Danny Thomas (1912 - 1991)

Danny Thomas
1912 - 1991
updated July 21, 2019
Danny Thomas was born on January 6, 1912. He died on February 6, 1991 at 79 years old.

Danny Thomas
Born January 6, 1912 in Deerfield, Michigan, USA
Died February 6, 1991 in Los Angeles, California, USA (heart attack)
Birth Name Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yakhoob
Nicknames Muzzy
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)
Mini Bio (1)
Known primarily as a TV actor, he starred as a nightclub singer on the popular The Danny Thomas Show (1953).
He also served TV behind the cameras partnering with Sheldon Leonard and Aaron Spelling to create such shows as Dick Van Dyke's show, The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961), The Andy Griffith Show (1960) and Mod Squad (1968).
He was also dedicated to building the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, which he founded in 1962.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ray Hamel
Spouse (1)
Rose Marie Mantell Thomas (15 January 1936 - 6 February 1991) ( his death) ( 3 children)
Trade Mark (5)
His bulbous nose
He, Sheldon Leonard, and son Tony Thomas, each produced several long-running sitcoms and/or dramas.
A couple of his characters were entertainment performers.
Frequently played characters that were gruff in tone
His loud, nasal voice
Trivia (93)
Took his stage name from his eldest brother Thomas and his youngest brother Danny. Most of his friends called him "Jake".
Though he was a spokesman for Sanka decaffeinated coffee, he later confessed that he never drank it. He claimed he could drink cup after cup of Maxwell House coffee and still fall asleep minutes later.
Child of Lebanese immigrants.
Was a founding minority owner of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins.
Danny Williams, his character on The Danny Thomas Show (1953), was ranked #5 in "TV Guide'"s list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" in its 20 June 2004 issue.
Founded St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Guest speaker at the 1973 National Boy Scout Jamboree in Butler, PA.
Was offered the lead role in The Jolson Story (1946) after James Cagney turned it down. He also turned it down.
Godmother of his daughter Marlo Thomas was Loretta Young.
His The Danny Thomas Show (1953) co-star, Angela Cartwright, said in an interview that TV producer Irwin Allen was a huge fan of Thomas' show, and asked her to audition for a sci-fi series he was producing that eventually wound up to be Lost in Space (1965), which was loosely based on the novel, "The Swiss Family Robinson".
Angela Cartwright's parrot was named after him.
Father-in-law of Phil Donahue.
Best remembered by the public for his starring role as nightclub entertainer Danny Williams on The Danny Thomas Show (1953).
Before he was a successful TV actor, he was a radio actor.
Met his future wife, Rose Marie Mantell Thomas, at a Happy Hour Club in Detroit, MI, when he was 23.
Before he was a successful actor, he used to work at a nightclub in Chicago, IL.
His daughter, Margaret Julia--better known as Marlo Thomas)--was named after his mother.
Survived by his wife, Rosie Marie, of 55 years and three children: Marlo Thomas, Terre Thomas and Tony Thomas.
Graduated from Woodward High School in Toledo, OH, in 1931.
Was the first actor to legally change his name, twice, before Jane Wyman and Robert Fuller.

Danny Thomas Biography

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Danny Thomas
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Roman catholic


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Raising money for St. Jude is my reason for living. Until I die I will continue to beg for more. A part of the reason I decided to do the new show is to introduce a new generation to this guy with the hooked nose. Then, when I ask for their dollars for St. Jude, they'll know who I am. And I plan to be asking for their dollars for a long time.
[When asked as to how long he could continue starring as Danny Williams]: I have options for two more years after this one. I'd like to do at least one more year in deference to the sponsors. Then I'd like to slow down and let the reruns work for me.
[on the hospital he was promoting]: It is my belief that St. Jude Hospital will one day announce to the world the great tidings of a cure for leukemia or cancer or even both. I am proud to beg for this project.
[In 1961]: Situation comedy! I hate the term. There's all that talk about giving the public education on TV. We haven't yet educated the public to appreciate what it is getting now.
Why should all shows be lumped into the category of 'situation comedy?' They should be called 'life shows,' because they reflect life. Do you know why they have the tragic and the comic masks in the theater?
[Of his ex-partner Sheldon Leonard developing another TV series]: Sheldon Leonard [his director] and I sometimes discuss it. We think we are tired and have no place to go. But then we say, 'What we would do if we quit? Start another series?' We could never find another cast and crew as congenial as this one. We love each other. We see more of each other than we do of our own families. Should we give this up?
[Who said in 1962 about thanking people who contributed to his hospital]: It took a rabble-rousing, hook-nosed comedian to get your attention, but it took your heart, your loving minds, your generous souls to make this dream come true.
[Who said in 1964 about the character of St. Joseph]: It's a story that has never been told before.
Nobody has anything to be ashamed of regarding his national origins - and by golly, I'm trying to prove it.
I'll do Yiddish, Greek, Arabic, Negro, Italian and Irish vernaculars, and to heck with the squawks.

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Military Service

In the 1940's, Mr. Thomas performed on the Fanny Brice radio show and then was given his own program on CBS radio, "The Danny Thomas Show," which ran from 1944 to 1949.
In World War II, he entertained troops in North Africa, Italy and the Philippines, and after the war he went into the movies.

