David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Media, Mishaps, Money

Media

• Shakespearean actress Julia Marlowe insisted on protecting her privacy. A syndicated columnist once tried to get her to say something by pointing out that what she said to him would be printed in 117 newspapers throughout the United States. She replied, “That is 117 reasons for not saying it.”

• Harry Hershfield made it a practice to always stand on the news photographer’s left for group photographs — that way, his name appeared first in the newspaper caption.

Mishaps

• Mishaps occur in nursing. When Joanne Murnane was a new nurse working in a hospital, one of her patients died. She prepared the dead patient, and seeing dentures on the dead patient’s table, she stuffed the dentures in the dead patient’s mouth and then took him to the hospital morgue. When she returned to the room to care for the other, live patient there, the live patient said, “Miss, have you seen my teeth? I laid them on this table but can’t find them now.” Of course, he had put his dentures on the wrong table. Thinking quickly, Nurse Murnane said, “I’m cleaning them for you, sir. I’ll have them back soon.” She says, “Of course, I did clean and sterilize the dentures and returned them to their correct owner, all the while thanking my lucky stars that all had worked out acceptably.

• The famous can be mistaken for the unfamous. Charles Hanson Towne, a poet and the editor of McClure’s Magazine, had long wanted to meet an actress, Mrs. Minnie Fiske, who was famous in the early 20th century. One day, he had his chance. She was playing at a benefit, and as she stepped off the stage into the wings, he was waiting for her. Mr. Towne poured out his admiration for her, and when he had finished, Mrs. Fiske tapped him on the arm with her lorgnette, smiled at him, and said, “Thank you, Mr. Electrician,” and left.

• Having experience as a soldier can be bad for a baseball player. A Los Angeles player named Ken Hicks began to pitch a game shortly after ending his term of service with the United States Army. He was beginning a pitch when the loudspeaker came to life with the words, “Attention, please!” Mr. Hicks assumed the proper military posture after hearing the word “attention,” the umpire called a balk, and the runner on first advanced to second.

• During an open-air performance of Macbeth starring Charlton Heston, arrangements were made for a dummy to be thrown into the ocean for Lady Macbeth’s death. Unfortunately, during one performance the wind was blowing so heavily that when the dummy was thrown from a wall the wind blew the dummy back again — right at the feet of the actor who reported, “The queen is dead, my lord.”

• In a Victorian melodrama, Donald Wolfit played a cruel father who is stabbed to death by his own son in the last act. One day, the actor playing his son forgot the dagger. Not knowing what else to do, he kicked Mr. Wolfit in the seat of his pants. Seeking to save the play, Mr. Wolfit told the audience before his character died, “That boot! That boot! ’Twas poisoned!”

• While Ralph Richardson was in military service during World War II, he sometimes had to handle very heavy books. The books contained secret information and were covered in lead so they could be sunk into the sea if need be — unfortunately, the books were located at Eastleigh, which is not on the ocean.

Money

• Professional baseball player “Shoeless Joe” Jackson was nearly illiterate and seldom signed his name — his wife, Katie, had the task of signing his name to baseballs to meet the requests of fans. However, one paper he is known to have signed is his will. In the will, his and his wife’s estate was given to the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. These charities would love to have the will so they can auction it off — it could bring in $100,000 — but the will has been ruled the property of the Probate Court.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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