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JERRY BERGER SAYS GOODBYE

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.

45 Responses to “JERRY BERGER SAYS GOODBYE”

  • m says:

    Oh – there is no one who hobnobs with the celebs and local A-list folks to learn the behind the scenes interesting details. Let’s hope our Jerry Berger is not remembered like the sad paragraph about Walter Winchell dying penniless and unforgotten. I remember his radio program that started out to “All our ladies and men – and all the ships at sea”. Guess that gives a hint as to my age.

    NOW – WHO wants to step up and feed the newspaper or a link to a new website with the behind the scenes or activities of well-known folks???

  • George Noory says:

    Mr. Berger,

    You will be missed. You ARE St.Louis and I have learned many things from you since my arrival in 1979.
    Enjoy Florida and thank you

    George Noory

  • D. J. Fone says:

    Congrats on a life well lived and served, Jerry. You have earned the retirement of your dreams. Thanks so much for all the insider scoops and news, whether it honored or embarrassed its subject. A lot of powerful and famous people NEED to be embarrassed from time to time.

    As much as we’ll all miss you, I do hope whomever has been your sports news (ahem) “reporter” also retires and leaves town, but for wholly different reasons.

  • DLIMBO says:

    There is no good in “goodbye.”

  • Mike Owens says:

    Jerry…
    Wow, this is a blockbuster…good thing you saved it until the end.

    You’ve always entertained St. Louis. You should be proud of your many accomplishments.

    Good luck Babe.

    Owens

  • Mickey says:

    I will always remember when you were queried about the source of your info on Bill Pagano you never gave me up. The amateurs in the reporters area never found your source of all of the supposed “confidential” facts. Great seeing the ‘gossip columnist’ with the scoop. Bill Mc never figured it out.

  • Mary Hediger says:

    Jerry –

    Always enjoyed talking with you, and working with you when you would cover my not-for-profit clients and their events. Will miss you and your column. Enjoy your retirement!

  • Mike says:

    JER-RY … I can remember Bill Zalken calling out for you in the tiled halls of The Muny. And when Dorothy Lamour’s husband Bill Howard lambasted TWA for all the Wrong Reasons … and your emphatic use of the “C” word when Lauren Bacall gave me a shopping bag of used liquor bottles as a tip for driving her to and from the Chase to The Muny … As VARIETY might headline, “Wotta Summer!” (It was 1971.) I miss the beautiful and sweet Shirley (and Momma) sitting in the heat before the overture started to a Rodgers & Hammerstein or Meredith Willson show. It was you, Jerry, who started me on my path to New York City (derailed only temporarily by your friend Robert Rolnick! – did I get the name right?) and I barely looked back. It was always good to catch up with you whenever I got back to St. Louis … and now that I’m back for good, you’re up and leaving! But you will be happy in Coral Springs, and I’m looking for forward to the new blog, “Coral Springs Catcalls.”

  • Mickey says:

    Maybe a Mc Cormicks extra dry with 3 olives at “The Club” on me, of course? See you at our place in Venice hopefully..

  • Zenalyst says:

    Yummm! Great teaser for THE BOOK! We await with eager anticipation!

  • KITTY says:

    Oh, no! Say it isn’t so! Jerry, The Beloved Bergermeister, you are to gossip as Robert Osborne was to TCM – Iconic Legends both. Now you have to bid adieu, leaving us with nowhere to gather. No where to vent. Mine eyes are misty just thinking of you leaving us. Life will go on but will never be the same without you. Now we must also bid farewell to our mutual online friends – fellow Berger’s-Beaters who made this place unique. I will miss the all the banter and hissing and the clink of knives clashing and all of the hoopla and uproar amongst us regular posters. I will miss the learned and gentlemanly Towncar the most. Some I shan’t miss at all. Others I will try to forget. And I know there are those who will never miss me and my sharp tongue and acerbic wit, but that’s the way it goes. Good, bad, right or wrong, I take pride in being the Lightning Rod that stirred the pot and fired up the emotions of the likes of Retired1 and Eagle and Joe Hanon. I wear with pride the scars from all the slings and arrows I endured in this wonderful forum.

