David Bruce: Alcohol Anecdotes


BOGART AND BACALL ON THE SET OF THE BIG SLEEPBy Warner Bros. Studio (ebay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

Film actor Humphrey Bogart stayed true to his tough-guy image. Just before he died, he said, “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”

Carrie Nation was serious about keeping people away from what she saw as the evils of alcohol—since her first husband had drunk himself to death, she had a reason for regarding alcohol as evil. On June 6, 1900, she went into Mr. Dobson’s saloon in Kiowa, Kansas, and told his customers, “I have come to save you from a drunkard’s fate.” She then ripped the place apart, breaking every bottle of alcohol in the saloon. (Believe it. The 55-year-old Ms. Nation was nearly six feet tall, she weighed 175 pounds, and she was strong. In addition, she brought a supply of bricks with her.) After destroying Mr. Dobson’s saloon, Ms. Nation destroyed two more saloons, then ran out of bricks. Of course, the sheriff arrived, but he wasn’t sure what to do because saloons were illegal in Kansas at the time and Ms. Nation claimed that she had a right to destroy them. In fact, Ms. Nation demanded that she be arrested because she wanted to publicize her cause, but the sheriff refused to arrest her. Ms. Nation continued to destroy saloons until in January, 1910, she tried to enter a saloon in Butte, Montana, that was owned by a strong woman by named May Maloy. Ms. Maloy didn’t want her saloon destroyed, so she fought and convincingly beat Ms. Nation. Following that defeat, Ms. Nation retired.

Comedian/actor Denis Leary discovered how much alcohol is too much when he was 19 or 20 and a friend brought a green liquor—Midori—over. Because it tasted like candy, they drank way too much way too fast. Within an hour or two, they were flinging Mr. Leary’s vinyl records out the window like they were frisbees. The next morning, Mr. Leary woke up and looked around. His apartment seemed clean, but it also seemed much sparser than usual. When he went downstairs to his landlord’s diner, his landlord held up a telephone and asked, “Is this your telephone?” Mr. Leary said that it was, and his landlord said, “The rest of your apartment is out back.” Mr. Leary explains, “We’d thrown all my clothes, books, plates, and a chair out the window and then passed out.”

When Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos, listened to law cases in his saloon, he would take numerous breaks so that he could put on an apron and sell drinks to the lawyers, the defendants, the plaintiffs, the lawmen—in short, to everyone. Despite being a judge, he was not honest. One lawyer paid for a 35-cent beer with a $10 gold coin, but Judge Bean kept the change. Angry, the lawyer started cursing him, so Judge Bean fined the lawyer $10 for disturbing the peace, then added, “The beer is on me.” Judge Bean also used to fine jurors if they didn’t buy a drink.

Some comedians take a drink to steady their nerves before performing. George Gobel once had Garry Moore as a guest on The George Gobel Show. Mr. Moore visited Mr. Gobel in his dressing room before the live TV show started, and Mr. Gobel motioned to a bottle of whiskey and said, “Have a drink.” However, Mr. Moore replied, “Thanks, but I don’t believe I’ll have anything before the show. I’ll be happy to join you for a drink after the show.” Mr. Gobel could hardly believe what he was hearing: “Garry, do you mean to say you go out there all alone?”

An obviously inebriated gentleman came to the Court Theatre to buy a ticket only to be told by the box office attendant that he would not be allowed to buy one. The gentleman asked why not, and the box office attendant pointed out that the gentleman was drunk. Affronted, the gentleman replied, “But of course I’m drunk. Do you think I should come to the Court Theatre if I was sober?”

During the early part of the 20th century, dancer Anna Pavlova toured in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is famous for its beer. There, Ms. Pavlova’s music director, Theodore Stier, asked a traffic officer where he could find a place in Milwaukee that sold really good German beer. The traffic officer looked Mr. Stier over for a moment, then he said, “Brother, there’s a place on every block—thank God!”

After Ludwig van Beethoven’s mother died, his father turned to alcohol, preferring to use his salary to get drunk rather than to buy food to feed his family. Therefore, Beethoven went to his father’s employer and arranged that half of his father’s salary each payday be paid to him instead of to his father so he could make sure his siblings had food to eat.

Gerard Depardieu once met a couple in a Parisian hotel, where the hotel manager was immensely impressed to have such a guest. He came over to the table of three, asked Mr. Depardieu what he wanted to order to drink, received the order—a glass of red wine—then rushed off to fill the order, completely ignoring the other two people at the table.

Early in her career, Marian Anderson, an African-American contralto, sang for Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in his villa. After her song, Mr. Sibelius called for champagne rather than coffee, and he complimented her in a toast by saying that the roof of his home was too low for her voice. Later, he wrote the song “Solitude” and dedicated it to her.

David Garrick, the famous 18th-century actor, believed in using his entire body while playing a part. He once criticized the French actor P. L. D. Preville after appearing on stage with him in a drunk scene—he said that although most of Mr. Preville’s body was drunk, his legs were not!

Are alcohol products ever targeted toward children? A product called “Tattoo” was sixty proof, came in three flavors (berry, lemon, and licorice), and temporarily turned the drinker’s tongue blue, yellow, or red. Is an adult drinker likely to be interested in this product?


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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