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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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French--I don't know. Anyway, he showed me the letter from Roger Vercel, saying that he was coming to this country. We had to do something for him. Since he said that he didn't speak a word of English, Bob Haas said that he would take care of him but I would have to entertain him once anyway.

Well, in due course, Roger Vercel walked in our office--a typical Frenchman, you know, with a beard and impeccably attired.

I showed him all around the office, and introduced him to people. He was very affable. I introduced him to Bob Linscott, who was one of our top editors at the time, with Saxe Commins. We all talked to him. Finally he left. When he left, Bob Linscott said, “You know, he isn't very talkative--Mr. Vercel. To anything that I said to him all he answered was ‘incroyable.'” Our head bookkeeper said, “Do you know who he looks like?" We said, “No.” He said, “He looks like Lou Miller, our sales manager.” We all said, “You're crazy.”

Well, it was the most successful practical joke ever played at Random House. It really was Lou Miller. He and Haas had planned the whole thing months in advance. The letter was a fake. Lou Miller spent two hours making up for this. He went to a professional and had the beard put on. It wasn't just put on, in fact. It was put in, hair by hair. He was perfect, but he couldn't speak a word of French. That's why he only said, “incroyable.” And

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