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Danny Thomas (1914 - 1991)

Actor, Comedian

Danny Thomas was born in Deerfield, Michigan, the fifth of ten children born of Lebanese immigrants. At age 10, he was selling newspapers on the street and candy in a burlesque theater. This theater experience inspired him to become an entertainer and comedian. He quit school at 16 to find his place in show business.

He married Rosemarie Mantell, whom he met while singing on the radio show
"The Happy Hour Club". As the birth of their first child (Margo) approached, Thomas was earning a precarious living. However, his career did begin to accelerate earning him major engagements in Chicago and New York. He soon moved to California where he made five films and launched his Emmy Award winning show, "Make Room for Daddy".

In partnership with Sheldon Leonard, he formed T & L Productions, which produced such television comedies as the
"Andy Griffith Show" and the "Dick Van Dyke Show". In 1966, Thomas teamed with producer Aaron Spelling to form Thomas-Spelling Productions, which created such successful shows as "The Mod Squad".

Thomas performed for five Presidents:
Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. He helped raise funds to build the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital center and raised $12 million annually to keep it operating. To do so, he organized and performed at large public events such as the "Miracle Ball" in Miami and the "St. Jude Shower of Stars" in Memphis.

He received numerous honors and awards in recognition of his efforts with the hospital, and in the fall of 1983, an act of Congress commended his contribuitions to the world renown research and treatment facility. In the spring of 1984, Danny Thomas was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor by
President Ronald Reagan.