The infectiously happy faces on the cover of this issue (identified at right) are toothsomely redolent of the most famous sporting saloon this country has ever known. They represent bon vivants who constantly crowded into Toots Shor's—a rendezvous that served for two decades as a monument to sport and booze.
In point of fact Toots's place was not really a saloon at all but a dignified and imposing three-story brick restaurant and cocktail bar on New York's glittering West Side, and at the time of the banquet Toots had just sold it for a cool $1.5 million to make way for what is to be the world's biggest hotel. But even with a million bucks in his pocket, this big, boozy boniface could not think of his place as anything but a saloon. "What is the favorite drink in your establishment?" he was asked once, and the answer came swift and sure: "Booze."
Since opening up in 1940, Toots has played raucous host to the greatest figures of the sports world and its close relative, the world of show business, as was the fashion for barroom bouncers who struck it rich in the spacious days of Prohibition. Gradually, however, the expansive world of Toots's hospitality spread out to include the worlds of arts and letters, of church and state, of fashion and folly and just plain people.
As the album reproduced on this and the following five pages plainly shows, Toots's friends included not only press agents but Presidents; not only gladiators but glamour girls. In Toots's memory book, there are journalists and justices, actors, attorneys and acrobats, playwrights, pugilists, ballplayers and bassos, politicians and patricians, plainclothesmen and Best-Dressed Women, anybody, in short, whose name ever appeared in a gossip column or an editorial page and most of those who read them.
Toots Shor's was the place where you were apt to see anybody because Toots knew everybody. Most of them (well, many of them anyway) were there at the final binge in the old saloon to help him close its doors—and to instill in Mine Host enough boozy reverie to last until he can throw a door-opening affair at his new location some months hence.
ALBUM OF SPORTS AND TOOTSMEN
"Four Presidents have called me 'Toots.' That's something," says the benign boniface, shown herewith John Hersey and Ike.
Photo taken at age 4 won "handsomest" title for Toots in contest with buddy Phil Harris.
Sinatra and Toots played game of "stand-in" at festive Joe E. Lewis dinner. Toots got "pie-eyed."
Toots chats with Norman Tishman, Harry Truman, Arnold Grant and Storekeeper Andrew Goodman.
"Here I am," says Toots, "with some gal, Jock McLean, Vic Ghezzi and the Duke of Windsor."
At birthday party for Jackie, Toots clowns with Reggie Van Gleason mustache, wearing it upside down.
Marciano pitched for Toots in charity ball game with Leo Durocher sandlotters. Joe Louis contributed as the umpire.
Friends of long standing, Toots clutches Herman Hickman and Jack Dempsey.
Cardinal Spellman joins the Toots Shor ménage at a charity lunch with Mickey Mantle.
Stuart Millar, Helen Hayes meet at Toots Shor's after premi√®re of Helen's son's movie.
"These are two of the greatest Americans," says Toots of Clyde Tolson, J. Edgar Hoover.
In 1944 campaign Toots electioneers with James Mead, Stuart Symington, Robert Hannegan, Sinatra, Clinton Anderson.
Joe DiMaggio watches his first Series ('46) as spectator along with Toots, George Raft, Durocher. "DiMaggio is greatest," says Toots.
"Eddie Arcaro is the finest athlete of our time because he does everything so well," says Toots.
Not all Shor attention goes to he-males. Here's Toots with Paulette Goddard and Loretta Young.
Dignitaries such as Herbert B. Swope and General Lucius Clay found comrade in Shor.
Jim Braddock and Manager Joe Gould sit with Toots at Joe Louis camp, 1938, before second Schmeling fight.
"This guy was the best right-hand hitter who ever lived," says Toots of Rogers Hornsby.
Ike's postwar honor box: Winthrop Aldrich, La Guardia, Horace Stoneham, Jimmy Walker and Toots.
Shor was friend not only of Presidents but of such presidential advisers as General Bedell Smith, Bernard Baruch.
Colossal trio of baseball greats includes veterans Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, fan Toots Shor.
Toots and Baby, his wife, get together with their best friends, Mark and Gladys Hellinger.
Toots says of friend, "Tooey Spaatz was one of the toughest generals I ever knew."
Riding high on an elephant at Heart Fund show, Toots the clown waves greetings to a world that is his oyster.
THE MERRYMAKERS ON THE COVER
1 Toots surrounds an armload of jocund John Wayne at the fiesta of fellowship.
2 The sportsman's medicine man, Dr. Allen Tanney (no kin to Vic, page 58), gets Rx from Toots, while Madison Square Garden executive Ned Irish looks askance.
3 The champ, Toots, shows the trophy awarded him by his admirers. Hal Gross and others view touching presentation.
4 Cosmic gathering of stellar friendships includes Washington Lawyer Paul Porter and Sportswriter Red Smith.
5 Here are Old Crony Horace Stoneham, Journalist Frank Conniff and soft drink man William Robinson.
6 Cartoonist Burris Jenkins reacts to a joke. Bradley Kelly, Jim Thornton are in background.
7 Golfer Shelley Mayfield and Jimmy Johnson make an appreciative audience.
8 Good friends and well-wishers Don Ameche, Dave Shelley and golf ace Jimmy Demaret joke at farewell for Toots.
9 Semicirculating in front of Hoffa attorney Edward Bennett Williams (who also represented Beck, Goldfine and the late Senator McCarthy) are Bob McKinney, RKO's Arnold Grant (Toots's lawyer), Dr. Tanney.
10 The convivial host holds court in bar for Tootsmen Williams and Gleason.
11 Divided attentions are displayed by Bill Robinson, William Randolph Hearst Jr. as party continues.
12 All-night fete fades with salutes of cheer by Restaurateur Jerry Bookbinder, colleague Toots and Morris Smollen.
TWENTY THREE PHOTOS