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Danny Thomas

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Title: Danny Thomas  
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Subject: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Alan Alda, Frank Sinatra, Marlo Thomas, Journey Back to Oz
Collection: 1912 Births, 1991 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Businesspeople, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, American Comedians, American Male Comedians, American Male Film Actors, American Male Radio Actors, American Male Television Actors, American Maronites, American People of Arab Descent, American People of Lebanese Descent, American People of Maronite Descent, American Philanthropists, American Roman Catholics, American Television Producers, Arab-American Culture in Ohio, Congressional Gold Medal Recipients, Deaths from Pneumothorax, Knights and Dames Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Las Vegas Entertainers, Male Actors from Detroit, Michigan, Male Actors from Ohio, Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Primetime Emmy Award Winners, People from Lenawee County, Michigan, People from Rochester, New York, People from Toledo, Ohio, Rca Victor Artists, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Television Hall of Fame Inductees
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Danny Thomas

Danny Thomas
Danny Thomas in 1957
Born Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz (later anglicized to Amos Jacobs Kairouz)
(1912-01-06)January 6, 1912
Deerfield, Michigan, U.S.
Died February 6, 1991(1991-02-06) (aged 79)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.[1]
Other names Amos Jacobs
Years active 1947–1991
Spouse(s) Rose Marie Mantell Thomas (m. 1936–91) his death; 4 children
Children Tony Thomas
Marlo Thomas
Terre Thomas (b. 1942)

Danny Thomas (born Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz; January 6, 1912 – February 6, 1991) was an American nightclub comedian and television and film actor and producer, whose career spanned five decades. Thomas was best known for starring in the television sitcom Make Room for Daddy (also known as The Danny Thomas Show). He was also the founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He was the father of Marlo Thomas, Terre Thomas, and Tony Thomas.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Career before television 2
    • Radio 2.1
    • Films 2.2
  • Television career 3
    • Make Room For Daddy (The Danny Thomas Show) 3.1
    • Producer 3.2
    • Return to television 3.3
    • Commercials 3.4
    • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital 3.5
  • Personal life 4
  • Death 5
  • Awards and honors 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

As "Amos Jacobs" at WMBC radio in Detroit

One of 10 children, Danny Thomas was born on January 6, 1912, in Deerfield, Michigan, to Charles Yakhoob Kairouz and his wife Margaret Taouk.[3] His parents were Maronite Catholic immigrants from Lebanon.[4] Kairouz and Taouk are two prominent families from Bsharri. Thomas was raised in Toledo, Ohio, attending St. Francis de Sales Church (Roman Catholic), Woodward High School, and finally the University of Toledo, where he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.[5] Thomas was confirmed in the Catholic Church by the bishop of Toledo, Samuel Stritch. Stritch, a native of Tennessee, was a lifelong spiritual advisor for Thomas, and advised him to locate the St. Jude Hospital in Memphis.[6][7] He married Rose Marie Cassaniti in 1936, a week after his 24th birthday.

In 1932, Thomas began performing on radio in Detroit at WMBC on The Happy Hour Club. Thomas first performed under his Anglicized birth name, "Amos Jacobs Kairouz." After he moved to Chicago in 1940, Thomas did not want his friends and family to know he went back into working clubs where the salary was better, so he came up with the pseudonym "Danny Thomas" (after two of his brothers).[8]

He can be found living in Ward 6, Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, in the 1920 U. S. Census as Amos Jacobs, the same in the 1930 Census, and in 1940 living in Ward 2, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, as Amos J. Jacobs, a radio and theatrical artist. Further, the 1930 Census states his parents were born in Syria; while the 1920 Census states that they were born in "Seria", and that their mother tongue is "Serian".[9][10] Indeed, Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1920, and Lebanese immigrants were then identified as Syrians in most of the world and as Turks in Latin America.

Career before television

Thomas as Jerry Dingle, 1945


Thomas first reached mass audiences on network radio in the 1940s playing shifty brother-in-law Amos in The Bickersons, which began as sketches on the music-comedy show Drene Time, co-hosted by Don Ameche and Frances Langford. Thomas also portrayed himself as a scatterbrained Lothario on this show. His other network radio work included a stint as Jerry Dingle the postman on Fanny Brice's The Baby Snooks Show, and appearances on the popular NBC variety program, The Big Show, hosted by stage legend Tallulah Bankhead.

Thomas also had his own radio program, The Danny Thomas Show. The 30-minute weekly variety show was on ABC in 1942-43 and on CBS in 1947-48.[11]


In films, Thomas starred in The Jazz Singer opposite the popular contemporary vocalist Peggy Lee, a 1952 remake of the 1927 original, and played songwriter Gus Kahn opposite Doris Day in the 1951 film biography I'll See You in My Dreams.

