David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 2 — Mothers, Music

Mothers

• After Martina Navratilova defected from Czechoslovakia in 1975, she didn’t see her mother again for a long time. Finally, in 1979, her mother was allowed to see Martina play in the finals at Wimbledon. While Martina played on center court, her mother sat in the players’ box. As a gift, Martina’s mother had brought her a box of homemade cookies.

• Track and field star Florence Griffith Joyner had a caring mother. When Florence was young, she had to obey the rules her mother set, including turning lights off at 10 p.m. and not watching television during the week. In addition, her family held weekly Bible discussions during which the children would talk about what they had done wrong recently.

• As a young boy, Tiger Woods got angry in a golf tournament and threw his clubs on the ground. As a result, he was tossed out of the tournament. He complained to his mother, “But, Mom, the white kids do it all the time; they don’t get thrown out.” She told him, “Tiger, you’re not one of those guys; only worry about what you do.”

• In 1914, famed ballerina Galina Ulanova was a little girl seeing her very first ballet, Sleeping Beauty. Things went well until the Lilac Fairy appeared—then young Galina cried out for everyone to hear, “That’s Mama! My Mama!” She spoke truly. Her mother danced the role of the Lilac Fairy, and young Galina wanted everyone to know.

• Dick Tuck used to play a lot of practical jokes in politics. Back when Richard Nixon was running for President, Mr. Tuck hired several pregnant women to troop through the lobby of the hotel where Nixon was staying. The obviously pregnant women all carried signs bearing Mr. Nixon’s campaign slogan: “Nixon’s the one!”

• Michael Thomas Ford hates to have his photograph taken. One day, his mother asked for a photograph of him, so he took a photo of a look-alike cousin, then gave it to her. For years, it decorated her refrigerator door, much to the astonishment of the cousin’s mother.

• Hugh Troy was once driving a mother and her two small children. The children began acting up, so the mother scolded them, but Mr. Troy told the children, “You can jump and scream all you like, but if your mother says another word, I’ll put her out of the car.”

• While visibly pregnant, actress Judi Dench performed the role of Grace Harkaway (who was supposed to be a virgin) in London Assurance. One line the audience laughed at was spoken by Janet Whiteside to her: “Do you feel nothing stirring?”

• When comedian Bob Smith wrote an honest book about his life as a gay man, his mother’s comments about the book were favorable. She told her other children, “I wish all you kids would write books. Then I’d know what you’re thinking.”

• Steven Spielberg’s mother supported his movie-making hobby when he was a teenager. Once, he needed lots of gore for a scene, so she took 30 cans of cherries and exploded them in a pressure cooker to create what looked like a bloody mess.

• Nancy, the wife of Quaker humorist Tom Mullen, was very good with children, especially with Brett, her son. She would listen carefully, and if the home were too quiet, she would tell her husband, “Tom, go find Brett and tell him to stop.”

Music

• Fanny Brice made it in show business at age 19 when Flo Ziegfeld sent her a telegram to meet him. At the meeting, he offered her a role in his Follies. From that time on, she was famous. Well, almost. Lots of very good people were in the Follies, and it was difficult to stand out. Fanny wanted a good song, but so did all of the other singers in the Follies. And all of the other singers were surrounding Mr. Ziegfeld’s two African-American songwriters, Joe Jordan and Will Marion Cook, hoping to get them to write a song especially for them. How to get noticed? And how to get a song written especially for her? Fanny asked Mr. Jordan and Mr. Cook, “How would you like a real, home-cooked meal? My Mom is the best cook in New York.” The ploy worked. The well-fed songwriters gave the song “Lovey Joe” to Fanny.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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