Saturday, September 7, 2013

Drama Critic's Tea

Peter Biskind, ed., My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles (NY: Metropolitan Books, 2013), pp. 94-5.

OW: Let me tell you a story about George Jean Nathan, America’s greatest drama critic. George Jean Nathan was the tightest man who ever lived, even tighter than Charles Chaplin. And he lived for forty years in the Hotel Royalton, which is across from the Algonquin. […] He never tipped anybody in the Royalton, not even when they brought the breakfast, and not at Christmastime. After about ten years of never getting tipped, the room-service waiter peed slightly in his tea. Everybody in New York knew it but him. The waiters hurried across the street and told the waiters at the Algonquin, who were waiting to see when it would finally dawn on him what he was drinking! And as the years went by, there got to be more and more urine and less and less tea. And it was a great pleasure for us in the theater to look at a leading critic and know that he was full of piss. And I, with my own ears, heard him at the 21 [Club] complaining to a waiter, saying, “Why can’t I get tea here as good as it is at The Royalton?” That’s when I fell on the floor, you know.