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January 21, 2012

Life imitates Friz Freleng
Posted by Avram Grumer at 09:34 PM * 13 comments

For the recent Winter Economic Reinvigoration Holiday I got Chris a copy of Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, about the worldwide economic collapse that led to the Great Depression. She’s enjoying it tremendously, and the other day picked out a paragraph to read to me, from a section on the World Economic Conference in London in 1933, describing with one of the American attendees.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Key Pittman, Democratic Senator from Nevada, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, and Yosemite Sam impersonator:

At an official reception at Windsor Castle, he broke with all social convention by wearing his raincoat and a pair of bright yellow bulbous-toed shoes while being presented to King George V and Queen Mary, greeting them with the salutation, “King, I’m glad to meet you. And you too Queen.” He was usually drunk but even then amazed everyone by his ability to spit tobacco juice into a spittoon from a great distance with remarkable accuracy. One night he was discovered at Claridges sitting stark naked in the sink of the hotel pantry, pretending to be a statue in a fountain. Another night, he amused himself by shooting out the streetlamps on Upper Brook Street with his pistol. Pittman did take one subject seriously—the remonetization of silver, of which Nevada was a major producer—an issue about which he was so passionate that one evening when one of the American experts expressed a contrary opinion on its merits, Pittman pulled out a gun and chased the poor man through the corridors of Claridges.

Comments on Life imitates Friz Freleng:
#1 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 11:03 PM:

They don't make 'em like that any more.

#2 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 11:20 PM:

Rainflame, you haven't been watching the news, have you? </snark>

#3 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 11:26 PM:

Actually I haven't been watching the news, Xopher. I gave up watching television a long time ago, a decision I'm especially happy about in election years.

#4 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2012, 01:26 AM:

If Wilbur Mills were still around and in office he'd remind me of Mr. Pittman, of whom I've never heard until now.

#5 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2012, 07:46 AM:

Wait. If Yosemite Sam was in Windsor Castle, shouldn't that varmint rabbit also have been around?

#6 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2012, 09:47 AM:

Rainflame, that is a wise decision.

#7 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2012, 12:18 PM:

Serge #5: Who do you think Yosemite Sam was chasing through Claridges?

#8 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2012, 04:54 PM:

My favorite bit from the linked Wikipedia article: "It was rumored for years that he died before his final election in 1940, and that party leaders kept his body on ice in a hotel bathtub until he was re-elected; this story has been disproven. In fact, he suffered a severe heart attack before the election, and died after the election at the Washoe General Hospital in Reno, Nevada."

#9 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2012, 05:58 PM:

Lila@8: I can't help but think he would have liked it better if he HAD died before the election and been kept on ice, because that makes a better story.

#10 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2012, 09:03 AM:

I can't imagine George V, bearded sweary naval type that he was, minding this kind of thing too much.

Queen Mary, on the other hand...

There's a good story in Robert Massie's "Dreadnought" of George V, then Prince of Wales, visiting a naval dockyard before the Great War and going aboard one of the first submarines. As it submerged in Portsmouth Harbour, Mary was heard to murmur, "I shall be most disappointed if George doesn't come up again.")

#11 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2012, 09:56 AM:

Lest we ever believe that our current crop of politicians have cornered the market on couthlessness. Although Pittman seems to have been a good deal more colorful in his lack-of-couth than the current imaginationless group.

#12 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2012, 10:41 AM:

Just read the Wiki article, which clearly needs to be updated with reference to his London antics.

You'd never believe it, looking at his photo. He looks as though he subsisted entirely on buttermilk.

#13 ::: Andrew L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2012, 10:44 AM:

Regarding matters of causality, are we sure that Friz Freleng wasn't imitating life? I'd certainly buy that Yosemite Sam (first appeared 1945) was inspired in some part by Key Pittman (d. 1940).

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