Bernard (Toots) Shor, one of New York's most famous restaurateurs and one of the country's foreign patrons of sports, died just before midnight Sunday at New York University Medical Center after a brief undiscloed-illness. He was 71.
Born in Philadelphia May 6, 1905, the burly Mr. Shor was an ultimte sports fan. He was on intimate terms with the greatest athletes of his times.
His mother, who came to this country from Russia, died when he was 15. His father, a German Jew, died five years later. He was reared by two older sisters and tried his mind, without much success, at higher education. He attended Drexel Institute and the Wharton Shool of Finance in Philadelphia and then came to New York for good.
His first job was selling women's underwear. A personable man who made friends easily - and knocked down enemies even more easily wi th his 250 pounds on a 6-foot-2 frame - Mr. Shor then became a bouncer at a night club called the Silver Slipper during Prohibiting days.
The night club was owned by an underworld figure named Owney Madden and he and his friends became impressed by the young giant's tact and, that failing, his powerful fists. Mr. Shor graduated from night club bouncer to host at Billy LaHiff, another well-known sports hangout in the 1930s. Shortly after, he bought in part by his many friends.
It was the establishment on 51th Street that made Mr. Shor a national character. He had friends in sports, the theater, government and, as he quipped, "also in Philadelphia."
Mr. Shor had season tickets for all the home games of the New York baseball Giants, the football Giants, and the Yankees. He didn't care for the Brooklyn Dodgers, such players as Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese were greeted with all the affection Mr. Shor reserved for his heroes. And they were many.
Among the regulars were Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mante, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Billy Martin, Mel Ott, Leo Durocher, Casey Stengel, Frank Gifford, Cliff Battles, Tuffy Leemans, Y.A. Tittle, Charlie Conerl, Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Gary Middlecoff, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Tony Canzoneri, Barney Ross, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Don Ameche, Jackie Gleason, Eddie Arcaro and Willie Shoemaker.
The late journalist Bob Considine maintained a private office in Mr. Shor's and often would come in and rap out a column before deadline.
Mr. Shor knew most of the literary figures of his time including Ernest Hemingway, James Michner and playwright Robert Sherwood.
Mr. Shor was a visitor at the White House when Presidents Roosevelt and Truman were there. A patriotic man, Mr. Shor never stopped marveling at a country that could put a saloonkeeper on a social footing with the President of the United States.
It was Washington that left its permanent impact, physically, on Mr. Shor. he came here in 1970 to attend a testimonial for Washington native Considine, who was being inducted into the George Washington University Hall of Fame. Mr. Shor slipped on a throw rug in his hotel room and broke his hip. He was in Georgetown Hospital for more than two months and ever after had to walk a cane. He blamed most of his later ailments on that fall.
Mr. Shor was married to the former Marian Volk, a former chorus girl. They had three daughters and a son.
Funeral services are scheduled today in New York.