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Billy Reed's Little Club Ashtray

Billy Reed's Little Club Ashtray

$269.00

Billy Reed was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. He left home at the age of 14 to work in a minstrel show, then worked in burlesque. At the age of 21, he was a member of the "Gordon, Reed and King" trio performing vaudeville at the Palace Theatre in New York. He wrote some gags for Bob Hope and Al Jolson, taught himself tap dancing, and did the first male tap-dancing routine in a talkie movie (dancing to "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips" with Ann Pennington in "Gold Diggers.") Later he performed in films such as "Laugh Parade," Cole Porter's "Fifty-million Frenchmen," and "42nd Street," and was dance director and assistant producer at the Copacabana.

During the Second World War, Reed served in the Navy. While stationed in Paris, he hit upon the desire to open in New York the type of café he'd seen in Paris, with both good food and good music. When he was discharged at the end of the war, he raised enough cash to open the "Little Club" on New York's East Side at 70 East 55th Street on February 26,1947.

For the opening, he took a chance on an unknown singer named Doris Day. She had just finished up as lead vocalist for the Les Brown orchestra, and was about to appear in the film called "Romance on the High Seas." She appeared at the "Little Club" on her own as a soloist. She was a huge hit and helped to put Billy's on the map. Billy's club could seat up to 125 people. Outside, it had a peppermint-striped canopy (designed by Russell Patterson), which became the club's insignia.

Billy's was known for its Caesar Salad, in fact it was the first restaurant in America to serve Caesar Salad, and popularized it as the press became aware that the stars eating there were consuming this "garlic" salad. In October of 1956, a water-main into the club burst, so Reed served champagne to anyone asking for water.

Offered is an extremely rare memento from Billy Reed's Little Club, an original oversize ashtray.

Billy Reed's Little Club Ashtray
Item #02368

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