Television career

Make Room For Daddy (The Danny Thomas Show)

Thomas enjoyed a successful 13-year run (1953–1965) on Make Room For Daddy, later known as The Danny Thomas Show. Jean Hagen and Sherry Jackson were his first family. The Hagen character died in 1956, replaced by Marjorie Lord. On January 1, 1959, Thomas appeared with his Make Room For Daddy child stars, Angela Cartwright and Rusty Hamer, in an episode of NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Danny plays house with television daughter Linda

The show was produced at Desilu Studios, where Lucille Ball was appearing alongside Desi Arnaz Sr. in I Love Lucy, and it featured several guest stars who went on to star in their own shows, including Andy Griffith (The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD), Joey Bishop, and Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian and others). He also scored a major success at the London Palladium, in the years when many big American stars appeared there.

Thomas and Cartwright

In the 1970s, the program was revived, but had a short run, under the title Make Room for Granddaddy. (See below.)

Cartwright (who spoke about her on- and off-camera relationship with her TV stepfather, Danny Thomas, on a groundbreaking ABC TV show, Make Room for Daddy) had said: "I thought Danny was hilarious and he was always cracking me up. He was loud and gregarious, nothing like my real Dad who is far more reserved than that. So, it was fun to be able to make smart remarks and get away with it. I would never have talked to my real parents that way, but in the make-believe world of the Williams family I got away with that." Cartwright also added by the time Thomas' show had ended, if she wanted to join the cast of The Sound of Music: "I went on an interview for the part of Brigitta. I was still filming The Danny Thomas Show, but I knew the series was coming to an end. After several auditions, I was the first von Trapp cast. I asked Danny Thomas if he would let me out of my contract so I could be in the movie and he was very gracious to let me out of the last show of the season. He didn’t have to do that and I am very grateful he did."[12]


Thomas became a successful television producer (with Sheldon Leonard and Aaron Spelling among his partners) of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Mod Squad. Thomas also produced three series for Walter Brennan: The Real McCoys, The Tycoon, and The Guns of Will Sonnett on ABC during the late 1950s and 1960s. Thomas often appeared in cameos on shows he produced, including his portrayal of the tuxedoed, droll alien Kolak, from the planet Twilo, in the Dick Van Dyke Show science-fiction spoof, "It May Look Like a Walnut".

Thomas, Jack Benny, and Bob Hope in a March 1968 Jack Benny special

Thomas was responsible for Mary Tyler Moore's first "big break" in acting. In 1961, Carl Reiner cast her in The Dick Van Dyke Show after Thomas personally recommended Moore. He had remembered her as "the girl with three names" whom he had turned down earlier, but rediscovered her after a lengthy search through photos and records.

Return to television

In the early 1970s, Thomas reunited most of his second Daddy cast (Marjorie Lord, Rusty Hamer, and Angela Cartwright) for a short-lived update of the show, Make Room for Granddaddy. Premised around Danny and Kathy Williams caring for their grandson by daughter Terry, who was away with her husband on a long business assignment, the show lasted one season.

By the mid-1970s, Thomas' son Tony had become an accomplished television producer. Tony, along with Paul Junger Witt, formed Witt/Thomas Productions in 1975, and was responsible for his father's next three (and ultimately final) starring vehicles. Thomas returned to series TV in the NBC sitcom, The Practice, from January 1976 to January 1977, and after that I'm a Big Girl Now, which aired on ABC from 1980 to 1981.

The last series in which Thomas was a headlining star was One Big Family, which aired in syndication during the 1986–1987 season. The situation comedy's premise was set around a semiretired comedian whose grandchildren were orphaned after their parents were killed in a car accident.[13]


Thomas, like many actors prominent in television, endorsed commercial products. In particular, two companies that featured him in their advertising were Maxwell House, whose instant coffee he endorsed (though it had no decaffeinated variant at the time, he later claimed he had been endorsing a "decaffeinated" instant coffee and the coffee he actually drank had a high caffeine content), and Philips Norelco's "Dial-A-Brew" version of its short-lived "Better Cup Of Coffee" line of electric drip coffee-makers. One of his other "commercials" was actually a public-service message, with fund-raising goals, for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

As a "starving actor", Thomas had made a vow: If he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to

  • Danny Thomas at the Internet Movie Database
  • Biography at the Museum Broadcast Communications
  • "Danny Thomas Story" at St. Jude
  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
  • Danny Thomas receives the Congressional Gold Medal from President Ronald Reagan

