George Jessel - eulogy for a dog?

George Jessel was a longtime member of the comedians' Round Table at the exclusive Hillcrest Country Club, whose membership required substantial initiation fees and donations to the United Jewish Appeal (UJA). Milton Berle once told Arthur Marx about a classic Jessel moment which had once taken place at the Round Table:

"The whole gang of us was there -- your father

[Groucho Marx] and uncles

[Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo], the Ritz brothers, Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, George Burns, Lou Holtz and Jack Benny -- when an elderly businessman approached Jessel very timidly and said, 'Mr. Jessel, my wife, Rosie, had a little poodle she was crazy about who just died. It would very much please her if you would do the eulogy at the dog's funeral.'

"For those readers who aren't familiar with Jessel lore, his avocation was doing eulogies at friends' funerals, and even nonfriends'. But this was different. He fixed his eyes on the old man, chewed angrily on the end of his cigar and then exclaimed in disbelief, 'You want me to do a eulogy for a f---ing dog!? I do people -- not animals. Now go away!'

"But the old man refused to leave and finally said, 'Look, Mr. Jessel. If you'll do this one favor for me, I'll give you $2,500 in cash, and I'll also donate $25,000 to UJA.'

"Jessel, who was always in need of money, said instantly, 'That's different. You didn't tell me the dog was Jewish!'"

0/5 0 votes

Share It

Share Report

Related Anecdotes