Archive | July, 2015

5 things you didn’t know about Jack Benny

23 Jul

For six and half decades Jack Benny, real name Benjamin Kubelsky, was one of the biggest stars in Vaudeville, radio, movies, and television. He always portrayed himself as a miserly person that was a terrible violist. He would often bring his friends on his shows where they would make jokes about his stinginess and how they wouldn’t invite him to parties because he would always bring his violin. He made the persona so well that most people really believed that he was actually that inept skinflint. The truth though was that he was an excellent player and very generous.

Has a middle school named for him

The small city of Waukegan, Illinois honored their favorite by naming a middle after him. The school is has been recognized for it high academic standards by winning a silver level PBIS (positive behavioral intervention & support) award. The school also incorporates one of Mr. Benny’s long running jokes of never aging past the age of 39 by naming their sports team the 39ers.

He enlisted in the United States Navy

Jack Benny spent two years in the Navy during WWI. He spent his time entertaining the troops by playing his violin for them. It was during this time that he developed the comic routine of pretending to be one of the world’s worst violin players. He came up with the routine one night when his violin playing, which is actually excellent, was booed. Instead of leaving the stage in humiliation he ad-libbed jokes started his playing off key style.

He was married for 47 years

In keeping with the miser image that Jack Benny created he would always refer to Mary Livingstone, actual name Sadie Marks, to his girlfriend on his shows. The gags was always that they never married because Jack was too cheap to buy a ring. In reality the two had been happily married since 1927 until Jack’s death. His devotion to her didn’t end when he died though. He had arrange to have a rose delivered to her everyday.

Appeared on the “$64,000 question”

Jack Benny once appeared on the quiz show the “$64,000 question” where he answered the first question, in the category violins. Sticky to his stingy persona he took the $64 from that first right answer and left. A few weeks after the show Mr. Benny had the host of the quiz show make a guest appearance on his show. They did a comic version of the “$64,000 question” where Mr. Benny turned the tables on him. The results where hilarious.

Hosted the Academy Awards

Jack Benny hosted the Academy Awards twice in the mid 1940”s. The first was in 1944 and then again 3 years later in 1947.


5 things you didn’t now about Danny Thomas

20 Jul

The story of Danny Thomas one of the ultimate rags-to-riches story. He was the son of immigrants that went on to have an almost six decade career in nightclubs, radio, television, movies, and became a humanitarian with a legacy that is still going strong. Some of the best known highlights of this extraordinary career are his television show “Make room for Daddy”, the “Dick Van Dyke Show”, the “Andy Griffith Show”, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The latter of those, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is still going strong as one of the premiere Hospital for treating childhood cancer patients.

There is much more to Danny Thomas that most us know. The follow are just five of these little known facts:

He joined a fraternity in college

When Danny Thomas went to the University of Toledo he joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity; TKE is a fraternity dedicated to social, moral, and spiritual development of young men. The fraternity that played a part in making Danny Thomas the humanitarian that started St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital would later comeback and play a new role in his life. In the late 1970’s, when St. Jude’s had only been in existence for a few years TKE joined forces with Mr. Thomas to raise funds for the continuing operation of the Hospital.

His big break on radio in “The Bickersons”

Even though his on local radio was over a decade old it wasn’t until the late 1940’s that he first hit the national spotlight. In 1946 Don Ameche and Frances Langford where putting together a cast for their radio show, “The Bickersons”, where they brought in Danny Thomas to play the part of Blache’s brother Amos.

He was an original co-owner of the Miami Dolphins

In late 1965 Danny Thomas, along with Joe Robbie and others, paid $7.5 million dollars to bring a professional football team to Miami. Not long after the team came into exist Mr. Thomas sold his interest to Joe Robbie.

He was presented the Congressional Gold Medal

In 1983 President Ronald Reagan presented Danny Thomas with the Congressional Gold Medal. The honor was in recognition of the promise kept to St. Jude when he began raising funds and starting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1962.

He was a Freemason

In March of 1984 Danny Thomas was initiated into the Gothic Lodge #270 F&AM located at Hamilton Square, NJ. Since that initiation he rose to the rank of 32 degree Freemason. He even wrote a service film for the Freemason entitled “When the band stops playing”.

5 things you didn’t know about Flip Wilson

16 Jul

Clerow “Flip” Wilson Jr. had an almost 3 decade long career filled with highs and lows. In the early 1960’s he quickly rose to prominence becoming one of the top comedians at the famed Apollo Theater. Then later in that same decade he came to national attention as a regular on one of televisions’ biggest variety shows at the time. At the height of his career he was considered one of the best comics in the country, had his own show, and was appearing with some of the biggest names of the 1970’s. In the late1970’s and into the 1980’s his career declined almost as fast as it rose 20 years earlier. It was a time filled with a self imposed exile, fail series, drug use, and a few scattered guest appearances.

