David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 3 — Advertising, Art, Baseball

Advertising

• A very famous advertising illustration — and trademark — of the first half of the 20th century showed a dog listening to an early Victor Talking Machine. The slogan that went with the illustration was this: “His Master’s Voice.” The person who created the illustration and slogan was an English painter named Francis Barraud, who once saw Nipper, his dog, sitting in front of the horn of the talking machine, listening to the voices that came from it.

• When science fiction writer Anne McCaffrey was a child, she owned a cat named Thomas which she dressed in a doll’s clothes and pushed around in a stroller. Thomas so loved Anne that he would put up with this treatment for a while, but eventually he would jump out of the stroller, shake off the doll’s clothes, and start acting like a cat again.

• War has many consequences, not all of them obvious. During World War II, so many British cats became casualties of war that the rat and mice populations started growing out of hand. Therefore, many American cats were shipped to Britain.

Art

• Stand-up comedian Margaret Cho married Al Ridenour in 2003. Mr. Ridenour used to be a member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, a group that engages in performance art and happenings. For example, they once walked down Hollywood Boulevard. Not so unusual, you say? True, but as they walked, they picked up pieces of litter and glued them to their bodies. On another occasion, they satirized the attention given to fad toys by creating some very heavy teddy bears they named the Cement Cuddlers. They then smuggled the teddy bears onto the shelves at Toys “R” Us and pretended to be frenzied customers of the teddy bears — as frenzied as the Tickle Me Elmo customers when that was a fad toy.

• Some people whom you would not expect to appreciate art learn to appreciate art. During the Great Depression, the United States government paid artists to create works of art. For example, in 1936 Lucienne Bloch created a mural titled Cycle of a Woman’s Life for New York City’s Women’s House of Detention. The inmates there were tough, but Ms. Bloch discovered that they responded to the children she painted in her mural, giving them names and even “adopting” them.

• Alberto Vargas, from Peru, became renowned for his depictions of Vargas girls — all of whom were impossibly beautiful and idealized women. When Mr. Vargas was asked why he seemed to create only works of art that featured beautiful women, he replied, “Show me something more beautiful than a beautiful woman, and then I’ll go and paint it!”

Baseball

• Professional baseball player Bobby Bonds sometimes watched Barry, his son, play baseball in high school; however, he would not watch from the grandstands, being afraid that his celebrity would take attention away from the players on the field. Instead, he would park his car in some trees beyond the outfield, and then watch from there. Of course, he would give his son criticism and advice after the game. One thing he didn’t like was that Barry would sometimes get angry after striking out. Bobby told Barry, “Throwing down your helmet is not going to get you a hit.” Of course, Barry became a great professional baseball player like his father, Bobby, who had at least 30 steals and at least 30 home runs in five seasons — the first professional baseball player to do that. Bobby once said, “Know what I’m proudest of? That I’m now known as Barry Bonds’ father.”

• Back when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, Danny, the seven-year-old son of Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine, made his Little League team as an outfielder. At first his father thought that Danny might have had an edge since he was the son of a Dodger, but Danny’s coach said that Danny had earned his spot on the team: “He catches fly balls better than anybody I’ve got.” Later, the Dodgers announced that they were moving to Los Angeles. Of course, lots of people in Brooklyn were upset, including Danny’s coach, but Danny’s coach was upset for a reason different from that of other people: “I’m going to lose the best center fielder in the league.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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