George Kennedy: An absolute vision in The Star newsroom.Tall, gaunt; all-white ice cream suits; long, flowing snow-white beard. He looked of another place and time. A George Bernard Shaw. In all the whiteness, he looked like the negative of a Mathew Brady photo.
He wrote The Rambler column and had a weakness for watergoblet-sized martinis and stentorian phrases punctuated with ancient Greek that, a scholar once said, was pure gibberish.
I had just come from The Detroit Times, a Hearst paper where gin bottles often rattled in the bottom drawers. One night a drunken sportswriter brought a horse with him up the back elevator and tethered it to a typewriter. Everyone studiously went about his business, casually informing the horse, on occasion, that he had only 10 minutes to deadline.
The Star was kinder to horses and it had George Kennedy -- the past master of the "adjusted" expense account, four-hour lunch, leads never constrained by accuracy-in-media tripe. It was during John F. Kennedy's presidency that The Rambler went on a trip abroad, passing himself off as a cousin of the president. One day an editor, hoping to shame The Rambler, showed him a Greek newspaper account. It was filled with quotes from the vacationing George Kennedy proudly proclaiming himself the president's cousin.
Kennedy read it, thanked the editor profusely and tacked the article up in the Star newsroom.
The Rambler was fond of inviting everyone to his famous round table at Hammel's restaurant at which, after lunch, with great harrumphs, he would get up, bow, bestow his "hail fellow" routine on everyone -- and duck out before the check arrived.
One night I gave a party and, after single-handedly diminishing the gin supply to oblivion, Kennedy waved his tumbler glass in the air. "My good woman, my good woman," he roared in that oratorical way. "Most unusual party for Washington. MOST unusual." "Why?" I inquired. He replied. "There's not a soul here who can DO anything for you!"