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Bridge & Humor: A Harpo Marx Bridge Anecdote

Source: Harpo talks!

Harpo speaksIn the Hillcrest I met a guy named Lee Langdon, who was one of the most prestigious bridge players in the country. Langdon had the idea of ​​founding a bridge club and asked me for help to finance it and use my name as propaganda. I liked the idea and I agreed. The Bridge Club of Beverly Hills was an immediate success. We rent luxurious rooms at the Wilshire Boulevard, and some founding members. Most of those who participated in the Round Table were added, along with the cream of the movie colony, from Norma Talmadge to George Raft.  We charged to members per hour. Rarely was an empty seat, so before reaching six months, the club had given me back my investment. I became a silent shareholder and devote my spare time to golf, as always. Because of that I missed one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the bridge club. That day someone came to the locker room of Hillcrest. It was Lee Langdon the phone. He almost could not even speak. He said: -by God, Harpo, come running. Do not stop even at traffic lights. When I arrived, a club member, a robust woman of about forty years, wife of a film producer, sobbed hysterically. Two other ladies tried to calm her, without much effectiveness, and Lee Langdon walked up and down wringing her hands. Lee took me to the office.

It’s a serious crisis he said, we have to think fast if we want to save the club. He told me what had happened. The fat lady was playing gin rummy four hands with Harry Ritz and two others. After the game, they changed partners, and Harry Ritz pushed his chair back to let the lady ahead of him.

At that time, Harry was suddenly seized with a diabolical impulse and bit her on the back. She yelped and started running all over the place shouting that «this horrible man» should be expelled from the club. Lee said he could not expel Mr. Ritz. The idea was ridiculous. Harry was a founding member highly regarded. If not expelled, said the lady, she would leave and form her own club and would carry half of the members, to all who would pay for a decent and safe place to play.

Then she became hysterical, and that was when Lee ran to call. We left the office to deal with the crisis. The lady hung on my neck. After hearing her version of the whole story, I said ‘I’m sorry, but Mr. Langdon and I have reviewed carefully the standard; it is not said at any time that a member can not bite another member in the back.

She was about to screem again when I raised my hand, smiled and said: ‘Yet! However, with the greatest pleasure we will include that rule from now on: anyone who does what Harry Ritz has done will be expelled for six months. No, she said, wiping her eyes with a handkerchief. It must be a one-year expulsion. I said I thought that a whole year was too strict punishment. Lee agreed with me. The lady said, ‘Well, I accept ten months. -8 months? -I said. She crossed her arms and shook her head. The three of us thought for a moment. Then I said: What do you think if we let in nine months? Well, said the lady. I accept that, but not a day less. She got up and returned triumphantly to her table.

So, we incorporate a new rule: «From the date, any member of the Club Bridge of Beverly Hills that is discovered biting another member in the rear will be automatically expelled for a period of nine (9) months». To my great disappointment, we did not have occasion to apply that rule before the war broke out and the club disappeared.



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