A radio, film and television entertainer and producer, Danny Thomas was born in Michigan in 1912 after his parents immigrated to America from Lebanon. Thomas began his career working in radio and eventually branched out to film and television. As a struggling actor working towards his big break, Thomas made a vow to St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes, saying, “Give me a sign that I am going in the right direction and someday I’ll build a shrine in your name.” He never forgot that promise. After finding success, Thomas founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a groundbreaking research and treatment hospital devoted to curing catastrophic diseases in children.
The hospital opened in 1962 in Memphis, Tennessee. In the ensuing half century, St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and all over the world and continues to lead the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. To this day, the hospital stands by Thomas’s founding promises that no family pays St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food and that St. Jude freely shares its discoveries and continues to impact the lives of children across the world. Thomas is quoted as saying, “No child should die in the dawn of life.”
Throughout his life, Thomas was recognized with many awards including receiving a Knight Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre by Pope Paul VI, the Congressional Gold Medal, induction in the Television Hall of Fame and a posthumous receipt of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award.
A committed humanitarian, celebrated entertainer and lifelong health care advocate, Danny Thomas is an inaugural inductee in the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame.