David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 3 — Husbands and Wives

Husbands and Wives

• In the early 1930s, choreographer George Balanchine bought a sports car. He drove it for a few months, but he ran into a problem when he shipped the car from England to France. He discovered that he could not pay the import duty. Since he also could not afford to pay to put the car in storage, he simply gave the car away to a bystander. This upset his wife, Alexandra Danilova, because she had bought a lot of green clothing to match the green sports car.

• Musician Tennessee Ernie Ford was in a small midwestern American town to perform when he decided to go to a local drug store. While he was there, a star-struck local citizen was amazed to see him. The local citizen asked everyone he met, “Would you believe it if I told you that Tennessee Ernie Ford is in that drug store?” Eventually, he asked his question to Mrs. Tennessee Ernie Ford, who replied, “Yes, I would. I spent the night with him.”

• Beverly Sills scored a triumph in Donizetti’s Robert Devereux, and many people gave her a standing audition at the end of Act 2. In the audience was her husband, Peter Greenough, who applauded but remained seated. A woman in the audience asked him, “Aren’t you Beverly Sills’ husband? Why aren’t you standing and screaming like everybody else?” Mr. Greenough replied, “Yes, I’m her husband — but not her cheerleader.”

• When Joe Kuhel was managing the Washington Senators, he brooded after his team lost 10 games in a row. After dinner, he sat quietly in the living room, still brooding. Eventually, his wife, Billie, went to bed. Two hours later, in the dark, she called to him, “What are you doing, Joe?” Still brooding, he replied, “Reading.” She then told him, “Well, then, why don’t you turn on the lights?”

• Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, met and fell in love with Marguerite (Maggie) McClure. He was just beginning his career as an author, and Maggie’s friends advised her not to marry him, saying that he would be unable to amount to much as a writer. However, he told her, “I’m going to the moon. You want to come along?” She did, and on September 27, 1947, they married.

• Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo mostly had a happy marriage, but occasionally they had disagreements. Mr. Rivera liked Ms. Kahlo’s hair — including her unibrow and her mustache. In fact, he got angry when she once shaved off her mustache. When they had big quarrels, Ms. Kahlo would get back at her husband by cutting off her long, luxurious hair.

• The British often have a silly sense of humor. To celebrate their wedding anniversary, Joyce Grenville’s husband came to breakfast wearing pajamas — but over the pajamas he wore the coat that he had worn when he had married her 42 years earlier. (In keeping with the British sense of humor, throughout breakfast, he didn’t mention the coat he was wearing.)

• Some wives of major-league baseball players don’t know much about scoring the game. Betty Erskine, the wife of Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine, was scoring a game he was pitching when another baseball wife became upset because Betty had written “PU” by her husband’s name. Betty had to explain that “PU” was an abbreviation for “Pop Up.”

• Rabbi Aryeh Levine was once shocked when a man asked how he should treat his wife. He replied, “A wife is exactly yourself. Treat her exactly as you treat yourself.” Afterward, the rabbi’s wife’s foot began to hurt her, so the good rabbi took her to a doctor and said, “Her foot is hurting us.”

• Eli Wallach’s wife, Anne Jackson, was an understudy for the role of Peter Pan when she became pregnant. She told her physician that as Peter Pan she would be required to fly over the audience, but her physician told her, “No, no flying for you. You’re grounded.”

• While comedian Bill Cosby was courting Camille Hanks, whom he married on January 25, 1964, he used to drive 200 miles from New York to Maryland to take her on a lunch date, then drive 200 miles back to New York to perform at a club.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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