Above: Brooke Shields admires her caricature, 1995 (courtesy Google LIFE images)
Thanks for listening to our breezy, kind of giddy tale of Sardi’s Restaurant. We might sound a little strange at a couple points, as we were recording it in 95 degree weather, and our studio isn’t adequately air conditioned! A little delirium might be evident. We decided to do a showbiz-type episode as our next episode will be going to a very, very dark place in New York City history.
Obviously, when I said this was our ‘quasquicentennial’ episode, I didn’t actually mean it was our 125th year of podcasting. Although that’s a remarkable thought — our first episode would have been playable on a gramophone!
As we mentioned on the show, it’s difficult doing a history podcast on a private business without it sounding a bit like an advertisement, but hopefully we were able to execute past that. (We came across this odd feeling with other podcasts like Saks Fifth Avenue and The Plaza Hotel.)
We left a few details on the cutting-room floor, including Sardi’s lengthy involvement with the Dog Fanciers Club, which throws a congratulatory breakfast every year for the Best In Show winner of the Westminster Dog Show. Tom also did a rather nice job with reading an excerpt from Renee Caroll’s biography, but some sound problems forced us to cut it.
Tom mentioned the glory of Broadway in 1927. Show Boat is definitely the breakout show of that year, but theatergoers could also choose from one of these show that year — A Connecticut Yankee, Funny Face, Burlesque, Coquette, Hit The Deck, Rio Rita, Dracula and the hit play The Ivory Door, written by A.A. Milne of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. (Find a complete list here.)
Reading Recommendations: The best is Off The Wall by Vincent Sardi Jr. and Thomas Edward West, featuring full color representations of Sardi’s best known caricatures. Worth seeking out a copy at your used book stores. More difficult to find is Vincent Sardi Sr.’s own biography Sardi’s: A Story of a Restaurant, published in 1953 and well out of print. Carroll’s biography In Your Hat is also out-of-print, but you can find excerpts scattered online. You should seek out a physical copy if possible, as it features original artwork by original Sardi’s caricaturist Alex Gard.