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Crack a Smile for the Great Harry Ritz

It’s a shame that probably half the people alive today--the ones under 40--don’t know who Harry Ritz is, because his legacy exists in the works of such comedians as Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar, Jerry Lewis, Jan Murray, Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason and Gene Wilder.

Harry Ritz is the comedian’s comedian, the kingpin of comics. He inspired insanity with his performances on stages up and down the East Coast and in Las Vegas during the ‘30s and ‘40s; he and his two brothers--the Ritz Brothers--starred in 15 feature films.

Today, Harry Ritz is 78 years old, living--and dying--in San Diego. He has cancer, in addition to suffering from brain damage caused when he was given the wrong kind of medicine by a doctor.

So the spotlight will be on Harry Ritz on Saturday night when the San Diego chapter of Sons of the Desert, an international Laurel and Hardy fan club, turns its attention to Harry for his significant contributions to comedy.

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The 100 members of the local group, in a private ceremony, will present Harry a “lifetime achievement award.”

“The man was such an important contributor to comedy, we want to pay him tribute,” said Jeff Adcock, the “vice sheik” of the local chapter, or “tent,” of the Sons of the Desert.

“We want to pick up his spirits a little,” Adcock said.

Naomi Ritz thinks her husband, who hasn’t performed for about six years, will enjoy the evening. “We think we’ll be able to get him there,” she said. “We’re going to go on a test run this week to see how he does.

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“He’s never cared much about awards. All he wants is to make people laugh. But it will be good for him to be around people who still appreciate him. When the talk turns to the Ritz Brothers, he comes alive.”

Toward Friendlier Skies

Are you one of those folks who are afraid to fly? White knuckle time, eh? Dig out those rosary beads, you say?

Then you might be interested in a “flight relaxation seminar” to be held next Tuesday night at Montgomery Field’s passenger terminal building. For $35, you can attend “Thairapy,” which is designed to make it easier for you to relax while flying. The three-hour session will be presented by Glen Arnold, a behavioral therapist and commercial-rated pilot who is a member of the Assn. of Aviation Psychologists.

He will discuss such things as aircraft flight characteristics, proper diet for air travel, safety tips and relaxation techniques.

Yeah, like that time-proven antidote to fear of flying: unscrewing the bottle cap, pouring the contents over ice and bending your elbow with an upward motion.

Meatless Wednesday

Wednesday will be the “Great American Meatout,” sponsored by a group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It’s their message that you shouldn’t eat meat because it’s bad for you and even worse for the animals.

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This “Great American Meatout,” according to a rally held Sunday at Balboa Park, will be patterned after the popular and successful “Great American Smokeout.”

So probably about the worst thing you could do Wednesday is to barbecue some meat in your home smoker.

Theirs Is a Problem There

Music Market, a local advertising jingle firm, has come out with a nice ditty in the “I Love a Clean San Diego” campaign. But it’s a good thing that when you hear it, you can’t tell how the words are spelled.

The press release announcing the jingle noted that the motto was “Slam Dunk, You’re Junk.”

Spokeswoman Joyce Faidley called later to correct the typo.

Try this instead: “Slam Dunk Your Junk.”

Cool Welcome Home

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David Parsons flew out from Newport News, Va., a week ago Saturday to visit a friend in San Diego. And he mused each day of his weeklong visit that it was as warm or warmer back home in Virginia. All this way for what, he asked sarcastically.

Well, David Parsons flew home Saturday to Newport News. And it dipped into the 20s that night.

Awwwwwww.

Truth in Advertising

On the back of an old clunker was the bumper sticker: “This is NOT an abandoned vehicle.”

And the driver of a newer-model sedan was sure not to get any argument from his bumper sticker. It read, simply, “Bumper Sticker.”


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