Fred Allen’s “Apology” Letter

In 1940, comedian Fred Allen (1894 – 1956), in his radio program, talked about a time he checked into a hotel in Philadelphia where the rooms were so small that a moth had to furl its wings and walk on the floor and even the mice were humpbacked”. This caused Philadelphia’s politicians, tourism board and business groups to condemn Allen’s remarks. They viewed this as black propaganda against Philadelphia. Even their local newspaper, the Public Ledger, censured him in an editorial titled “Philadelphia Fights Back”.

So, Allen decided to write a letter of “apology” addressed to the editor of the Public Ledger:

dr. editor,

the remarks made on my program concerned a small theatrical hotel in phila. twenty-five years ago. no mention was made on my program and no aspersions cast on the many excellent hotels in phila. today. i know that the benjamin franklin hotel is so named because you can fly a kite in any room. i know that the rooms at the walton are so large the world’s fair is stopping there when it goes on the road next fall. i know that the rooms at the bellevurstratford are so spacious that the army-navy game can be played in a closet. and i know that billy rose rehearsed his aquacade in a sink in one of mr. lamaze’s mastodonic bathrooms at the warwick. yrs., fred allen

Anyway, here’s another apology letter penned by Allen. This was addressed to The Uniformed Firemen’s Association, who invited him to join in their breakfast but he was unable to come:

Unfortunately, my radio chores keep me going 16 hours a day, seven days a week. This flagrant violation of the existing labor laws takes up the slack in my days which might otherwise be spent writing and memorizing talks given at gala functions. I’m sorry I can’t attend. You can get even. If I ever have a fire, you can send regrets. I’ll understand.

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