    Rest assured, Jerry, you have left an indelible mark on all of us ,and St. Louis in general. I am so very proud to have known you over forty years. While all things must eventually come to an end, this is one ending that should not. I guess it would be too much to ask you reconsider and stay, and continue to regale us with your wit and tales until you take your last breath. But, since that won’t happen, we can only wish you the very best in Florida. Know that we all love you. And never forget that to the Victor goes the spoils! You came, you saw, you conquered. And never forget, you were better than Walter Winchell any day and twice on Sunday!

    God Bless You.

    Love, Kitty

  • Paula Wills says:

    This news is surreal, you own that town!! I mean I’m thrilled for you, of course, you’ve more than earned a happy retirement. And even happier because I live in Lauderdale by the Sea, just east from Coral Springs til you hit the ocean. So maybe we’ll brunch at The Floridian or in Boca someday? Sorry to ramble but…I just wouldn’t know where to start, trying to thank you for making me/us almost famous, or for the many late night confabs and scandal recaps, some with Shirley, in the Tack Room…and Chase Poolside with The Stones, Nureyev, on and on…and of course Balaban’s. I’m thinking Facebook live for you now. Airkiss, Paula

  • Jeff Klayman says:

    Jerry…Just because you’re giving up the marathon that doesn’t mean you have to forsake the dash. You are what you are, and that means a stylish writer. After a bit, you probably will have second thoughts and continue to share your gift, even on a sporadic basis. Or maybe you’ll change your mind and write that book! In any case, best of luck and best of health. We’ll miss you.

    JK and LK

  • RETIRED1 says:

    Good,no more infantile and uninformed rants from Kitty and Clowncar07. Now let me get back to my business of getting that incompetent clown Trump bounced from office via impeachment and imprisonment!!

  • cynical says:

    God Bless and keep you, Jerry. You have brought many a laugh, sigh, tear and nostalgia to all who have had the opportunity to share your wonderful blog. You will always be remembered as a compassionate person, albeit a delightful
    s— disturber. Never a dull moment.

    Enjoy your well deserved retirement.

  • buttinsky says:

    I never thought I’d live to see the day when Jerry would ankle the business. Good luck.

  • Richard Balducci says:

    The last REAL Journalist has now left St. Louis. The Earth now loses another great treasure due to Today’s endless pursuit of Tomorrow. Jerry Berger knew ALL the secrets before they became secrets. And nobody on Earth can compose a whip-smart sentence that combines wit, snap, pop, and zowie ( ! ) like he can. Good Luck and Good Fortune in Paradise, Jerry; reading your “collyums” was always fun and a privilege! I miss you already.

  • Poguemahone says:

    Coral Springs is better because of your residence….and ther is a hole in St Louis heart!

    All good wishes for your health and happiness.

    L&K

  • Joe Hanon says:

    Both you and your blog will be sorely missed, Jerry!
    So too will be missed the replys of Towncars’ and Kittys’ and Eagles’–
    all of whom were excellent, and in Kitty’s case most of times were
    hilarious, if not scurrilous!
    I wish you happy and contented days of your time, and
    as the bard said “….Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
    That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

  • KITTY says:

    MAY 26TH: BREAKING NEWS – STL TODAY.COM

    This evening at Jones Dome, a Whos Who crowd of 24,367 gathered to celebrate The Life and Times of Jerry Berger in a farewell sendoff gala that made the Swells at Mar-a-Lago envious. It was an evening filled with merriment, mirth and mayhem.

    Spotted amongst the crowd of The Haves was Bob Costas, sporting a new face lift and hair transplant, who was talking to Bill McClellen, looking as sad and forlorn as The French Lieutenant’s Woman, longing for the return of that sailor who sat next to him for years at the Missouri Bar and Grill and who abandoned him all those long years ago. But tonight was Bill’s lucky night. Just as he was about to amble off for another Jamesons, his beloved sailor came walking into the room, coughing up a storm, and being steadied by two Secret Service agents who kept her upright. After tears and a warm embrace, the sailor resplendent in a plaid pants suit, grabbed Bill by the hand and lovingly escorted him to the bar. At the other end of the bar stood Cindy Preszler who was so white and pale no one recognized her. Seems that new gig with John Beal Roofing
    Company doesn’t come with the perk of a tanning bed.

    Grandstanding in the center of the dome were Lynn Beagle and Mary Junk. Beagle was gloating about the 1,356 Talking Heads she hired and subsequently fired after only six weeks on the job. Junk was talking to a reporter from The Evening Whirl about the $1M bonus she was awarded by the Board of Lee Enterprises for bankrupting the company and then brining it back to solvency. Lee’s stock immediately shot up and closed the day at fourteen cents a share – a six year high.

    The highlight of the evening was the arrest of the bombastic pompous jackass lawyer, Terry Poopen, Chief of Detectives James Hackett arrested Poopen after he was caught dropping grapes from one end of the dome to the other. Seems he was drumming up business for his Slip and Fall lawfirm, Clown and Poopen. As luck would have it, while Hackett was leading the handcuffed Poopen out of the dome to an awaiting paddy wagon, Poopen slipped on one of his own grapes and fell face down into the crotch of Cardinal Raymond Burke, injuring two choir boys, ages 7 and 9, hidden under his vestments. Before Hackett could get Poopen upright, lawyer Ken Chackass appeared from out of nowhere with David Clohessey and Judy Jones, each holding big bags of cash Chackass gave them for referring the two choir boys to him. Looking unfazed, Cardinal Burke stood up, and raised his skirts to make sure a third choir boy was uninjured. Content with that, he sashayed off to the bar to join Bill and the Sailor, already in the depths of their fourth drink – she babbling on about how she would have won the election on October 27th. Poopen put up a struggle and began hollering – You can’t arrest me, I am the worlds greatest and winningist lawyer! The crowd roared LOCK HIM UP. LOCK HIM UP. LOCK HIM UP. When the Sailor heard that, she stood up, looked around, and fled, believing Comey had finally come to arrest her. McClellan, finally wising up and taking a sober breath, took off his I’m With Her button, threw it into the tip jar before ordering a round for the house. Unbeknownst to him, it was an open bar.

    The Bergermeister was so overwhelmed at the outpouring of love, tears welled up in his eyes. He whispered to his pal Floyd Warmann that the last time he shed tears was forty years ago when Carl’s Two Cents Plain put too many onions on his knish. The ceremony ended when Jerry was bestowed with the title of Restauranteur of the Year Emeritus by Vince Bommarito. Looking somewhat shocked, Jerry politely asked why he deserved such an honor. “Because you were responsible for closing more restaurants you’re your typewriter than all the citations issued by the health department during the past forty years combined!”

    The evening ended when Jerry took the stage for the last time, tears in his eyes, and said in a whisper so loud it was even heard in Collinsville “I Love You Babes!” He then ankled his way to an awaiting JED limousine and was taken to the Spirit of St. Louis airport where Tony Novelly’s privae jet – Texas Tea – awaited him for his flight to Florida. He walked up the steps, turned, and gave that famous Victory sign made famous by Richard Nixon. He blew a kiss to his well wishers, dabbing the tears from his eyes, knowing he was leaving behind thousands of people who love him dearly. Old Journalists Never Die. They just fade away into the Florida sunset like so many columns of yore. Gone, but never forgotten, and forever loved!

  • Mike Wolff says:

    Dear Jerry,

    Please write a book. “All the News That Wasn’t
    Fit” — you have untold volumes.

    Or, enjoy retirement, whatever the hell that is, and remember to annoy your neighbors.

    Best wishes,
    Mike

  • Mike Wolff says:

    Dear Jerry,
    Please write a book. “All the News That Wasn’t Fit.” You have many untold volumes.

    Or, enjoy retirement, whatever the hell that is. And remember to annoy your neighbors now and then.

    Thanks for nearly 50 years of scoops, scooplettes, wisdom and assorted bullshit. It has been a great run.

    Best wishes,

    Mike

  • ino2 says:

    Farewell,Jerry. You will be sorely missed. And thanks to Kitty for leaving us with a final bit of wit and humor on this orherwise sad occasion. I will miss Bergers Beat bigly.

  • Jeffrey Stiffman says:

    You will be sorely missed. We’ve been in STL for fifty-two years, so many of them enriched by your columns. Maybe write that book – or a blog of memories.

  • Celeste says:

    Dear Jerry,

    Your wit and take on all that is St. Louis and its actors will be forever missed. Thank you for you and all you have provided to us, your audience, all these years. And thank you for you know what. You will be missed.

  • You were always the first place St Louis turned to read about itself. You were one of a kind Jerry. Good Luck and Good night.

  • msmarylandavenue says:

    Sir, you have surely earned your retirement. Enjoy it in good health.

    Back in the day, I used to work for one of your best sources (and at times, worst enemies). Your column was the first thing I read in the AM, before work.

    Now when are we going to see that book?

  • Bob Kelly says:

    Best of luck on your move to Florida, Jerry! You will be sorely missed in St. Louis. I thoroughly enjoyed being your colleague at the Post-Dispatch.

  • TOWNCAR says:

    All good (and bad) things must succumb to an age when sweet turns sour. BergersBeat a place that could read like a Mickey Spillane paperback or a version of The St. Louis Social Register. Entertaining on both ends.

    Speaking of both ends, I thought Retired1 died from a Hellary Hernia, not being able to remain after his rants gave the former President in waiting that turned into a hilarious temper tantrum that showed her real feminine underside. Yes, that’s the Retired1 I remember, one with an underside worthy of barnacles and kelp as a health food, and emetic all in one. Goodbye forever, I will fondly remember you are indeed a living brass spittoon, and my late wife deposits the first spit. I follow right behind.

    And then there is Kitty, that put both humor and perspective that many thought hilarious and a skewering panoply of satire and straight facts. Kitty and I have corresponded on occasion, I still don’t know her name as I requested it best if anonymity were in the interest of objectivity. Turns out I will miss her remarks, but we have each other’s emails.

    The Eagle was a puzzle that I both liked and “hated” as he could disagree without being disagreeable, at least to me and while I take my opinions as facts, because after all my politics are to the right of RUSH…who BTW since the contested election has increased his audience to 26 MILLION up from 20MIL. Good luck to Eagle, he is one of a few here that I would not mind enjoying raising a glass or two, another is Joe Hanon, and others that at least show that the word conservative can be debated but not hated.

    I actually do drive a Towncar, have an 8 seat Sabreliner “Maybellene” as my method of Express mobility…live a normal life in a normal suburb, I would ask anyone interested at all to just follow me on FaceBook, and see genius in the real.

    Now, the curtain falls, Mr. Berger has a well-earned retirement, a man with steamer trunks full of notes and celebrities words of wisdom, an acquaintance list that must number in the tens of thousands, I wish you all the best, and best of all a continued long life basking in the sun and making new friends everywhere you roam. It’s been a blast, now it becomes a Fare-thee-well and a joyful yet somber GOODBYE.

  • alert says:

    Kitty, if you don’t start your own website, you are missing a big opportunity.

  • Eagle says:

    Kitty…You’re an excellent satirist. Poor on politics. Keep writing. TC…Hope those dratted muslims don’t get ye! Retired1…glad to see you’re still alive. Everyone else…sad occassion. The Eagle has landed.

