The Man Behind The Lilliputian Stripper From the 1940s through 1960s, the Catskill Mountains were a popular summer escape from New York City. Talent agent Jack Segal made his living booking novelty acts in the more than 500 hotels and resorts in the region.
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The Man Behind The Lilliputian Stripper

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The Man Behind The Lilliputian Stripper

The Man Behind The Lilliputian Stripper

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It is Friday morning which is when we hear from StoryCorps, the project that records family stories across America. From the 40s through the 60s, in the last century, the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York were a popular summer escape. The region was known as the Borscht Belt, especially popular among New York City Jews. It boasted more than 500 hotels and resorts that needed to entertain their guests. So a talent agent named Jack Segal made his living booking novelty acts there. Recently, his son Mort Segal and daughter Joan Feldman remembered their dad.

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MORT SEGAL: He employed performers that the other agents would never use or couldn't even find, like the Lilliputian stripper, blind xylophone player.

JOAN FELDMAN: He had dog acts.

SEGAL: He had dog acts.

FELDMAN: Sometimes the hotels would complain. Why are you sending me something like that? That's terrible.

SEGAL: Ms. FELDMAN But he felt for every person, there was a show somewhere and somebody would like them.

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SEGAL: So, a cop used to stand there to direct the traffic. And dad went up to him and said, I don't have a place to stay. Lock me up.

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SEGAL: He always thought that the next performer that he met would make it to the top. Unfortunately, something would always come up where the next step never came about. He had an acrobatic tap dancer out of Florida that was sensational. The guy developed a knee infection.

FELDMAN: And he came to live with us.

SEGAL: Right.

FELDMAN: I gave up my room. But this was my parents. My parents always took in the underdog.

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SEGAL: There was always an empty chair available at our kitchen table if somebody needed a meal. And I used to tell friends that the best shows...

FELDMAN: ...was after...

SEGAL: ...were the shows after the shows when they came back to our house.

FELDMAN: Yeah, isn't that where Buddy Hackett took a shower with his clothes on?

SEGAL: Yeah, it was just a fun time.

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INSKEEP: That's Mort Segal and Joan Feldman remembering their father Jack Segal at StoryCorps in New York City. Their conversation will be archived along with all StoryCorps interviews at the Library of Congress. And as always, you can find the Podcast at npr.org.

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