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Danny Thomas Obituary

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Danny Thomas, 79, the TV Star Of 'Make Room for Daddy,' Dies
February 7, 1991, Page 00025
The New York Times
Danny Thomas, the comedian and philanthropist best known as the star of the television series "Make Room for Daddy" in the 1950's and 60's, died yesterday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 79 years old. He died after a heart attack at his home in Beverly Hills, a hospital spokesman said.
Mr. Thomas appeared in "Make Room for Daddy," later known as "The Danny Thomas Show," from 1953 to 1964, playing a nightclub comedian, which he was for much of his almost 60-year career. He was also a founder and benefactor of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, which seeks cures for children's cancer and other catastrophic diseases.
"Danny was one of the giants of the industry," Bob Hope said yesterday. "And what he did for St. Jude's will never be forgotten."
Mr. Thomas, a Roman Catholic, was long known for his strong religious faith. He often said that in the difficult early days of his career, when his wife was urging him to give up show business and get a regular job, he prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless, impossible and difficult cases. He asked the saint to put him on the right path, vowing that if the saint did so he would build him a shrine.
That shrine, built with the assistance of many other people, was the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which was dedicated in 1962. Mr. Thomas spent much of his time raising money for the hospital, which he long considered his most important accomplishment. "That's my epitaph," he said in a recent interview. "It's right on the cornerstone: Danny Thomas, founder."
Phil Donahue, the television talk-show host who is married to Mr. Thomas's daughter Marlo, said: "He hit the long ball for such a long time. He would hold an audience for an unprecedented length of time in the imagery of the story he was telling, and suddenly would come the punch line, and the ceiling would crack with laughter. He wove an illusion on the stage with no props, all by himself." A Title Taken From Life
Mr. Thomas returned home recently after completing a nationwide tour promoting his autobiography, "Make Room for Danny," written with Bill Davidson and newly published by G. P. Putnam's.
The comedian said in his autobiography that the original title of his television show was provided by his wife, the former Rose Marie Cassaniti. The title was based on their family's many years of experience with his nightclub travels. While he was away, his two daughters slept in his bedroom with their mother and put their clothes in his dresser. When he returned home, they would have to clean out the dresser to "make room for Daddy."
Danny Thomas was born on Jan. 6, 1912, on a horse farm in Deerfield, Mich., the son of Lebanese immigrants. Many references list the year of his birth as 1914, but a family spokesman said yesterday that it was actually 1912. At birth he was named Muzyad Yakhoob, but his parents later changed the name to Amos Jacobs. He grew up with his eight brothers and one sister largely in Toledo, Ohio, and dropped out of high school in his freshman year with a dream that many first-generation Americans had in those days: to make it in show business. He had already, at age 11, had his first job in the entertainment world: selling candy and ice cream in the aisles at a burlesque house. He made his official show-business debut in 1932 on "The Happy Hour Club," an amateur show on WMBC Radio in Detroit.
On Aug. 12, 1940, at the 5100 Club in Chicago, he took the name Danny Thomas, Danny after his younger brother and Thomas after his eldest. He had already acted on radio -- his true ambition was to be a character actor -- but took the club job because the pay, $50 a week, was better than his radio salary. He did not, however, want his radio friends, or his family in Toledo, to find out that he had returned to the saloons, so he came up with a pseudonym. It stuck. A Comedian's Style
It also soon became clear that his forte was comedy. He was spotted by Abe Lastfogel, then the head of the William Morris Agency, who guided his career for many years.
As a comedian, Mr. Thomas was a storyteller, not a specialist in one-liners. "My people are inherently storytellers," he said in a recent interview. "When I was a kid, the entertainment was somebody from the old country or a big city who came and visited and told tales of where they came from. And my mother was very good at it. She could not read or write in any language, yet she would see silent movies and make up her own scenarios."
In the 1940's, Mr. Thomas performed on the Fanny Brice radio show and then was given his own program on CBS radio, "The Danny Thomas Show," which ran from 1944 to 1949. In World War II, he entertained troops in North Africa, Italy and the Philippines, and after the war he went into the movies.
Three movie producers -- Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohn -- wanted him to fix his trademark hook nose, saying that otherwise he would never make it big. Mr. Thomas adamantly refused.
His films included "The Unfinished Dance" (1947); "The Big City" (1948); "Call Me Mister" (1951); "I'll See You in My Dreams" (1951), in which he starred, opposite Doris Day, as the songwriter Gus Kahn, and "The Jazz Singer" (1953), in which he portrayed Al Jolson.
From Performer to Producer
Then came the television series, which lasted 11 years. It began on ABC and was switched to CBS. The show can still be seen in reruns. The series made him a household name. Mr. Thomas recently recalled that the program was frequently No. 1 in the ratings and almost always in the top 10.
He then became a highly successful television producer, first with Sheldon Leonard and then with Aaron Spelling. The series he produced with Mr. Leonard included "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." and "The Real McCoys"; those with Mr. Spelling included "The Mod Squad" and "The Guns of Will Sonnett." Later television series in which Mr. Thomas starred included "Make Room for Granddaddy" in 1970, "The Practice" in 1976 and 1977, "I'm a Big Girl Now" in 1980 and "One Big Family" in 1986.
Throughout his television career, Mr. Thomas continued to perform in nightclubs. In recent years, he appeared in a Legends of Comedy act with Milton Berle and Sid Caesar. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan gave him a Congressional medal for his achievements. Creating a Shrine
He was also devoted to his family and loved to talk about the success of his children: Marlo Thomas's career on television and in films, his daughter Theresa's two children, the work of his son, Tony, as a producer of television shows and films, including "The Golden Girls," "Empty Nest" and "Dead Poets Society." On Saturday night, Danny Thomas appeared as a guest on "Empty Nest," portraying an elderly physician.
In addition to Mr. Thomas's wife and three children, survivors include five grandchildren.
Correction: February 13, 1991
An obituary of Danny Thomas on Thursday misidentified his movie role in the 1953 version of "The Jazz Singer." He portrayed the son of a cantor, the role played by Al Jolson in the 1927 original.

