....I often find myself thinking back on the adventure which has been my life. Perched as I have so often been in my favorite old rocking chair (the one covered in zebra hide), I am reminded of how my dear Archer carried the fine chair through darkest Africa, determined to bring it home and find it a position of appropriate grandeur. It, like myself has seen the finest of days…and here we sit.....
My friend, Ginny, was a Copa Girl…..she danced at the “Copa”. Gin had been a model in New York, primarily showroom and runway modeling; but, while having cocktails one evening at the Copacabana, she was “discovered”. She was outfitted in pink and plumes, and lined up with a group of other beautiful women to create probably the most famous reviewin New York, if not the entire country. The Copa in the 1950’s was known for its Latin Reviews….thusly, the popular logo of the Copa Girl with the fruit on her head (I still think she looks just like Lucille Ball!)….the club became known as the ”Copacabana, best club North of Havana.”
Archer and I used to visit the club and Gin whenever we spent time in the City. We always stayed next door at the “Hotel Fourteen”, with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and the like. One night, when Archer decided to stay in, Gin invited me to join her, while she had “after the show” cocktails with the entire cast of a popular Western TV series..... We had Manhattans with Michigan sour cherries stuck on frilly toothpicks…..I’ll never forget.The fruit theme was everywhere!....we teased Gin until she actually added a few to her costume.
Of course I’ll never forget Gin’s account of the big brawl at the Copa in 1957 when a fight broke out involving Mickey Mantle and a pack of Yankees during a 10 o’clock Sammy Davis performance. Gin popped some rich businessman in the chops and spent the night in jail.
Shortly after, she wound up moving on to Vegas, and I stopped visiting the Copa after Barry Manilow popularized his famous Copacabana song. The whole new era of disco changed the place….I just couldn’t make the transition to mirror balls and disco dancing. Give me Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and Jimmy Durante; give me Latin performances by Ricki Ricardo (Desi Arnaz)……babalu!