Funniest Man Ever Was Harry Ritz! Just Ask Mel Brooks

August 1, 2015 - accent chair

Almost 40 years ago, Esquire published a underline titled, “Mel Brooks Says This Is The Funniest Man In The World.” Want to try a theory who that was? Richard Pryor? What about Sid Caesar or Spike Milligan or Jonathan Winters? Good guesses all, nonetheless a comic Brooks treasured some-more than anyone was Harry Ritz, a many distinguished member of a Depression-era comedy contingent The Ritz Brothers.

They got their start in vaudeville and from 1934-’43 a Ritz brothers finished 19 movies. They were renouned nonetheless not as cherished—or revered—as a Marx Brothers. They were deliberate too lowbrow. On a other hand, their code of slapstick didn’t interpret to destiny generations like The Three Stooges, partly given a brothers were radically transmutable in their routine—they didn’t have tangible characters like a Stooges or a Marx Brothers—although Harry was always a star.

Pauline Kael was a good fan of Harry Ritz’s comedy and as you’ll see, she and Mel Brooks were not a customarily fans. For a demeanour during one of a 20th Century’s prolonged mislaid funnymen, greatfully suffer Harry Stein’s poetic profile, creatively published in a Jun 1976 emanate of Esquire, and reprinted here with a author’s permission.

Alex Belth

Harry Ritz will contend it himself, nonetheless he prefers that others contend it for him.

“As distant as I’m concerned,” says Mel Brooks, “Harry Ritz was a funniest male ever. His idiocy and his leisure were unmatched. There was no intellectualizing with him. You customarily hoped there were no pointy objects in a room when he was operative ’cause we were down on a floor, spitting, out of control, shouting your smarts out. Harry Ritz always put me away. Always.”

“This male gave comedy a whole new dimension,” says Sid Caesar. “Harry was a good innovator. His appetite and his sensibility non-stop things adult for all of us. He had to be a funniest male of his time.”

“Harry was a teacher,” says Jerry Lewis. “He had a unusual ability to repudiate himself grace onstage. Harry taught us that a customarily thing that mattered was removing a laugh—whether we did it with a camel or with dual rabbis humping a highway map. Harry spawned us all. We all begged, borrowed and stole from him, any one of us. Without him, we wouldn’t be here.”

Almost to a man, comics venerate Harry Ritz; they tirelessly tell stories about him, they disintegrate his style, they welcome his routines. If a universe was finished adult of comedians, Harry Ritz would be a biggest star we ever saw.

But it isn’t, and he’s not. The approval Harry did receive—as a tip banana among a 3 Ritz Brothers—was comparatively meagre and short‑lived. During his heyday, in a late thirties and early ’40s, his sold code of comedy was not suspicion of as art, and when it came time to list a immortals of that period, no one suspicion to embody Harry’s name among them. Today, 33 years after a Ritz Brothers starred in their final underline film, it is unequivocally formidable to find anyone underneath a age of 40 who has even listened of them.

Which says a good understanding about a impermanence of it all, given there was a time when it was unfit to equivocate a Ritz Brothers. Between 1934 and 1943, they incited out fifteen facilities and 3 shorts; they also achieved in theaters and clubs. Before a agreement brawl with Darryl Zanuck finished what had been a jointly profitable relationship, they were a comedy kings of a Twentieth Century Fox lot, hauling down $7,500 a week.

The Ritzes were what Jan Murray calls “tumult” comedians. Subtle they weren’t. There was always a lot of regulating around in their routines, and shrill noises, and rolling of eyes, and gags about homosexuals and shapely women. They were masters of transformation and, in further to dances so unusually well-timed that a 3 of them looked as if they were sewn together, they were means of a dozen comic walks and runs.

For those not attuned to such things, it was easy to boot all of this as lowbrow nonsense, wanton and obvious. But others saw a Ritzes’ choreographed disharmony as inspired. Sure, their partisans acknowledged, a lot of comedians ran around and acted crazy, nonetheless no one else did it with utterly a same joy, a same abandon, a same cocksure mindlessness. The Ritz Brothers, they insisted, were funnier than anyone.

And Harry was a funniest of a Ritz Brothers. There was no doubt about that. Though theirs was garb comedy—they roughly always dressed a same and were generally uncelebrated as characters—Harry, a one in a middle, always had a many to do. He rolled his eyes improved than a other two, and walked funnier, and did funnier pratfalls. Indeed, it mostly looked as if his brothers’ primary duty was to set adult business for Harry.

