Liquid breakfast of champions

31 Aug

A short extract from the Belfast-born actor Thomas Louden’s Broadway hit The Champion, which was made into a silent film (The World’s Champion) starring Wallace Reid in 1922:

WILLIAM. And now, gentlemen—I want to introduce you to an American cocktail.

BARON. I’ve had the pleasure before.

WILLIAM. Hope you don’t dislike them.

BARON. Best thing about the States.

WILLIAM. Perhaps not quite that but as an American invention it ranks with the telephone and the sewing machine.

MOONEY. (Crosses to c. Taking one cocktail shaker from WILLIAM) Allow me, Mr Burroughs—this is more in my line. I’m going to introduce these to the Blue Cow. (MOONEY and WILLIAM fill all the cocktail glasses around the table.)

(MARQUIS starts to sing “A Wee Doch and Doris”—the rest all join in and sing two verses. When it is finished EARL rises.)

EARL. And now, gentlemen, to England! (Everybody rises and drinks cocktail.)

ALL. To England!

MARQUIS. (Smacking his lips) It has a message. (Everybody sits except EARL and WILLIAM.)

EARL. I say, how do you make them?

WILLIAM. One-third pep—two-thirds pluck—and a dash of generosity.

EARL. Do you mean to tell me that the American people have legislated these things out of existence?

WILLIAM. They have.

EARL. My God! They don’t deserve their freedom.

— Thomas Louden, The Champion (New York: French, 1922), p. 78.

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