersburg, after he had sang the part of Rhadamès in Verdi’s Aida, he was surrounded by the other members of the company, who kept praising him for his magnificent performance, but he said simply, Don’t praise me. Praise Verdi.” One person who was resistant to Mr. Caruso’s charm was Mr. McCormack’s little son, who told Mr. Caruso, “You’re only the greatest Italian tenor in the world, but my father is the greatest Irish tenor.”

8. Breastfeeding Heroines

In 2009, actress Salma Hayek breastfed a hungry African child while on a UNICEF mission in Sierra Leona. Many years earlier, her great-grandmother had used her breast milk to feed a starving infant. Ms. Hayek said, “My great-grandmother was in a Mexican little village and they found a woman on the street inconsolably crying and the baby was also crying, crying, crying, and my great-grandmother went up to her and said, ‘What is the matter?’ [She said,] ‘My baby is very hungry and I have no more milk,’ and, in the street, my great-grandmother took the baby from her, took her breasts out and breastfed that baby, who instantly stopped crying and went peacefully to sleep.” Ms. Hayek had a good reason for breastfeeding the child. The world’s highest rate of infant mortality is in Sierra Leone, in part because of malnutrition. Doctors want women to breastfeed their children for their first two years of life but that does not happen because of a cultural taboo that says that husbands should not have sex with wives who are breastfeeding. Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, an OB-GYN expert on <>, said that Ms. Hayek did something good by starting “a conversation about how breastfeeding is good.”

9. Down and Out in LA

In 1983, Bobby Garcia was down on his luck — way down. He was in Los Angeles, he had only a few dollars, and gay man that he was, he desperately wanted to see Lauren Hutton in the play Extremities. He was sitting on the curb outside the theater, miserable, and Ms. Hutton saw him and learned what was wrong. She told the ushers, “Give him food. Let him in.” (Bobby cried as he told this story to cult filmmaker John Waters.)


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