Harry so apparently dominated a act that a other dual finished light of it onstage, one of them suggesting that a contingent should be renamed “The Ritz Brother and His Two Brothers.” Al and Jimmy, a brothers, after began singing a mock-bitter song, destined during Harry, entitled The Guy in a Middle: “The male in a middle/we hear people say/the male in a center is a humorous one/The other two/the other dual are customarily a span of bums/One belongs in a penthouse/the other dual go in a slums.”

The clarification of a decaying agent, went one Hollywood fun 30 years ago, was one who rubbed all a Ritz Brothers solely Harry.

Harry, people in a business knew, dominated a act offstage as good as on. He combined many of their best routines and staged their dance numbers. It was his imagination, as many as his effervescent face and spindly legs, that kept a act going.

Indeed, some of a pieces of business Harry combined were so clever that they have survived unconditionally eccentric of a Ritz Brothers. There’s a male in New York, a small-time impressionist named Will Jordan, who can go on for 20 minutes, ticking off a shtick others have appropriated from Harry: Danny Kaye’s Russian gibberish, Milton Berle’s approach of walking on his ankles, Jerry Lewis’s crossed eyes and reticent look, Jackie Gleason’s “And divided we go” walk, everyone’s German professor. Then, too, there are pieces of Ritz Brothers stupidity in a films of Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, and Woody Allen. The suspicion of a shaken spermatazoa watchful to be launched into God knows where, for instance, after used so successfully in Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex… was a Ritz original.

None of that ever worried Harry, who took it as flattery. He didn’t protest when others, regulating his material, started personification improved clubs for some-more money. Through a late ’40s, a ’50s and on into a ’60s, a Ritzes went blithely along their way, behaving regularly, confident to be creation some-more than adequate to get by. Occasionally they did a guest mark on television, nonetheless customarily they stranded to clubs, where they had a dwindling—but rabidly faithful—following.

Then, one dusk in Dec 1965, during an rendezvous during a Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Al, a oldest of a brothers, collapsed and died of a heart attack. Harry and Jimmy were shattered, nonetheless 6 months after they regrouped and attempted to make it as a duo. Though their element was radically unchanged, a act customarily wasn’t a same; a remaining Ritz Brothers worked customarily sporadically.

Jimmy now lives in semi-retirement in L.A., nonetheless Harry, during 69, is still plugging. Several years ago he changed his family from Beverly Hills to Las Vegas, a live-entertainment collateral of a world. It hasn’t helped. Though Vegas is a place where performances like Wayne Newton and John Davidson are paid upwards of $100,000 a week, where comedians like Rip Taylor and Corbett Monica, not to discuss a hundred stand-up forms whom Mel Brooks dismisses collectively as “Jackie Jackie,” work regularly, Harry Ritz has not had an offer to play a city in 5 years.

But we won’t hear about it from Harry Ritz. “Oh, no,” he says, striding by a Caesars Palace casino en track to a lounge, “I’m doing great. we work when we want, maybe 8 or 10 weeks a year. we do a lot of benefits. They’ll call and say, ‘Harry, c’mon over. Get me crazy Harry,’ and we go.”

Harry speaks aloud to make himself listened above a clatter of a roulette wheels and a shouts of a craps players. None of gamblers seems to commend a trim, still childish comedian, palm in palm with his wife, as he moves by them. “I still got copiousness of fans,” adds Harry.

They strech a lounge, Cleopatra’s Barge, a bank of tiny tables tough by a two-dollar blackjack area, and Harry, who, with his pointy features, well-groomed conduct of white hair and dried tan, looks like a Jewish chronicle of Douglas Fairbanks Jr., pulls out a chair for his wife, Naomi. “Would we trust it,” he says admiringly, “this lady is customarily 27 years old! Marry immature to stay young.”

As a matter of fact, it is hard to believe. Naomi, who has blond hair, blue eyes, lots of glittery valuables and startlingly splendid red lips, is rather attractive, nonetheless she definitely doesn’t demeanour 27.

“Oh, Harry,” she says, giving him a witty daub on a shoulder, “you know that’s not true.” They giggle during any other. “I’m indeed 36,” she explains, branch divided from him. “Harry tells people I’m 27 given he wants me to be young.” She turns behind to Harry and gives him a pat on a mouth. They giggle.

