365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021—The Funny Papers Birthday Party

(Photo from Unsplash)

We’ll see ya in the funny papers collection of the National Museum of American History for our next fun, birthday party. Located on Constitution Avenue between 12th and 14th streets, this popular D.C. tourist experience is home to more than 1.8 million treasured, American objects, from Abe Lincoln’s stovepipe hat to Julia Child’s stove. 

The museum’s Graphic Arts Collection holds some 900 original and reproduced comic art drawings representing over 375 artists and some 400 titles including: “Peanuts,” “Dick Tracy,” “Wonder Woman,” Jim Davis’ “Garfield” and the camera-ready comic art drawing for “Bugs Bunny.” 


You feel the joyful, child-like glee as we’re greeted by 8’ tall “Garfield” and “Bugs Bunny” characters and a room wrapped in supersized, full-color pages from decades of Sunday funny papers. HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said.) 


July 24—JENNIFER LOPEZ (aka “J Lo”) is a triple-threat, stadium-rousing singer/actress/dancer. She is a pop culture icon and the most influential Latin entertainer in North America. J Lo first garnered fame as a dancer on the television variety show, “In Living Color.” She has a landmark star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Billboard Magazine Icon Award. 

July 25—MAXFIELD PARRISH was a wildly successful illustrator and painter in the first half of the 20th century. He is known for his joy-filled, saturated colors and idealized neo-classical imagery. He made his living from posters and calendars featuring his work. The even more famous illustrator, Norman Rockwell, referred to Parrish as his “idol.” Maxfield Parrish’s painting, “Daybreak” (circa 1922) is the most popular American art print of the 20th century. He was also an avid machinist and referred to himself as a “mechanic who loves to paint.” My favorite way to enjoy the art of Maxfield Parrish is in the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel (NYC) surrounded by his murals and sipping on a King Cole cocktail. 

July 26—GRACIE ALLEN was a vaudevillian and comedian who was internationally adored as the zany partner and comic foil of husband George Burns, her “straight man,” appearing on radio, television and films as “Burns and Allen.” Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6672 Hollywood Boulevard. Burns and Allen were inducted in the Television Hall of Fame in 1994. 

July 27—BUGS BUNNY was born July 27, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York under Dodgers stadium. Or so says his back story created by the Warner Brothers animation team of: Tex Avery, Robert McKinson and others. At a very young age, Bugs learned to dance and started a barbershop quartet. Years late,r after starring in film and television cartoons, he became the president of Mexico for a week, temporary became Batman, a rancher and numerous other colorful adventurers. 

July 28—JIM DAVIS is a cartoonist best known as the creator of America’s favorite ginger cat, “Garfield,” one of the world’s most widely syndicated comic strips. “Garfield” gives joy to more than 300 million readers every day. David founded the Professor Garfield Foundation to support children’s literacy. 

July 29—KEN BURNS is a filmmaker known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentary films. His award-winning Americana films include: “The Civil War,” “Baseball,” “Jazz,” “The War,” “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” “Prohibition,” “The Roosevelts,” “The Vietnam War” and “Country Music.” He has won two Grammy Awards and 15 Emmy Awards. 

July 30—LISA KUDROW, who is best known for playing the dizzy blonde Phoebe Buffay on the television sitcom, “Friends,” has a degree in biology from Vasser. She began her comedic career as a member of “The Groundlings,” an improv and sketch comedy troupe in Los Angeles. Kudrow worked on the staff of her physician father while pursuing comedy jobs and she earned a research credit on his study on the comparative likelihood of left-handed individuals developing “cluster headaches.” 


“Life is too short to live the same day twice.”—Jennifer Lopez 

“There seem to be magic days once in a while, with some rare quality of light that hold a body spellbound.”—Maxfield Parrish 

“Try to understand me. Nothing is impossible.”—Gracie Allen 

“Do you happen to know what the penalty is for shooting and fricasseeing rabbit without a fricasseeing rabbit license?”—Bugs Bunny 

“Diet is “die” with a ‘t’.”—Garfield 

“It is the great arrogance of the present to forget the intelligence of the past.”—Ken Burns 

“You can’t pursue something and be committed to it if you’re apologizing for it every party.”—Lisa Kudrow 

“You’ve gotta do things that make you happy.”—Jennifer Lopez 

“The hard part is how to plan a picture so as to give to others what has happened to you. To render in paint an experience, to suggest the sense of light and color, of air and space.”—Maxfield Parrish 

