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Rose Marie Thomas

Rose Marie Thomas, the widow of actor-comedian Danny Thomas who carried on his support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, died Wednesday in her sleep at her Beverly Hills home. She was 86.

Following her husband’s death in 1991, Thomas took over as prexy of the hospital’s fund-raising arm, ALSAC. In recognition of her efforts, she was honored by Pope Paul VI.

Thomas, born Rose Marie Cassaniti, was a singer with her own radio show in Detroit when she met Danny Thomas, then a struggling young comedian. Married in 1936, they had three children.

Danny Thomas became a household fixture with the TV series “Make Room for Daddy,” later titled “The Danny Thomas Show,” which ran from 1953-71.

In addition to her children Marlo, Terre and Tony, Thomas is survived by five grandchildren and three sisters.

Services will be held today at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Los Angeles. The family will then accompany her body to Memphis, where she will lie in state Sunday and then be interred with her husband at the Danny Thomas Memorial Gardens on the hospital grounds.

A Mass will be celebrated Monday at St. Louis Catholic Church in Memphis.

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