David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 3 — Children

Children

• Two of the creators of the TV sitcom Cheers were brothers Glen and Les Charles. Glen was five years old when his brother was born, and he did not know what to think of the new addition to the family. Glen says, “I just looked at him, not sure what he was. Here was this little blob. I didn’t know what to think of him.” Later, he figured out what to do with him. For example, when he got a set of bow and arrows as a gift, he let his little brother be the settler in a game of Western warfare and shot arrows at him. (Please exercise more caution than Glen did — Les still has a scar on his hand from that game.) One day, they made lemonade to sell. To make sure that the lemonade was all right, they tasted it. Unfortunately, they did not sell much lemonade. A neighborhood kid told everyone who came by, “Don’t buy it. They already drank out of the pitcher.”

• What should we call the children of biracial couples? A 1984 article in Newsweek called them “Children of the Rainbow.” Audra Johnson has a white father, and a black/Cherokee mother. Audra says, “If anyone ever asks, and a few people have — whether I’m black or white — I just tell them I’m a chocolate and vanilla swirl!” Another child, Chandree, also has parents of different races, and whenever someone asks her why her skin is so dark, she tells them, “I was out in the sun too long!” One summer, Chandree was out in the sun a lot and one of her arms tanned darker than her other arm. Therefore, she says, “So when somebody asked me about my color, I held up one arm like this and said, ‘This is my black side, and the other is my white side.’ Then I told them my dad’s black and my mom’s white, so that makes me mixed.”

• Sarah Michelle Gellar, an Emmy Award winner for her role in All My Children and a Saturn Award winner as the star of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was discovered at age four when she started singing in a restaurant. An agent who happened to be in the restaurant asked her, “Do you want to be on TV?” Sarah’s mother didn’t think that the agent was serious, but little Sarah was intrigued. She had recently learned her address and telephone number in case she ever got lost or was kidnapped, so she gave the agent that information. A week later, the agent called, and after some persuading, Sarah’s mother agreed to let her audition for TV commercials and roles in movies.

• Even before she could print letters, Joan Lowery Nixon knew she wanted to write. Sometimes she would tell her mother, who encouraged creativity, “I have a poem. Write it down.” Later, as an adult struggling writer, she bought a pair of bookends for the books she would write and placed them together with this note in between them: “Watch this space grow!” Over 100 published books later, she needed many more than two bookends. (Her friend and fellow writer Mary Blount Christian bought a trash can when she started writing seriously — to hold all of her rejection slips! Today, Ms. Christian has also published over 100 books.

• Charles M. Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts, grew up among some original relatives. Just two days after Charles was born, an uncle gave him the nickname that became his for the rest of his life. The uncle named him “Sparky,” after the horse Spark Plug, which had just become a character in the comic strip Barney Google. As a young boy, Sparky practiced hockey against another relative with originality: his grandmother. In the basement, he attempted to hit tennis balls with a hockey stick into a goal guarded by his grandmother. This was no mismatch. Sparky says, “She made a lot of great saves.”

• Matt Damon, who starred in and won an Oscar for writing (with friend Ben Affleck) Good Will Hunting, was forced to be creative when he was a child because of a lack of toys. His mother disliked the violent toys that were and are prevalent in modern society, so she wouldn’t buy such toys as cap guns and light sabers for Matt and Kyle, his older brother. Therefore, they had to create their own fun. Kyle would make some costumes, and he and Matt would dress in them and act out stories. Matt, of course, became an actor and screenwriter, while Kyle became an artist and sculptor.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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