JACK SPOONER SEMPER FI
JUNE 1886 - SEPT 1963
updated April 2010
TAKE A CARD......
Stork Club Maitre D, Jack Spooner offers actor Raymond Massey a card while Mrs. Massey looks on. The Masseys were both baffled at what happened next ......
No more so than anyone else when Gramps whipped out a deck of cards. He taught my Mom a few tricks and how to shuffle a deck like a pro. The one that always got me is, when he would tear up your card and reproduce it intact. I suppose it's no big thing compared to the stuff Penn & Teller and David Copperfield pull off, but I doubt that Stork Club propieter Sherman Billingsley would tolerate a tractor trailer load of props in his joint. Card tricks, jokes, and a way with sauces earned Jack Spooner the title of the most popular waiter in New York City Cafe Society from the 1920's - 1950's. Being on a first name basis with most of his celebrity customers didn't hurt. Some of you may recall Raymond Massey (1896-1983) in his '60's TV Role as Dr. Gillespie in Dr. Kildare, but his career started long before that. He really got rolling in the 1930's and was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Abe Lincoln in the 1940's. The photo is from that era.
I remember seeing this photo in Grandpa;s home in Jamaica, Queens as a little kid, but never knew what happened to it. Imagine my surprise when a copy of it showed up on E Bay two weeks ago. It now hangs in our dining room along with the rest of the Stork Club memorbilia. I thought it fitting to add it in now as September 3, 1963 was the day John J. Spooner passed away. Here is his obituary from the New York Times.
The obit although a nice tribute, doesn't begin to touch upon the life he led. He spent his last 5 years living with us in Mastic Beach and my main regret is, if I only knew then what I know now....the things I could of learned from him.
This photo was taken when Jack first joined the Marines at age 15 in 1901. Notice he has no stripes yet. He served time in the Phillipines and became friends with author Damon Runyon. (Guys & Dolls) I am assuming the sargent standing next to him may of been his recruiter? Jack renlisted in WWI and became a recruiting sargent himself. He did the same in WWII. I used to wear his dress blue jacket in 1968. (Sgt Pepper Era)
COMMENDATION FROM WW 1 WHEN HE REENLISTED 15 YEARS LATER
& WAS A RECRUITING SERGEANT IN TIMES SQUARE NYC
Jack & Jack
These two go way back to the days when Jack Dempsey was Heavyweight Champion Of The World. They were partners for a time when Dempsey opened up his own resturant opposite the Madison Square Garden on 8th Ave. Here they are at The Stork Club in the 1940's
& JACK ......
Gramps knew most of the Kennedys. Especially J P the father. Senator Jack Kennedy had a birthday party at the Stork Club in 1956 and all the Kennedys were there. There are photos of the party on this website. President Jack Kennedy signed this certificate just weeks before he was murdered in 1963.