Born January 6, 1912 in Deerfield, Michigan, Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz was the son of Maronite Catholic immigrants from Lebanon. One of ten children, he was raised in Toledo, Ohio, where he attended St. Francis de Sales Church (Roman Catholic), Woodward High School, and the University of Toledo. You know him as Danny Thomas, the American nightclub comedian, singer, actor, and producer.

Using the name Amos Jacobs Kairouz, he began performing on radio in Detroit in 1932. He moved to Chicago in 1940 where he changed his name to Danny Thomas (after two of his brothers).

Thomas first reached mass audiences on network radio in the 1940s when he played the part of the shifty brother-in-law Amos in The Bickersons. He also played the part of Jerry Dingle, the postman on The Baby Snooks Show. He had his own 30-minute weekly variety show called The Danny Thomas Show. It ran on ABC in 1942-1943 and on CBS in 1947-1948.

With the advent of television, Thomas starred in Make Room for Daddy, later known as The Danny Thomas Show. The show ran for eleven years (1953-1964).

As a “starving actor,” Thomas had made a promise to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. He had promised that if he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to St. Jude. Thomas did not forget his promise. After he became a successful actor in the 1950’s, he and his wife began traveling the United States to raise funds to build St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. With help from Dr. Lemuel Diggs and close friend Anthony Abraham, an auto magnate in Miami, he founded the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee in 1962. Although St. Jude’s was named after Danny Thomas’s patron saint, it is not a Catholic hospital and is not affiliated with any religious organization. The focus of St. Jude’s is the research and treatment for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

According to”_Research_Hospital. “All medically eligible patients who are accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family’s ability to pay. St. Jude is one of the few pediatric research organizations in the United States where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. In addition to providing medical services to eligible patients, St. Jude also assists families with transportation, lodging, and meals. These policies, along with research expenses and other costs, cause the hospital to incur more than $2.4 million in operating costs each day.” Today, according to _Forbes Magazine_, St. Jude Children’s Research Center in Memphis, Tennessee, is the fifth highest fundraiser in the United States with $1.37 billion in contributions.

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—By Karen Centowski