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Category Archives: Eric Lindsay

Ray Jackson Remembered

RAY AND ERIC IN CANNES + 2

Ray Jackson

Today, October 25th, 2017, is the 28th anniversary of Ray’s death. 28 years! Where has the time gone? I have no idea! All I know is that the pain and ache is still here. When I think about him, which I do every day, it is as though it happened yesterday. The hurt is still there.

I feel as though I’m Queen Victoria pining over Albert, except I haven’t got a John Brown or an Abdul Karim to help me out.                                                                          More like Macauley Culkin. “Home Alone”! That’s just the way it is. That is my lot!

I miss him so much – talking to him, his wonderful sense of humour, and the laughter and oh! So very much! So very much! But most of all, he was my friend. I trusted him with my life. Never in a million years did I think that I would live this long. On the 13th of November I shall be 88 years old. Loneliness is a terrible thing, but please, dear reader, don’t feel sorry for me. My life is wonderful and really I’m very happy and content, but alone. There is a part of me that is lost and will never come back.

I remember, going back in years, it was either in 1995 or 1996 or even 1997, I’m not really sure of the date because really at that time I was so confused. Ray’s death had hit me so badly that I wasn’t sure of anything anymore or really what was happening. Even though it was nearly 10 years since he had died, it was as though I had an open knife wound in my heart that would not heal. I was forever on the move, all the time traveling between the villa in Fuengirola in Spain and the flat in London. Not working. Just on the move. It was like going from the sublime to the ridiculous every time I left Spain, but it brought me down to earth with a bang every time I was back in London, and all this time Ray, or I should say his ashes in a very unattractive urn, traveled with me. It would be on the mantleplace in Fuengirola or on the fire surround in London. It was all somewhat a little macabre. In fact it was very macabre, and many people said so, but I could not let go. I just could not believe that I had lost him forever.

Somehow I had to have him with me at all times and either flying to Spain or driving there, the urn travelled with me and I would talk to it. I think really I was either losing it mentally or I had already lost it! In fact I was always fully expecting the customs to open it thinking I had a stash of marijuana in there.

Whenever I was in London I would meet up with Daphne who was our cleaner when we were living in Barons Keep, and we had always kept in touch whether we were in the States or later in Spain. We would go to a pub in Soho Square and get quietly pissed talking about the old days and when Ray was alive. We spent good times together. Daphne was a spiritualist and when she was cleaning Barons Keep would collect hair from a hairbrush or comb and the odd nail clippings, both Ray’s and mine, and send them off to some crazy lady living in the country who would give her mangled readings about our hair or nails. Ray and I always took the letters with a pinch of salt, but Daphne believed it and it made her happy. She was forever telling me that her husband would die soon. The woman had told her that he hadn’t long to live, and she would be free. It deemed he was a burden to her. In Barons Keep when she was cleaning we always had a coffee together before she started work. When I wasn’t there, Ray would take over, although he wasn’t too keen on it as he used to say, “she talked too much”. On one of my returns to London post Ray, I got a call from Daphne’s daughter-in-law. She told me that she had been trying to telephone me for months, and, to cut a long story short, “Daphne had died”. The first thing I asked was whether her husband was still alive and she told me he was well and very much alive. So much for the clairvoyant who read hair and nails!

Well, I decided to talk to Ray (the urn, that is!). Daphne’s daughter-in-law told me that her ashes had been scattered in the Rose Garden of Remembrance at the Mortlake Crematorium

 

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MORTLAKE CREMATORIUM

I went there to see where they had strewn Daphne’s ashes. Daphne’s daughter-in-law had given me complete instructions as to the exact spot, by a rose tree on a certain path, in the Rose Garden. It was such a beautiful day and it was so beautiful there just by the Thames, peaceful and tranquil.  Ideal for Ray. So ideal, that I thought that at long last I had found a spot for him

 

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Well, I went back to the flat and talked to Ray (the urn, that is). I knew that he must have been as sick as I was with all the travelling backwards and forwards, and I told him that it was time I let him go and that it was quite beautiful where Daphne was and at least he would have company and someone to talk to, even though she might drive him mad now and again.

 

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So the deed was done and I had his ashes spread by the rose tree, so he could talk with Daphne and have a wonderful view of the Thames. They kept the urn at the crematorium. Talk about recycling, it wasn’t even theirs. I paid for it when Ray was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium!

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So I had put Ray to rest. I wasn’t happy about it, but it had to be done, and he was in a beautiful spot and, God Bless him, he at least had Daphne to keep him company. In my mind I thought that when my time came I could have my ashes spread in the same spot (That all sounds so good and easy. Ha! Ha! Don’t believe it!). On my last visit, I am always taken there by my very good friend Shane Collins.

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SHANE COLLINS

Shane who is as famous as a Theatrical Agent as he is Theatre Producer and Director. He has received numerous awards for his brilliant productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. Too many for even me to remember. Whenever I am in London I stay with Shane and as I don’t drive any more (too old), he always takes me to the Mortlake  Crematorium.  I had asked him to spread my ashes in the same place as where Ray was when I pop my clogs. Don’t you believe it! The rose garden with all the paths had gone! In it’s place was a green field – no paths, no rose trees, nothing! With a big sign that said keep off the grass!  “Fuck it!”, I said to Shane, “When no-one was watching, go into the middle of the field and chuck my ashes towards the Thames, making sure, of course, that the wind was behind him. I didn’t want him to finish up with a mouth full of Eric Lindsay.

Do I believe in euthanasia? YES!                                                       

I have seen and read too much of the old people’s care homes, government-run or private. They are all the same, and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. There is a total loss of all dignity and privacy.

When the time comes, I would like to be able to control my own destiny and death. The only thing that I would really wish for is to die on the 25th of October, the year doesn’t matter. Then, when and if I am remembered by friends it will be linked with Ray’s name, and the toast will be to the both of us, and we will be together at last.

So rest assured dear reader that for the time being I certainly won’t be popping my clogs this year or even in the near future. It’s just that I have to plan to wait for the 25th of October to come around one year in the future. 

Meanwhile I will stay very much alive and happy.

 

RAY JACKSON FOR NEW BLOG + 1

Ray Jackson

 

6 responses to “Ray Jackson Remembered

  1.                 Adrienne Jonas

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Eric – what a beautiful tribute to Ray and am so sorry about the rose garden. Sorry too that you feel so alone and wish you were nearer so we could get together and have a good natter now and then but at least let’s keep in touch.Love, Adrienne

  2.                  Gerry Maycock

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Ray was also much loved by Edwina and I as I am sure you know. During the 10 years I worked for you and Ray I loved the way you worked together and the way that Ray always brought a great calmness to occasional creative differing points of view.
    I have done many things in entertainment in my working life, and the time I spent with you and Ray is right at the top of my ‘ happy list ‘.
    Love Gerry. Oh and a big
    Hug! Xx

  3.                 Barrie Nathan

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I have wonderful memories of being with you and Ray at your beautiful house in Spain. Then the time six of us came up to Madrid to see your show! I particularly remember Ray (on your direction) turning me into a leopard on stage – I was there – and I still can´t believe it.
    RIP Ray
    Barrie

  4.                 Liz Long

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Hello Darling , I read your sad email earlier. It’s the price you pay for loving some one isn’t it. You write so beautifully you should make it your new career. What ever you do that helps or comforts you is OK. Ray was a charmer wasn’t he. In fact you two were the most handsome couple in town. He was fortunate to be so loved by us all and particularly by you God Bless. Miss Bettina. xx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  5.                 Angela Zablo

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Oh Eric,  what a wonderful post I just read about Ray.  I miss him too, that fabulous engaging smile and a laugh that went on forever and it just had to make you smile to hear it.I always have that face in my mind – of him smiling and laughing.  What a great man he was!  But I know his star shines brightly down on you always.I hope you are doing well, we are so busy here with work – good – no complaints, just always so hectic.  Other than that, not too much to report, the dark nights of fall and winter are coming – not my favorite time of year.  I truthfully would like to just hibernate for the winter , like a squirrel !!Okay, I’m headed back to work, will be in touch again soon,  Love and miss you,sending hugs your ways, Angie Xxx

  6.                 Andrew James

     

     

    October 28, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Choked reading this Eric . . You have amazing resilience and strength my pal . Bless You !

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6 Comments

Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Eric Lindsay, Ray Jackson

 
Video

Dr. Murray Banks, Psychologist and Comic

DR. MURRAY BANKS PHOTO A

Dr. Murray Banks

new-york-cyclorama

Wandering around New York, when I was there last year, and walking through Central Park I found myself in the Upper East Side, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Manhattan, and recalled the wonderful brownstone town house that was owned by the late Dr. Murray Banks, who happened to be one of the most sought after speakers in America during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr. Murray Banks was a clinical psychologist and was formerly a full professor of psychology at Long Island University and at Pace College, NYC, where he headed the psychology department for over five years. He was also a visiting professor and special lecturer on various subjects at the University at North Carolina, New York University, Temple University, New Jersey State Teachers College, University of Pittsburgh, and Brooklyn College. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

BROWNSTONE NYC 1A

A typical brownstone in Upper East Side, Manhattan

The house on Upper East Side was beautiful both inside and out. The furnishings, both antique and modern, were exquisite. It had the most fantastic staircase that was made with balusters of Antique Venetian glass walking sticks. I have never seen anything quite as stunning ever. The man was a millionaire with an odd quirk, as we were soon to find out as we got to know him. He was mean, generous in many ways, but as far as money went “as tight as a ducks arse in water!” Maybe that’s how he became a millionaire, who knows? But I go ahead of myself.

How Ray and I first met him is rather strange. It was in London in the early 60s. A friend who knew Dr.Banks well invited us to one of the lectures that he was giving at Woolwich Town Hall, which had a very large auditorium. Both Ray and I were really not into lectures per se, but our friend convinced us that we had never heard a lecture like one from Dr. Murray Banks, and he was right. It was laughter all the way.

Before the lecture we were introduced to Dr. Murray Banks, a rather short, stocky man, with a wonderful welcoming smile, and a very strong Jewish Brooklyn accent. He had a rather ill-fitting toupee that seemed to have a life of its own. He was standing by a table surrounded by dozens and dozens of books and records, all for sale (of course!). After introductions he grabbed me and said, “Hey Eric, when I ask for questions from the audience, I want you to ask me, ‘Doctor, what do I do for a persistent cough?’” So of course I agreed.

 The lecture hall was packed and we were seated in the dress circle center. The lights dimmed and after an off stage introduction Dr. Murray Banks made his entrance and the lecture proceeded. This dapper man with the ill-fitting toupee held the audience in raptures. They laughed continuously. Question time came and after a few questions from the stalls, Murray looked up to the dress circle and asked, “Has anyone there a question?” My cue! I put my hand up and shouted, “Dr. Banks, what can I do for a persistent cough?”          

 Murray looked up at me and said slowly, “You ask, young man, my remedy for a persistent cough? ” He paused, then said. “Take plenty of laxatives, and then you’ll be too scared to cough!” The audience was in hysterics and that is the way the rest of his lecture continued. For a psychologist he was a brilliant comic. He knew the way the mind worked, after all he was a Psychologist! He was on the ball the whole time.

 After the show we went downstairs by the entrance where Murray had his table full of wears and he was surrounded by people buying books, records, autographs, etc., and the money was changing hands fast. In fact they laid the table bare. We asked him whether he would like to go out for dinner, but he said that he was tired and just wanted to go back to the Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch where he was staying. I thought maybe he wanted to go back to count his money! So we gave him a lift in the Rolls. He had no luggage, he’d sold everything! As he was staying in London for a few days before he did his lecture tour around the whole of England, we arranged to take him for dinner to April Ashley’s Restaurant, April and Desmond’s the following night.

APRIL ASHLEY 1A A

The lovely April Ashley

We collected Murray at 8p.m. and drove to Knightsbridge. He was intrigued with April and thought she was so beautiful. He was ‘au fait’ with her past history and told us that he was very friendly in the States with Christine Jorgensen, who was the first Trans Gender American, whom he had given counseling to many times. Well, we had a fine old time. Unfortunately Murray didn’t drink, only cordial (ugh!), but Ray and I made up for that! After a very enjoyable evening we took him back to the Cumberland Hotel and left him with the promise that the next time we were in New York we would see him there. As it turned out he came back to London for a few days at the end of his tour and this time we took him to ‘Joe Allen’s’, which he also knew from New York.

JOE ALLEN'S IN LONDON 1A

A normal evening at Joe Allen’s in London.

The next time that Ray and I were in New York we rang Murray and he invited us over to his house, which I have already described. For someone with such exquisite taste, he dressed so badly, but that was none of our business. He offered us a drink of either cordial or Coca Cola or coffee. There was no alcohol in the house. So we settled for a coffee, which he got someone else to make. Later we all went off to Ted Hook’s Restaurant called ‘Backstage’ a great fun place, for dinner, our treat. Murray stuck to his cordial, but he was still great fun.

TED HOOKS BACKSTAGE BAR 1A

 As we were only in New York for a short time and Murray was busy for a week with lectures, it was left that he would take us to his favorite Chinese restaurant in China Town the next time we were in New York. Two months later we were back in New York and Murray collected us from the Waldorf Astoria in his chauffeur driven limousine and we were off to China Town.

The limousine stopped at the tattiest looking restaurant on the block. The owner greeted Murray as a regular and we were ushered to a table with a torn table cloth. Murray told us that the restaurant didn’t serve drinks, ( if we would have known, we could have brought a bottle), so Murray ordered 3 glasses of water, which came three quarters filled (they knew Murray from old). He then took out of a carrier bag a baster which one usually uses for the turkey. This time it was filled with cordial and he preceded to fill up our glasses. I didn’t dare look at Ray and he didn’t look at me. It took us both all our effort to keep a straight face. Meanwhile Murray didn’t turn a hair, and just behaved as though it was his norm. Well it certainly wasn’t ours, and the meal really was awful! Next time we knew not to accept a dinner invitation from Murray. Still it was his only quirk and I have never met a psychologist or psychoanalyst who was normal.

He told us that he would be away lecturing on a world cruise, so he was renting the house to Judy Garland as she was appearing in New York. It all sounded very jolly. Judy Garland! My, oh, my!

Next time Ray and I were in New York we rang Murray to invite him out for dinner, we weren’t going to chance an invite from him again! But he declined and told us to come over to the house instead, as he’d just returned from another world cruise. When he answered the door he seemed very down, and when we asked him why, he just pointed round the room and said, “Look!” Half of the antique Venetian glass walking sticks on the staircase were smashed. Apparently Madame (Judy) in a fit of pique had taken a stick and smashed them. He said that there was more damage upstairs, which we didn’t see. Litigation was in process.  Poor Murray! It seemed that his rental to Judy Garland had been a dead loss.

The last time we saw Murray was when Zee and Co. was staring at the Sheraton Bal Harbor Hotel in Miami and we went to see him at Fort Lauderdale where he was getting ready for another cruise lecture.

 I have downloaded 3 L.P.s from YouTube of Murray Banks for you to listen to. I’m sure you will agree with me that he was a wonderful comic with an ingenious mind.

 

DR.MURRAY BANKS CD 3A

Anyone Who Goes To A Psychiatrist Should Have His Head Examined

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOTO1ElLwEc
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5P3TG6mIs8
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd0oTyd_gCs
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3PF2M9-APw
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AKLIHeEoXc
Part 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GzmbS5ReGI

DR.MURRAY BANKS CD 1A

How To Quit Smoking In Six Days Or Drop Dead In Seven!

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzATEJ9NtpY
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwsKM0qPL18
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXGYwGs_gsk
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS7URfiFC9k
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcW6fXYq5Zc
Part 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFtN_kf24yo

DR.MURRAY BANKS CD 2A

Just In Case You Think You’re Normal

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSD1gBdMksc
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCD_fodHvyc
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u-XxELZ5No
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgopbtH4qEs
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtBPBkazW8I

 

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The Tony Awards

Well, I seem to have talked about the Tony’s so much that I might as well start with it. 

Digital Camera
It was a Champagne Night

 

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RAY JACKSON DANGEROUS YEARS THE TONYS PROGRAMME 2015

The Tony Awards was founded in 1947 by a committee of the American Theatre Wing headed by Brock Pemberton, and Antoinette Perry is the woman the Tony Awards is named after, she was nicknamed Tony, an actress, director, producer and co-founder of the American Theatre Wing, and she died in 1946.

(I found all this out through Google and looking at Time Magazine.)

Antoinette Perry was once quoted as saying:

“When I was a child, I didn’t say, as most children do, that I was going to become an actress.

I felt that I was an actress and no one could have convinced me that I wasn’t.”

TONY AWARDS TONY PERRY PRINT 1Antoinette Perry, stage actress and director (1888-1946)

I became so intrigued with Antoinette Perry and how the Tonys first started that I just have to print in this Blog an article that was written by theatre journalist, Ellis Nassour entitled ‘The Original Tony’ and also another entitled ‘The Mayor of Broadway Dies at 91’, the story of Vincent Sardi Jr., written by William Grimes.
Vincent Sardi Jr. was one of the first recipients to receive a Tony Award and the reason was quite intriguing.

TIME Magazine called Tony Perry ‘the wartime guiding spirit of the American Theatre Wing’
(When the first Tony Awards were given in 1947, it wasn’t quite the polished production that theatre fans have come to expect. The ceremony was on a much smaller scale, and the actual awards were decidedly quirkier, as TIME reported in 1947.)

During the first two years of the Tonys (1947 and 1948), there was no official Tony Award. These days there are 24 categories of awards , plus several special awards.
The first awards ceremony was held on April 6, 1947, at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. The first prizes were “a scroll, cigarette lighter and articles of jewellery such as 14-carat gold compacts and bracelets for the women, and money clips for the men. It was not until the third awards ceremony in 1949 that the first Tony medallion was given to award winners.

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“The American Theatre Wing handed out memorial awards in 1947 for Director Antoinette Perry (Harvey, Kiss the Boys Goodbye), who died last year. Among the recipients: Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Jose Ferrer and Fredric March, for their Broadway performances this season; Mr. & Mrs. Ira Katzenberg (TIME, Jan. 30, 1939) for their durability as first-nighters; Restaurateur Vincent Sardi Sr., “for providing a . . . comfort station for theatre folk. . . .”

The Original “Tony” by Theatre Journalist Ellis Nassour

The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards® got their start in 1947 when the Wing established an awards program to celebrate excellence in the theatre.
Named for Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer, and the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing who had recently passed away, the Tony Awards made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947. Vera Allen, Perry’s successor as chairwoman of the Wing, presided over an evening that included dining, dancing, and a program of entertainment. The dress code was black tie optional, and the performers who took to the stage included Mickey Rooney, Herb Shriner, Ethel Waters, and David Wayne. Eleven Tonys were presented in seven categories, and there were eight special awards, including one for Vincent Sardi, proprietor of the eponymous eatery on West 44th Street. Big winners that night included José Ferrer, Arthur Miller, Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Patricia Neal.

Early Stages

At age 15, she joined her uncle George Wessells’s touring company. “I watched and learned. I did everything from helping in wardrobe to selling tickets. I was petite and blonde and soon was playing the ingenue in melodramas and farces. Eventually, Uncle George trained me, mainly in the Shakespearean male roles.”
She left the Wessels company in 1905 in Chicago where she auditioned for the part that brought her to New York. She was almost immediately cast to join The Music Master, a long-running melodrama about a Viennese conductor in America searching for his daughter. Miss Perry played the lead female role opposite David Warfield, one of the theatre’s most popular actors.
Warfield had great admiration for Miss Perry and they became friends. He was associated with impresario David Belasco and arranged for Miss Perry to audition for him. In October 1907, Miss Perry was cast as Warfield’s leading lady in Belacso’s A Grand Army Man at his new Styvestant Theatre (now the Belasco).

Soon, another man was in Antoinette Perry’s life. Frank Frueauff, an old beau from home who merged Denver Gas and Electric, of which he was vice president, with Cities Service (now CITGO). They fell madly in love, and, at the peak of her New York acting career, Miss Perry married Frueauff.

In 1920, approached by Brock Pemberton, a flamboyant press agent turned producer, Miss Perry, unbeknownst to Frueauff, became an “angel” in Pemberton’s production of Zona Gale’s comedy Miss Lulu Bett. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and become a huge hit. Soon Miss Perry was Pemberton’s silent partner. When her husband discovered his wife has invested in theatre and had done so well, he gave his blessings. Then, in 1922, he died of a heart attack. He left a $13-million estate.

“Mother generously lent money,” daughter Margaret Perry, 89 and an actress who long ago gave up theatre, said from her wilderness ranch in Colorado, “and bailed actors and playwrights out of overdue hotel bills. She enjoyed the extravagant life. The summer of 1923, she took us, our governess, Uncle Brock, as we were instructed to call him, and his wife Margaret, and ten others to Europe for seven weeks. On coming home, Mother heard theatre’s siren call again.”

A Director is Born

She went into a great depression and became an avid reader. Inspired by actress/playwright Rachel Crothers, who directed her own plays, Perry decided she wanted to direct. Her wealth, which she doubled playing the stock market, and her relationship with Pemberton were her entree. They joined forces, professionally as well as romantically, and had modest successes. In 1929, they struck paydirt with Preston Sturges’s Strictly Dishonourable, a cynical play about virtue and Prohibition. A critic praised Perry “for doing a man’s job” as director. Scalpers got $30 a ticket. Movie rights were sold. They were on their way to easy street.
A month later, the stock market crashed.

“Mother awoke two million dollars in debt,” recalled Margaret. “It took seven years to recover. Somehow, probably because of the success of Strictly Dishonourable, she got a loan of two million dollars.”

Perry and Pemberton shared an intimate office in a theatre (it was adjacent to the Imperial, where there is a parking lot today), and lunched daily at Sardi’s, where they fuelled lots of theatrical gossip. However, at the end of their business day, she’d go home to her children and he to his wife.

Antoinette Perry: Philanthropist

In spite of her theatrical credentials, Perry is best remembered for her generosity and leadership in World War II as a co-founder of the Theatre Wing of Allied Relief, subsequently, the American Theatre Wing.

The Wing operated the famed Stage Door Canteen in the basement of the (now razed) 44th Street Theatre, where stars worked as dishwashers, waiters, waitresses, and entertainers for the armed forces. The sale of film rights for a story about the canteen, and a six-figure check from Perry along with support from Rodgers and Hammerstein, provided USO tours of shows to overseas troops.

Margaret confided her mother was an inveterate gambler. “The seed money for many a Wing activity or show investment came from her track winnings. Even during Wing board meetings, mother played the horses. She’d have her secretary tip toe in to give her the odds, then place a wager with a bookie.”
Perry was also president of the National Experimental Theatre and financed, with Actors Equity and the Dramatists Guild, the work of new playwrights. During and after the war, she underwrote auditions for 7,000 hopefuls. Her dream of a national actor’s school was realized in 1946.

“Mother developed heart problems,” Margaret explained, “but, as a devout Christian Scientist, she refused to see a doctor. That, her directorial duties and her dedication to the work of the Wing took a terrible toll.” By now, because of their huge successes, Pemberton was a member of cafe society and, because of his brother’s membership in the Algonquin Roundtable, on the best terms with literary society. “But,” noted Margaret, “from wherever he was, he’d call Mother every night. Often his calls were the only thing that alleviated her intense physical pain.”

Well, that told me about the Tony Awards, but how did Sardi’s equate to this story?

  1. SARDI'S RESTAURANT PRINT
    Vincent Sardi Jr., Restaurateur and Unofficial ‘Mayor of Broadway,’ Dies at 91

The New York Times
Vincent Sardi Jr. In 1991
By William Grimes
Published: January 5, 2007

Vincent Sardi Jr., who owned and managed Sardi’s restaurant, his father’s theatre-district landmark, for more than half a century and became, by wide agreement, the unofficial mayor of Broadway, died yesterday at a hospital in Berlin, Vt.. He was 91 and had lived in Warren, Vt., since retiring in 1997.

The cause was complications of a urinary tract infection, said Sean Ricketts, a grandson and manager at the restaurant.

Mr. Sardi ran one of the world’s most famous restaurants, a Broadway institution as central to the life of the theatre as actors, agents and critics. It was, the press agent Richard Maney once wrote, “the club, mess hall, lounge, post office, saloon and marketplace of the people of the theatre.”

Mr. Sardi understood theater people, loved them and was loved in return. He carried out-of-work actors, letting them run up a tab until their ship came in. (At one point, Sardi’s maintained 600 such accounts.)

He attended every show and made sure his headwaiters did the same, so that they could recognize even bit players and make a fuss over them. At times, he exercised what he called “a fine Italian hand,” seating a hungry actor near a producer with a suitable part to cast.

He commiserated with his patrons when a show failed, and rejoiced with them when the critics were kind. He distributed favors, theater tickets and food, rode on horseback with the local police, and acted as a spokesman, official and unofficial, for the theatre district.

Mr. Sardi was born on July 23, 1915, in Manhattan and spent his early childhood in a railroad flat on West 56th Street, where his parents took in show-business boarders. In 1921, his father took over a basement restaurant in a brownstone at 246 West 44th Street. He named it the Little Restaurant, but theater people called it Sardi’s, and so it became.
The family lived upstairs. When the building was razed in 1927 to make way for the St. James Theatre, Sardi’s moved to its current location, at 234 West 44th.St.

(I’m happy to say that I had Lunch and Dinner 4 times at Sardi’s, whilst I was in New York this time.)

SARDI'S INTERIOR PRINT 1The Interior view of Sardi’s

Vincent Jr., whom his father called Cino, attended Holy Cross Academy on 43rd Street. He got a taste of the theatre at an early age, appearing as Pietro, an Italian urchin, in “The Master of the Inn” at the Little Theater when he was 10. The play closed quickly, but not before Vincent learned about the subtleties of the actor-director relationship. When he pointed out that an Italian would say “addio,” not “adios,” he was told to keep his opinions to himself and read the line as written.

In 1926, the Sardis moved to Flushing, Queens, where Vincent graduated from Flushing High School. He entered Columbia University intending to become a doctor, but failed the chemistry examination, in part because, short of pocket money, he had sold his textbook at Barnes & Noble so he could attend a dance. He transferred to Columbia Business School and earned a degree in 1937.

In the meantime, he began working in the family business on weekends, earning $14 a week. “My duties included stints at the cigarette counter, shifts at the cash register and a few attempts at being a Saturday headwaiter in the upstairs second-floor level,” he recalled in Playbill.

He also learned how to cater to Sardi’s unusual clientele. When Broderick Crawford was appearing in “Of Mice and Men,” Vincent was volunteered to take the actor’s Doberman for its nightly walk.

Mr. Sardi spent two years learning the food-service business at the Ritz-Carlton before rejoining Sardi’s in 1939 as dining-room captain. That year he married Carolyn Euiller. The marriage ended in 1946.

In 1942 he joined the Marine Corps, which took one look at his résumé and assigned him to run the bachelor officers’ mess at the Cherry Point Air Station in North Carolina. The next year he was sent to Okinawa, where he supervised a rest camp. He left the Marines as a captain. In 1946, he married Adelle Rasey, an actress. That marriage, too, ended in divorce.
In 1947 Vincent Sr. retired, and Vincent Jr. took over the restaurant, buying it from his father. Sardi’s was already renowned as a place where deals were made, gossip circulated and actors and producers made it their business to see and be seen. “The restaurant had a central place in the theatre,” said Gerald Schoenfeld, the president of the Shubert Organization. “You could walk in at lunch and do a day’s business, see people you hadn’t seen in a long time. You didn’t think of going anywhere else.”

Mr. Sardi, a tall, affable man with a military bearing, perfected the art of seating enemies far apart and putting friends and potential allies near one another. “He was always the soul of politesse, but where he seated you could be crucial to making a deal,” said the producer Arthur Cantor.

Mr. Sardi also knew how to keep temperamental actors happy. “You’ve got to be awfully careful with actors out of work,” he told an interviewer. “They’re very sensitive about their fading prestige, and I know darn well they scrimp to come in here, on the chance that they’ll be considered for a part. Boosting an actor’s ego with a table in a good location is simply my way of giving him a pat on the back.”

When he was not running the restaurant, Mr. Sardi raced cars, played polo and skied. He was also president of the Greater Times Square Committee in the 1960s and the Restaurant League of New York in the 1970s.

If Sardi’s was a club, its rules were mysterious. Only Mr. Sardi knew them, and only he could explain why, for many years, one of the best tables was held for Mr. and Mrs. Ira Katzenberg. The Katzenbergs, who by the early 1950s had attended virtually every Broadway opening for 30 years, took their seats at Sardi’s at 7:15 and ordered, without fail, a brandy and a bottle of Saratoga water. Mr. Sardi called them his favourite customers.

“People like them keep the theatre alive, and the theatre is their life,” he said. “The least we can do is give them the best table in the house.”
Mr. Sardi could do nothing about the autograph hounds and the photographers who crowded around the entrance. But inside the front doors, his word was law. Diners were not to be disturbed.

Sardi’s shone brightest on the opening night of a Broadway show, and in the 1960s, a show opened nearly every night. The ritual never varied. In a line that stretched down 44th Street, theatregoers, theatre insiders and celebrity watchers clamored for a table, hoping against hope to be seated on the first floor, where they could see cast members, producers and the playwright of the moment entering the restaurant after the curtain rang down. As the actors made their way to their tables, the diners would stand and applaud.

Once seated, the actors, producers and playwright would put on a brave face waiting for the reviews. The first 25 copies of The New York Times and The New York Herald Tribune were rushed over to Sardi’s from the printing presses at midnight, with the review pages marked. Mr. Sardi would man the telephone, taking calls from friends of the cast, ticket brokers and newspaper columnists eager to get a read on the fate of the new play. If the reviews were poor, a pall descended over the dining room, and diners would slink out the door. If the reviews were good, it was Champagne all around and a celebration until the wee hours.

“All of us on the staff were caught up in each Broadway play,” Mr. Sardi wrote in Playbill. “We became involved in the raising of money, the casting of roles, the progress of rehearsals, and, after opening night, the success or failure of a play.”

In 1946, hoping to capture some of the excitement of Sardi’s, the radio station WOR created “Luncheon at Sardi’s,” an hour long program in which the host moved from table to table, microphone in hand, interviewing celebrities. In 1949, the show spawned a television spinoff, “Dinner at Sardi’s,” which failed to catch fire. The celebrities had a bad habit of using their air time for shameless self-promotion.

Undeterred, Mr. Sardi appeared as himself in two television dramas in the mid-50s, “Catch a Falling Star,” on “Robert Montgomery Presents,” and “Now, Where Was I?” a CBS production. He also turned out a cookbook, “Curtain Up at Sardi’s” (1957), which he wrote with Helen Bryson. It included, of course, the restaurant’s signature dish, cannelloni with Sardi sauce, a homey curiosity in which French crepes were stuffed with ground chicken, ground beef, spinach and Parmesan cheese, then topped with a velouté sauce enhanced with Hollandaise, sherry and whipped cream.

