|Bill Dana and Danny Thomas|
Bill Dana had his own program, “The Bill Dana Show,”from 1963 to 1965 and it was rerun on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in glorious black and white in the 1980s. Dana’s real name is William Szathmary; he was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, on October 5, 1924. Dana’s father, who came from Hungary at the age of 14, did real estate work until the stock market crash in 1929. Dana never knew luxury; in fact, when he went into the service during World War II, he couldn’t believe he was receiving free food.
Dana was the youngest of six (he had four brothers and one sister). While a student at Daniel Webster Grammar School, his teacher said to him one day, “Szathmary, you’re a buffoon.” He replied, “Let’s keep religion out of this.”
The Szathmary family was fairly ecumenical. They were Jewish, but were raised with Catholics. Dana knew the Stations of the Cross, and he used his knowledge of Catholicism in his humor:
“During the ceremony where novitiates become Brides of Christ (Religious Sisters), the bishop noticed an Orthodox Jewish man praying loudly. Not being able to conquer his curiosity, the bishop had to stop the ceremony long enough to ask the man, ‘Sir, I realize you are not a Catholic. I must ask you why you are here at this marriage of our Lord to these novitiates?’“
The old man answered with a lovely, Jewish accent, ‘I’m on the groom’s side.’”
— Bill Dana
— Bill Dana
Dana had a long career in comedy, as both a writer and comedian. He is one of the McCaskey's favorite stars.
Copyright 2015, Sports and Faith Book 2: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout.