Everyone Comes to Elaine's: Forty Years of Movie Stars, All-Stars, Literary Lions, Financial Scions, Top Cops, Politicians, and Power Brokers at the Legendary Hot Spot

Everyone Comes to Elaine's: Forty Years of Movie Stars, All-Stars, Literary Lions, Financial Scions, Top Cops, Politicians, and Power Brokers at the Legendary Hot Spot

by A. E. Hotchner
     
 

Pull up a seat. You’re invited to the best spot in town: Elaine’s, the Upper East Side bar and restaurant owned by quirky restaurateur Elaine Kaufman.

A true Manhattan original, Elaine nurtured young, hungry writers, artists, and performers who matured into the likes of Woody Allen, Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol, and Norman Mailer.

In Everyone

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Overview

Pull up a seat. You’re invited to the best spot in town: Elaine’s, the Upper East Side bar and restaurant owned by quirky restaurateur Elaine Kaufman.

A true Manhattan original, Elaine nurtured young, hungry writers, artists, and performers who matured into the likes of Woody Allen, Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol, and Norman Mailer.

In Everyone Comes to Elaine's, you'll find meaty morsels on American icons, including Jackie O., Judy, and Liza, and first-hand accounts of the night Frank Sinatra snubbed The Godfather author, Mario Puzo, and the time that Mia Farrow asked Michael Caine to introduce her to Woody Allen.

Everyone Comes to Elaine's is an insider's view of a cultural scene that closed it's doors officially in 2011, after the death of Elaine Kaufman, hostess and New York legend. There's no one better to to have told these great tales than award-winning author A. E. Hotchner, who was there all along.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The daughter of working-class Jewish New Yorkers, Elaine Kaufman barely graduated from high school, but for some 40 years she has owned and managed one of the most exclusive nightspots in Manhattan: Elaine's. As Hotchner (Papa Hemingway) puts it, what "Rick's place was to Casablanca, Elaine's is to New York." Soon after Elaine bought the old neighborhood bar at 88th Street and Second Avenue in 1963, she welcomed writers as her favored clients, allowing them to run tabs and make her place their second home. Authors George Plimpton, Pete Hamill, Hotchner and others were among Elaine's earliest customers-but as word spread, the tables filled. After the writers came their agents and editors, and then glitterati of all persuasions. As Hotchner explains, the food has never been the point (sometimes it's quite inedible, he indicates). But the atmosphere is everything, and the atmosphere is pure Elaine. Young men just starting out could eat at Elaine's and find their first agent, sell their first play or be consoled over their first failures. As for young women, well, Elaine's nastiness was notorious, reports Hotchner. Writers' wives were treated, according to Nora Ephron, "as if they were temps." "Women were not welcomed at early Elaine's, except as d cor," Jules Feiffer remarked. Why? Perhaps Elaine herself needed to be "the principal female attraction," as Gay Talese put it. Readers offended by Elaine's misogyny may savor the account, near the end, of her disastrous attempt to lose weight and get a husband. Hotchner isn't known for writing fluff, but this reads like an extended glossy magazine feature, dripping with famous names and celebrity photos, full of dish-but leaving readers with little appetite. Photos. (On sale Mar. 30) Forecast: This titillating tribute to a New York City landmark is bound to attract local and national media coverage, culminating in respectable sales. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060538187
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/30/2004
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
7.37(w) x 9.12(h) x 0.71(d)

Read an Excerpt

Everyone Comes to Elaine's

Forty Years of Movie Stars, All-Stars, Literary Lions, Financial Scions, Top Cops, Politicians, and Power Brokers at t
By Hotchner, A. E.

HarperEntertainment

ISBN: 006053818X

Chapter One

What Rick's place was to Casablanca, Elaine's is to New York, the same swirling intrigue, international celebrities, double-dealing, jealousies, threats and brutalities, sentimentality, romance, sex and redemption, the only difference being that Humphrey Bogart played Rick on a Warner Bros. soundstage, whereas Elaine Kaufman plays her own improbable self at Eighty-eighth Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan. Elaine, a Jewish lady from the Bronx, who, for the past forty years, has presided over her exotic establishment, a mecca for the famous, the near famous, and the infamous.

Elaine's is where Mia Farrow asked Michael Caine to introduce her to Woody Allen; where the entire Rangers hockey team came at 3 A.M. after winning the Stanley Cup from which they drank an imposing quantity of beer; where Norman Mailer and the rock composer Jerry Leiber got into a roiling wrestling match that wound up tearing a hole in the side wall; where Reggie Jackson came the night he hit those historic home runs in the World Series; where Jackie Kennedy came the first night after her mourning period ended; where Frank Sinatra, on being introduced to Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, refused to shake his hand.

