Finding a Home, and a Muse, at the Algonquin Hotel
As comfortable as if he were in his own living room, Michael Colby, 63, lounged in a plush chair in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan and enjoyed a fruit plate.
63岁的迈克尔·科尔比(Michael Colby)懒洋洋地坐在曼哈顿阿尔冈昆酒店(Algonquin Hotel)大堂的豪华长绒椅上，品尝着果盘，就像在自家客厅里一样自在。
He spoke loudly and expansively about growing up in the hotel, and when an Ella Fitzgerald song came on, he exclaimed: “Ella Fitzgerald! She once serenaded me while I ate breakfast here.”
It was perfect timing for Mr. Colby to relate the trump card of anecdotes he had, from having spent much of his life living, working and playing in the Algonquin, the elegant Midtown hotel.
The Algonquin is renowned as the literary hangout of the Jazz Age. For Mr. Colby, it was simply home, he said on Monday as he visited the Algonquin, which for four decades was owned by his grandparents, Ben and Mary Bodne, from 1946 until 1987.
阿尔冈昆酒店是爵士乐时代文人最常去的地方。不过，对科尔比来说，它只是一个家。他是周一（3月30日）拜访阿尔冈昆酒店时说这话的。在1946年至1987年这四十年时间里，这家酒店归他的外祖父母本和玛丽·伯恩(Ben and Mary Bodne)所有。
Mr. Colby described himself as “a real-life counterpart” to Eloise, the little girl who lived at the Plaza hotel in the children’s book series.
He even included his middle name, Elihu, on the cover of his memoir, “The Algonquin Kid: Adventures Growing Up at New York’s Legendary Hotel,” because it sounds slightly like Eloise, he said.
在他的回忆录《阿尔冈昆酒店小孩：在纽约传奇酒店长大的经历》(The Algonquin Kid: Adventures Growing Up at New York’s Legendary Hotel)的封面署名中，他甚至加上了自己的中名Elihu，因为他觉得它的发音有点像Eloise。
Ms. Fitzgerald, he said, was a frequent guest at the hotel and would often buy Chinese food for the bellboys late at night. The tune she sang to young Michael, as he ate an English muffin in the hotel’s Rose Room, was from the musical “Chicago,” he said.
As a child, Michael, whose two younger brothers, Douglas and David, also stayed at the hotel, was doted upon by the Bodnes and spent weekends in their home: a huge suite on the 10th floor. Michael became a full-time resident of the hotel in his late teens.
He said Mrs. Bodne, the matriarch of the hotel and a favorite of many of the famous guests, encouraged him to order room service whenever he liked. She used to have the chef save his favorite dishes: squab, lobster and steak.
Michael also found the Bodnes’ stories delicious: how his grandfather hobnobbed with Harpo Marx, how Grandma was flashed by Marilyn Monroe, how she once stood between the writers Thornton Wilder and William Faulkner in the elevator and broke the awkward silence by snapping, “Don’t you two boys know each other?”
迈克尔还提到了外祖父母讲的一些趣事：比如，外祖父如何与哈珀·马克斯(Harpo Marx)亲密交谈；外祖母如何与玛丽莲·梦露(Marilyn Monroe)擦肩而过；有一次在电梯里，外祖母站在作家桑顿·怀尔德(Thornton Wilder)和威廉·福克纳(William Faulkner)之间，为了打破尴尬的沉默，她突然问道：“你们两个孩子互相不认识吗？”
Mr. Colby said the musical team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe worked on “My Fair Lady” in a suite directly below his grandparents’ suite.
科尔比说，艾伦·杰伊·勒纳(Alan Jay Lerner)和弗雷德里克·洛伊(Frederick Loewe)两位音乐人曾在他外祖父母楼下的套房里创作《窈窕淑女》(My Fair Lady)的歌曲。
Composing through the night, “in the throes of creativity,” he said, they woke Mr. Bodne, who called downstairs to complain. The disruptive song was “I Could Have Danced All Night.”
科尔比说，他们彻夜作曲，“在创作的痛苦中挣扎”。伯恩先生被他们吵醒了，就给他们打电话。他们当时创作的喧闹的歌曲就是《我可以整晚跳舞》(I Could Have Danced All Night)。
Young Michael had his own Lerner and Loewe encounter, he said, when they casually offered him a children’s part in their new musical “Camelot.” It never materialized, he said, “but as consolation, my grandmother took me as her date to opening night.”
“When I was born, Ted Lewis was the first person my grandfather told,” he recalled, referring to the singer and bandleader. And when a handsome man played with him, “How could I know it was Gig Young dandling me on his knee?” Mr. Colby recalled, referring to the Academy Award-winning actor.
科尔比回忆说，“我出生时，外祖父把这个消息第一个告诉了”歌手兼乐队主唱“特德·刘易斯(Ted Lewis)”。曾经有个英俊的男人“把我抱在膝上逗弄”，不过，“我哪知道他是奥斯卡奖得主吉格·扬(Gig Young)！”
When Agnes Moorehead once walked in, young Michael yelled, “There’s the witch!” at the actress, whom he had seen in a televised version of “Rapunzel.”
Mrs. Bodne would point out the big names to him, he said, including Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Noël Coward and Laurence Olivier, for whom she cooked chicken soup.
科尔比说，有名人出现时，外祖母会指给他看，包括田纳西·威廉姆斯(Tennessee Williams)、阿瑟·米勒(Arthur Miller) 、诺埃尔·科沃德(Noël Coward)和劳伦斯·奥利维耶(Laurence Olivier)。他外祖母给奥利维耶煮过鸡汤。
The playwright Mary Chase would give him chocolate bunnies on Easter, he said, and the Oscar Peterson Trio played during his bar mitzvah.
他说，剧作家玛丽·蔡斯(Mary Chase)曾在复活节时送给他巧克力做的小兔子；奥斯卡·彼得森·特里奥(Oscar Peterson Trio)曾在他的受诫礼上弹琴。
Mr. Colby grew up in the Five Towns section of Long Island. His home life was sometimes tumultuous, he said, and he was often bullied at school.
“The Algonquin was my escape, my safety net,” he said. “I was this privileged kid at the Algonquin, and this bullied kid back on Long Island.”
In his late teens he took a permanent room on the second floor, which he later upgraded to a half-suite two floors up. He worked various jobs there, and his grandparents hoped he might help take over the management of the hotel. But he was attracted to musical theater, and became a lyricist of musicals such as “Charlotte Sweet,” “Tales of Tinseltown” and “Mrs. McThing.”
快20岁时，他在二层得到一间可以永久居住的房间，后来他升级到了四层的一个半套房里。他在这家酒店做过各种工作，外祖父母希望他能帮忙管理这家酒店。但是他迷上了音乐剧，成了一名音乐剧歌词作者，创作了《夏洛特·斯威特》(Charlotte Sweet)、《浮华城的故事》(Tales of Tinseltown)和《麦克星女士》(Mrs. McThing)等歌剧的歌词。
His grandparents had a storage wing in the hotel converted into a studio, where he would hold auditions and rehearsals, said Mr. Colby, who lived at the Algonquin until he married in 1986. A year later, the Bodnes sold the hotel to the first of several investors and corporations that have owned it since. Marriott International operates it now.
The Bodnes have died and this Algonquin version of Eloise now works as a substitute teacher in New Jersey.
At the peak of his show business career, he said, people would recognize him in the streets of New York and say, “There goes Michael Colby.”
“Now in the hallways,” he said, “my students say it: There goes Mr. Colby.”