Welcome to Flashback Friday!  The title above had you guessing a bit, didn’t it?  Maybe I’m running amok and reviewing some chick-lit book about new mommies?

First dolphins, then storks…what’s next, faeries and unicorns?

Bwahaha…

Well, thanks to restaurant historian Jan Whitaker – who is graciously allowing me to re-post her fabulous material – you will be reassured that I have not gone ’round the bend (yet).  The Stork Club, in fact, was a popular New York nightclub of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, when it finally fell into decline.

Here’s the first part of the story, with a link to the rest.  Enjoy!

Find of the Day: the Stork Club

by Jan Whitaker

image via Jan Whitaker

It seems harder all the time to find interesting things at flea markets and vintage paper shows, but I got lucky at Brimfield last week and turned up an unfamiliar Stork Club postcard. What is special is that it dates from before the nightclub/restaurant’s 1934 move to its well known address just off Fifth Avenue on East 53rd Street in NYC.

The postcard shows some of the “Stork’s” entertainers just before the era when its patrons became bigger attractions than its performers. When debutante Brenda Frazier, featured on the cover of Life magazine in 1938, started coming, attention shifted to who was seated at the tables. The early dinner crowd was followed by a late-night set of glamorous publicity seekers, many of them movie stars. Proprietor Sherman Billingsley installed a telephone at the entrance so that the orchestra could strike up an appropriate tune as celebrities were escorted to their tables. [William Boyd, aka Hopalong Cassidy, pictured]

image via Jan Whitaker

To feed the celebrity mill, newspaper columnist Walter Winchell, always at table no. 50, informed all America of the evening’s highlights the next day. Billingsley had his own radio and TV shows for many years [a 1946 photo shows him interviewing some of the club’s stars]. During its prime in the 1930s and 1940s the Stork Club was the country’s best known nightclub. It’s closest rival was El Morocco. There could never be any doubt about the location of photos taken at the Stork Club thanks to the club’s black and white ashtrays and oversized matchbooks which always appeared prominently.

To read the rest of this fascinating story (including the shady background of the proprietor, and more photographs), click here.

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Isn’t her stuff cool?  Here are two other posts she has shared on this site:

19th century waitresses in bloomers

Evelyn Nesbit’s Tea Room

Jan, thank you so much for your generosity!  Show Jan some blog love over at her site, Restaurant-ing Through History, and check out her non-fiction books about the history of tea-rooms and early American department stores, at janwhitaker.net.  They are treasure troves for history buffs.

Until next time,

Kathy

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