Great American Spotlight- Danny Thomas


Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz was born in Deerfield, Michigan to Lebanese immigrants. Raised in Toledo, Ohio, his entertainment career started on the radio as “Amos Jacobs” (Amos Yakhoob) in Detroit, and in 1940 he moved to Chicago and took the stage name “Danny Thomas.”

In Chicago, he struggled until he became a radio star with “The Danny Thomas Variety Show.” This eventually led to movie stardom; Thomas became a successful television producer of The Dick Van Dyke Show (where he discovered “Mary Tyler Moore”), The Andy Griffith Show, The Mod Squad, and many other shows.

Back in Chicago when Thomas was a struggling comedian, he made a promise to the patron saint of lost causes, St. Jude Thaddeus, that if he could find his way in life, he would build a shrine to St. Jude. Once he reached stardom, he began to raise funds in Hollywood and throughout the Arab-American Community in the U.S. for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Since it opened its doors in 1962, St. Jude has treated children world-wide, continuing the mission of finding cures and saving children. Through its research, St. Jude’s has reversed the mortality rate of childhood leukemia from 95% to 5%.

Today, a majority of the members of the Board of Directors at St. Jude still comprises of the same ethnic majority as its founders— proud Arab-Americans! Indeed it is written in its bylaws that the majority of the board MUST remain forever of Arab American descent.