This, it turns out, is a approach it is with Harry and Naomi. They are ceaselessly holding hands, constantly smooching, perpetually exchanging endearing small sentiments. Naomi is impossibly courteous to Harry’s needs, not customarily examination to see that he takes correct caring of himself, nonetheless creation certain his accomplishments get a full airing.

“Tell about a cruise,” she says now, picking adult a thread of a review forsaken a integrate of mins earlier.

“Yeah,” says Harry, “we customarily had a pursuit final month, my hermit and me. We worked a ship, a Fair Wind—five shows in 20 days for a happening of money. Five vast figures! We knocked a people dead. They weren’t young, between 50 and 65, nonetheless they remembered us. Wc knocked ’em dead!”

His story completed, Harry falls silent. A waitress in a brief toga arrives, and they sequence a white booze for Naomi, a Coke for Harry. The overpower continues a impulse after she leaves until Harry breaks it. “We played here,” he says, indicating a vast lounge, now a keno parlor, about 20 yards behind him. “It was called Nero’s Nook. We non-stop a place. They were failing to get us, had to compensate us a happening of money.” He pauses. “It was customarily a lounge,” he concedes, “but they paid us many some-more than a common loll act. Five vast figures.”

“Harry brought uncover girls into this city for a initial time,” says Naomi.

“Sure,” agrees Harry. “They suspicion we was crazy. The owners of a bar said, ‘They don’t wish girls here. Anyway, they’ll never concede it in Carson City.’ But we brought 6 girls down here from Reno and dressed ’em in shorts. Beautiful!”

“The city was unequivocally opposite then,” observes Naomi.

“Sure,” says Harry. “We were a initial vast act in Vegas, 29, 30 years ago. We were a initial to get 25 grand a week when Bugsy Siegel non-stop a Flamingo. Nice guy. Good-looking boy. If we were personification here today, they’d have to compensate us dual hundred fifty thousand dollars a week. A entertain of a million bucks!”

“That’s a lot of money, my friend.”

Harry looks up, and a solidly built prime male in a grey fit claps a palm on his shoulder. It is AI Rosen, former infielder for a Cleveland Indians and now one of a central hosts for Caesars Palace. He smiles during Harry. “There will be no carrying on in my lounge, sir.”

“Just revelation a few stories,” says Harry.

“Make ’em sweet,” says Rosen, “and not too dirty.” He moves on to another table.

“A good guy,” says Harry. “All a hosts here are good guys. Johnny Weissmuller, he loves me. we used to float with him a lot. And Joe Louis! He sits with us any time we come in here.”

It’s extremely tough to get a disastrous word about anyone out of Harry. Most of his stories have to do with how many he likes someone or how many other people like him. A movement on that thesis has Harry going places, being famous and being told how superb he is. In fast succession, he tells of some kids he met on a travel in Vegas who reported they had arisen during 6 a.m. to locate one of his films on television; of an Italian family, owners of a grill in a Catskills, who wept with fun during his reappearance in their city after a 50-year absence; of Fred Astaire’s revelation a mutual crony how many he admires Harry’s dancing.

Harry recounts a stories in an even tinge and nonetheless extreme hyperbole. They are apparently loyal and he sees no reason to adopt humility. “One reason people like me,” he says during one point, “is given I’m not cruel. we used to do a bit about a deaf guy, nonetheless I’d never use it in a show. It’s not nice. You never know who competence be sitting out there. we never did spastic walks for a same reason. we told Jerry Lewis years ago, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t do that stuff. You do robust dystrophy so because do this?’ He cut it right out. He never did it anymore.”

Harry nods somberly in confirmation of what he has said. Then he pushes his chair from a table, solemnly rises and straightens out his poignant crushed-velvet suit. “I’m going to a toilet.”

“It’s true,” says Naomi when he is gone. “Harry’s a strange Mr. Nice Guy. He’s so sweet, he’s infrequently his possess misfortune enemy. One time he had a Romanian prepare whose cooking was so abounding a alloy systematic him to stop eating it. But Harry couldn’t pierce himself to glow her. Instead he simulated he had to pierce to Europe; he had Bekins come, container all in barrels and transport it away. The subsequent day he took her to a sight and had a vast farewell scene. Then he called Bekins and had them pierce all back.”

