The American Style is to Put Commas and Periods Inside Quotation Marks

The British style is to put commas and periods outside quotation marks, while the American style is to put commas and periods inside quotation marks.

Chris Lemmon, the son of actor Jack Lemmon, wrote a memoir of his father titled A Twist of Lemmon: A Tribute to My Father. In the book, and in interviews about the book, he tells stories about the two of them chasing a couple of poodles through the yard of actor James Coburn. Chris and Jack look up, see Mr. Coburn glowering at them through a picture window, and they point to each other and say, “It’s his fault.” By the way, Mr. Coburn is actually a nice guy. Chris said in an interview that “he was just one of the biggest teddy bears you’d ever want to meet on the face of the earth.”

When Yousuf Karsh went to Peter Lorre’s home to photograph the famous actor, he saw a sign by the driveway: “Beware of Ferocious Dogs.” The “ferocious dogs” turned out to be a couple of frisky Pekinese, a breed of very small, toy-sized dogs.

The brother of journalist Donald Liebenson  once saw actor Paul Newman at an airport and asked him for an autograph for his mother, who was a big fan. Mr. Newman replied, “Sorry, pal. Tell your mom that I don’t sign autographs, but I’d be happy to buy her a beer. Years later, Mr. Liebenson saw Mr. Newman at a publicity junket and recounted that story to him. Mr. Newman replied that he could remember the exact moment that he began declining to sign autographs: “I was standing at a urinal in Sardi’s, and this guy came though the door with a piece of paper. I thought this was inappropriate. It wasn’t just an invasion of privacy. It was an invasion of purpose.”

Shawn Edwards, a movie reviewer for Fox-TV in Kansas City, loved movies from an early age. When he was in the seventh grade, he and some friends used a room at their school as a movie studio. Mr. Edwards calls the studio “the claymation joint,” and he remembers, “We convinced the science teacher we were working on a science project, built these sets out of papier-mâché and started shooting our epic. It was about a group of cavemen who hunt for a dinosaur for a big celebration and [to] please the volcano before it gets mad.” When Mr. Edwards was attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, Spike Lee filmed School Daze there. Mr. Edwards had broken his ankle during football practice, but he showed up at an audition for small parts and extras. He remembers that the people casting the movie looked at him as if they were thinking, “Baby, there’s not a part in this movie where you can be walking around with a cast.” But Mr. Edwards said, “I don’t sing. I don’t dance. I can’t act. And I’m not that funny. I just want to be in the movie.” He got lucky and appeared in a scene in which “Da Butt” was played. Mr. Edwards says, “I totally hate that song now because that’s all I heard all spring. It took three freaking days to shoot” that scene.

Geri Jewell has cerebral palsy, but she didn’t let it stop her from becoming a professional comedian. The first time she appeared at the Comedy Story she wore a T-shirt she had made that said, “I’m Not Drunk. I Have Cerebral Palsy.” She then told the audience, “Each one of these letters cost thirty cents, you guys. This is one time I wish I had polio instead.” The crowd loved her.

Hal Lebovits used to be a Cleveland sports columnist, and before that he was a football referee. In one game, he threw a player out of the game, and after the game, the boy’s father—a big bruiser—looked him up and asked, “Why’d you throw my boy out of the game?” Mr. Lebovits explained that the boy had become frustrated and had thrown a punch. The boy’s father thought a moment, then said, “Takes after his mother,” and left.

Kids are kids, even when they are the kids of celebrities. Actor Eric McCormack and his wife, nee Janet Holden, have a son named Finnegan. When he was six years old and in kindergarten, he went to the set of his dad’s TNT sitcom, Trust Me, where he was able to watch him film a scene. His dad warned him that in the scene he would kiss a woman, and Finnegan said, “That’s gross.”

Groucho Marx once asked Melinda, his little daughter, what she did at nursery school. She replied, “Oh, Daddy, all we do is paint and go to the toilet.” Groucho called this “the most accurate description of a nursery school that’s ever been uttered.”


On Christmas Eve of 1989, the Detroit Lions played the Atlanta Falcons. In this game, played on the final day of the regular season, Detroit’s Barry Sanders, playing his first season as a pro, needed 169 yards to become the National Football League’s leading rusher. With one minute left in the game, and Detroit leading 31-24, Mr. Sanders needed only 11 more yards to become the leading rusher of the year. However, when coach Wayne Fontes asked Mr. Sanders if he wanted to go back into the game and become the leading rusher, he replied, “Coach, let’s just win it and go home.” Throughout his career, Mr. Sanders has always been more concerned about winning games than breaking records.

Some preachers at a restaurant were served the wrong dessert—watermelon spiked with alcohol. Learning of the mistake, the maitre d’hotel asked a waiter to get the dessert back if the preachers hadn’t already started eating it. However, the waiter reported that the preachers had already started eating the dessert. “In that case,” said the maitre d’hotel, “do they like it?” “They didn’t say,” replied the waiter. “They were too busy putting the seeds in their pockets.”

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