The Late Movies: Victor Borge, the Clown Prince of Denmark

My grandmother thought Victor Borge was just about the funniest person alive. He used to have his own specials on PBS, and whenever they came on, she'd shush everyone in the room and proceed to laugh like a maniac. (To be fair, I thought he was funny, too -- and still do.) He was a Danish comedian, conductor, and pianist -- a triple-threat of immense talent and wit who passed away in 2000. After WWII, in which he escaped from Nazi-occupied Denmark to America, he quickly taught himself English and began a career in radio, television and films, and his one-man show, Comedy in Music, was the longest-running in the history of Broadway when it closed in 1956. He toured until the end of his life, performing 60 times a year or more up to the age of ninety.

Here he is doing his famous "Phonetic Punctuation" routine with Dean Martin, who, true to form, seems a bit soused.

This is what happens when Victor sits on the wrong side of the piano from his playing partner.

Aww, he's no good at the piano. Just kidding!

Borge, being honored at the Kennedy Center, shows an old clip called "The Piano Tuner."

Short but sweet:

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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