Monday, August 1, 2005

What Do These Famous People Have in Common?

The Search for the Single Human Common Denominator

What do the famous people, listed below, have in common? Apart from the demographic and empirical fact of belonging to the human race, they differ significantly in race, creed, culture, financial status, educational levels, nationality, age, talents, interests, hobbies, couture and cuisine styles and a myriad other variables. Is there anything one might find common to all these people? Perhaps it is a Rorschach test. Like looking at cloud formations and seeing what one wants to see. Or is it “quidquid percipitur, percipitur secundum modum percipientis.” Roughly translated, this means we see things through our own personal filters and so interpret them as reality. Let us take a look at this list and see what “variable” we find as a common denominator.


Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Malcolm Muggeridge of the London Times and British Spy. Jackie Gleason, actor, humorist and philosopher. William F. Buckley, Journalist and super conservative. Hugh Carey, Governor of New York State.
Governor John Volpe of Massaschusetts. Governor Richard Hughes of New Jersey. Governor Malcolm Wilson of New York State. Al Capp, creator of Lil’ Abner. Four star General Alfred Gunther, prime military strategist of WWII and Bridge expert.

Jim Farley, maker of American Presidents. Tommy Loughran, World’s light heavyweight boxing champion. Anne Fremantle, English writer and spiritual leader. Robert Rambusch, world class church architect. Cyril Ritchard, star of motion pictures, stage and television. Florence Henderson, Hollywood and television luminary. Miles Ambrose, New York Harbor Commissioner.

Bella Dodd, former Communist organizer. Archbishop Jakavos, Primate of Orthodox Catholics of North America. Rabbit Marc Tannenbaum, voice of Jewish thought in America. Elie Weisel, Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor. George Sokolsky, Jewish journalist. Gene Ward, sports writer. Bill Considine, sports writer.

Harry Goz, as Tevyev in Fiddler on the Roof. Johnny Desmond, Broadway Musical comedy star. David Susskind, Television Entrepreneur. David Merrick, Broadway producer. Frank Blair, NBC-TV commentator. Henry Cabot Lodge, diplomat and politician from Beverly, Mass. Thomas Melady, Ambassador to Burundi-Rwanda, and Uganda. Eamon Kennedy, Irish representative to the UN. Milton Monez, Portuguese Representative to the UN. Mario Amadeus, Ambassador from Argentina to the UN. Dr. Alice Jourdain, Belgian philosopher and University professor. Dr. Detreich Von Hildebrand, German philosopher with International fame.

Norman Mailer, Pulitzer Prize winner and liberal philosopher, Ed McMahon of the TONIGHT show and “heeeeere’s Johnny”. Mel Allen, the voice of the Yankees. Jeanne Dixon, famed psychic. Roy Wilkins, National Director of the NAACP. Dr. Ken Clark, famed psychologist who did early studies on psyches of black children and early race integrationist. Bricktop, Grande Dame of Rome’s night life. Dizzy Gillispie, classic jazz trumpeter. Bayard Rustin, black leader in ‘60s and art collector.

All these and multitudes of others were interviewed on WNBC-TV by a balding, Jewish-Irish American priest, ME! During my television years at NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City, from 1958 to 1973, I interviewed psychiatrists, psychologists sociologists and paleontologists from the University of Pennsylvania, political scientists from Johns Hopkins University, surgeons, educators, politicians, house wives, actors, diplomats and ordinary folk from the street.

Hence, commonality number ONE! They all, besides sharing basic human nature, experienced a television interview with an outright believer in God. And a further SECOND variable found (through skillful questioning) was that ALL of them were seeking some kind of stable and permanent meaning in their own lives. Even the very sophisticated and apparently totally self sufficient showed glimmers of yearning. Sometimes, this quality was glossed over with the “hip” talk and slight cynicism. But it was there if one had ears to hear. One hears the relevance of God.

A person of Faith simply nods in agreement and repeats the age old wisdom of the great psychologist of Hippo, St. Augustine who summed it all up thusly: