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1977 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Danny Thomas*

Danny Thomas Productions, Inc.

"Despair is the tool of the devil."

Danny Thomas was born in 1914 in Deerfield, Michigan, the fifth of 10 children born of Lebanese immigrants. At age 10, he was selling newspapers on the street and candy in a burlesque theater. His theater experience inspired him to become an entertainer and comedian. He quit school at 16 to go into show business. He first performed under his birth name, Amos Jacobs, but later settled on using the first names of his two brothers. He sang on the radio show "The Happy Hour Club." After moving to California, he made five films, including a 1952 remake of The Jazz Singer. He launched his Emmy Award winning show, Make Room for Daddy in 1953. The show aired until 1963. In partnership with Sheldon Leonard, Thomas formed T & L Productions, which produced such television comedies as the Andy Griffith Show and the Dick Van Dyke Show. In 1966, he formed Thomas-Spelling Productions.

Thomas raised funds to build the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Center and raised $12 million annually to keep it operating.

* Deceased