Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Off on a Tangent, part 8 - Chester Babcock Calling...

This has got nothing to do with anything, apart from the fact that it made me laugh...

The following is an excerpt from an article on Chester Babcock in this February's Vanity Fair:

His favourite word, for more than one reason, was "cock". As Frank Sinatra's best friend, songwriter in chief, and sometime travelling partner in the hard-swinging 50s, Jimmy Van Heusen - born Edward Chester Babcock - had a habit, upon arriving in any American city, of leafing through the directory and phoning at random anyone whose last name, Hancock, Woodcock or Hitchcock, happened to end in the same pungent suffix as his own. It was always nice if a lady answered. "Mrs Glasscock?" he'd say, in his W.C. Fields-ian tones, "Chester Babcock calling. I just wanted to check what the other cocks were up to." Sinatra, it is reported, would roll on the floor every time.

When Frank and entourage stayed at Rome's Grand Hotel, Van Heusen would step onto his balcony each morning and, like some crazed American rooster, crow out the word at the top of his lungs. Back in the States, piloting his own plane cross-country, he would screech it into the radio until, inevitably, some poor, confused air-traffic controller would squawk back, "Please identify yourself!" At which point Van Heusen would declaim it louder still. Even after suffering a stroke in his late 60s, wheelchair-bound, language having largely deserted him, "just out of nowhere, he'd yell 'Cock!'", a witness remembers.

"Jimmy," Van Heusen's good friend and occasional lover Angie Dickinson recalls fondly, "could say 'cock' like nobody else."

There's got to be a short script in there somewhere.

3 comments:

Metlab said...

off topic chip:

John Sweeney just contacted me, he's had a mix up with Nightfall and needs the latest copy - he had one he couldn't open or something. Could you resend today please to his met address, not the msn one?

Thanks

Lucy said...

Sorry that's me by the way

Chip Smith said...

Thanks Lucy.

By the way, Chester Babcock says 'hi'!