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Never say goodbye!
Andy Cohen of Bravo Net and former Claytonian: “I say I’m a fluffer for straight guys, because I get their wives hopped up and then I’m gone in a half hour.” A former Howard Johnson’s on S. Lindbergh Rd. was acquired by Wade DeWoskin and dubbed “Wade’s: A Gathering Place,” but headlined in a searing review by Post-Dispatch’s dining out critic Joe Pollack: “Howie, Please Come Home!” Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.’s arrival at the Muny for the Prof. Higgins role in “My Fair Lady” was greeted by the wellborn here. The half-Jewish actor born and raised in Los Angeles had developed a Brit accent. A young woman who worked at the outdoor theater got involved in an affair with him and vowed the attache he carried contained porn to seduce women. Robert Hyland of KMOX fame fell into a real estate trap on the riverfront and became concerned about having a last will and testament. He summoned then-barrister Michael Lazaroff to his inner sanctum. The lawyer pulled out his pad and pen and asked Hyland which lawyer handled it the first time. “Lawyer? I didn’t need a lawyer,” shot back Hyland. An SSM staffer got reprimanded for using the word “abort” concerning his computer. By day’s end, a memo came from above to the entire workforce to never use that word again. Wonder why the house on Litszinger Rd. owned by the late Gertrude and William Bernoudy had a carport instead of a garage? William studied under Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s and was taught “a car is an outdoor animal.” “Never Trust an Editor” was emblazoned on a t-shirt given to me at the newspaper. It stemmed from the fact that rectangular then-copy editor Gail Pennington created an error by rewriting an item in my column. I had written a correction “due to an editing error,” which she spiked. Strange that the late Whitney Harris reaped more national and international publicity than in his hometown of St. Louis for his work under Justice Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg Trial of Nazi criminals. His wife, Jane Harris, got more publicity for her charitable endeavors. Perhaps because she wore a different orchid in her hair each day. At a Clayton restaurant I introduced the Rev Roy Pfautch, a devoted Republican, to Demo party’s John Temporiti. After Temporiti left to join his party, Roy excused himself saying, “I have to wash my hands after shaking a Democrat’s hand.” Dinner was being prepared at Sally Bixby Defty’s house for her best friends including Emmy and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. While a gaggle of women worked in the kitchen, Joe Pulitzer popped in and asked, “How can I help?”
A TESTIMONIAL DINNER was given in honor of my birthday in the Tenderloin Room. Among the guests was Cardinal Football owner Bill Bidwill, who sprung to his feet and announced, “I was afraid not to come.” Various charities had asked me to offer a dinner or lunch “with Jerry Berger.” One of the prizes was won by an elderly couple from Ladue. During the meal at Faust’s at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, the wife waxed on about her late father and with a tear in her eye: “Mr. Berger, he was so gracious and adventuresome. As a matter of fact he was a captain int he Luftwaffe and bombed the hell out of England.” One of the most interesting characters in his day was Joe Morrissey, pioneer of Gulf Shores Resort in Alabama. It seemed he was running out of money and began pitching financial institutions to bail him out. During a meeting with an S&L board in Dallas, he was refused help and at the end of the confab, he stretched a leg on the table, took off a boot, scratched his foot and asked, “What do you do for athlete’s foot?”  A few board members contributed their own suggestions. One later said, he’s (Morrissey) a “helluva guy and let’s go with an investment.” Savvy as he was, Morrissey continued to lose big bucks until he was no longer involved with the resort.


Let you in on a little secret. When naysayers used to phone me and lodge complaints about items, I would respond with “of course.” That always seemed to calm and somewhat tranquilize them into saying things such as, “Well, thanks for returning my call” or such. I learned that from the late Rose Bigman, Walter Winchell’s “girl Friday. I was working at Paramount Pictures in NYC during that time.
Walter Winchell died penniless and friendless and was somewhat forgotten as the most powerful columnist in the world. I had access to him through Rose, who may be remembered by listeners to Charlie Brennan’s show on KMOX Radio. Asked what she thought of Neil Gabler’s biographical tell-all about Winchell, Rose shot back on the air, “Gabler is a son-of-a-bitch for not showing us the proofs.”
