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Bernard "Toots" “Toots” Shor (Bernard Shor)

Bernard “Toots” Shor

Restaurateur. He was the owner and colorful host of Toots Shor’s Restaurant, a New York City landmark for over 30 years. Born in Philadelphia, he moved to New York as a teenager during the Prohibition era and gained a reputation as a speakeasy bouncer, guardian, and manager. In 1940 he opened his own restaurant and lounge at 51 West 51st Street in Manhattan; although the food was mediocre, its strong drinks and oversized circular bar quickly drew the crowds.  The greats of the sports world, stage, screen and politics all hung out here. In one famous anecdote, mob boss Frank Costello and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren politely raised glasses to each other across the dining room. Shor was gruffly friendly to everybody from shoeshine boy to newsstand guy, to Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, and Jackie Gleason (who always ate there for free). Being called a “crumb-bum” by Toots meant you’d earned his praise; in contrast, his most bitter insult was to call someone “just a piece of raisin cake”. His personal motto was “I don’t care if I’m a millionaire, as long as I can live like one”, and his spendthrift ways and generosity to his regulars often left him in debt. The original Toots Shor’s closed in 1959 and reopened two years later at 33 West 52nd Street; this location was abruptly shut down in 1971 for income tax evasion. Toots’ last business ventures were failures and he died broke, but not before leaving a legendary mark on New York nightlife. (bio by: J Spencer)


  • May, 06, 1903


  • January, 01, 1977


  • Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum
  • USA

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