By the late 1950s, Sardi’s was grossing about $1 million a year, and in 1958, looking to expand, Mr. Sardi opened Sardi’s East, at 123 East 54th Street.

Mr. Sardi threw his all into the new venture. He arranged for theatregoers to be taken to Broadway on a London double-decker bus. He hired out-of-work actors as conductors. He lured his father out of retirement and installed him as manager. Sardi’s East never caught on, however, and Mr. Sardi sold it in 1968.

By the 1960s, the Times Square area was deteriorating, the theater district was becoming more dangerous and the vibrant world of culture that had nourished Sardi’s entered a period of decline. To make matters worse, in 1974, Mr. Sardi embarked on a ruinous venture, opening a 700-seat dinner theatre in Franklin Square, on Long Island. The theatre burned money for two years before closing.

At Sardi’s, critics complained, standards seemed to be slipping. “Those who go to the restaurant to observe celebrities will rarely be disappointed,” Mimi Sheraton wrote in a 1981 review for The Times. “Those who go for good food that is well served will rarely be satisfied.”

Gradually, Sardi’s became a tourist destination. The lunchtime business evaporated. The restaurant was showing its age. In September 1985, Mr. Sardi sold it for $6.2 million to two producers from Detroit, Ivan Bloch and Harvey Klaris, and the restaurateur Stuart Lichtenstein. They announced plans to bring back the old luster and open up a Sardi’s restaurant, hotel and casino in Atlantic City. Instead, they fell behind on payments, declared bankruptcy and closed the restaurant in June 1990.

Mr. Sardi, who had planned to spend a tranquil retirement in Vermont, resumed ownership of Sardi’s in 1991. He gave it a facelift, leaving intact the 700 or so caricatures of theatre people that hang on the walls. He also brought in serious chefs, who gradually improved the quality of the food, although Sardi’s, even in its heyday, never owed its reputation to its kitchen. As his health declined, Mr. Sardi spent less and less time at the restaurant, turning its operation over to his partner, Max Klimavicius, who will continue to run the business, a restaurant spokesman said yesterday.

Mr. Sardi is survived by his wife, the former June Keller; three children, Paul, of Coco Beach, Fla.; David, of San Diego; and Tabitha, of Manhattan; a sister, Anne Gina Sardi of Stamford, Conn.; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. A daughter, Jennifer, died earlier.

The family plans to hold a memorial service at a date to be announced but at a location that is certain: Sardi’s.

So this was the History of Sardi’s and its Theatrical Involvement with the Tonys.

Digital CameraAngie and I having pre Tony Award drinks at the Hilton Hotel Midtown.

Now Angie and I were about to see the 69th Annual Tony Awards Ceremony, and what a truly magical evening on Broadway it turned out to be from beginning to end.

We had to be in our seats by 6:45pm as the doors closed at 7:00pm and the evening finally finished at around11:30p.m. The time just seemed to fly by.

Angie and I walked from the Hilton Hotel along Avenue of Americas to the Radio City Music Hall, it was just a short walk of a couple of blocks and the traffic was at a standstill. Everybody seemed to be heading for the Tonys, and all in Black Tie and the Ladies in either Cocktail or Evening Dresses.

The side entrance to the theatre, is where the red carpet is placed and that is where all the stars and the Interviews take place. So the main entrance is left clear for the general public.

I was completely confused because I thought the red carpet was in the front of the theatre. But of course where they do it makes sense. So the traffic can keep flowing.

 

 

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Once inside the champagne kept on flowing. This was even before we had reached our seats.

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How glamorous it all looked. Angie had booked us G Row Centre in the first mezzanine (which is Dress Circle to us Brits), so we could see everything.

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Here’s a view from the Stage.

The size of the Radio City Music Hall just takes your breath away it is enormous, and there we were with a perfect view of everything. How lucky could one get? This photo just shows a small portion of the theatre.

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Side view from the Auditorium, these 3 shots give you some idea of how large Radio City Music Hall really is.

RAY JACKSON DANGEROUS YEARS THE 2 HOSTSThe show was Hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming, and what a wonderful job they made of the whole evening.

There were 24 awards and each award had 4 or 5 Nominees, so the excitement in the audience was electric.

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A Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Award went to Tommy Tune for his work as actor, dancer, director and choreographer.

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You may recall him as the Long Legged Fiancée in the film “Hello Dolly”. Of course he’s a lot older now. But aren’t we all !

Some of the shows nominated performed a scene from their show. Of course,the arrangement and running of the show was flawless.

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Chita Rivera who was nominated for a leading actress in a musical, and she also appeared in a scene from “The Visit” which was also nominated for best revival of a musical. This 82 year old star is amazing!  But unfortunately “The Visit” lost out to “The King and I” in both cases.

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Later in the week Angie and I saw “The Visit”, which was quite stunning and very different from most musicals with it’s dark theme. Chita Rivera was excellent, it was so great to see her again.

I remembered when Ray and I saw her originally in “Bye, Bye Birdie” with Dick Van Dyke in 1960, then later with Gwen Verdon in “Chicago” 1976, and later on in “Merlin” 1983 with Doug Henning in which she walked away with the show. All these shows we saw on Broadway.