She shakes her head. “And a approach he lets people get divided with lifting his material! Harry was a initial one to hurl his eyes—he even spells his name with his eyeballs—but unexpected everybody was doing it, on TV, in a movies….”

Harry, en track behind to a table, has held a final partial of what Naomi is saying. “Mel did things with his eyes in Blazing Saddles, he says, interrupting, “Ben Turpin-type stuff. Very funny.” He pauses. “He’s a unequivocally humorous man. Loves me. I’m going to have a partial in his new picture, Silent Movie. I’m going to be in a tailor-shop bit.”

Naomi takes his palm and gives it a squeeze. “My hermit and we customarily shot a small thing out in Palm Springs they’re gonna call Blazing Stewardesses, he continues. “We did 7 or 8 pieces for this guy, perplexing to crow adult his film a little.”

The opus in doubt is a gloomy small picture, a fraud of a soft-core pound called The Stewardesses, that was thrown together in a integrate of weeks. Harry and Jimmy, featured as “Special Guest Stars,” seem incidentally as comic relief, doing some of their aged nightclub shtick. It took a writer of a film—who had creatively designed to use a Three Stooges until, one by one, they died off on him—over dual months to find a Ritzes. It seems that their agent, once one of a tip group in a margin nonetheless now past 80 and hardly means to expostulate a automobile let alone a tough bargain, had neglected to list them with a Screen Actors Guild.

Harry, of course, would never cruise removing a new agent. Instead, when a brothers were subsequently offering a possibility to seem in a some-more important film, Paramount’s Won Ton Ton, he simply took assign of negotiations himself. “Yeah,” he is observant now, “this is a genuine vast film. It’s about Hollywood in a ’30s, and they used about 40 or 50 vast stars. The problem was, they stranded many of ’em with 30-second bits. Like Ricardo Montalban. He got unequivocally aggravated during what he did, felt he was offered himself cheap. He wasn’t a customarily one. There was Andy Devine, Mickey Rooney, Vic Mature—so many l can’t remember ’em all.”

He stops and pulls himself adult ramrod straight. When he continues, it is with uncharacteristic intensity. “They customarily wanted to give us one line. we threw a book in a director’s face and said, ‘Take this and clean your donkey with it.’ And we finished ’em behind down. We wrote a whole stage for ourselves, as washer-women, and after we shot it, everybody pronounced it was a best thing in a picture. The organisation stood adult and applauded! Jack Carter says they oughta call a film ‘The Ritz Brothers in Won Ton Ton.’”

He sinks into his chair and mutters, “They can’t provide us that way!”

“Tell about a commercial,” prompts Naomi.

Harry straightens behind up. “That’s right. One of a things we did in Won Ton Ton was a famous ‘Don’t holler’ bit. Jimmy starts screaming during me and we say”—he scrooches down, assumes a demeanour of a miserably churned mutt and starts to whine—“‘Don’t holler. Please don’t holler.’ When a design comes out, maybe we’ll get an Alka-Seltzer blurb out of it. Someone will say, ‘I told we not to eat so many and splash so much!’ and I’ll say, ‘Don’t holler.’”

Harry’s chances of doing a blurb will roughly definitely be harm by his insistence that his hermit Jimmy be enclosed in a package. During a march of his career, Harry has had literally hundreds of offers to perform as a single—Darryl Zanuck, for one, wanted to star him, reduction Jimmy and Al, in films—and a accord in a business is that had he left that track he competence have been a array one comic in a country. But Hurry wouldn’t hear of it. Even now he signs his autograph, “Harry Ritz (of a Ritz Bros).” “Listen,” he declares simply, “where we go, my hermit goes.”

As it happens, one of a few Hollywood people of whom Harry speaks with reduction than wholehearted unrestrained is Groucho Marx. “I like him,” he says a bit uneasily, “but we gotta locate him during a right moment.”

“C’mon,” urges Naomi, “there was no faithfulness in that family.”

Harry smiles wanly. “Groucho was … we don’t know. Chico was a honeyed guy, nonetheless he mislaid all his income gambling. Well, we customarily contend if a brother’s down-and-out, we take caring of him once in a while. Groucho finished a lot of money—he’s still creation income with that damn TV uncover of his with a duck—but he never helped. He ran around with a opposite throng from his brothers. We guys did all together. We were best friends.”

“That’s right,” says Naomi. “When we had a residence in Beverly Hills, Jimmy was over 5 nights a week.”

