Everybody Remembers Elaine

Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage

With funeral services set for Thursday and Friday (according to the Daily News), memories of Elaine Kaufman are pouring in. The Times runs a slideshow, and reports that Alec Baldwin, James Lipton, and Governor Paterson have shown up to the restaurant to pay respects. The Post offers up a nice bouquet of quotes from Martha Stewart, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robin Leach, Dominic Chianese, the Steinbrenner family, Keith Hernandez, Woody Allen, and more. And we’ve gathered more fond remembrances from across the net, below.

“I loved Elaine … I started hanging out in her place downtown. When she moved up to Second Ave., I used to play poker with the regulars after she closed. She was a dear friend, a foul-weather friend who stood by me in some of my worst times. I shot in her place in ‘Manhattan,’ ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’ and ‘Celebrity.’” —Woody Allen, who met Mia Farrow at Elaine’s. [NYDN]

“”It was like a show every night,” said Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair magazine and a regular since the 1970s. He added that the proprietress could be formidable with patrons who failed to abide by Elaine’s unwritten code of conduct. “Amateurs would complain about the food and that would set her off,” Mr. Carter said. “If there was anything wrong with the food, you’d never say anything.” [WSJ]

“”If ever there was a truly New York legend, it was Elaine,” said Woody Allen, a Kaufman favorite who shot the opening scene to his classic “Manhattan” at her restaurant. “From her great sense of humor to her physical presence, when she would pick someone up and just rush them to the door, she was just amazing.” [NYDN]

“She wasn’t a fraud. You got what you got. You got her backtalk and you got that she sometimes didn’t feel like talking to you even if she liked you … But she was always worthy of respect because she worked so hard. She knew everything that went on in that restaurant, right down to how much salt and pepper were in the shakers.” —Gay Talese [AP]

“Elaine and I shared the same birthday — February 10. For several years — including on my 50th birthday — I would go to Elaine’s and emerge blinded by steak fat, spaghetti bolognese, and bourbon. There wasn’t a year I went when I didn’t feel compelled after two drinks to remind her of our shared birth date and every year a bottle of red wine would come to our table.” —Peter W. Kaplan [Capital New York]

“No matter how many hours I lingered over my arugula salad, pasta, and the house Valpolicello, for years my bill was always $32.50 … I wondered how she made it work — until one night, I got to see her Robin Hood system in action: I had dinner with film director Sydney Pollack, who had recently finished Tootsie, and the bill for our two salads, pasta, and bottle of wine was several hundred dollars! “She thinks it comes out of some production budget,” Pollack said, shrugging. When asked why he didn’t set her straight, he said it was worth it to him to be able to have such a comfortable place to come whenever he was passing through town.” —Cyndi Stivers [Pop Watch/EW]

“No writer ever went hungry while Elaine was in business … If she knew someone was having a rough time, she would send a check to the table that just said, ‘Tip the waiter.’” —Stuart Woods [WP]

“Elaine was great friends with the Steinbrenner family, and cherished her World Series rings. She regifted me something treasured given to her by George Steinbrenner — a Yankees World Series jacket that I will wear now to every game regardless of the weather. (The last time George and his family were in the restaurant Elaine said, “Don’t tell them where you got that!”)” —Roger Friedman [ShowBiz411]

“No one went for the food, of course, although the veal chop was pretty great. The food was just there to soak up the alcohol, and the alcohol kept the conversation flowing and, occasionally, the fists flying. Most nights the place was like a private party hosted by the indomitable Elaine. She was a fierce gatekeeper; if you were a stranger you would be banished to the back room. It was terrifying to watch her reject potential supplicants to the front tables.” —Jay McInerney [Metropolis/WSJ]

“One afternoon, it was before we were open, Mike Nichols was filming across the street and he came in with Jack Nicholson and they were looking for a bite to eat. Mike looked around the restaurant and he said, ‘Gee, Elaine, not too many people here’ and she said ‘I’ve been to some of your movies in the afternoon, too.’” —Elaine’s GM Diane Becker [WNYC]

Earlier: Legendary Hostess Elaine Kaufman Dies at 81
From the Archives: Elaine Kaufman Versus Celebrity Photog Ron Galella

Everybody Remembers Elaine