Unfortunately, the Theatre business being what it is, “The Visit” closed on the 14th of June.

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Chita Rivera in “The Visit” at the Tonys.

The British contingent won with “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” for the best play, and “Skylight” for best revival. But the evening really went to Helen Mirren for best performance by a leading actress in “The Audience”, and what a performance it is. Later in the week Angie and I went to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre to see the show and after seeing it, I think that Helen Mirren deserves a blog all to herself.

Digital CameraHelen Mirren on stage at the Tonys

Of course, it’s completely out of focus, but I assure you it was Helen Mirren, and you can see all the illuminated posters for “The Audience” around her. I’m useless with a camera, but there she is at the Tonys accepting her award for her performance in “The Audience”.

So by the end of the evening I returned to the Hilton happy but hungry as everywhere all the restaurants seemed to have suddenly closed.

 

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Angie, a Great Lady

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The Lovely Angela Zablo

30 years is a lifetime when one has not seen a friend, and these thoughts were confronting me when I traveled to New York to meet up with Angie Zablo nee Jackson, who was my “Lady From the Light” when Zee and Co. was a headline illusion act.

In 30 years she and her husband Randy have built up a multi million dollar business called Foremost Ram Caterers, which is the No.1 catering business in New York, and of which she is the Vice President.  

Will she have changed? Will she be different now that she is in the million dollar bracket? All these thoughts were running though my mind before we met. I need not have had any doubts! She was the same lovely Angie that she always was, only more so. The warmth and love that came from this wonderful woman was boundless. Nothing was too much for her. To be truthful I have spent 15 of the most wonderful days of my life with a great lady. It surpassed anything I could have imagined.

We did everything, saw everything, and we went everywhere! We saw six terrific shows including “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, “It’s Only a Play”, “Aladdin”, “The Visit”, “The Audience” and to top it all the wonderful Tony Awards, which had to be the real icing on the cake. What more could I ask for? Oh yes, we also went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a group called Museum Hack and we took their VIP Tour. Michelle was our guide, and it was  fun from start to finish, and a must for anyone visiting the Great White Way. I know you must be thinking, “Museums! Ugh! Not for me!” but this is the funniest, craziest, and most interesting tour you could possibly take. The group that Museum Hack take is only small, but be sure to take a camera and good walking shoes with you. You just don’t want to miss it.

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Angie and I having early drinks at the Hilton Hotel Midtown prior to going to the Tony’s.

From the first day when I arrived in New York, until the last when Angie and I had lunch together at Barneys on 60th. and Madison Avenue, The whole trip was truly just magical.                                                                                                                Angie you really are a wonderful lady!

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2015 in Angela Zablo, Eric Lindsay

 

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New York, New York

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Times Square, New York

Lately I’ve become very tardy with the writing of my blog. In fact I think I came to a full stop. Where the time has gone I have no idea, but since writing about the death of Elaine Stritch, whom I admired so very much. I have not put “finger to computer”, as they say in the best of circles.

Well here goes.  

Surprise! Surprise! I am off to New York for two weeks on the 31st of May! After my visit there, I’m sure there will be plenty to write about.  Not just the present, but more of my memories from the past, of when I visited New York many years ago. I think it’s going to be the little ‘jog to the brain’ that I need.

The real reason for my visit to New York is that I am going to see my beloved Angie, “My Lady from the Light” when Zee & Co. was a headline act.  

We have not seen each other for over 30 years, so there will be a lot of catching up to do. That is if she recognizes me!   

Miracle upon miracles, she is taking me to the Tony Awards! It is Broadways biggest night in the Theatre and far better to me than going to the Oscars in Hollywood, it’s something I have wanted to go to all my life.  

She must be a magician to have been able to get tickets. 

 How can you top that?   

 My God! Life can really be wonderful sometimes.

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This is me after the shock of hearing that I was going to the Tony Awards

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NOW ALL I CAN SAY IS, WATCH THIS SPACE ! ! !

 
 

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Epigram

As Albert Einstein once said, and I agree whole-heartedly:

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After learning this, I’m perfectly happy with my clutter!

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 Albert Einstein has been the subject of or inspiration for many works of popular culture.

On Einstein’s 72nd birthday on March 14, 1951, UPI photographer Arthur Sasse was trying to persuade him to smile for the camera, but having smiled for photographers many times that day, Einstein stuck out his tongue instead.  This photograph became one of the most popular ever taken of Einstein, often used in merchandise depicting him in a lighthearted sense. Einstein enjoyed this photo and requested UPI to give him nine copies for personal use, one of which he signed for a reporter. On June 19, 2009, the original signed photograph was sold at auction for $74,324, a record for an Einstein picture.

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Albert Einstein certainly knew his worth!

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The man was so right!

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Albert Einstein, Eric Lindsay

 

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Lady Chinchilla’s Photo and Press Cutting Gallery

Lady Chinchilla came into my life when I was working in Greece and I saw her fabulous cage act. I contracted her to play as a guest star at the Casino de Paris twice in two years, and each time she was a sensation. The public and the press loved her. I feel she deserves her own gallery of photos and press cuttings that she collected in the short time that she was in England.

Click on the link below to see Lady Chinchilla’s photo and press cutting gallery.

Lady Chinchilla’s Photo and Press Cutting Gallery

LADY CHINCHILLA PHOTO 1 SHADOWED

 

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