Before, during, and after career there have been personal highs and lows as well. The following are just 5 of those facts:

He was abandoned by his mother

When Clerow was about 8 years-old his mother abandoned him, his 9 siblings, and their father. She drained their bank account and clear out their apartment. With no means to raise all the child on his own he sent them into foster care.

He joined the United States Air Force at a young age

When Clerow Wilson was 16 years-old he lied to recruiters to joined the United States Air Force. It was then that he gained the nickname “Flip” because of the way he could just flip into his comic character as he entertained them during their off duty hours. He was then honorably discharged in 1954.

He honed his while he was a bellhop

After returning from his military career Mr. Wilson took a job as a bellhop. During the 5 years that he worked at that job he was also perfecting his comedy act in the hotel’s lounge. By the time he left that job his career was all primed to rocket him to superstar status.

Walked away from his show

10 years after leaving his job as a bellhop Mr. Wilson was at the top of his craft. He had a great film, television, and recording career. In 1970 he even had his own variety show where he was doing his comedy, had established stars as guests, and would introduce some new rising talent like Richard Pryor, who was a writer on the show. 4 years later, saw the rating going on the down turn. Instead of compromising and making cutbacks, he walked away from the show. The reason he gave was to spend more time with his family.

He died of Cancer at the age of 64

By the 1980’s his career had dwindled to a couple of guest appearances and 2 failed television shows. Mr. Wilson made his last television appearance on an episode of “American Playhouse” in 1990. Over next few years his health also started to decline. In 1998 he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Not long after he went through surgery for a tumor near his liver. The cancer keep spreading through his body and by the end of 1998 he was found in bed at home where the cancer finally took him as he slept.

Ellen Paoresigns her post of CEO at Reddit

14 Jul

Friday, July 10, Ellen Pao ended her 2+ years association with Reddit. The last 8 month saw her as the CEO after Yishan Wong resigned over an office space dispute. Her short live time as head of the popular web content site saw a saw some highs and lows with Ms. Pao losing a lawsuit against a former employer, some policy changes and a controversial firing of a popular employee. Co-founder and former CEO Steve Huffman will take over as interim CEO until the company finds a replacement for Ms. Pao.

“In my eight months as reddit’s CEO, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly on reddit,” Pao said today in a resignation post. “I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me.”

Reddit first hired Ms. Pao in April of 2013 after her former employer Kleiner-Perkins fired her. Her role upon hiring was as the head of the company’s business & partnership department. Her job would be to come up and implement a new strategy to build a partnership with the community. Over the next year and a half she had worked her way to the point that when Mr. Wong resigned the shareholder’s supported her to take his place.

“I grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey, raised by enginerds on Star Wars, computers and books. I live in San Francisco, via New York City, Boston and Hong Kong. I’ve worked with dozens of tech companies, traveling to eleven countries on five continents, to help build a variety of consumer and business platform companies. My favorite subreddits are /r/IAmA and /r/pareidolia (I like people even when they’re not real). Being part of a community of people who care is inspiring and energizing. reddit has so much to offer so many people, and I’m excited to find partners to help make reddit event more awesome,” Ms. Pao said after she was first hired.

Ms. Pao earned both an electrical engineering from Princeton University and a juris doctorate from Harvard. She then started her career in 1994 when she was hired at Cravath, Swaine & Moore to be a corporate attorney. She worked there for 2 years before returning to Harvard to earn her MBA in 1998. After earning her degree Ms. Pao work for Web Tv and serveral other companies in Silicon Valley over the next 7 years.

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5 things you didn’t know about George Wallace

9 Jul

For almost four decades George Wallace has been a stand-up comic, writer and an actor. He start working the comedy club circuit with other rising stars like Jerry Seinfeld, Rodney Dangerfield, Roseanne Barr and Jay Leno. That is where he developed his style of observational humor that keeps us all in stitches and wanting more. Over the next three decades he worked his way to Las Vegas were he has become one of the premiere headlining acts.

Outside of all the success Mr. Wallace ha enjoyed there have been several things most people don’t know about him. Here are five of those little known facts:

He won a lawsuit against the Bellagio

In April of 2014 George Wallace was awarded $1.3 million dollars over an injury he sustained at the Bellagio hotel & casino back in December of 2007. The jury found that loose wires on the stage lead to an Achilles tendon injury that Mr. Wallace suffered during a stand-up routine he was performing. After he was granted the award, Mr. Wallace said, I’d rather have a good foot than have the money.”

Even though the injury has healed Mr. Wallace still has a limp.