“A friend asked her doctor if a woman should have children after 35. I said, “35 children is enough for any woman.”—Gracie Allen 

“And remember, ‘mud’ spelled backwards is ‘dum.’”—Bugs Bunny 

“I’m not overweight, I’m under-tall.”—Garfield 

“Do not lose your enthusiasm. In its Greek etymology, the word enthusiasm means ‘God in us.’”—Ken Burns 

“I just listened to that inner voice. It’s always a good move to listen to that inner voice…if it doesn’t lead to a crime.”—Lisa Kudrow 

“No matter where I go, I know where I came from.”—Jennifer Lopez 

“Thank you for letting me use colors as rich and deep as you please…Now that I have done it, I don’t think I’ll ever go back.”—Maxfield Parrish 

“My husband will never chase another woman. He’s too fine, too decent and too old.”—Gracie Allen 

“I know this defies the laws of gravity, but I never studied law.”—Bugs Bunny 

“With due respect to Will Rogers, I never met a lasagna I didn’t like.”—Garfield 

“I’m an artist. I’ve chosen to work in history the way someone might choose to work in still lifes or landscapes.”—Ken Burns 

“I’m the youngest in my family and everyone is very funny, and I was always trying to keep up with them. I just loved making people laugh.”—Lisa Kudrow 

“You have to take care of yourself, your body, your mind, take care of your soul—be your own keeper.”—Jennifer Lopez 

“Current appreciation of my work is a bit highbrow; I’ve always considered myself a popular artist.”—Maxfield Parrish 

“I often put boiling water in the freezer. Then whenever I need boiling water, I simply defrost it.”—Gracie Allen 

“Don’t think it hasn’t been a little slice of heaven…’cause it hasn’t!”—Bugs Bunny 

“Shirley MacLaine said, ‘You’re so funny.’ Then, she gave me a hug. Everything went white. I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t see. I thought I was going to pass out.”—Lisa Kudrow 

“Always remember, you will live, you will love, you will dance again.”—Jennifer Lopez 

“Hey, just a cotton-pickin’ minute. Well shut my mouth and call me ‘cornpone,’ if it ain’t the ‘lil ole South.”—Bugs Bunny 

“I’ll accept being Phoebe to people for a while longer, given how much fun it was. That’s totally fair.”—Lisa Kudrow 

“My classic recipe for roast beef: 1 large beef roast and 1 small beef roast. Put both in the oven. When the little one burns, the big one is done.”—Gracie Allen 


APPETIZER—Ken Burns Baseball Park Pretzel Bites (kingarthurbaking.com) 

SALAD—Bugs Bunny Carrot Salad (allrecipes.com) 

ENTRÉE—Gracie Allen Big Little Balsamic Roast Beef (addapinch.com) 

SIDE DISH—Jennifer Lopez Eggplant Chorizo Bake (elmejornido.com) 

BREAD—Jim Davis “Garfield” Savory GINGERbread (sweetandsavorymeals.com) 

BEVERAGE—Maxfield Parrish King Cole Cocktails (see below) 

DESSERT—Lisa Kudrow Coffee Bar Blondies (allrecipes.com) 

ONE TO GROW ON—All of Ken Burns’ major documentaries are available to stream at https://kenburns.com/. When you check out the website, look for info on The Better Angels Society. This nonprofit group created by Ken Burns and his team is dedicated to the preservation of American history. 

As we scan the walls for Alley Oop, Andy Capp, The Archies, Beetle Bailey, Betty Boop, Blondie, Brenda Starr, Buck Rogers, Cathy, Little Orphan Annie, The Family Circle, Dennis the Menace, The Far Side and all the rest of our funny paper favorites, we leave the last words of the evening to these two characters: Garfield who says, “Love me, feed me, never leave me.” And, that all-time American joy-giver, Bugs Bunny, who quits chomping on a carrot long enough to say, “Eh, what’s up doc?” 

                              MAXFIELD PARRISH KING COLE COCKTAILS 

                                         (source: diffordsguide.com) 


2 oz bourbon 

¼ oz Fernet liqueur 

½ oz sugar syrup (2 sugars to 1 water) 

½ oz chilled water 


Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Traditionally served in a martini glass and garnished with an orange and a pineapple slice. 

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Ben South