I’ve got the best handyman. He fixes stuff at my pal Drew Struzan‘s home, too. Repairman to the Stars!
One of the stars he used to regularly do work for was Edna, the daughter of Eddie Cantor. She used to regale him with tales of Old Hollywood whenever he worked at her place. Here’s one he told me a few minutes ago that blew my mind.
One day Edna revealed to him that she was writing her memoirs. She asked if he’d like to read some of what she had written. He (I’m not using his name because he left and don’t know if he’d want to be identified. You’ll realize why at the end of the story) leaped at the chance.
In her youth, Edna was a knockout. At around age 25, she got a call from a girl friend, asking Edna if she’d like to see this hot comedian at a local club. Edna was up for it and they went.
After the show, the girlfriend mentioned the comedian they just saw and asked, “Would you like to go backstage and meet him? He’s a friend of mine.”
Edna thought that might be fun. Backstage, the comedian was very gracious and obviously attracted to Edna.
“Look,” he said. “I’ve got another show to do tonight. Give me your number and I’ll call you after the show and we can get together.”
Edna gave him her number, and then returned home. Sure enough, about two hours later, Edna received a call from him. They agreed that he should come over to her place for drinks.
A knock on the door a while later. Edna answers the door. Instead of politely greeting Edna, the comedian makes a beeline for the wall of Edna’s living room. Hanging on the wall is a huge portrait of Edna’s father, Eddie Cantor.
For the next fifteen minutes, the comedian did the best impression of Eddie Cantor that Edna had ever seen.
“He was astounding. It was like my father had been brought to life!”
Edna had no idea this comedian was such a huge fan of her father’s work, especially since this comedian’s stage show and style of humor had nothing whatsoever in common with Eddie Cantor’s persona and material.
Edna wandered into the kitchen.
“What are you doing?” asked the comedian.
“I’m making myself a drink.”
“A Tom Collins. Would you like one?”
” I don’t drink.”
You could have knocked Edna over with a feather. This comedian’s reputation was just the opposite, a real reputation of self abuse.
“Really. I’ll be happy to make you whatever drink you’d like.”
“Honestly — I don’t drink alcohol. I try to keep my body as pure and clean as possible. Have you got any V-8?”
She fixed him up with some V-8 juice. Not long after he finished the drink, he looked at his watch.
“I’m sorry, Edna. I gotta go.”
They said their goodbyes and he left.
About two hours later, at around four in the morning, Edna’s phone rings. It’s the comedian.
“I think I left my wallet on your kitchen counter. I need it really bad. Could you call a messenger service and have it brought over to me? Just take a hundred bucks out of the wallet for your trouble.”
Edna fetched the wallet.
“There’s a lot of money in here. You sure you want me to messenger it over? I could bring it to you myself tomorrow.”
“No. I’m with some guys. I really need to pay them some money I owe them. Right now.”
“Okay,” said Edna. “But I don’t want you to ever call me again.”
“You got it.”
Edna called the messenger service. The wallet was picked up and delivered to the comedian. Edna put two and two together, suspecting that the “some guys” were members of the Mob.
About a week or two later, she read that this teetotaling comedian she met had died of an “overdose”.
His name was Lenny Bruce.
Edna’s memoirs were read by only three people. Then she destroyed them. She passed away not long after that.