Danny Thomas was an American nightclub comedian and television and film actor, best known for starring in the television sitcom Make Room for Daddy, or The Danny Thomas Show. He is also the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is the father of Marlo Thomas, Terre Thomas and Tony Thomas.
Thomas was born Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yakhoob in Deerfield, Michigan, the son of Margaret Christen and Charles Yakhoob. His parents were Maronite Catholic immigrants from Lebanon. He was raised in Toledo, Ohio, attending St. Francis de Sales Church, Woodward High School and attending The University of Toledo. Thomas married Rose Marie Cassaniti on January 15, 1936, a week after his 24th birthday. He first performed under his Anglicized birth name, “Amos Jacobs”, before settling on the stage name, “Danny Thomas”, which were the first names of two of his brothers.
Thomas first reached large audiences on network radio in the 1940s, most notably playing shifty brother-in-law Amos in The Bickersons, which began as sketches on the half-hour music-comedy show Drene Time, co-hosted by Don Ameche and Frances Langford. Thomas also portrayed himself as a slightly scatterbrained Lothario on this show. His other network radio work included a stint as “Jerry Dingle” the postman on Fanny Brice’s The Baby Snooks Show, and periodic appearances on the legendary NBC variety program, The Big Show, hosted by stage legend Tallulah Bankhead.
In films, he starred in The Jazz Singer, a 1952 remake of the 1927 original and played songwriter Gus Kahn opposite Doris Day in the 1951 film biography I’ll See You in My Dreams. During his successful run on Make Room for Daddy, which was later known as The Danny Thomas Show, Thomas became a successful television producer, working on many popular shows including The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Mod Squad. Thomas also produced three series for Walter Brennan: The Real McCoys, The Tycoon and The Guns of Will Sonnett, all on ABC during the late 1950s and 1960s.