One hundred years ago today, comedian Danny Thomas was born Amos Jacob to Lebanese parents in Deerfield, Michigan (about an hour southwest of Detroit).
At age 26, married, facing the birth of his first child, and struggling to support his family as he tried to make it in show business, Thomas considered giving up his dream of being a performer in exchange for a regular paycheck at an uncle’s grocery store.
A devout Catholic, he walked into SS. Peter and Paul Church in Detroit and knelt before a statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. “Help me find my place in life,” he prayed, and placed his last $7 in the poor box. The next morning, he received a lucrative job offer in Chicago, and his entertainment career began to take off.
A few years later, at another turning point in his life, Thomas again asked St. Jude’s help and promised, “I’ll build you a shrine.” St. Jude came through for him again.
In the 1950’s, Danny Thomas, by now a successful television star, kept his promise. He founded the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which opened February 4, 1962.
Danny Thomas died on February 6, 1991, and is buried on the grounds of St. Jude Hospital.