Fashion editor Judy Hornady and I shared birthdays and a rich Surf Club habituĂ© who sent a case of French champagne to the News Tower's third floor. I still remember a candid photo of City Editor John McMullan at party's end,with the Blue Streak edition under one arm and a bottle of the champagne clasped to take home. (First he had to remove the silly grin.)
Joan Nielsen McHale, Society Editor & Judy Hornady, Fashion Editor

No one had every beckoned everyone before. Neither had champagne been poured into paper cups. Not a peep out of Emily Post scribes. We birthday gals donned form-fitting fetching gowns which contrasted with press room habitués' ink-stained coveralls. One of our copy desk intelligentsia wrote this thank-you note.

Dear Joan:

"Once upon a time there was a beautiful heiress from Philadelphia and a handsome prince from Monaco. There was also a giant named, oddly, Jackie Gleason, and two storytellers named Considine and Gehman. The giant often drank too much and one day when he had done that he rashly bet the storytellers that the beautiful heiress would never marry the handsome prince.

It was agreed that if the marriage did take place the giant would have to pick up the tab for the best party ever thrown in Toots Shor's. A limit of $5,000 was set, not for mercenary reasons, but to keep the guest list down to only the most reliable bums in midtown Manhattan. For the sake of tone and decorum it was also stipulated that black tie and evening dress were mandatory. No conditions were put upon individual behavior because the giant and the storytellers were keen students of human nature.

As certified inmates of the Toots Shor Lunatic Asylum my wife and I were among the lucky few (say, 500) who got invitations. Others similarly blessed were Edward G. Robinson, Jayne Mansfield and Henny Youngman. I remember Robinson because he danced all night and I remember Mansfield because she sat at the next table and we frequently rubbed against each other, vigorously. I also remember Youngman because Shor got bored with his act and physically threw him off the floor, the while shouting to his serfs: "For Christ sake, bring out some more booze."

I don't remember Gleason, nor does anyone else, because he was tied up on a picture in Paris and could not come to his own party.

The affair ended in broad daylight just as the decent people were going to work. I recall that one of them remarked, as we were being regurgitated from the asylum:

"That must have been some kind of party!" Well, it was.

But yours was better."


Jack Weeks