Physically, the place is nothing much, but, as Nora Ephron says, "It has the greatest look of any New York saloon. The dark wood, the framed book jackets on the walls, the Bentwood chairs, the checkered tablecloths -- it is just a physically perfect place." But beyond that, it also has an aura about it, a mysticism of exclusiveness, that makes it rather forbidding. On any given night, you cannot anticipate the mood within: serene (infrequently), blustery, combative, riotously festive, even, on occasion, rebellious. But whatever the prevailing atmosphere, you can be sure that Elaine, like Rick, will be seated at one of the tables, monitoring the activities, the arrivals and departures, barmen and waiters occasionally whispering in her ear, favored guests being greeted and seated, offending patrons being castigated and occasionally excommunicated, in a nightly scene more suited to the stage of a Broadway theater than the rather seedy environs in which it is located.

Elaine's place has a distinguished ancestry. Beginning with flamboyant Texas Guinan in the Roaring Twenties, New York's nightlife has been steadily illuminated by a gaudy group of bigtime saloon keepers, including Toots Shor, who began as a speakeasy bouncer; Jack Kreindler, who originally operated "21" as a speakeasy; the consummate Irishman Tim Costello, who started a speakeasy upstairs at Lexington and Forty-fourth with his brother, Joe; Dan Lavezzo of PJ Clarke's; Sherman Billingsley, a bootlegger from Oklahoma who started the Stork Club with two vicious gangsters, Dutch Schultz and Owney Madden, as his partners; Vincent Sardi; Joe Allen in his original place in the theater district. Each of these barons had a distinct fiefdom: Toots, a gargantuan, garrulous two-fisted drinker, catered to jocks, especially the New York Yankees; Kreindler's preserve embraced blue bloods, captains of industry, and politicians; Billingsley kowtowed to café society and Hollywood stars; Costello's was a watering hole for the prestigious writers and cartoonists of The New Yorker; Lavezzo, who was popular with musicians and singers, had a particular passion for the New York Giants football team, which he feted en masse; Sardi attracted Broadway headliners whereas Joe Allen was home to lesser Broadway performers who couldn't afford Sardi's, mostly chorus kids.

But these big-time saloons have diminished or disappeared from the New York scene: the establishments of Shor, Costello, Billingsley, and Lavezzo have passed on with their proprietors; Sardi's, "21," and Joe Allen have lost their originality, but Elaine, now in her fortieth year, thrives as a late-night phenomenon with no alternate place in sight -- she may well be the last of the great saloon keepers.

At Elaine's, the food, décor, prices, service, and seating have all been subject to critical carping, yet on any given night, the clientele, ranging from Nobel Prize winners to rock stars, will outglitter that of any other establishment in the city, in fact, the world. Still, there are a large number of people, well known, rich, prestigious, who find the prospect of presenting themselves at Elaine's intimidating, who feel they need some kind of special entrée, afraid to enter if not accompanied by an accepted regular. The public perception of Elaine's -- to an extent justified -- is that of a forbidding, cliquish preserve restricted to the favorites of the lady whose name it bears, and outsiders wonder what qualifies those who dine at the favored tables. The irony is that few of the illustrious who do frequent Elaine's hallowed walls can explain why they are there.

It may well be that whereas her antecedents, from Texas Guinan's to Costello's to "21," were all speakeasies where the proprietors identified those they admitted after viewing them through a peephole, Elaine's is just as selective but with a figurative peephole.

How the favored occupants got there in the first place has to do with the fact that the early settlers around Elaine's checkered tablecloths were writers. Writers are pilot fish -- they are fearless and adventure-prone and will go into any new, dark, uninviting place if it looks cheap, different, and indulgent about how long a table can be occupied. Writers like to sit at tables for a long time and not spend much money, or spend a great deal if they can put it on their tab. Either way, they are not a bonanza for a new restaurant.

When Elaine Kaufman, who helped run a restaurant called Portofino, at Thompson and Bleecker Streets in the Village, took her life savings in April 1963 and bought a rather drab Austro- Hungarian bar at Eighty-eighth and Second, some pilot fish writers came poking around. The editor and writer Nelson Aldrich lived around the corner, George Plimpton came in, the playwright Jack Richardson, Mary Ann Madden (she even painted the ladies' room for opening night), and word flashed through the scriveners' underground that Elaine's was choice waters. She not only let them linger at their tables and run up tabs but was amusing and sympathetic, and she liked writers ...

Continues...

Excerpted from Everyone Comes to Elaine's by Hotchner, A. E. Excerpted by permission.
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