David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Money, Mothers


• Wilson Mizner once married a rich society lady, which seemed to be a marriage made in Heaven, given Mr. Mizner’s great delight in spending money. However, his wife kept a tight grip on her money, giving her husband very little of it. Mr. Mizner once got on his knees and pleaded for an hour with his wife to prove her love for him by signing a blank check, but she would not. While dining at the Waldorf-Astoria, Mr. Mizner was again pleading for money. This so annoyed his wife that she began beating him with the nearest thing she had in her possession — an envelope filled with money. The envelope came open, the money spilled everywhere, and Mr. Mizner and the other diners in the restaurant began scrambling for it. His wife saw him on his knees, picking up money, and screamed that he could have the money since he was willing to crawl for it. Mr. Mizner said later, “I’d picked up $8,000 before I realized I’d been insulted.”

• When Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Meyer Berger was a boy, his family was poor in money. One day early in the 20th century, he announced to his mother that he had been given the honor of making an acceptance speech because a local organization was donating a new flag to his school. Of course, this was good news, but his mother looked at his shoes and was embarrassed. She told the family that they had only 25 cents, and either she could use the money to buy Meyer a used pair of shoes so he could be decently dressed when he made the acceptance speech, or she could put it in the gas meter and the family could eat a hot supper. The family voted for the shoes, and they ate a cold supper that night. After young Meyer had made his acceptance speech at school, he repeated it at home so his family could hear him.

• Author Donald Ogden Stewart’s son once broke a window. Since Mr. Stewart had to go to work at a movie studio on a Sunday, he tried to use the occasion to make his son feel guilty for breaking the window by saying that Daddy had to go to work to pay for the broken window instead of playing tennis, as he had hoped. Mr. Stewart asked his son, “Aren’t you sorry that poor, dear Daddy has to work on his day off, just because of you?” His son replied, “If you have any money left over, buy me an air rifle.”

• When Eugene Field was a student at Knox College, he sometimes telegraphed his guardian, Melvin L. Gray, for money. If the requested money was slow in arriving, Mr. Field would telegraph Mr. Gray again, saying that unless he received some money quickly, he would be forced to go into show business and bill himself as “Melvin L. Gray, Banjo and Specialty Artist.”

• In 1934, Will Rogers starred in Ah, Wilderness, a play by Eugene O’Neill. However, after he received a letter from a minister telling him that this particular play was unsuitable for being seen by families, Mr. Rogers declined to star in the movie version of the play, thereby losing a salary of over $200,000 — a sum that is over $4 million in year 2021 money.


• George Burns loved his mother and regarded her as a wonderful problem-solver. For example, when one of his sisters, Mamie, and her husband, Dr. Max Salis, were having problems and considering getting a divorce, his mother called in her daughter and listened to her side of the story. Then she told her daughter, “Mamie, you’re wrong and the doctor is right. I want you to apologize to Max. Tell him you’re sorry and that it won’t happen again.” After Mamie had left, his mother called in Max and told him, “Doctor, Mamie was right. Don’t ever do that again.”

• Faye Zealand, as part of the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children, has much experience not only with children who have HIV or AIDS, but also with children whose parents have died from AIDS. She knows one little girl who wanted a photograph of her mother, who had died from AIDS. Her foster mother got her a photo, but other people were in it, and the little girl asked for a photo showing only her mother. After she received this photo, the little girl would put it on top of her pillow at night, placing it so that it touched her head — only then would she go to sleep.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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