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The Stork Club, New York, 1946 Paul Rand Book Cover
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The Stork Club, New York, 1946 Paul Rand Book Cover


The Stork Club was a famous and fabled nightclub in New York City from 1929 to 1965, which was owned and operated by Sherman Billingsley (1896–1966), an ex-bootlegger from Oklahoma. The club was the symbol of café society. Movie stars, the wealthy, showgirls, politicians and aristocrats, all mixed here. El Morocco had the sophistication, Toots Shor's had the sporting crowd, but the Stork Club mixed power, money and glamour. Unlike its competitors, the Stork stayed open on Sunday nights and also during the summer months.

The club was not only full of celebrities, it was also full of intrigue. There was an episode when Billingsley's Oklahoma partners sold their shares to a man named Thomas Healy who eventually revealed that he was a "front" for three New York mobsters. Billingsley was kidnapped and held for ransom by "Mad Dog Coll" who was a rival of his mob partners. Before the ransom money could be collected, Billingsley's gangster partners put a bounty on Coll's head. He was lured to a telephone booth where he was shot to death. The secret gangster partners reluctantly allowed Billingsley to buy them out for $30,000 after the incident. Apparently the authorities were able to overlook the escapade.
Billingsley's mistress, Ethel Merman, introduced him to the entertainment and gossip columnist Walter Winchell who called the Stork Club "New York's New Yorkiest place". What Winchell saw and heard there at his private Table 50 was the basis of his newspaper columns and radio broadcasts. Lucius Beebe, the author of the Stork Club Bar Book, was noted as the "orchidaceous oracle of cafe society", a gourmand, bon vivant and author, who chronicled the activities of the boldfaced celebrities at the Stork Club in his syndicated column, "This Is New York". Billingsley had around the clock coverage of the Stork Club that certainly enhanced and helped cement the club's position and reputation. The cover of the Stork Club Bar Book, was created by Paul Rand, a giant of 20th Century graphic design.
The club closed in 1965 and was replaced in 1967 by Paley Park, a "vest pocket" park that has been called one of the finest urban spaces in the US. The park was financed by the William S. Paley foundation (Paley was the founder of CBS) in honor of Paley's father. When the site was excavated, a still was found.

Courtesy Private Collection.

Love Menu Art archival prints on 190 gsm Fine Art Media Soft Textured Paper.

Printed in the UK.