Our quiz about Joe E. Brown prompted us to dig up these picture of Brown with Martha Raye.
Our article on Raye a few weeks ago received this comments from regular contributor, Jeff Woodman —“I was told the following story by the late Maxine Andrews.
Andrews had been approached by the makers of Polident about becoming their TV spokesperson. Because she wasn’t a denture wearer at the time, she repeatedly declined their offers, but they kept pursuing her, finally saying they’d like to attend her nightclub performance that evening, then meet with her afterward to discuss it. Thinking that it would be an opportunity to turn them down in person once and for all, Andrews agreed.
As luck would have it, Martha Raye was attending that night, and arrived in Andrews’ dressing room prior to the performance (feeling, shall-we-say, a little happy?) and insisting that Andrews needed “a star to introduce” her.
Seeing Raye’s condition, Andrews attempted to dissuade her, but Raye was adamant, and finally Andrews had no choice but to relent.
Of course, instead of merely performing the introduction, Raye did a good fifteen minutes, and being in her cups, saw no problem doing a bit during which she removed her dentures for a laugh. (As you observed, her style was anything but subtle.)
The Polident people saw a celebrity who obviously wore dentures, and who obviously had no compunction about revealing that fact in public, and promptly signed Raye as their spokesperson.”
And another regular contributor Graham Hill had this to say about Brown’s big mouth:
Brown certainly had the biggest mouth in showbiz in terms of size, but he also had one of the biggest hearts when it came to his WWII service with the Hollywood Canteen, and in entertaining the troops overseas.
Whilst Bob Hope got all the credit, the honors and applause with the USO and such, Joe E. Brown was the first to do so before Hope and before there was even such a thing as the USO.
Hope certainly became the richest and most decorated entertainer of his era, but Joe E. Brown’s quiet unheralded philanthropy and love of family and humanity, to my mind made him truly richer and much more genuine for a man with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen!
Who knew that mouth sizes could inspire such interesting commentary? Thanks to Jeff and Graham.