Danny Thomas seems to be mostly ignored by anyone under fifty years old. Too bad, because he was one of the finest performers to come from Michigan: comedian, TV star, singer, writer, producer, and humanitarian.

On January 6, 1912, Danny was born in the town of Deerfield in Lenawee County. Born to Lebanese parents, his birth name was Amos Muzyad Yahkoob, which he later anglicized to 'Amos Jacobs'. Once entering show biz he decided to use a stage name: he took “Danny” from his younger brother and “Thomas” from his older one.

By the time he was around 20 years old, he moved to Detroit. He landed a gig singing on a Detroit radio program, “The Happy Hour Club.” One of the others on the show was Rose Mantell; she and Danny fell in love and married in 1936. They moved into a building at 93 Adelaide Street in Detroit and set up their home (the building is shown in the photo gallery below). Married until his death, they had three children; the most well-known being their daughter Marlo.

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In 1940 he moved to Chicago and a few years later made his way to California, became an actor, and began appearing in a few movies with the most notable being “The Jazz Singer” in 1952. The following year he got his own TV show: “The Danny Thomas Show” a/k/a/ “Make Room For Daddy” where he portrayed nightclub singer Danny Williams – a family man with a wife and two children. I recall watching his show and thinking “this is one mean guy” because he was always yelling at everybody: kids, wife, friends, agent, EVERYone. As I got older, I realized that was his shtick: to be exasperated which drew laffs from the audience. His big nose was also used for comedy at his expense; it was hooked like a hawk's beak and was also compared to the nose sizes of Bob Hope and Jimmy Durante.

One of the show's sponsors was Sanka decaffeinated coffee; even though on the show he touted how good it was, he claimed he never drank one cup. His favorite was Maxwell House.

Even though he always appeared grumpy and grouchy on his TV show, in real life he was anything BUT mean: he founded the St. Jude Hospital in 1962 and was known for being a generous man and easygoing boss.

He also helped get some of early TV's most popular shows off the ground: “The Andy Griffith Show”, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, “The Real McCoys”, “The Joey Bishop Show”, and “The Mod Squad” among others. It was an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show” that Griffith's character of sheriff Andy Taylor made his debut. On the episode, Danny was caught speeding through Mayberry and held in a cell until he paid the fine. Not long afterward, Andy's own show made it's debut on CBS.

On February 6, 1991, he passed away from a heart attack at the age of 79.

“Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others” - Danny Thomas

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