“Of course,” adds Harry a impulse later, “if a right partial comes along, we suspect we would cruise doing a design alone. we mean, we review for a George Burns partial in The Sunshine Boys. And for a Meyer Lansky purpose in Godfather II. That would’ve been fun to do. we know Meyer like a brother. He’s a unequivocally good guy. Bugsy Siegel was also a good guy. Loved to have fun.”

“Tell about a uncover we did for Capone,” says Naomi.

“Yeah,” says Harry, “we once did a uncover for Capone. We were personification a Oriental in Chicago, and one night after a uncover dual of his boys, built like trucks, came over to us. Now we were flattering tough ourselves, from a roughest partial of Brooklyn. we carried a switchblade with me everywhere until 15 years ago. But these guys—” he waves his palm in a gesticulate of helplessness—“forget it. They said, ‘You meeta us outward during eleven-fifteen. We goa to Cicero to doa a uncover for AI.’ At eleven-fifteen they uncover adult with dual armored cars with appurtenance guns everywhere. Jessel and Jolson were there that night, too. Nice guys, nonetheless they were sweating it out that night. You never saw such an audience. Capone applauded, they applauded. He laughed, they laughed. They didn’t know what we were doing, a element was so distant above them.”

Harry smiles during a memory. “Hey,” he announces suddenly, “I haven’t finished my Italian double-talk for a while.” With that, he is off, miraculously gibbering in Italian, though, in fact, he doesn’t pronounce a word of a language. “Hey gambardi,” he exclaims, “che serichi? La superletto vichi en perdo. Vuvo matriarch fellicia della getti.”

A impulse later, nonetheless warning, he shifts gears and starts rising artificial French. “S’il vous plait,” he says, Gallic to a core, “senser le deuil. La patte pnmpée brise le mont, sans sasser Ia guasset. Fleur bébé de l’épace. La presse du belouse est sans tard.”

Naomi is rocking behind and onward with laughter, and Harry is gratified as he can be with himself. “Sentré de l’imelle,” he exclaims, leaping to his feet. “Did we ever notice a approach waiters used to travel during Lindy’s?” And there, in a loll during Caesars Palace, he does his Lindy’s Waiters’ Walk, a flat-footed, bent-kneed, little-old-man’s shuffle. It is hilarious, perfect, and he knows it. He presses vibrantly on. In succession, Harry, flexible as any 20 year aged and as seemly as a ballerina, executes a array of gorgeous comic walks and runs; he walks, disposition neatly brazen as if into a unbending wind; he leans behind and kicks his legs loyal out like a fondle soldier; he walks jauntily ahead, abruptly interlude when he collides with an invisible wall; he strides brusquely, determinedly forward, nonetheless his conduct is incited incongruously to a left and he can't presumably have any suspicion where he is going; he runs with such mad vitality that he creates no brazen swell whatsoever, handling customarily to flog himself regularly in a ass.

“Hey,” he asks, breathless, “you ever see a male with 7 afflictions walking down a street?” Without watchful for an answer, he launches into his pièce de resistance, a impression raid by any possible earthy embarrassment: he walks stiffly forward, his movements herky-jerky like some Rube Goldberg contraption, concurrently limping, farting, sloping dangerously to one side, burping, twitching, wheezing and involuntarily sharpened out an arm to a side. “Count ’em,” he says when he is through, “seven!”

But a impulse after he is behind in his chair; his fun has dead as unexpected as it had arrived mins earlier. “I’ve finished many of those pieces for forty years,” he says softly, “but there isn’t many call for them anymore.”

Naomi picks adult his palm and kisses it. “The 7 afflictions is my favorite,” she says.

“Yeah,” says Harry, “it’s a humorous bit, isn’t it? But there’s no place to do that things anymore. we went behind to a aged studio when we were sharpened Won Ton Ton, but it was all cut up. The pleasing streets were gone. It’s all radio now. we couldn’t even get my bearings. And clubs!” He shrugs. “They’re roughly all gone, even in New York. The Copa’s finished. Ben Marden’s Riviera in Jersey—they’ve finished a highway by it.”

He stands adult to leave. “Ah, what are we gonna do? It’s a whole new business.”


