David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families — Good Deeds, Halloween, Husbands. and Wives

Good Deeds

• After Hana Ali, one of boxer Muhammad’s daughters, came home from school one day when she was seven years old, she went upstairs and found a strange person snoring in her bed. Then she ran to her father to tell him that a burglar had broken into their home. Mr. Ali explained that he had brought home a homeless family with nowhere to stay and nothing to eat.

• Family-owned businesses are more likely to help impoverished families one-on-one than chain stores are. During the Great Depression, Ralph Nader’s father, Nathra, was very aware that impoverished families could get credit from the local grocery, but they could not get credit from the A&P, a supermarket chain. He gave many hungry people free hot meals at his restaurant.

• The great dancer Bill Robinson, aka Mr. Bojangles, performed many good deeds in his life. On a visit to Richmond, Virginia, he noticed that an intersection had no streetlights, making it dangerous for schoolchildren. He wrote out a check for $1,240.70 and gave it to the city of Richmond to pay for four streetlights at the intersection.

Halloween

• After leaving the New York City Ballet, Balanchine ballerina Allegra Kent began to teach small children dance lessons. One of the first things she learned was when to cancel class. Before Halloween, she thought that probably most of her children would be trick-or-treating rather than attending her dance lesson; however, when she asked her students about their plans, every student promised to show up for the dance lesson. Actually, only one student showed up. Allegra gave a one-on-one dance lesson, and in the future she remembered to cancel class on those days that fell on holidays. Allegra turned out to be a popular dance teacher — and not just with her students. She remembered a father telling her about a student dance recital that had lasted a torturous four hours, so when she choreographed a recital for her students she made sure that it ended in only 50 minutes. The fathers of her dance students were deeply grateful.

Husbands and Wives

• Some people whose photographs appear in such magazines as InStyle, In Touch, Life & Style, Star, OK!, and Usare not famous, which means that they have to work very hard at appearing in these magazines. One such person is Phoebe Price, who spends a lot of time and money going to parties at Cannes, the Emmys, the Grammys, and the Oscars. One of her tips for being photographed in expensive and skimpy clothing at such parties is this: “Say I find a Dolce & Gabbana dress, and I think it’s really hot and I think someone else [who is famous] might wear it. I’ll wear it so that it might get compared in a magazine.” Ms. Price even has an informant at Saks Fifth Avenue who tells her what celebrities are planning to wear to parties where the paparazzi will be around. Ms. Price also says that when the paparazzi have her in their sights, “I always do side angles and over-the-shoulder. I give them 15 to 20 looks.” Joel Stein, a humor columnist who interviewed Ms. Price for the Los Angeles Times, decided to try to get the paparazzi to take photographs of Cassandra, his wife. Mr. Stein announced to the paparazzi that Cassandra Barry was about to walk down the carpet to a party. Immediately, members of the paparazzi shouted, “Cassandra, up top!” As Cassandra gave the paparazzi side angles and over-the-shoulder looks, the cameras snapped, and she ended up giving the paparazzi 15 to 20 looks.

• New York City ballet dancer Edward Villella’s first marriage was to the sometimes-temperamental Janet Greschsler. At a choreographing session in which Todd Bolender was slowly creating steps, some of the dancers got bored and began talking, upsetting Mr. Bolender, who told them, “If anybody doesn’t want to be in this ballet, he or she can just leave.” Ms. Greschsler was the only dancer to leave. After they were married, she continued to be temperamental. Both Edward and Janet went on tour to the Soviet Union with the New York City Ballet. Knowing that certain kinds of food and drink would not be available on tour, Mr. Villella smuggled in some bottles of beer. He had drunk all of the beer except one bottle, which he was saving for a special occasion; however, he never got the chance to drink it. During an argument, Janet opened the bottle and poured it on him. Mr. Villella admits that he was also capable of “petty revenge.” One night, following an argument with Janet, he decided to get even. Knowing that she always ate two soft-boiled eggs for breakfast, he stayed up late and hard-boiled every egg they had.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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