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David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 5 — Money, Mothers

David Bruce Anecdotes


• At the end of the Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races is a horse race in which High Hat defeats Small Wonder. All of the Marx Brothers, of course, had read the script and knew that High Hat would win the race, but Groucho learned that Chico, who loved to gamble, had bet with a stagehand that Small Wonder would win. “I always thought you were crazy,” Groucho said. “Now I’m sure of it.” But Chico replied, “What’s crazy? I just looked at the tote board and the odds on Small Wonder are 15 to 1.” Of course, Chico was a comic genius as a Marx Brother and made lots of money. Unfortunately, since he was a compulsive gambler he threw his money away. This never bothered him; he enjoyed spending or gambling away every dime he made. However, it did bother his brothers: Harpo and Groucho. Therefore, his brothers hit on a plan. Knowing that Chico was desperate to make money, they delayed signing a new movie contract until Chico agreed to turn over half his earnings to a qualified investment manager who would invest the money for him and his family. The plan worked — at least for a while.

• Is it worthwhile to pick up coins from the street? Eileen Bartlett picks up change from the streets of Denver, Colorado, although people sometimes scoff at her. Having lived in Ireland for a year, she has a perfect reply, explaining that “refusing the least treasure placed by the fairies could lead to major troubles.” Once a year, at the end of April, she takes all the coins she has gathered and converts them to dollars; the annual average is approximately $9 to $13. She says, “When I’m ready to retire, I’m going to buy some little piece of art to show the scoffers that ‘a penny saved is a penny earned.’” Will Galway also stoops to pick up coins from the street, although he does it as a stretching exercise, pointing out that “stretching comes much cheaper than joining a health club. I think of the coins as being a slight, but amusing, discount on my ‘membership’ in my own personal ‘health club.’”

• Harry Heilman signed to play professional baseball with Portland for $275 a month, which was OK money for the time. He was eager to help his far-from-wealthy parents, so he saved his money and sent his parents $500. This was more money than his parents had ever seen at one time, so his mother sent Harry a telegram, “COME HOME AT ONCE. YOU MUST BE IN BAD COMPANY.”

• General T. Coleman du Pont, a very rich man, had a sense of humor. He used to find gold-digging blondes, arouse their hopes that they had found a sugar daddy who would shower them with diamonds and fur coats in return for sexual favors, then he would invite them to a stuffy family dinner, introduce them to his daughters and nieces, and dash their hopes by being respectable.

• When Zero Mostel was preparing to star in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, his wife, Kate, hoped that the show would last long enough for her to get the money to reupholster their sofa. Once it was obvious that the show would be a hit, a friend told her, “Kate, reupholster everything.”

• Carlos Bulosan, author of America Is in the Heart, was frequently short of money. His older brother, Aurelio, always knew when Carlos had needed money because he would look in his wallet and find a note from him: “Minus twenty dollars.”

• As a child, comedian Carol Burnett was very poor. Sometimes, she and her grandmother would splurge on the movies, but before leaving the movie theater, they would go into all the stalls in the ladies room and steal the toilet paper.

• Chico Marx once brought his ex-wife to a party. When he was asked why, he said, “I wanted to be close to my money.”


• When basketball star Cynthia Cooper was growing up in Watts, money was tight, and her fatherless family, which included her seven siblings, ate a lot of potatoes, pinto beans, and rice, as these foods were cheap and could be bought in bulk. In fact, sometimes her mother would buy a 100-pound sack of potatoes. Occasionally, Cynthia and one of her brothers would beg for nickels so they could buy candy and potato chips. Of course, Cynthia became a big basketball star, winning two national championship NCAA titles in 1983 and 1984 while playing for the University of Southern California, an Olympic gold medal in 1988, an Olympic bronze medal in 1992, and numerous WNBA Championships as a Houston Comet. When Ms. Cooper won her Olympic gold medal in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, she placed it around her mother’s neck — it was her mother’s 52ndbirthday.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


The Funniest People in Families, Volume 5 — Smashwords (Free Download)


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