At 7 p.m. a subsequent evening, in what is evidently a pointy mangle with custom, a Ritzes find themselves in a select downtown grill in a Union Plaza Hotel. Harry, duded adult in a blue corduroy suit, has sat sensitively articulate about aged times with his host, a internal uncover business columnist and radio pronounce uncover horde named Forrest Duke, who has newly insincere a purpose of central greeter during a restaurant.

“You know how we got started in this town?” Harry asks now. “Moe Dalítz helped us. He’s a one who suggested Bugsy Siegel to take us.”

“Let me tell we something,” says Duke, a stoop-shouldered, owlish male who calls himself a Duke of Las Vegas, “people have pronounced a lot of bad things about Moe, nonetheless he was one of a tip citizens.”

“He helped build a synagogue,” interjects Naomi.

“That’s right,” says Harry. “I wish those guys would come back. The city hasn’t been a same given they left. These days things are so expensive, we gotta compensate any time we wanna take a pee.”

There is a prolonged pause. “Harry,” says Naomi, “tell about a time we peed in Adolphe Menjou’s hat.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose,” replies Harry. “I suspicion it was Merman’s.” He grins and nuzzles opposite Naomi. “But,” he says, branch behind to Duke, “I do have this one bit about a male peeing during several stages in his life. we can’t do it here—I gotta separate H2O out of my mouth to do it right—but I’ll uncover it to we sometime. You know, when he’s 8 years old, a H2O spills all over a place; when he’s 27, it’s in a sincerely loyal line, good aimed; by a time he gets to be an aged man, it’s purgation out in all directions. It’s a humorous bit.”

During Harry’s story a maître d’, a distinguished-looking lady with an Eastern European accent, has arrived and is hovering over a table. “Pardon me,” he says to Duke, “I wish to tell you. we customarily got a purebred letter—Elisabeth, my daughter, customarily graduated as a neurosurgeon in Germany.”

“That’s wonderful,” says Duke.

“Beautiful,” agrees Harry, to whom a maître d’ immediately hands a print of his daughter. “Beautiful,” says Harry, study it, “a pleasing girl.” He hands behind a photo. “We never played Europe in a lives. They desired a films there—in Paris, in Romania—but we never had time to go. It’s a shame.”

“Hey Harry!”

He swings around to find comedian Mitt Kamen, a star of a play being presented in a Union Plaza showroom, station with outstretched arms. “My favorite,” adds Kamen. They embrace.

“You demeanour great,” says Kamen, a honeyed male with a Cheshire-cat giggle and a incessant squint. He pulls adult a chair to a table. “You know, Pauline Kael was in town, interviewing everybody who ever knew you. we hear she wants to write a vast story about you.”

Harry nods. “Yeah, she loves me.”

“Harry’s essay his autobiography,” says Naomi.

“That’s right,” says Harry proudly. “I’m job it From Rags to Ritzes. It’ll have a lot of good things about a career in it. Not like Berle’s book, when all he did was pronounce about how many girls he screwed.”

“It’s true,” agrees Kamen. “After all this male has done, he dedicated a book to his penis.”

“We used to have a long-schlongs club,” says Harry. “Berle, John Ireland, Gary Morton, me, and Forrest Tucker. Oh, boy, Tucker was tough to beat.”

Kamen grins.

“Hey,” continues Harry, branch to Naomi and Duke, “did we hear a one about a 94-year-old male who goes to a whorehouse? He says, ‘I wish a girl.’ The dame looks during him and asks, ‘How aged are you? You demeanour like you’ve had it.’ The aged male reaches into his pocket. ‘Really?’ he says. ‘How many do we owe you?’”

Harry throws behind his conduct and laughs loudly, assimilated by a others during a table. “Better not tell that to Berle,” says Kamen. “I once told him a unequivocally unhappy story about my life, and a subsequent day he was revelation it during a celebration as if it had happened to him. The male stole my life.” He pauses. “But because am we revelation you?” he adds. “He’s substantially taken some-more from we than anyone else has. Like all a happy bits, all a things in dresses.”

“We were doing faygeleh things 40 years ago,” Harry acknowledges. “We killed ’em with that during a Palace.” He shrugs. “Hey, we wanna see a fag with an wickedness complex?” He purses his lips, covers his face with a off-hand hand, flits his eyes nervously about.

Kamen nods vigorously. “That’s what we mean,” he proclaims to no one in particular. “Without Harry there would be no Berle, no Danny Kaye, no Sid Caesar, no Jerry Lewis! So many concepts and attitudes originated with Harry. Who ever listened of parodying uncover before Harry? Myself, I’m a rarely strong Harry Ritz.”