He became an author, in 2013

In the fall of 2013 Mr. Wallace wrote a humorous and inspirational book about how we all have struggles in life and the medicine Is too keep our sense of humor and try to find something to laugh about. In his book “Laff it off” he brings his style of looking at everyday situation to the written page showing that the best way to keep from letting life make us bitter is to find a glimmer of humor.

He was the best man at Jerry Seinfeld’s wedding

In 1999 George Wallace stood up as the best man at the wedding of his long-time friend Jerry Seinfeld. The two comedians became good friends in 1980 when they were both rising stand-ups on the club circuit. Over the years since then their careers had taken then on different paths of success. Where ever those paths took them they would stay in touch and when Mr. Seinfeld decided to take the plunge he called up his long-time friend to be by hi side at the wedding.

He was one of the writers for Redd Foxx

At almost a decade into his career Mr. Wallace was asked to be a writer on “The Redd Foxx Show”. He spent one season writing for the show before his longing to be on the stage called him back to resume his stand up routine.

Finally fulfilled his childhood dream

Ever since he was 6 year-old George Wallace wanted to be a comedian. Different events in his life would prevent him from achieving that dream for the next 19 years. One of those events was his mother dyeing when he 16 years-old. After that he moved halfway across the country where he went work for Firestone. The next phase of his journey was to at an ad agency. It was while working there a client invited him to his comedy club where he was a hit.

Russia sends cargo to the ISS

5 Jul

At the International Space Station they are counting on the old adage the third time is a charm. That is how many supply missions have blasted off since the last one reached ISS back in April of this year. Since that time the Russian Progressive M-27M and a SpaceX Falcon 9 have both failed to deliver their supplies. So, when a Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from Kazakhstan, all fingers were crossed on Friday.

“We’ve always assumed we would lose a vehicle every so often,” said Michael Suffredini, manager of the International Space Station Program for NASA. “Having three this close together is not what we’d hoped for.”

You could hear a sigh of relief around the world on Friday morning when the Russian Progressive M-28M lifted off without a hitch. That sigh turned to cheers as the rocket cleared the launch pad into the blue skies above Kazakhstan. A few minutes later the first separation went perfect as the Progressive launch vehicle went in orbit around the Earth. It will then make 34 passes around the globe before docking with ISS early Sunday morning.

Just because all has gone well so far there is still reason for us to keep our finger crossed. The Progressive M-27 mission that blasted off in April was on course until the final approach before the space vehicle spun out of control and failed to dock with the ISS. But, as long as everything goes as planned the Progressive M-28 will deliver 5,249 pounds of supplies including fuel, food, water and science equipment.

Despite the fact that 3 of the last 7 unmanned missions to the ISS have failed the record of successes is still extremely impressive. Since 2000 there have been a total of 83 unmanned missions and only 4 have ended up in failure.

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5 things you didn’t know about Fred Allen

2 Jul

Start in the in the mid 1910’s Fred Allen spent over four decades entertaining us in Vaudeville, radio, television and movies. For eighteen of those years he had one of the most popular shows on radio. During its run his radio show went through several transformations that introduced routines that are still influencing comedians today. His did news segments that were forerunners to shows like “Laugh-In” and “Saturday Night Live” among others. His “Allen’s Alley” segments have influenced several comedians such as Jay Leno and David Letterman.

He was raised by his Aunt

When Fred Allen, real name John Florence Sullivan, was just three-years-old his mother died from pneumonia. His father, James, took John and his infant brother, Robert, to their aunt Lizzie. After years living with aunt Lizzie John’s father remarried. Robert moved out of their aunt’s house with their father and his new wife but John opted to stay with aunt Lizzie.

He worked in a library

When Fred Allen was14-years-old he started work as a runner at the Boston Public Library. His main duties were retrieving books for customers and restocking shelves. His work there allowed him plenty of time to read and one of the books that he would study was the history of comedy.

He had an ongoing pretend feud with Jack Benny

Whose idea thee feud was isn’t known but for most of the time that Fred Allen was on the air he had a feud going with fellow radio show host jack Benny. In reality the two were actually good friends, would do guest appearance on each others shows and appeared in a couple of movies together.

He wrote two memories

In his later years Mr. Allen wrote two memories about his life and career. The first of the two of these books was is 1954 autobiography, “Treadmill to Oblivion” about his radio, movie and television years. His second book, “Much Ado about me”, was about his childhood and start in Vaudeville. Sadly, while he was write the last chapter he suffer a heart-attack and died before it was complete. The book was publish posthumously with it still incomplete.

He was married for 30 years

Fred Allen meet Portland Hoffa in the early 1920’s when they were both working on the same radio show. After the shows short run the two of them went on separate paths. 5 years after parting ways fate would have it that take two found each other again and married in 1927. The two remained a couple and worked together quite often until Fred Allen’s death in 1956.