"Texas” Guinan was born in Waco, Texas and made a name for herself as a New York City night club owner during the Prohibition era of the 1920s. She is known today for either originating or popularizing the phrases “Hello, sucker!” and “Let’s give the little girl a big hand!” and butter-and-egg man.
Wikipedia: Texas Guinan
Mary Louise Cecilia “Texas” Guinan (January 12, 1884 – November 5, 1933) was a saloon keeper, actress, and entrepreneur.
Guinan was born in Waco, Texas to Irish-Canadian Catholic immigrants Michael and Bessie Duffy Guinan. At 16, her family moved to Denver, Colorado where she was active in amateur stage productions and played the organ in church. Guinan married John Moynahan, a cartoonist for the Rocky Mountain News, on December 2, 1904.
In 1906 she moved to New York City, where she found work as a chorus girl before making a career for herself in national Vaudeville and in New York theater productions.
In 1917 “Texas” Guinan made her film debut in the silent movie The Wildcat. She became the United States’ first movie cowgirl, nicknamed “The Queen of the West.” In addition to her film career, she also had a sojourn in France, entertaining the troops during World War I.
Prohibition years, ‘300 Club’
Upon the introduction of Prohibition, she opened a speakeasy called the 300 Club at 151 W. 54th Street in New York City. The club became famous for its troupe of forty scantily-clad fan dancers and for Guinan’s unique aplomb, which made her a celebrity. Arrested several times for serving alcohol and providing entertainment, she always claimed that the patrons had brought the liquor in with them, and the club was so small that the girls had to dance so close to the customers. Guinan maintained that she had never sold an alcoholic drink in her life.
At this favorite hangout of the city’s wealthy elite, George Gershwin often played impromptu piano for wealthy guests such as Reggie Vanderbilt, Harry Payne Whitney, or Walter Chrysler, and celebrities such as Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Pola Negri, Al Jolson, Jeanne Eagels, Gloria Swanson, John Gilbert, Clara Bow, Hope Hampton, Irving Berlin, John Barrymore, Dolores Costello, Leatrice Joy and Rudolph Valentino, as well as socialites like Gloria Morgan and her sister Thelma, Vicountess Furness. Ruby Keeler and George Raft were both discovered as dancers at the club by Broadway and Hollywood talent scouts. Guinan capitalized on her notoriety, earning $700,000 in ten months in 1926, while her clubs were routinely being raided by the police.
Ms. Guinan is credited with coining a number of phrases. “Butter and egg men” referred to her well-off patrons, and she often demanded that the audience “give the little ladies a great big hand”. She traditionally greeted her patrons with “Hello, suckers!”.
2 May 1926, New York Times, pg. X2:
Texas Guinan, whose phrase, “Give this little girl a big hand,” has become a byword in the cabarets, did listen to Dolly Sterling sing when she asked for the opportunity. Miss Guinan immediately signed her for the 300 Club and placed her in the show, where she scored a success.
8 December 1926, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 14 ad:
The Way to Meet the Best People in New York...
Is to stay up all night, declares O. O. McIntyre, in a study of that enigma today, the Night Club. Mr. McIntyre tells How Much You Pay in the Night Clubs and How Little You Get—how much you deserve the hail “Hello, Sucker!” with which the Girl Everybody Knows greets her patrons. If you’ve been one, you may wince, but you’ll enjoy knowing how many others are members.
20 February 1927, Washington Post, pg. F3:
Speaking of Texas Guinan, there’s a new film entitled “Hello Sucker,” that is, if Texas agrees. Some one has sent the scenario from Hollywood for her approval, and if she reads it and likes it she may play the title role even though she is busy writing her memoirs, which are entitled “How I Became Queen of the Night Clubs.”
4 May 1927, New York Times, pg. 28 ad:
Give This Little
Girl a Big Hand!
Queen of New York’s Night Life
-- NOW --
in her new cozy
48th ST. CLUB
-- AT --
117 West 48th St.
1 September 1929, Chicago Daily Tribune, “Best Parties,” pg. F2:
When the guests arrived their coats, hats, etc., were taken and checked. Then the “cabaret hostess” ushered them to their places at tables that were all marked “reserved.”
The entertainment consisted of local talent, introduced by the hostess with the remark: “Let’s give this little girl, or boy, a big hand.” And we did.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 24, 2006 • Permalink