November is National Adoption Month. This blog series focuses on three legendary comedians connected not only by fame and their craft, but also because of their children …
For most of the twentieth century if you asked who were the best (or at least most famous) comedians you would be told, not necessarily in this order, George Burns, Jack Benny and Bob Hope.
Each one would be a face on a comedian’s Mount Rushmore.
Each one garnered success in every venue of their careers: vaudeville, radio, television and film (don’t let Benny’s self-deprecation fool you – he parleyed his filmography into comic gold. And “To Be or Not to Be” is actually a great film!).
Each was, to some extent, ignored, forgotten or even vilified by the generations after them. Despite this, their brand of comedy has survived the test of time. Watching each of them at their peak (and George Burns had more than one) still provides genuine laughter.
Each of them adopted their children. Their wives – Gracie Allen (who at one point was more famous – and funnier – than her husband), Mary Livingston and Dolores Hope – had no children naturally with their husbands, and each couple decided to adopt.
This three-part blog series will not go into the “why” they adopted. In those pre-internet and 24/7 celebrity days the reasons were personal and remained so. Were there health reasons – were one or both unable to conceive? Gracie’s Wikipedia entry says they were unable to conceive, but there is not citation.
They were all very close friends (the Benny/Burns friendship would nowadays be called a “bromance”) – did they ever discuss it? When the first one to adopt a child did so, did the other two jump on the bandwagon? Celebrities adopting children in the 1930s was trendy. …
We may never know. What we DO know is that these three legends of comedy brought laughter and joy to millions for over three-quarters of a decade in the twentieth century; and also gave children who did not share their DNA a family and a home.
More to come …
“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.
Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.
WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor
WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!
WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival!
Copyright 2016 Michael Curry