In Your Hat, pt. 1

If you’re at all like us (and honestly, who wouldn’t want to be?), the celebrity gossip of the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s is a lot more interesting than the blather that’s bandied about today.

So we’re excited to share with you the introduction (contributed by Louis Sobol, a longtime Broadway columnist for the Hearst newspapers) and first chapter of a 1933 memoir by Renee Carroll, a woman who, in her role as hat check gal at NYC’s Sardi’s restaurant (and this is when Sardi’s was Sardi’s, friends), got to know the rich and famous (and occasionally even talented) on an intimate basis.

Even the title of the book, In Your Hat, has a gum-snapping sassiness that we like. And there are the celebrities who appear in the book: Ernst Lubitsch, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Maurice Chevalier, Al Jolson, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Flo Ziegfeld, the Marx Brothers, and so many more. And the illustrations throughout the book, rendered by Alex Gard. We think you’ll find this book a real treat.

Just consider it a loan from the Cladrite Library, and don’t fold the page corners to mark your place. Use a bookmark, for Pete’s sake.

In
Your
Hat

Introduction

     RENEE CARROLL, a red-headed beauty, who smiles you out of your last quarter in exchange for a hat and coat which wouldn’t lure a quarter out of the most philanthropic pawn-broker in town, has written this book about the people whose names (and some of the names are awfully uneuphonious) hit you smack in the face every time you pick up a newspaper, stare up at a billboard or cluster of theater incandescents, or go into a huddle with other gossipy neighbors. In other words, it’s a book about celebrities, and take it from me, Renne knows her celebs.
     I wish she hadn’t written this book. I wish she had gotten it together and then delivered it, paragraph by paragraph, to me. It would have made my daily task of columning such a simple thing. I turn green with envy at the names and the anecdotes she’s woven about them. Lubitsch, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Maurice Chevalier, Harry Richman, Al Jolson, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Lou Holtz, Lee Shubert, Flo Ziegfeld, Daniel Frohman—oh, what’s the use. Such names—such stories!
     There’ll never be another book quite like this. I know of no one else in this town, and that includes the Broadway columnists, who has contacted the people of the stage and the screen and what was once known as Tin Pan Alley quite as closely or intimately as Renee of the flaming coiffure and the ingratiating smile. They drop their masks for Renee.
     And Gard has drawn the illustrations. Gard, the cynical, whose crayon caricatures catch the soul of you. Cruel, grotesque caricatures, they but don’t, don’t mind that. Gard will tell you in that unaffected manner of his, “I draw you like that because I am loving you like a brother.” And then he’ll sharpen your ears and hook your nose and twist your lips but the likeness of you is there—and, as I’ve said, the soul.
     Hats off, then, to Renee Carroll, for a grand book, and to her associate Gard for the pictures. I hope it’s the first of a series.

LOUIS SOBOL.


     WHEN Arnold Rothstein, kingpin gambler, peeled that thousand-dollar note off his roll and threw it in my direction, I couldn’t quite make up my mind whether I was a success on Broadway or a failure in life. I don’t know today why he did it. Maybe because I wasn’t wearing any stockings, or maybe he felt that knowing a redhead might bring him luck in his much-publicized profession.
     We were at Tex Guinan‘s club. There were Tex and Tommy Guinan at the table, “Feet” Edson, one of Owney Madden’s mob; Jake Horwitz, a friend of Rothstein’s, and my girl friend. The reason for my presence was that I was supposed to be chaperoning my girl friend because she didn’t want people to be thinking that she was Jake’s woman. I don’t know how my being there made any difference in the situation because then people would be thinking that Jake was maintaining a harem on the Main Stem,—and we were two of the battalion. But that’s the way they figure things on Broadway, where “captive” is spelled “keptive.”
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