In Chapter 11 of In Your Hat, the 1933 tell-all memoir by Hat Check Girl to the Stars Renee Carroll, she shares tales of various characters she knew, including Jack Oakie, The Four Marx Brothers, Wilson Mizner, George Jessel, Harry Richman, Clara Bow, and Lilyan Tashman.
SARDI’S may be the place where the celebrities gather, but I get more slugs and buttons in my tip box than I can use in a year’s mending. Figure it out for yourself—the most highly paid performers and theatrical executives slip me slugs I wouldn’t even try on my molars to find out if they’re real or not.
And speaking of tipping and the things I find in my box at the end of the day, one of the most common phenomena are the little slips of paper upon which telephone numbers have been scribbled. I’ve got, or rather, I could have collected a private phone list than the Manhattan police department, not to mention the Broolynites and Bronxites who have been date-hungry.
Maybe I’m wrong, and that’s only one way of kidding me. Another way is the method Jack Oakie used, to make me feel like the butt of a bad joke.
Jack came into the restaurant one day and asked me in his really-not-obnoxious breezy manner how things were going. Just for the fun of it, I told him that I was going to get married the next day. I had no more idea of getting married, then, than the girl in the swing on the big Pepsodent sign. As some wit once said, marriage is an institution, and hwo wants to live in an institution?
But that clown of clowns, that zanie Oakie, set to work and circulated among Sardi’s guests, telling all his friends that I was an expectant mother. When people started to leave the place, I noticed that no one was looking me directly in the eyes, but instead were looking down at me and at the same time talking in a sort of reverentially hushed tone—the kind I gather that people assume when they accost young mothers-to-be.
I didn’t suspect then what was happening, but the next morning when packages began to arrive by every means of transportation except the pony express, I began to smell a good-sized rodent in Mr. Oakie’s direction. For people were sending me baby clothes—dresses, bibs, caps, towels, and all the other accessories necessary to have babies. The pay-off came when Oakie’s package arrived. It contained a dozen towels, stolen from a Pullman, three napkins from three different hotels and a couple of table cloths from a club. All of the Oakie presents were cut into reminiscent triangular shapes—with the names of the places from which they were filched neatly embroidered in the corner of each pseudo-diaper.
But the height of pure nuttiness was achieved by the Four Marx Brothers when they were making Animal Crackers and The Cocoanuts at the Astoria studio for Paramount.