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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 2 — Gifts, Good Deeds, Grandparents, Halloween

From Bruce Anecdotes


• Ballet master George Balanchine once made a mistake when he gave ballerina Alexandra Danilova a gift of English cologne. Why was that a mistake? Ms. Danilova was then living in Paris, center of the best perfume in the world.

• Even at age five, Rita Rudner was a comedian. When she received a bikini as a gift, she held up the top and said, “Thank you very much, Aunt Mabel. This will come in handy if I ever have to blindfold the cat.”

• Ballerina Alicia Markova loved gardenias. One of the best presents she ever received came from her dance partner Anton Dolin, who sent her a pillow of gardenias to sleep on.

Good Deeds

• Figure skating can be expensive. When Todd Eldridge, numerous times American men’s skating champion, was 10 years old, he moved to Philadelphia to train under elite coach Richard Callaghan (who also trained Tara Lipinski). For a while, the Eldridge family managed financially, but when Todd’s skating expenses reached $15,000 a year, they considered having him come back to his hometown of Chatham, Massachusetts—from which they had to drive Todd to Boston for skating lessons. Fortunately, Todd’s hometown rallied behind him—a committee held clambakes and dinner dances, and sent out pledge cards to raise money to pay for Todd’s skating expenses. The town sponsored Todd for several years, finally ending its sponsorship in 1993, when Todd was able to earn enough money from his skating to cover his expenses.

• One of the good things that Bud Abbott and Lou Costello did in their lives was to finance a community center for children in a poor section of Los Angeles. At Mr. Abbott’s suggestion, the community center was named the Lou Costello, Jr., Youth Foundation, after Mr. Costello’s son, who had accidentally drowned in a swimming pool.


• When country comedian Jerry Clower was a very small boy, his grandfather got up before dawn, left the house, and returned after sunset three days in a row. Young Jerry asked where he had been, and his grandfather replied, “I been doing public work—working for the county. We have a poll tax we have to pay before we can vote, and I didn’t have the two dollars to pay it. So the county agreed to let me work three days and they would pay me two dollars.” Then his grandfather smiled and said, “Hallelujah! I done earned two dollars. I can vote! Thank God. Boy, your grandaddy is going to be able to vote.”

• When Carol Burnett made her first appearance on national television—December 15, 1955, on The Paul Winchell Show—she called her grandmother so she would know to watch the program. However, her grandmother wanted Carol to say hi to her on the program, something that was impossible. Therefore, Carol worked out a code—instead of saying hi directly, she pulled her left earlobe as a greeting to her grandmother. After her grandmother died, Carol continued to pull her left earlobe—as a way to say hi to her children.

• Actor Walter Slezak’s grandmother was very curious. When he was a small boy, he asked her to keep for him a large box tied with string, but not to tell his parents about it because it was a secret. In particular, she had to promise not to look inside the box. As soon as he left the room, his grandmother began to untie the string. Inside the box she found a smaller box, and inside that box she found an even smaller box. When she finally opened the smallest box, she found this note: “Hello, nosy, you broke your promise.”


• When Olympic medalist Shannon Miller was a pre-teen gymnast, she wore a memorable costume to a Halloween meet at Dynamo Gymnastics. She went as a bag of groceries. Because she was so small, a grocery bag (with the bottom cut out) fit around her torso. To the top of the bag were glued such items as cereal boxes and egg cartons, and her mask consisted of a potato chip bag with holes cut out for her eyes and nose. Shannon’s costume was voted by the applause of the audience to be the best in the meet. (And her mother didn’t even have to sew anything!)


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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