No Boredom or Blacks Allowed
By Shirley Povich
The man who brought the Redskins to Washington in 1937 was an uncommon laundry chain owner with a bent for show business. He was widely considered (1) one of pro football's greatest innovators and (2) its leading bigot.
George Preston Marshall was a dashing fellow whose love of show business manifested itself in many ways. It was evident in his own failed fling at acting, in his first marriage to a former Ziegfeld Follies girl and in his second to silent screen goddess Corinne Griffith. It was apparent in his invention of halftime extravaganzas worthy of Hollywood and in his ground-breaking radio and TV broadcasts of football games. It was what mainly drove the NFL rules changes he engineered to make sure nobody got bored with a gridiron performance.
Marshal liked to live the part. One of his trademarks during football season was his full-length raccoon coat. Another was his always-at-the-ready chauffeured limousine. (He never acquired a driver's license, hated to fly and loved riding railroads.)
Marshall also produced a few theatrical shows in Washington, including a musical called "Getting Gertie's Garter." This was in addition to running the Palace Laundry inherited from his father. In fact, he built the laundry from two stores into a 57-outlet chain before selling out in 1948, making the "Long Live Linen" slogan emblazoned on its trucks a byword in Washington.
The year he brought the Redskins to Washington, he even did a stint as publisher of Hearst's Washington Times. That was on the heels of another year in which the mercurial Marshall accepted a $100,000 salary to be director of the Great Texas and Pan-American Exposition in Dallas. All the while, he managed to superintend his football team, with the tight-fisted Marshall watching every penny.