By DAVID PIEL
A story that José Ferrer loved to tell:
One day in the mid-Sixties, a handsome young man showed up at The Players with luggage in tow and with deep apologies for the surprise visit. He was sorry that he bore no letter of introduction from his club (one of our reciprocals, London’s venerable Garrick Club), but his journey was unexpected and could The Players possibly accommodate him? He was Tarquin Olivier, son of Laurence. Needless to say, his father was revered at The Players and he was welcomed with open arms. He took up residence in the club — in those days we had several sleeping rooms on the top floor — and spent a great deal of time here having lunches, dinners, drinks and charming the membership with delightful stories about London theatre, his family, etc. Tarquin was also an actor. After several weeks, Mr. Olivier had racked up quite a bill between sleeping accommodations, food and drink, but had not put forth a penny. The Managing Committee was reluctant to “post him” (son of the great Laurence, remember!) but finally got up the nerve to speak to him privately about paying down his now very large tab. He replied with words to the effect: “Oh of course. How remiss of me. I’ll take care of this first thing tomorrow.” He was never seen again. He was a fraud.
No one ever discovered the actual identity of this chap. When the real Tarquin (he's now 82 years old) learned what had happened, he had a few ideas of who it might have been, but as a gentleman and without proof he kept those names to himself. I was never told the size of the unpaid bill and whether or not it holds the club record, but we were had!
An actor and stage manager for fifty years, David Piel earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Stage Managers' Association. He is a 43-year member of The Players.