Elaine Kaufman dead at 81

A cool lady. I  never dined at Elaine’s – no way to afford it – but she did join us at Gilliam Lane back in 1969 (?) for the wedding of Arthur Kopit (“Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s hung you in the closet  and I’m feeling so sad”, Buffalo Bill, etc.) and Leslie Garis (the Fountain house offered a religiously neutral sanctuary in those days). I was in Ninth grade at the time, and awed at meeting the elite of Broadway – Arthur and Edward Albee were joined by everyone who was anyone and Elaine, rather large, sat  as the queen she was and presided over the scene. It was neat.

I believe my brother Anthony finally came up with the cash to visit her restaurant and she claimed to remember her trip to Riverside but I’ll make do with my memory of her perched in our living room.


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12 responses to “Elaine Kaufman dead at 81

  1. horse jock

    Yeah, but sooooooo ugly.

  2. Bubba

    She seemed like an unbearable old shrew to me. I saw her on a Manhattan Bus berating what must have been her assistant in a 5 minute non-stop stream of vitriol. I am sure she was wonderfully obsequious with the Jack Nicholsons of the world, but to the commoners, not so nice apparently.

  3. JRH

    Isn’t a very expensive restaurant. If you can go to Beach House, you can go to Elaine’s. Just a scene.

  4. Powerful/successful women are often talked about ‘treating the little people badly.’ Leona was the chart-topper in this category but she sure ran incredible hotels. I never ate at Elaine’s nor did I know her so I can’t add any personal anecdotes, but I say she wouldn’t have lasted so long in the industry if she really treated her employees or guests badly. Not to excuse the vitriol Bubba saw on the bus, but maybe she had a bad day? Just saying, men don’t often get this bad rap.

  5. Walt

    EOS –
    Now how did this possibly become a man/woman thing? Someone saw her acting like a jerk, speaks of it, and it’s a sexist thing? Give me a frigging break. George Steinbrenner have a bad rap as a boss? Little Stevie Cohen at SAC? How long have they been in business, and both pretty successful, no? I could go on but I won’t. I don’t know Elaine either. But women are just as capable as treating others badly as men, and being a jerk. That is why jerk is asexual.
    Your Pal,

  6. Yes, you are right Walt, women and men can both be jerks. BUT successful women get called a bitch where as men with the same bad attitude get called aggressive. There’s a huge difference there.

  7. Walt

    EOS –
    There is a huge difference. And you are right. They call the woman who act like that bitches. And they call the men who act like that pricks. And they are all jerks. Other than that, no discrimination going on here. They didn’t pick on Leona because she was a woman. They picked on her because she was a bitch. And yes, she ran great hotels. But she was still a bitch. George ran a great baseball team. But he was still a prick. Why can’t we just accept that, and not make it some fake gender thing? A prick is a prick. A bitch is a bitch. And Chris is a load. How come I feel sometimes like I am the only one who gets it?
    Your Pal,

  8. Walt: you must have been captain of your college debate team. You win round one.

  9. Woody Allen

    She was my great friend. Birds of a feather stuck together. Enough said of Elaine.

  10. greenmtnpunter

    It might be said that Elaine’s became the successor to Toots Shor’s as a hangout for all manner of beautiful people including literati, actors, agents, rock stars, sports stars, et al. Toots Shor’s, as I understand it, was the hangout for these folks in the ’30 and ’40’s, perhaps a bit into the ’50’s. Toots Shor was said to be larger than life, and would run a tab, just as Elaine Kaufmann was and did. I recall it being said that Toots’ generosity eventually put him out of business? What about Elaine?