Name Dropping: Tales from My San Francisco Nightclub

Overview

When El Matador opened in 1958, Bennett Cerf called it "the most attractive room in America." Part saloon, part salon, Barnaby Conrad’s night club, nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s nightlife district, was a spot one might find Noel Coward, Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Frank Sinatra, or Ava Gardner or might hear Duke Ellington or André Previn take over the piano.

In Name Dropping, Barnaby Conrad vibrantly evokes this bygone era as he shares hilarious and surprising ...

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Name Dropping: Tales from My San Francisco Nightclub

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Overview

When El Matador opened in 1958, Bennett Cerf called it "the most attractive room in America." Part saloon, part salon, Barnaby Conrad’s night club, nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s nightlife district, was a spot one might find Noel Coward, Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Frank Sinatra, or Ava Gardner or might hear Duke Ellington or André Previn take over the piano.

In Name Dropping, Barnaby Conrad vibrantly evokes this bygone era as he shares hilarious and surprising anecdotes, delightfully dropping famous names all the while.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - William Gargan
“Gossipy memoirs on celebrities abound, but Conrad's book is cut above the rest.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780964970144
  • Publisher: Wild Coconuts Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/10/1999
  • Pages: 212
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Barnaby Conrad (March 27, 1922 - February 12, 2013) was an American artist and author.

Born in San Francisco, California, Conrad graduated from Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. He attended the University of North Carolina, where he was captain of the freshman boxing team. He also studied painting at the University of Mexico, where he also became interested in bullfighting. After being injured in the bullring, he returned to college and graduated from Yale University in 1943.

Conrad was American Vice Consul to Seville, Málaga, and Barcelona from 1943 to 1946. While in Spain, he studied bullfighting with Juan Belmonte, Manolete, and Carlos Arruza. In 1945 he appeared on the same program with Belmonte and was awarded the ears of the bull. He is the only American male to have fought in Spain, Mexico and Peru.

In 1947, he worked as secretary to famed novelist Sinclair Lewis. Conrad published his first novel, The Innocent Villa, in 1948. It largely went unnoticed, but his second novel, Matador, sold 3 million copies. John Steinbeck chose Conrad's Matador as his favorite book of the year, and the novel has been translated into 28 languages. Royalties from Matador provided Conrad with the capital to open El Matador nightclub in San Francisco in 1953. Herb Caen, noting that Matador was the publisher's suggested alternative to the original title Conrad had given his second novel, commented on Conrad naming his nightclub after his first best seller: "Who'd ever go eat at a restaurant called Day of Fear?" In 1997 Conrad wrote Name Dropping: Tales From My San Francisco Nightclub, "a jaunty account" about the 10 years he ran El Matador.

In 1958, Conrad was gored almost fatally in a bullfight that was part of a charity event. After learning of the incident, Eva Gabor is said to have run into Noël Coward at Sardi's in New York and asked him, "Did you hear about poor Barnaby? He was terribly gored in Spain." Coward replied, "Oh, thank heavens. I thought you said he was bored."

Conrad started the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in 1973 at the Cate School, inviting well-known authors such as Eudora Welty, Gore Vidal, Joan Didion and Ross Macdonald. He and his wife Mary directed the literary gathering until Conrad sold the conference in 2004.

Conrad's charcoal portraits of Truman Capote and James Michener hang in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Tales from a bygone era...

    Tales from The Matador, a cabaret in the Barbary Coast section of San Francisco, where you went to be seen and to see the stars.

    Now gentrified, The Matador stood as one of the 'hip' places to be in the 1950's and 1960's . Opened with the proceeds he received from writing his best selling novel of the same name, the cabaret became the watering hole for some of the entertainment industry's elite. Ava Gardener, Bing Crosby, Orson Welles, Sinclair Lewis, Lucille Ball, David Niven and Truman Capote among others, spent time relaxing, drinking and signing in on The Matador's guest register.

    Conrad Barnaby, the Matador's owner was quite a character in his own right. Writer, artist (several examples grace the pages of the book), and bullfighter, Barnaby opens to us a slice of a bygone time.

    A significant portion of the book tells of his bullfighting escapades, some history of the sport and some of it's greats and their great battles.

    Constantly intriguing and entertaining, this book will keep you turning the pages while reveling in stories of the famous visitors to The Matador.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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