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1912 - 1991 World Events

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In 1912, in the year that Danny Thomas was born, Arizona was admitted to the United States in February (on Valentine's Day). It became the 48th state in the Union. Previously a Spanish - then Mexican - territory, the U.S. paid $15 million dollars for the area in 1848. Arizona was the last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the United States.

In 1965, by the time he was 53 years old, on March 8th, the first US combat troops arrived in Vietnam. The 3500 Marines joined 23,000 "advisors" already in South Vietnam. By the end of the year, 190,000 American soldiers were in the country.

In 1970, at the age of 58 years old, Danny was alive when on May 1st, US troops invaded Cambodia, expanding the Vietnam War. The invasion of Cambodia was a Nixon policy, although it was argued against by both his Secretary of State and his Secretary of Defense.

In 1984, when he was 72 years old, due to outrage about "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (it seemed too "dark" to many and it was rated PG), a new rating was devised - PG-13. The first film rated PG-13 was "Red Dawn".

In 1991, in the year of Danny Thomas's passing, on December 25th, the Soviet Union flag was lowered and replaced by the Russian tricolor flag. It was the end of the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as President of the Soviet Union and Boris Yeltsin became President of the Russian Republic.

Other Biographies

Other Danny Thomases

Unknown - Oct 26, 1979
Unknown - Unknown
Jun 13, 1950 - Sep 11, 2012
Jan 19, 1947 - Dec 10, 2012
Jul 21, 1934 - Feb 29, 2012
Apr 8, 1952 - Jun 27, 2009
Mar 21, 1956 - Nov 8, 1992
Nov 8, 1953 - Nov 14, 1960
Jun 9, 1957 - Dec 14, 1997
around 1972 - Unknown
around 1971 - Unknown
around 1970 - Unknown
around 1974 - Unknown
around 1972 - Unknown
around 1971 - Unknown
around 1971 - Unknown
around 1969 - Unknown
around 1972 - Unknown
around 1954 - Unknown
around 1956 - Unknown

Other Thomases

Oct 12, 1909 - Aug 14, 1997
Apr 3, 1908 - September 1978
Jun 20, 1890 - January 1970
Mar 26, 1902 - August 1976
Jul 28, 1892 - June 1975
Feb 12, 1887 - August 1969
Mar 26, 1917 - November 1987
Jul 20, 1914 - Jan 28, 1992
Nov 16, 1900 - November 1969
Sep 13, 1918 - Mar 10, 1999
Feb 18, 1920 - Mar 8, 2001
Apr 27, 1908 - Sep 12, 1987
May 6, 1883 - September 1968
Jun 25, 1912 - Mar 12, 1989
May 2, 1896 - Nov 14, 1993
Sep 28, 1874 - January 1966
Oct 8, 1899 - January 1975
Oct 17, 1912 - April 1965
Apr 28, 1921 - December 1980
Jul 1, 1919 - February 1986

Other Bios

Nov 3, 1909 - Oct 9, 1992
Jan 13, 1878 - February 1965
Jun 9, 1902 - September 1979
May 17, 1918 - July 1982
Oct 26, 1898 - November 1986
Dec 25, 1899 - July 1983
Sep 18, 1913 - Nov 18, 2006
Oct 14, 1906 - Dec 26, 1990
Jul 5, 1905 - Nov 5, 1974
Jul 29, 1915 - Dec 2, 1992
Feb 28, 1904 - March 1957
Oct 8, 1909 - Jan 1, 1991
Apr 12, 1890 - February 1973
Mar 4, 1900 - January 1977
Mar 27, 1913 - Oct 3, 1987
Mar 4, 1904 - June 1973
Sep 18, 1920 - September 1973
Jun 29, 1918 - May 21, 1990
Aug 1, 1899 - April 1970
Dec 31, 1918 - Dec 12, 1988
Success Stories from Biographies like Danny Thomas
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Highlights of just a few of the many successes of sharing family history at AncientFaces. From reuniting lost or 'orphan' antique photos with their families, seeing the faces of your biological family for the first time, to connecting unknown and lost family members together.

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