Toots Shor: “Nuttin’ Fancy”

Bernard “Toots” Shor (1903-1977) operated one of the more legendary show biz night spots in New York in the mid 20th century.

After a decade of being a bouncer and manager at various establishments throughout the 1930s, Shor opened his own restaurant at 51 West 51st Street in 1940. Shor was a much beloved character among celebrities, apparently because he treated them with refreshing frankness. He spoke to them like they were real people. Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra and Joe Dimaggio were particular fans. By the ’50s he was a national celebrity himself, appearing on such television programs as The Colgate Comedy Hour, The George Jessel Show, The Red Skelton Hour, The Jackie Gleason Show, the All Star Revue, Person to Person with Edward R. Murrow, The Jack Paar Tonight Show, The David Frost Show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and The Ed Sullivan Show. Bing Crosby plugs the eatery in the 1954 movie White Christmas. In 1959 Shor moved his joint one block north to 52nd Street. In the early ’70s he moved it yet again to 54th Street. Shor has been the subject of numerous biographical books, articles and documentary films.

To learn more about classic show biz history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.