A crossfire of denials, recriminations and contradictory statements followed in the wake yesterday of the revelation that Daniel Frohman, eighty-two-year-old dean of the American stage, on Friday had been indirectly invited to stay away from the Lido Country Club of Long Beach because he is a Jew.
The racial “thumbs down,” it was disclosed yesterday, had been delivered by J. H. Caples, chairman of Lido’s membership committee, through Mrs. Reynier Prall, wife of a Childs company executive, who had recently applied for membership.
To a reporter for the Jewish Daily Bulletin, Caples denied that he had made the statements attributed to him by Mrs. Prall in yesterday’s newspapers.
“Mrs. Prall absolutely and deliberately distorted the facts,” he said. “Mr. Frohman was treated with courtesy and he even dined at the club. No one as far as I know approached Mrs. Prall and asked her not to bring Mr. Frohman around again because he was Jewish.”
DECLINES TO NAME JEWS
Asked whether there were at the present time any Jewish members on the club’s rolls, Caples answered in the affirmative. He refused, however, to name them.
“I see no reason,” he explained, “why I should embarrass our members by revealing their names.”
Asked if he knew how many Jewish members the club had, he refused to give the number enrolled.
James Fuller, president of the club who resides on the premises, when asked for a statement on the matter, said he had none to make. Asked whether he knew of any Jewish members in the club, he said that he wasn’t sure. He denied that either he or any other executive of the club had any racial bias.
“As a matter of fact,” he said “many of my friends are Jewish.”
He said that the board of governors, which is the club’s executive body, would “probably make an investigation of the entire affair and issue a statement within a few days.”
FROHMAN WAS INVITED
A fact that injected some element of mystery to the story was that the aged producer, who boasts of membership in actors’ guilds of three faiths, the Catholic Actors Guild, the Episcopalian Actors Guild and the Jewish Actors Guild, informed The Bulletin that on the day preceding his visit to the Lido he had received a card inviting him to be the club’s guest for a day.
This card, Frohman stated, had his name printed on it and bore the signature of Caples. How he happened to be placed on the club’s guest listâ€”even for one dayâ€”since the fact of Frohman’s Jewishness has never been a secret, the producer could not say.
When asked about this card of invitation, Caples said he did not remember having issued one Neither did he deny that he had sent it.
The card is in the possession of Mrs. Prall, according to both Mrs Prall and Frohman, who said that after the unpleasant incident she expressed a desire to keep it. Mrs. Prall refused to part with the card, when asked for it by a Bulletin representative. She showed the card however. It was dated May 7, 1934, and signed in pen and ink by Caples.
Mrs. Prall, expressing annoyance at the way the press has kept her busy since the story broke, repeated her original statement as to how the incident developed.
MRS. PRALL’S GUEST
Having applied for membership (which is $150 a year) but not having as yet received her card, she said she invited Frohman to go out with her.
While having a sandwich and tea (she denies, as one newspaper reported, that there were cocktails) Mrs. Prall says she was called aside by Caples who asked her “in a very ungentlemanly manner”:
“How did you sigh your applicatioâ€”as a Gentile or a Jew?”
Taken by surprise at this question, Mrs. Prall answered, “As a Gentile, of course,” and demanded to know why such a question was put to her.
Caples then told her, Mrs. Prall said, that he suspected she was Jewish because she was addressing Mr. Frohman as “Uncle Dan.” She explained that she called him “Uncle” for the same reason everybody in the theatrical profession called him that â€” in affectionate endearment.
Then, Mrs. Prall said, Caples told her that he didn’t want to have her bring Frohman out to the club again, since “we don’t allow Jews,”
When she related the incident to her husband later, he advised her to withdraw her membership. Mr. Prall, she said, had originally asked her not to join because she was going away for the summer and would not get sufficient use out of the membership to warrant the expenditure. She thereupon withdrew her application.
Although she did not inform Frohman immediately as to what had transpired, she did so later and he expressed pain that she should have been so embarrassed on his account, Mrs. Prall declared. He wrote a letter to the management in which he said he was “glad that Christ, who was a Jew also, was not with the party of people, for He, too, would have been turned away.”
At his office in the Lyceum Theatre, where he has been engaged in writing his memoirs, Frohman expressed resentment and wonder at the treatment accorded himself and Mrs. Prall. He said that such an experience had never befallen him before.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.