Promotional photo of Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows from The Jackie Gleason Show.
Comedian Jackie Gleason spent lots of money even when he didn’t have lots of money. He had a tab at the Villa Capri in Hollywood, where he ran up the bill until he owed the Villa Capri owner, Patsy D’Amore, $5,000—a huge amount of money in 1950. He then left Hollywood—and his unpaid bill—for three years. When he returned, he invited some friends at dinner at the Villa Capri, where they ran up a bill of $75. Mr. Gleason then wrote a check for $6,000 and gave it to Mr. D’Amore, saying, “ I’m a big tipper.” In addition, Mr. Gleason once ran up so big a tab at the bar of his friend Toots Shor that he told Toots that he felt like he couldn’t use his signing privilege anymore. Toots, a true friend, told him that if he didn’t want to sign his own name, then he should sign Toots’ name. Mr. Gleason then borrowed $20 from Toots, used it to tip some servers (a big tip), then joked, “Hey, I personally am always good for a C-note, but you guys all know how cheap Toots is.”
Tom Danehy, columnist for the Tucson Weekly, ran a basketball tournament in the summer of 2009. He had hired a young woman who was a player on the Pima Community College team to operate the scoreboard. Tom says, “It’s odd but true that the refs can make one or two (or 50) bad calls, and the players and crowd will do a little low-level grumbling. But if the score is wrong, or the clock isn’t being stopped and/or started at the right times, they go nuts. I pointed this out to the young lady before we got started.” Unfortunately, she kept texting throughout the games, although he kept telling her not to do that. Before the final game of the day, he gave her a choice. She could keep the $8.50 per hour that was her salary, or he could make the salary $15 per hour but subtract $1 for each time he saw her texting. She said that she would keep the $8.50 per hour. Afterward, she asked if she could work as a scorekeeper the following week. Mr. Danehy says, “I asked her if she would have her cell phone with her, and told her that my answer to her question would be the opposite of her answer to my question.”
Comedian Steve Martin is a master of the clawhammer style of playing the banjo. A serious musician, he has played with many bluegrass greats, including Earl Scruggs. Mr. Scruggs’ wife, Louise, once happened to mention that each Gibson banjo that the Scruggs owned was worth $200,000. Mr. Martin, who has a collection of vintage banjos—among them, two Depression-era Gibson Florentines and a Gibson Granada—immediately thought that he perhaps he should get them insured. He called George Gruhn, who is a vintage instrument dealer in Nashville, and said, “George, I hear these Florentines are worth some money.” Indeed, they are; for example, the Florentines owned by Mr. Scruggs are worth the $200,000 Louise mentioned—or more—because they are associated with Mr. Scruggs. Mr. Martin then asked about his own vintage banjos. Mr. Gruhn said, “With your name attached? About $8,000.”
In August 1966, Gabriel García Márquez finished writing One Hundred Years of Solitude. The manuscript consisted of 490 typed pages, and he and his wife went to a post office in Mexico City to mail it to a publisher in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, mailing the entire manuscript cost 82 pesos, and his wife had only 50 pesos. (The family had little money because while Mr. Márquez was writing the novel, he did not have a paying job.) They mailed half of the manuscript, went home and pawned a few items, including a hairdryer, and then returned to the post office and mailed the other half of the manuscript.One Hundred Years of Solitude made Gabriel García Márquez internationally famous.
Being a beautiful woman has its advantages. A café-bar on Spring and Broadway in New York City gives VIP cards to the models at a particular agency; with the VIP cards, the models get 75 percent off everything. When Sara (no last name given) went to the café-bar to use the card, they told her that to get the discount she had to sit in the window so people could see her. Sara says, “They want to get more people in there who want to be around pretty girls, and they’re not discreet about it at all. You definitely feel used. But, at the same time, if I can get 75 percent off, I’ll go for it, you know.”
Dodger pitcher Preacher Roe claimed that he had extended his career long enough to make another $100,000 by learning how to throw a spitball. However, not even the spitball can get everyone out. Preacher faced Stan Musial, and at a critical point he threw the spitball—which Mr. Musial promptly hit off the wall for a double. Later, Preacher asked Mr. Musial, “How’d you hit my best pitch?” Mr. Musial replied, “I knew I’d get that wet one, and I always hit that kind on the dry side.”
In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel. Earlier, she had failed in an attempt that had cost her father, a butcher, the $5,000 he had bet that she would succeed in her attempt to swim the channel. In her second attempt, she did not fail. In fact, she set a world record, breaking the old record, which had been set by a man, by two hours and two minutes. Good thing. This time, her father had bet $25,000 against Lloyd’s of London that she would succeed.
In 1955, Roberto Clemente was playing, but his team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, were not winning games; therefore, Mr. Clemente took out his frustrations on the team’s plastic batting helmets, smashing 22 of them. Manager Fred Haney threatened to start charging him $10 for each batting helmet he destroyed, and Mr. Clemente, whose first language was Spanish, decided to start controlling his temper, saying, “I do not make so much money. I’ll stop breaking the hats.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved