Danny Thomas and Carrol O'Connor


I do not wish to start another thread on Freemasonry, a topic that has been discussed here ad nauseam. However…

Last week I visited a rummage sale at a Masonic temple, and picked up some pamphlets from a rack in the hallway. Having had several Masons in my family (none of them Catholics and all now departed), I wasn’t expecting any big surprises in the literature, as I am familiar with the basic tenets of Freemasonry.

One of the pamphlets included a list of well-known Masons, past and present, and on this list I found the names of the late Danny Thomas and the late Carrol O’Connor, both of whom I had believed to have been practicing Catholics, and therefore unlikely to be have been Masons.

Can anyone here confirm or deny the pamphlet’s claims with regard to these two gentlemen?


I find it hard to believe that Danny Thomas was a Mason as he was a supporter of St. Jude. However I’ll check and get back to you.


My belief in Danny Thomas has been shaken, it appears he was a Mason. Now the question is was he really a Catholic?



From the same site, Carrol O’Connor was not a Mason.


Hmmm. I didn’t find anything about him being a Mason but I found out this: : decorated Knight Malta; knight commander with star, Knights of Holy Sepulchre, Pope Paul VI.

It is possible that the freemasonry site is being a little ‘disingenuous’.


One should also note that the code of canon law was revised in 1983. Many people claim that this revision, by not posting (at first) that Masonry was STILL prohibited, made many innocent people mistatenly believe that it was NO LONGER PROHIBITED.

Since Mr. Thomas’s putative (unproven) date of initiation is given as March 1984, if he DID become an initiate, it is likely that he did so as other innocent people did–under the mistaken impression that it was now permitted for Catholics. Since Mr. Thomas would have been 72 at the time (and died only 7 years later) and since I have not seen other sites remarking on his ‘masonic activities’ in the last years of his life, it is quite likely that if he did become a mason under the mistaken impression that it was ‘permitted’, that he did so in ignorance and hopefully either was informed (and as I say, there is no mention of his activities ‘as a mason’ or mention of such on all the reputable biographical sites I have visited) of the mistake, or else he remained in ignorance of the error but due to his failing health etc. wound up not really having anything to do with the masons anyway.

The date of 1984 is very, very significant in regards to the canon law revision which did indeed confuse people as to whether Catholics could be masons.


Wow, TE, you may be right on the button here. I found this - you may have found it too:

The basis for the dispute between the Grand Lodges of California and New Jersey was the fact that Danny Thomas, the well-known entertainer, applied in February 1984 to become a Mason in New Jersey, while he was a resident of California. The New Jersey Grand Master was said to have claimed that Danny Thomas was a “citizen of the world” and thus, apparently, could be made a Mason in New Jersey as well as in California. Before Danny Thomas was given his degrees, the Grand Master of California had talked by telephone with the Grand Master of New Jersey, and made it clear that California claimed jurisdiction and would not grant a waiver of jurisdiction. The Grand Master of New Jersey issued a Dispensation permitting a New Jersey Lodge to proceed to give Danny Thomas the Masonic degrees on March 15, and that was done. Later, it appears that Danny Thomas applied for the degrees of Masonry in California, and was told that if New Jersey did not cooperate, he would have to go through all the degrees again, including the required proficiencies. It is not clear if Danny Thomas was required to that, because the new Grand Masters in California and New Jersey came to agreement on October 19, 1984, and Danny Thomas was said to have become a dual member in both jurisdictions.


Very, very strange, as his reputation as a devout Catholic, and as such recipient of many honors, seems unimpeachable.


I agree. None of the bio’s I checked mentioned him being a Mason. The Mason’s themselves may have tainted the truth a bit to claim him as a member and in light of your research, his age and the dates I believe he was duped into becoming a member if that was the case.


Danny Thomas was definetly a Mason. He was made a Mason "at sight", by the Grand Master of Masons of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. This means that he was made a Mason, without having to attend the traditional degree ceremonies.

Carroll O'Connor was definetly NOT a Mason. The character he played, Sherriff Gillespie, on the "Heat of the Night" show, was a Mason, and O'Connor frequently wore a Masonic ring when he was on the show.


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