Danny Thomas
Danny Thomas

By Michael van der Hout

Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz (1912-1991), one of ten children of Lebanese Maronite Catholic immigrants, was the son of a horse farmer in Deerfield, Michigan. At the age of 20, he began performing on radio. Eight years later, after moving to Chicago, he secretly went back to working in nightclubs, under a pseudonym comprised of the names of two of his two brothers and kept this name for the remainder of his life. During this time, Amos vowed to the patron saint of hopeless causes that should he become a success, he would build a shrine honoring that saint. 

Throughout the decade, Amos gained acclaim on radio. After a brief career in films, he became a big hit in the 1950’s, starring in family television shows. From The Andy Griffith Show to The Mod Squad, as a producer he collaborated on some of television’s greatest programs. 

Not long after rejecting an auditioning young actress, he changed his mind and called back “the girl with the three names” recommending her for a role in a new television series based on the life of entertainer Sid Caesar. The show was The Dick van Dyke Show. “The girl with the three names” was none other than the beloved Mary Tyler Moore.

After all his successes and true to his commitment to St. Jude, Amos, better known as Danny Thomas, established St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1962 with the motto, "no child should die in the dawn of life."

Van der Hout lives in Southeast Portland.