THE PATH OF MY CAREERS is littered with bon mots and here are just a few.
LIZA MINNELLI was preoccupied with her financial problems while performing here. She asked me for advice. I went to Chase-Park Plaza owner, the late Harold Koplar, if the entertainer could work something out. Koplar hatched the plan for Minnelli to appear in a television spot campaign to herald, “In St. Louis, my home away from home is the Chase-Park Plaza.” The spot was aired in blitz campaigns throughout the region and Minnelli’s debt for her suite was forgiven.
LAUREN BACALL always reminded me of the grim reaper given her contentious and sordid personality. While taking a walk with her and her pooch, we discussed the current slate of Broadway shows that included the long run of the blockbuster, “The Sound of Music,” Bacall grimaced and intoned, “That’s pure shit!.”
ELVIS PRESLEY was the embodiment of a shy, lost child craving for his loved ones.. Offstage, he was anxious to bond with his family. I was with 20th Century-Fox and assigned to Memphis for publicity chores on his starring movie, “Wild in the Country.” We had dinner at the upscale restaurant, Justine’s, and he asked if I could please arrange a private screening of the movie for him and his family. I excused myself to make a battery of phone calls. Presto! It was arranged for midnight the next day at the old Loew’s Theater. With his feet resting on a seat in front of him, Presley sheepishly asked if he could get some popcorn for all. The concession stand was closed at that time and I sent an usher scurrying about downtown Memphis and then to service stations where they depleted the supplies of  packaged popcorn. Presley was thrilled when the usher returned with a helper. Years later, when he appeared at the Kiel Auditorium, i was backstage and noticed his bodyguards grabbing a man who wanted  to meet Elvis. There was a kerfuffle leading one of the guards to shout, “He’s carrying heat!” Finally, the stranger smiled,  pulled out his badge and identified himself as St. Louis Police Chief Gene Camp. Presley left his dressing room and apologized to the chief.
MURTAUGH GUINNESS, an heir to the brew company, basked in story-telling. At one of his parties given in his townhouse on NYC’s east side, he regaled me with an interesting tidbit. Seems that socialite and twice-divorced Duchess of Windsor invited a friend for high tea at her Waldorf Astoria Towers suite. The friend asked the duchess’ secretary if she could bring along Elsie Guggenheim. The secretary:”I’m afraid her grace does not mix well with Jews” to which the friend responded, “And I don’t think Elsie mixes well with whores.”
MASTERS’ JOHNSON‘S VIRGINIA JOHNSON, when I asked from which university she was awarded a degree, she replied, “I got an honorary degree from the University of Louisville.”
ETHEL MERMAN ON GEORGE GERSHWIN: “He was a cross-dresser.”
ANGELA LANSBURY, whose husband was busted on The Stroll while she performed in “Mame” at the Muny.
MICHAEL JACKSON had bonded with our mutual friend and former St. Louisan, Alvin Malnik. They became so close that Malnik had a stage built along his Palm Beach mansion for Jackson to rehearse for an upcoming engagement. (Jackson exited California in the wake of negative publicity.) In honor of Jackson’s birthday, Malnik feted him with a gala dinner party at son Shareef Malnik’s fashionable restaurant, The Forge. Jackson couldn’t have been more charming in greeting some of the guests that included Sharon
Stone, Edward Norton, Cliff Perlman
and Ada “Bricktop” Smith.
Through the years working at two motion picture companies, Paramount and 20th Century Fox, I had the priviliege of knowing and working with such leading producers/directors/studio chiefs  as Darryl F. Zanuck, Spyros Skouras, Otto Preminger, Hal Wallis
and Billy Wilder. I have been grateful to them for all I’ve learned about the human culture. I’ve never forgotten the support I gained from previous employers Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., G. Duncan Bauman, Robert Hyland, William Zalken, Edwin R. Cuiver, III, Harold Koplar and  Thomas Dunne, Sr.
Kudos to all those who’ve commented on BERGERSBEAT.COM including Kitty, Towncar, Cynical and Eagle.
Now, I’m closing another chapter of my life and look forward to my retirement in Coral Springs, Florida.



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