External links

  1. ^ "Danny Thomas Story." St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
  2. ^ Obituary Variety, February 11, 1991.
  3. ^ "Danny Thomas Biography (1912–1991)". Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  4. ^ "DANNY THOMAS, 79, A COMEDIAN WHO CHAMPIONED A CAUSE". Philadelphia Inquirer. February 7, 1991. 
  5. ^ Autobiography "Make Room for Danny, 1991 by Danny Thomas; Publisher G.P. Pulman's Sons
  6. ^ "Danny's Dream". Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  7. ^ Sanderson, Jane (1979-04-30). "St. Jude Children's Hospital Was Danny Thomas' Dream, but Dr. Alvin Mauer Makes It Come True". Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  8. ^ "Danny Thomas, 79, the TV Star Of 'Make Room for Daddy,' Dies". New York Times. 7 February 1991. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  9. ^ U.S.Census of 1930, . Retrieved on 30 January 2013.
  10. ^ U.S.Census of 1920, . Retrieved on 30 January 2013.
  11. ^ Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, 2nd Edition, Volume 1. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. P. 177.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prine Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–Present, 20th Anniversary Edition, Ballantine Books, New York, 1999, p. 758-759.
  14. ^ "Danny Thomas Story". St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  15. ^ He began St. Judes with the help of Joseph Badway of Providence, Rhode Island.vgnextoid=09034fda10465310VgnVCM100000290115acRCRD&vgnextchannel=d0024fda10465310VgnVCM100000290115acRCRD "Danny Thomas Forever Stamp" . USPS. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  16. ^ The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1996
  17. ^ a b "Rose Marie Cassaniti Thomas (Find A Grave Memorial 9682929)". Find A Grave. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Church of the Good Shepherd: Our History
  20. ^ "Celebrity Golf" (1960)
  21. ^ "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List". 
  22. ^ Danny's Promise accessed 25 December 2014
  23. ^ Danny Thomas at Find a Grave
  24. ^ "Danny Thomas Forever Stamp". USPS. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 


TRIVIA: The new Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, installed in 2015, Rev. Daniel Thomas, announced upon arriving that Toledo once again had a "Danny Thomas" in town, and didn't realize that they already had a park named after him.

Monument at Danny Thomas Park in Toledo, OH, USA

A park in Toledo, Ohio bears his name and a monument.

On February 16, 2012, the United States Postal Service issued a first-class forever stamp honoring Thomas as an entertainer and humanitarian. The Danny Thomas Forever Stamp features an oil-on-panel painting depicting a smiling, tuxedo-clad Thomas in the foreground and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the background. Tim O’Brien created the artwork for the stamp, which was designed by Greg Breeding. William J. Glicker served as art director. Joining together to dedicate the stamp were Guy Cottrell, chief postal inspector and dedicating official; Thomas' son and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital board member, Tony; Richard Shadyac Jr., chief executive officer, ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Dr. William E. Evans, director and chief executive officer, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and Stephen Kearney, manager, Stamp Services, U.S. Postal Service.[24]

Thomas was a posthumous recipient of the 2004 Bob Hope Humanitarian Award.

Awards and honors

Thomas died on February 6, 1991, of heart failure at age 79, in Los Angeles, California. Two days prior, he had celebrated St. Jude Hospital's 29th anniversary and filmed a commercial,[22] which aired posthumously. He is interred in a mausoleum on the grounds of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee;[23] Cassaniti, his wife of 55 years, was interred with him after her death in July 2000.[17]


In 1990, Danny Thomas was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[21]

A devout Maronite Catholic, Thomas was named a Knight Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre by Pope Paul VI in recognition of his services to the church and the community. He was a member of the Good Shepherd Parish and the Catholic Motion Picture Guild in Beverly Hills, California.[19] In 1983, President Ronald Reagan presented Thomas with a Congressional Gold Medal honoring him for his work with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Thomas was one of the original owners of the Miami Dolphins, along with Joe Robbie, but he sold his ownership share soon after the purchase. He was an avid golfer, claimed a ten golf handicap, and competed with Sam Snead in a charity event.[20] Two PGA Tour tournaments bore his name: the Danny Thomas-Diplomat Classic in south Florida in 1969 and the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic from 1970 to 1984. He was also the first non-Jewish member of the Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles.

Thomas was initiated, passed, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason Freemasonry at Gothic Lodge #270 F&AM located at Hamilton Square, NJ, on March 15, 1984, by special dispensation of the NJ Grand Master. During May 1985, he was made a 32° Mason and also a Noble in Al Malaikah Shrine located at Los Angeles, CA. Thomas also filmed the introduction to the Masonic Service Association's movie, When the Band Stops Playing.

Danny Thomas was a struggling young comic when he met Rose Marie Mantell (born Rose Marie Cassaniti), who had a singing career with her own radio show in Detroit, Michigan. They were married on January 15, 1936, and had four children, Margaret Julia ("Marlo"), Theresa ("Terre"), and Charles Anthony ("Tony") Thomas.His fourth child, his youngest son Christopher Dean Gregory Thomas born May 8, 1960 who he named after St Christopher had come as a result of an affair with Diane Jensen [17] Thomas' children followed him into entertainment in various capacities: his daughter Marlo is an actress, his son Tony is a television producer, and his daughter Terre Thomas is an accomplished singer-songwriter. Thomas was also the son-in-law of Marie "Mary" Cassaniti (1896–1972), a drummer and percussionist for "Marie's Merry Music Makers".[18]

Personal life

[16] of St. Jude's Immunology Department, was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996 for key discoveries on how the immune system works to kill virus-infected cells.Peter C. Doherty, in 1962. Since its inception, St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and around the world, continuing the mission of finding cures and saving children. Dr. Memphis, Tennessee in St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Thomas founded the Florida, Miami and close friend, Anthony Abraham, an auto magnate in Lemuel Diggs With help from Dr. [15] He fervently believed “no child should die in the dawn of life.”[14]

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