Thursday, January 06, 2022

Today in Comics History, January 6: Happy birthday, Danny Thomas!

Born on this very day in 1912: pioneering actor, singer, philanthropist and nightclub comedian: Amos Muzyad Yaqoob Kairouz! That's Danny Thomas to you and me!

from Movie Love #19 (Eastern Color, December 1952), pencils and inks by Frank Fogarty

Thomas had already made a big name for himself on radio and in film before television producers thought he was the perfect man to star in their upcoming show The Danny Thomas Show. "It's the role I was born to play, baby!" Thomas was heard to exclaim as he skipped to the production offices. I have ignored the fact that the show was actually called Make Room for Daddy in its first seasons merely to make that joke.

The Danny Thomas Show was huge! Remember in the 1950s and '60s when the whole country was going Danny Thomas-crazy, wearing t-shirts with the ubiquitous logo of Danny's Copa Club, wearing those fake rubber noses, and getting married to the nurse who came in to treat your son's measles. Why, you couldn't change your TV dial without managing to hit Danny Thomas, so matter how much you brake and swerve!

from "Commercial Roulette" in MAD #59 (December 1960), script by Gary Belkin, pencils and inks by Bob Clarke

At least two of the many, many merchandising products for the TV show were comic books. Sorry, Danny, you didn't get a whole series, but two issues of Four Color is at least...eight colors, I guess.

covers of Four Color #1180 and 1249 (Dell, April 1961 and November 1961)

Only two issues they may be, but honestly, what issues! The first featured artwork by Alex Toth! Yeah! That Alex Toth!

from Four Color #1180 (Dell, April 1961); script by Eric Freiwald and Robert Schaefer; pencils, inks, and letters by Alex Toth

And the second, by Russ Manning! (I sure hope Danny fights robots in this issue!) Sorry I missed your birthday yesterday, Russ. 2023 for sure!

from Four Color #1249 (Dell, November 1961), pencils and inks by Russ Manning

While he was unable to keep his comic book going as a regular series, Danny moonlighted in other characters' comics such as that October 1961's Marvel/Atlas comic Danny Thomas, Monster Among Men: Nothing Can Replace Me in Comic Books!, and this mag all about the delightly Miss Brenda Lee, whom you've heard sing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" approximately one zillion times over the past month.

from Brenda Lee Life Story (Dell, July 1962), pencils and inks by Tony Tallarico (?)

Here's Danny Thomas guest-cameoing in a romance comic book, with maybe Cary Grant at left, or I could swear he might be Dave Garroway (young teen girls love the Dave Garroway), and, in the middle, Desi Arnaz, and, judging by how closely that red-haired woman resembles Lucille Ball, Nicole Kidman.

from "Please Take My Heartbreak!" in Girls' Love Stories #112 (DC, July 1965), script by Robert Kanigher, pencils and inks by Paul Parker

At this time we would like to remind you of Rule No. 2 of Comics Oughta be Fun!: You ain't nobody 'til you're drawn by Mort Drucker! Rule No. 1 of Comics Oughta Be Fun: Comics Oughta Be Fun. Look, I don't make the rules.

from "Botch Casually and the Somedunce Kid" inMAD #136 (July 1970), script by Arnie Kogen, pencils and inks by Mort Drucker

No celebration of Danny Thomas would be complete without mentioning other work as a movie and radio actor, commercial pitchman for Norelco coffeemakers, and the founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which helps kids with leukemia and their families. But as we salute the sir with the schnozz, please always remember Danny Thomas's greatest gift to the world of television was giving us:

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