The Groucho in My Kitchen

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10/13/2002

W 90th St & Central Park W, New York, NY 10024

Neighborhood: Manhattan

In the 60’s, I lived with my brother and my parents in The Eldorado, an apartment house on Central Park West between 90th and 91st Street. My Dad was a Member of the New York Stock Exchange, My Mom was a Mom and my brother and I were in school (Bronx Science).

It was and is a great old building, elegant and comfortable, with wonderful, spacious apartments, big rooms, high ceilings, the works. I lived there until I got married. My parents remained and lived there all their lives.

Many show business people lived in the building.

In those days there were elevator men who have long since been replaced by permanent (for residents) and temporary (for visitors) plastic cards that are activated to allow you to the floor you live on or are visiting.

Our apartment had great terraces and fabulous views in all directions. We lived on the 19th floor.

Next door to us lived Ernie Kovacs and his beautiful wife, Edie Adams. Ernie was a brilliant pioneer in television. He had his own show and created The Nairobi Trio, Percy Dovetonsils, and many more wonderful characters. His wife, Edie Adams, a singer/actress, played Daisy May in “Lil Abner”. After Ernie’s death, she remarried and became the “Murial Cigar” lady in commercials.

Ernie and Edie had a huge duplex apartment on the 18th and 19th floor-it was, if I remember correctly, a 14 room apartment , also terraced and facing North and Central Park.(I am told that the apartment has since been made smaller-a couple of rooms were sold to a neighboring apartment many years ago)

The back door of their 19th floor and our back door shared the same service entrance. Nobody else had access to it. It was simply where the garbage pails sat and where deliveries were made. In that tiny area, there were only 4 doors, theirs, ours, and the service elevator’s. If you were unfamiliar with who lived where, it would be easy to make a mistake and turn the wrong doorknob.

Naturally, no one ever bothered to lock their doors.

Which brings me to the evening when my parents were out at the theater and I was home by myself, (who knows where my brother was). It was a school night, my hair was in rollers, my face was in cream, and I was reading in bed when I heard voices in the kitchen.

Terrified, with my heart pounding, I got up and tiptoed in, certain that burglars had entered the apartment and was sure this was the end of me and why hadn’t I locked that door! I headed for the voices, asking all the while why wasn’t I running out the front door.

My only clue that they weren’t burglars was that they were speaking in normal voices, not whispering-just chatting away.

I peered in. Sitting at our kitchen table was Groucho Marx and a woman. Groucho was wearing a hat and had a cigar in his mouth. His coat was still on.

They both looked very comfortable and at ease.

I don’t know who scared who more. Groucho jumped out of his chair and said “What!!!??” As though he had just seen an apparition.

He kept tipping his hat, saying, “Oh, Sorry,” while backing out the door. He had opened the wrong back door, thought he was in Ernie’s and Edie’s apartment and made himself at home.

He looked just like the Groucho we all knew.

Groucho, the lady and I were all so startled, that I barely had time to register the woman. She was dark haired, nicely dressed, and although I could never have pointed her out again, she looked most attractive.

I saw Groucho for about a week after that–in the lobby, waiting for a cab, just around the building, but of course he didn’t recognize me and I was too shy to go up to him and tell him who I was.

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