• Max D. Stein, a lawyer, liked to tell this story: A man came to see him about a legal question. A dog had come into his butcher shop and had run away with a $4 steak. His question was this: Is the dog’s owner responsible for the loss of the steak? Mr. Stein replied that yes, the dog’s owner is responsible. Hearing that, the man said, “Please pay the $4—it was your dog.” Mr. Stein paid the $4, then said, “My minimum fee for legal advice is $500.”
• Being a ballet impresario is not necessarily (or likely!) a remunerative position. When Léonide Massine was choreographing ballets for Sergei Diaghilev, he was surprised to see that Mr. Diaghilev had holes in the soles of his shoes. And here is a bit of history trivia: Among the people who wrote to Serge Diaghilev saying they wished to become a member of his Ballets-Russes was the spy Mata Hari.
• Jazz singer Anita O’Day was named Anita Belle Colton when she was born. She took the name O’Day because in pig Latin it means “dough,” and she hoped to make a lot of dough as a professional walkathon contestant. (During the Depression, people tried to make money winning marathon walks, where they walked for days in front of an audience with only occasional 15-minute breaks.)
• On Purim, many pious Jews distribute money to the poor. R’ Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apta once counted money over and over again before Purim. His son saw him counting the money, and said, “Father, I thought you hate money.” R’ Avraham Yehoshua Heshel replied, “I want to distribute this money to the poor. If it means nothing to me, then my gift will be of no significance.”
• Theater director Tyrone Guthrie could be frugal at times. Once, he reserved tickets to see Paul Muni in Inherit the Wind. However, he arrived late, just after Act One. The ticket seller named the price for his ticket, but a somewhat inebriated Mr. Guthrie said, “That’s for three acts; what’s the price for two?”
• Corey Ford’s writings were widely plagiarized—especially his short humorous piece “How to Guess Your Age.” Whenever this happened, Mr. Ford would sue, winning every case. He once said about his lawsuits, “I find this a much easier way to make a living than by writing.”
• Basso Karl Formes loved the performing arts so much that in his early, impoverished years he once swam a river to see an actor because he did not have enough money for both passage on the ferry boat and a ticket for the play.
• Dizzy Gillespie played a trumpet that had an unusual shape. Its bell did not point forward but up—at a 45-degree angle. He says, “The truth is that the shape of my horn is an accident. I could pretend that I went into the basement and thought it up, but it wasn’t that way.” So how did the shape come about? A man accidentally sat on it, and the bell bent. It was 6 January 1953, the birthday of Dizzy’s wife, and he played at the party for her. He liked the sound of the unusually shaped trumpet. He says that “when the bell bent, it made a smaller hole because of the dent. I couldn’t get the right sound, but it was a strange sound that I got from the instrument that night. I played it, and I liked the sound. The sound had been changed, and it could be played softly, very softly, not blarey.” The next day he had the trumpet straightened, but it missed the sound that the trumpet had had. He contacted the Martin Company and had an artist draw a trumpet with a bell at a 45-degree angle and told them, “I want a horn like this.” They told him, “You’re crazy!” Dizzy said, “’OK, I’m crazy, but I want a horn like this.’ They made me a trumpet, and I’ve been playing one like that ever since.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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