“All true,” agrees Duke.

“Harry,” says Kamen, branch to him, “you’re a best. I’d give anything to watch we work tonight.”

Harry glances during Naomi. “Yeah,” he says, “but she don’t like me to do clubs here. It’s no use knocking my smarts out.”

She nods. “He works so tough in a act his shirt is shower wet.”

“Anyway,” adds Harry softly, “the business isn’t fun like it used to be.”

Kamen understands. “It’s a elementary statement, nonetheless it’s true. They’re like computers now. They’re inhuman bastards.”

A overpower falls over a table. “You wanna hear something unequivocally sinful?” Everyone turns toward Naomi. “At Grauman’s Chinese Theater they’re ripping out a stars from a ’20s and putting in today’s small TV stars.”

“No,” exclaims Kamen, honestly shocked.

She nods. “Thank God they haven’t gotten around to a ’30s yet.”


Harry has a round during Kamen’s show, a comedy called Norman, Is That You?, about a father finding his son is homosexual. But what he enjoys even some-more is a small debate Kamen delivers after a screen falls: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us tonight one of a biggest comedians who ever lived—and this is from a time when ‘great’ meant something—Harry Ritz.”

Harry stands in response to a acclaim and gives a robust small wave. “Look during that,” he remarks, beaming. “’This always happens when we go out.”

But Harry’s night is not over. Striding by a Union Plaza loll on his approach out of a building, he is accosted by a cocktail pianist, a eager prime male with a goatee, named Page Cavanaugh. “Harry Ritz,” exults Cavanaugh, “mv favorite comedian in a world!” He gives him a robust slap on a back.

“Thank you,” says Harry, delighted. “It’s a pleasure saying we again.”

Cavanaugh turns to Naomi. “This male gave me a biggest giggle we ever had in my life. At a celebration for Gloria De Haven. He did this fabrication of Pegleg Bates and we cried.” He starts chuckling during a unequivocally suspicion of it.

“Oh, yeah,” says Harry. “Pegleg Bates was that colored dancer with one wooden leg.” Without blank a beat, he starts tap-dancing joyously—with an enormous, toothy giggle on his face—but with one leg unbending as a board. It is a tap-hobble, actually, and it is incredible. Page Cavanaugh can't assistance himself; he doubles over and roughly sinks to a floor. “More, more,” is all he can manage.

“Ever see John Barrymore do a Charleston?” asks Harry. He launches into a haughtily proud delivery of that pell-mell dance, holding huge caring to keep his profile—nose slanted somewhat upward—in full perspective during all times.

“Don’t stop,” begs Cavanaugh, his eyes full of tears.

“Remember Deadlegs,” shouts Harry, “the Lon Chaney impression with dual crippled legs? Ever see him do a Charleston?” He sets his face in a ominous glower and swings into a tortured Charleston, picking adult one routine leg and afterwards a other with his hands.

Cavanaugh, who by this time is clutching a chair to keep from collapsing, can no longer speak, and Harry decides to make his exit. He takes Naomi by a arm and starts ushering her from a room. Then he stops. “Charles Laughton didn’t do a Charleston,” he calls back, “but he favourite to watch it.” He puffs out his swell and lets his face go slack. “Mr. Christian,” he demands, in ideal fabrication of Laughton in Mutiny on tho Bounty, “come on rug and do a Charleston for me.” He strides out a doorway as Cavanaugh staggers behind toward his piano.


Outside, in a neon glisten of a Union Plaza entrance, Harry is definitely glowing. He can't stop himself now and he doesn’t even try. He spots a span of tourists a few yards divided watchful for an attendant to broach their car. The tourists are disposition opposite any other, apparently tired from a prolonged night during a gaming tables.

Harry dashes adult to within a yard of where they mount and goes Into his chronicle of a male with a double hernia doing a jig. He jumps around frantically, clutching his crotch, all a while progressing a kind of rhythm.

The integrate glance during him in bewilderment. Harry laughs and runs over to Naomi. “Look during that,” he says, “they consider I’m crazy out of my mind. Look during them examination me.” He shakes his head. “Crazy Harry Ritz, that’s what they’ve been job me for 40 years. No one can contend I’m not as crazy as ever.”

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