October 18, 2013
NEW YORK—He came from a wealthy background but was always in trouble. His parents were not particularly religious, but nevertheless they insisted that little Jimmy read the Torah scroll and grow up to be a good Jewish boy. You can imagine their horror when they found naked pictures of Hedy Lamarr and Brigitte Bardot among the holy pages—the former in Ecstasy, the latter in Contempt. He was given a hiding and taken to all sorts of rabbis to have his evil side exhorted, but soon after young Jimmy did it again, this time with a real disgusting picture of two girls together billing and cooing like there was no tomorrow. “What are we going to do with him?” wailed his mother while holding him with his pants down and swinging as hard as she could.
And it got worse. All Jimmy thought about was sports and girls—not in that order—and there was nothing his parents could do about it but pray and cry a bit every evening. Not his grandfather, however. He was a schmatte business king, with clothing chain stores around the Noo Yawk area and an eye for the ladies. He used to take young Jimmy Toback to Longchamps on Madison Avenue, and when the bill would come he would take out a roll Frank Costello would have envied and slowly peel away twenty-dollar bills and pay. He lived at 50 E. 79th St.—in the penthouse, naturally.
One day the grandfather took young Jimmy into a vaulted room that was filled to the brim with dollar bills of all denominations. There were hundreds, fifties, twenties, tens, and fives, even small ones with George Washington’s pictures on them. Jim had never seen such naked wealth, and he stood there taking it all in for quite a while until his grandfather patted him in the head and told him that one day all that would be his. “Yippee!” cried the little boy and ran out, probably to go buy more dirty pictures.
But it was not to be. A couple of years later, his grandfather died suddenly and his father and uncle went immediately to the vault room. Jimmy heard the screams and rushed there. The room was totally empty. Both his father and his uncle—the General—had tears in their eyes. “Who could have taken it?” asked his uncle to no one in particular. “You’re the only one who had a key,” yelled Jimmy as his uncle turned and began to beat him rather hard.
Despite the mysterious disappearance of the cash fortune, James Toback went to Harvard, where he was a brilliant but very undisciplined student. Sports and girls got in the way. He once faced Arthur Ashe in a junior tournament, broke the black star’s serve, kept his, then started to look around the stands in case some members of the fairer sex were witnesses to what he was about to do. He dropped the next 48 points to Ashe but managed to make eye contact with at least two women. Toback married the last Duke of Marlborough’s niece, Mimi Russell—twice, I believe—but is now happily married to a very nice lady and has a teenage son whom he worships and tries to kiss all the time. “Stop it, dad, you homo,” says the boy.
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