Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Willies!

So I'm looking at the digitized back issues of the New Yorker to see what they said about the first American production of WAITING FOR GODOT - the one that starred Bert Lahr (yes, the Cowardly Lion.) They had alot to say, but more about that later because I was surprised to bump into our old friend Willie the Whaler!

I blogged about Willie yesterday, but I thought his ad was kind of a one-off, really I didn't think about it too much. But I found him in the December 7, 1940 issue, the May 19, 1956 issue and the February 25, 1961 issue. The Willie the Whaler ad campaign went on for at least 21 years!

This is Willie in 1940, obviously influenced by WWII:



And here he is in 1961:


Clearly the guy who owns the ship on which Willie toils is a sadist, since what Willie is saying here, I believe, is that this is his punishment for helping himself to the on-board alcohol provisions. Although another possible reading is that the owner is deeply homophobic.

You can see in this ad that the hotel in which the Whaler Bar was located changed its name from Midston House to Hotel Lancaster. It changed its name again, as the New York Times explains on September 11, 1983:
When it was built in 1923, the Midston House, at the corner of 38th Street and Madison Avenue, was conceived as a club-style hotel, with much of its space devoted to lounges and public rooms.

But in a major renovation in the early 1960's the lounge space was converted into a street-level restaurant and the coffee shop was expanded.

At that time, the hotel was renamed the Lancaster.

The 60-year-old hotel is again undergoing a face lift, and it again is getting a new name, Madison Towers. ''We are not trying to recreate the interior design of the old hotel but capture some of that elegant atmosphere,'' said Mary Diem, vice president and managing director.

The architectural firm of Laurence Werfel and Associates is responsible for much of the $5 million renovation project. So far it has restored the structure's brown sandstone facade, installed a marble floor and new furnishings in the lobby and done a floor-by-floor redesign of most of the hotel's 300 rooms.

Workmen are now putting the finishing touches on the renovation of the Whaler Bar and the mezzanine banquet and meeting rooms.

The hotel still exists and is now called Jolly Madison Towers - the Jolly being a hotel chain, nothing to do with a Jolly Roger. And amazingly, the Whaler Bar is still there:



I really want to check this out. And looky what I found on eBay - Whaler Bar matches.



AND a postcard



I feel very compelled to buy these - they're cheap and it's what Willie would want.

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