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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Children


• Operatic tenor Leo Slezak knew how to get the truth from his children when they were small — all he had to do was to tell them that he would ask the Angel what had happened and the Angel would tell him. One day, his young son, Walter, refused to eat his supper. He put the food in his mouth, but he would not swallow it. He then left the room for a moment, returned, and said with a big grin, “I’ve eaten it now!” Mr. Slezak was doubtful, so he said that he would ask the Angel. Feeling cocky, Walter told him to go ahead and do just that. Mr. Slezak then said that the Angel had told him that Walter had given his food to the family dog, and Walter turned pale and stammered, “How could the Angel find that out?”

• While the Three Stooges were performing live on stage, Sandy, the five-year-old niece of Larry Fine — the balding but not bald Stooge — was in the audience, watching as the Stooges slapped each other and poked each other’s eyes. However, at one point, when Moe led a screaming Larry around the stage after sticking his finger up Larry’s nose, Sandy started yelling, “You’re hurting my Uncle Larry! You’re hurting my Uncle Larry!” Larry immediately came over to her and explained that he was only pretending to be hurt, then he rejoined the act to the loud applause of the audience. As for Moe, he was laughing so hard that it took a while for the act to continue.

• Horror writer Anne Rice got her first name from an unusual source: herself. Her name at birth was Howard Allen O’Brien. This name is unusual in itself, and she was given it in part because her father, Howard, had been bullied at school because some other children thought “Howard” sounded like a girl’s name. On the first day young Howard started attending Redemptorist School in New Orleans, a nun asked her for her name. Young Howard replied, “It’s Anne!” This name turned out to be OK with her mother, who said, “If she wants to be Anne, it’s Anne.” Anne received the rest of her adult name after she married Stan Rice.

• Early in her gymnastics career, when she was still a pre-teen, Shannon Miller attended a meet in Las Vegas, and she stayed at the Circus Circus Hotel. When she returned home, she had a lot of stuffed animals with her. Her mother asked where she had gotten them, and young Shannon joked, “Gambling.” The real story was that a man in the hotel had asked if she liked stuffed animals. She had replied, “Sure,” and he had given her a bunch of stuffed animals he had just won. (Her parents did talk to her about not accepting gifts from strangers.)

• While making a personal appearance in Chicago, TV’s Mister Rogers asked if anyone in the audience had anything they wanted to share. A small boy spoke up: “Mister Rogers, I just wear diapers at night now.” Of course, the audience wondered how Mister Rogers would react to this sharing. He replied to the boy, “Well, that’s very important, and it’s up to you when you’ll give up your diapers at night. I’m really proud of the ways you’re growing.” This made the small boy very happy and the audience breathed a sigh of relief at Mister Rogers’ answer.

• Frank Bunker Gilbreth raised a dozen children in the early 20th century. With such a large brood, he wasn’t above getting a break on expenses now and then. Whenever he came to a toll road, he would look at the toll keeper, identify his nationality, then say, using the appropriate accent, “Do my Irishmen [or Dutchmen, or Scotsmen] come cheaper by the dozen?” Often, the reply would come back, “Irishmen, is it? And I might have known it. … The Lord Jesus didn’t mean for any family like that to pay toll on my road. Drive through on the house.”

• As a child athlete, Robin Campbell competed in many national and international track and field events, necessitating absences from home. During one long absence, she rejoiced that she had gotten out of doing the dishes, which she did each Monday when she was home. However, her family believed that children should do chores, so when Robin returned home, she discovered that she had been scheduled to wash dishes for a whole week so she could catch up to the work done by her siblings while she was away.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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