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Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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that to look at him was soul-satisfying. He was so handsome! He looked just the way a great playwright ought to look but practically never does--brooding, piercing eyes, a wonderful smile and a superb figure. He was a great swimmer; he could swim five or six miles at a stretch. I consider him one of the really great men I met in my life.


Could you tell that he had greatness in him?


At a glance! He talked very slowly, and he would hesitate in the middle of a sentence. You know, I'm a very impatient man, and I keep interrupting everybody all the time. I can't stop it; I did this with President Roosevelt. I don't know I'm doing it. But Eugene O'Neill was the only man I ever knew who without trying could shut me up. I would sit quietly and wait for him to finish his long sentences with the long pauses in between. He was one of my heroes. If anybody asks to name five or six great men I have met in my life, Eugene O'Neill is always one of them.

Gene's whole adventure with Carlotta began just before I signed him. He had been married two or three times before but not very successfully. One day he woke up with a girl in bed with him. “Who are you?" he said. She said, “I'm your wife.” He had no memory of the ceremony. He dashed off forthwith and signed as sailor on a ship bound for South America. That's where he got the material for his “Seven Plays of the Sea.”

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