• One winter while Walter Damrosch was conducting at the Metropolitan Opera, he and his family stayed at the Cambridge Hotel on Fifth Avenue, where their waiter, Roberto, taught them about hospitality and wine. For example, he criticized a host who had ordered only one bottle of wine. Roberto said, “There are five of them, and he orders the dinner. Then I show him the wine card. He orders onebottle—one bottle for five! I fool him. I open another bottle. I shame him into behaving like a gentleman!” Later, after a performance in which Lillian Nordica had sung a fine performance of Elsa in Wagner’s Lohengrin, Mr. Damrosch gave a late supper party. His daughter Gretchen was supposed to be asleep in bed, but she stayed awake and counted the popping of corks. She remembered, “There were eight people, and so far only one cork had popped. Bing, a second one. Good. Was two for eight better than one for five? Bang, and a third bottle was opened. I lay back greatly relieved, and relaxed. I must tell Roberto at breakfast. Nothing wrong with my father!”
• Brendan Mullen entered the music history books without knowing it when he rented a basement with 10,000 square feet of room for $850 monthly under an Art Deco building in Hollywood, California. He let musical friends know that they could practice and perform at parties there. These musical friends were punk pioneers on the West Coast. Some of the bands who played in the basement were the Bags, the Cramps, the Dils, the Germs, the Screamers, the Weirdos, and X. Mr. Mullen got the idea of opening a club there and charging admission, but the basement needed way too much work done to get the proper licenses due to structural and safety concerns. And, he writes, “As for a liquor license, ‘Not in the lifetimes of you, your mate, and your lastborn,’ according to an ABC [Alcoholic Beverage Control] inspector.” The Masque existed—with interruptions—only from 18 August 1977 to 22 December 1979, but that was long enough to make Mr. Mullen famous.
• In 1951, actors Victor Mature and Jim Backus acted together in a movie version of George Bernard Shaw’sAndrocles and the Lion. Both wore Roman military costumes since Mr. Mature was playing the Captain of a legion and Mr. Backus was playing a Centurion. Mr. Mature was a businessman as well as an actor, and one day he invited his friend Mr. Backus to go with him to sign a legal paper during the lunch break. Mr. Mature had everything set up so that the lawyer’s secretary would come to the car so he could sign the paper without getting out of the car. The signing went quickly, they had time left over, and they decided to get a drink. In full Roman warrior regalia, they walked into a bar away from Hollywood. The bartender stared at them until Mr. Mature asked, “What’s the matter? Don’t you serve members of the armed forces?”
• Dean Martin had a car license plate with the letters “DRUNKY,” but people wonder how much he really drank. Much of the brown liquid he drank with ice is reputed to have been apple juice. However, no one doubts that Mr. Martin had a sense of humor. Once, Mr. Martin was pulled over by a police officer who recognized him, and perhaps influenced by Mr. Martin’s reputation, asked him to do a few physical tests to determine if he was under the influence of alcohol. Mr. Martin agreed. He easily touched his nose with both hands, and he easily counted backwards from 30 to one. However, when the police officer asked him to walk a straight line, Mr. Martin replied, “Not without a safety net.”
• Beer can come in handy. When the Globe Theater, where many of William Shakespeare’s plays were first performed, caught on fire, no one was hurt. The trousers of a man caught on fire, but his neighbor put the fire out with beer. By the way, Mr. Shakespeare was a commoner without a university education. Many people have little respect for people like that, and so they do not believe that Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him. Over 4,000 books have been written saying that the “real” author was any of over 57 people, including Queen Elizabeth I. (By the way, Shakespeare really wrote the plays attributed to him. Commoners can be intelligent, you know.)
• Glen Campbell had many souvenirs from his long career in show business, including many photographs of himself with many notabilities. He also had a souvenir from his drinking days. He had given up drinking, but during a relapse he was stopped for driving drunk — and for a hit-and-run accident. He then proceeded to knee a police officer in the thigh. As a result, he spent 10 days in jail while wearing pink underwear. Glen’s wife, Kim, says, “Sheriff Joe Arpaeo from Phoenix, Arizona, is famous for making all the inmates wear pink underwear, and I have a pair signed by the sheriff. Glen straightened up after that.” Glen agrees: “Yep. I finally got broke from sucking eggs, as they say.”
• William R. Boone was the long-time principal at Orlando High School in Orlando, Florida. He even died on the last day of class ever held at the high school: 6 June 1952. Students then moved to a new high school: William R. Boone High School. Near Orlando High School was Burton’s, a bar and grill that students found tempting because it served beer. Jack Caldwell, the 1952 Class President, was with President Boone one day when suddenly President Boone announced, “Let’s check out Burton’s.” They came in through the back door. Students saw Principal Boone and fled through the front door. Principal Boone then told Jack, “That should clear it out for a couple of weeks.”
• A number of people who work in movies enjoy a drink or two or several. When Charlie Chaplin was working on a certain movie, he had a camera man who would tell him when it was getting close to quitting time, “Charlie, the light’s better in Oldfield’s.” Oldfield’s was a tavern that belonged to Barney Oldfield.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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