  • Larry Ball says:

    The guy’s nuts…grab’em.

  • John F says:

    Thanks for all the laughs over the years. Remember finding Jerry Falwell at Tucker’s? What about pool parties on Sundays at Stanns? Best wishes on your retirement.

  • KITTY says:

    Thank you Eagle.You were worthy adversary….woefully misguided but worthy nontheless. I will miss this forum bigly.So, I ask is there another blog we can all flock to and continue our inue

  • KITTY says:

    Thank you Eagle.You were worthy adversary….woefully misguided but worthy nontheless. I will miss this forum bigly.So, I ask is there another blog we can all flock to and continue our banter. I would start my own but have no idea how to do so. Regardless it was one hellava good ride! Now everyone plead with Jerry to post some connents from Florida as he certainly vould. This would keep our Band of Brothers in tact!!

  • KITTY says:

    Anyone who would like to stay ib toych, my email is vfyuccs@aol.com.

  • Joel Harris says:

    Jerry
    You have been an institution to St.Louis; from the first time we met at the Muny, in the last century, through your contributions at the Globe Democrat and onto the Post Dispatch. I have great memories of meeting you in the CWE, especially when my son, Josh, was just 3 years old, on to reading your emails, and your expertise. You will be missed; have a happy life in Florida.

  • Jeff Collins says:

    Jerry,

    You’ve been part of my life since I was a wee lad in the old morning Globe-Democrat and everything that followed. DO write that book while you remember everything, though I’d guess you’re a copious note-taker and clipper. Enjoy Florida. Laugh, live, remember.

    Jeff Collins
    KYKY / KEZK
    St. Louis

  • William Fleischman says:

    Jerry….good luck and good health. Enjoy your retirement. It’s sad to see a part of St. Louis history leaving our town. Remember us in January when we’re fighting the cold, snow and ice. Take care.

    Bill

  • Stel Pontikes says:

    Σου εύχομαι τα καλύτερα !! I wish you all the best, Jerry.

    My funniest memory…you covered our Y98 Benefit Softball Game against Billy Joel and his road crew
    back in the ’80s at Forest Park when he was at the Arena, and you “accused” me of being a ringer. Ha!

    Enjoy Florida, my friend.

    Stel Pontikes
    Y98/KEZK
    CBS Radio – St. Louis

  • David Slay says:

    Babe:
    I cannot thank you enough for your friendship over the years and being a part of your family sharing so many special occasions together. Weddings, birthdays and sadly funerals. The laughs with Hank, JV, Keith and many more will be forever embedded in my mind.
    I am grateful for all you did to help my career and never have forgotten that.
    Enjoy retirement.

    My best
    David

  • Eagle says:

    John…Might be a good idea given that we only live less than two miles apart and were once in first grade together. Miss Holman?

  • TOWNCAR says:

    ^^^Eagle if that was meant for me, yes that’s fine as I was in kindergarten and first grade…I fondly remember Miss Bennett, but have no recollection of Miss Holman. You are speaking of the “original Ladue School” of course.

    Now, trying to find the time for something in-depth and not just a hello-goodbye…my immediate time is full with few social things, but clerical demands that give me indigestion, and then I head to Michigan for the summer.

    I could leave my email or cell, but with the eyes prying, that could prove dangerous, especially if those pesky muslim radicals were to interfere. [JOKE…:>)) ]

    Since you know where I live, leave a note in the front storm door handle suggesting a phone number and we can take it from there. If nothing else, it might be interesting.

  • Eagle says:

    Jerry…Last question. Myron thought the demise of Gaslight came mainly from opposition from Harold Koplar and Mayor Cervantes. Any thoughts?

    j

  • shometaterhater says:

    SOFT SHOE EDIE!!!!! SOFT SHOE…….who remembers that ?

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