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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.