Danny Thomas statue.
Danny and his hospital kids. The statue faces his mini-museum and tomb.

Danny Thomas Tomb, Statue, Mini-Museum

Field review by the editors.

Memphis, Tennessee

Mention "Memphis" and "celebrity," and one name that probably doesn't come up is Danny Thomas, the Lebanese-American Las Vegas nightclub comedian and early TV sitcom star.

Thomas was a devout Catholic, and during his lean years he vowed that if he ever became rich he would build a worthy shrine to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. That idea gradually evolved into the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which Thomas opened in Memphis on February 4, 1962. Thomas wanted it to be in the South, he said, to call attention to the hospital's non-segregated admission policies.

Danny Thomas Pavilion.
This is probably not where you'd expect to find three Emmys and a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

After Thomas died in Beverly Hills on February 6, 1991, and after former Presidents Ford and Reagan attended his funeral, his body was flown to Memphis to be entombed just outside of St. Jude's entrance.

His mausoleum is next to the Danny Thomas Pavilion, housing a mini-museum of Thomasabilia, which had opened in 1985. A statue of Thomas was erected out front as well.

The pavilion, with its gold dome, terrazzo floors, marble columns, and arches inscribed with Arabic calligraphy, is another thing you don't expect to see in bluesy, rockin' Memphis. The hospital calls it "a modernistic representation of the world," but it has a lot of Hollywood pizzazz as well. There's a shelf displaying Thomas's three Emmys, a replica of his Walk of Fame star, posters and lobby cards from his obscure films such as Big City and Call Me Mister, and tributes to his better-known TV series such as Make Room for Daddy, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Mod Squad.

The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Thomas (for his humanitarian work) is given a prominent spot, next to a photo wall of Thomas in his prime, schmoozing for the Tinsel Town and Las Vegas paparazzi with everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Colonel Sanders to Shamu the Killer Whale.

Danny Thomas Tomb, Statue, Mini-Museum

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Address:
262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN
Directions:
North side of the city. I-40 exit 1B or 1C. Turn right onto Alabama Ave., following signs for St. Jude. Turn right again onto N. Lauderdale St., drive under the Interstate, then immediately turn right into the entrance to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Tell the guards you want to visit the Danny Thomas Pavilion, and they'll tell you where to park.
Hours:
Daily 8-4 (Call to verify)
Phone:
901-595-4414
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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October 16, 2019

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