Note from Frank Sisco:
- The book is chock full of exciting tales of Joe's relationships
with so many interesting people. Here are just a few copied from
- Duke Ellington
- One famous musician who was on my show used to tell Hal Stone,
my right-hand man, "Hold my pot till the show's over."
That was Duke Ellington. I loved Duke. I had dinner with him
about six times. At dinner, he'd always have his dessert first,
because he said he knew he wouldn't have room for it at the end.
- Georgie Jessel, George Burns, and a Toupee
- George Burns used to break up Jack Benny. George Burns just
had to wink or belch and Jack Benny would fall over laughing.
Georgie Jessel used to break me up the same way. I guess it's
no secret-a few people in the industry knew it-that George Burns,
when he got tired of his toupees, would send them to Georgie
Jessel. Jessel would wear them for a year or two. Jessel had
seven different toupees, one for every day of the week. Each
one with a little more hair-he was trying to make people believe
that his hair was growing naturally! And when Jessel got through
with his toupees, he would send them to a singer named Sid Gary,
a short man with a booming voice. Sid Gary had been the vaudeville
partner many years ago of George Burns. So it had all sort of
gone full cycle.
- Charlie Chaplin
- Chaplin was on my radio show, and at the peak of his fame,
he was criticized for his marriages, his political leanings,
and also because he never found time to become a U.S. citizen.
He was a little bit left-wingy, and he didn't want to live where
he wasn't wanted. So he went into self-imposed exile in Switzerland
until they invited him back for an honorary Academy Award in
1972. There's one scene in a movie called The Gold Rush
where he sits starving in his Alaska cabin during a big snowstorm
and carves up his shoe-to eat as a delicacy. Remember that scene?
That's one of the most charming moments in cinema history. He
was the first one to mix comedy with pathos.
- He grew up a street urchin, his mother dying in the poor-house.
He wound up dancing on the street, passing around a hat for pennies,
in an orphanage for destitute children, so I guess his career
was kind of an echo of his impoverished childhood. I asked him
on the air about people who analyze his movies. There are whole
books written by people analyzing Charlie Chaplin movies, frame
by frame. They see Freudian significance in every frame. Every
time he kicks a fat man from behind, he's supposed to be knocking
the Establishment, and there are a hundred more theories. Chaplin
swore to me that although people read all these shadings, all
these meanings into his movies, all he had in mind was to make
people laugh. I never forgot how he told me that people can overanalyze
what was never there in the first place.
- Louis Armstrong
- Louis Armstrong was on my show about four times. I loved
him. He always used to give out cards, and on his card was a
picture of him sitting on the toilet. He was the only guy I ever
knew who gave out cards like that.
- Jimmy Durante
- Jimmy Durante always loved that lyric by Cole Porter "You're
the top, you're the inferno Dante / You're the nose on the great
Durante." He came on my show about twenty times. I used
to visit him at the hotel. He would lean out the window of the
hotel and wave to the people on Forty-fifth and Broadway. He
never knew how to say no. If anybody asked him for a favor, he'd
say yeah, yeah, yeah, but when the time came to show up, he couldn't
do it because he was booked, he was out of town.
- I think I was the one who created the phrase "the Wizard
of Schnozz." He married a ballet dancer. He used to tell
me on his program that he fell in love with her toes, and she
fell in love with his nose. I could do hours on Jimmy. When he
was in town, he'd sit in my office with me and we'd talk about
old times. He had very vivid recall.