Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Pause for the Cause


The sitcom Happy Days was set in the 1950s. But, of course, not everything in the Fifties was so rosy. People had their share of unhappy days as well.

One of the reasons for their unhappiness was cancer. But, back in 1958, comedian Sid Caesar decided to take action after the dread disease claimed a number of notables including film legend Humphrey Bogart, pianist Eddy Duchin, actress Hattie McDaniels, and Caesar's friend,  Manie (sometimes spelled "Manny") Sacks. Sacks, who died of leukemia at age 56, had been a vice president of RCA Victor and the NBC network.

Caesar contacted the American Cancer Society and asked what he could do. Then, he presided over "The Something Can Be Done About It Club" and rallied his fellow entertainers to join the fight.

According to 4/3/58 story in the Indiana (PA) Gazette, the comic sent a telegram explaining, "The purpose of the club is to bring vital information about cancer to the public and help save the 75,000 who die needlessly every year; to raise money to increase the quantity and intensity of existing and proposed cancer research which will eventually bring about the breakthroughs that will end cancer as the number one health menace."

Caesar encouraged celebrities to do " thing a year for the American Cancer Society...Your duties are: to make a recorded announcement, or appear on a network TV program , or film an announcement, etc."

A couple of Mavericks participated in "The Something Can Be Done About It Club". Jack Kelly and James Garner are seen below in a feature in the May 10-16, 1958, issue of TV Guide, looking at an "educational film" about cancer.

Here's a close-up of our boys taking a pause for the cause:

Some of Manie Sacks' famous friends came together in 1959 to pay tribute to him on NBC.  

Although great strides have been made against cancer since 1958, it unfortunately remains a major health menace today. My father died of cancer in 2002; I had a minor bout with skin cancer last year; and my dog was recently diagnosed with canine lymphoma (he's  undergoing chemotherapy and is thankfully doing very well at this time).

Early detection and quick treatment remain two of the best weapons we have against cancer, so please--have that check-up and give generously to the cancer charity of your choice.