After the book went to print, I saw Marlo Thomas being interviewed about St Jude, the wonderful children’s charity her father spearheaded. Three distinct memories flooded back:
One was of sitting with my wife at a table at Le Martinique, a night club where Marlo’s Dad was headlining. We were exited to see Danny Thomas , a Chicago comedian who burst upon the scene and had become one of the most popular comedians of the day. It was 1946, I had just been honorably discharged from the army, was unemployed and did not have the wherewithal to afford going to a fancy night club. Miraculously the wherewithal presented itself in the form a small black change purse that I found on the floor of a Walgreen’s phone booth. While chatting with my wife, I examined the purse’s contents and found eleven dollars, and happily, no name or address of its owner. With those eleven dollars I treated my wife and myself to dinner and a performance of the great Danny Thomas telling hilarious stories about his life, which included his now classic, “Jack Story”.
My second meeting was with Danny and his partner Sheldon Leonard, where I learned of their offer to finance the pilot of the Dick Van Dyke Show. If that weren’t enough, Danny was the one who recommended that Mary Tyler Moore play the part of Laura. He had auditioned her to play his daughter on his series. “Make Room For Daddy” but felt that no one would believe a girl with such a cute upturned nose could be spawned by someone with a beak like his.
Our third encounter was many years later. Danny hired Mel and I to perform our “Two Thousand Year Old Man” on one of his variety specials. I recently saw a tape of that show and I am happy to report that the 2000 year old man is funnier than ever!