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2016-17 New York Rangers Yearbook

ultimately immortalized in the 1955 film The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing - starring Ray Milland as White and Joan Collins as Nesbit - and in the recent best-seller American Eve by Paula Uruburu (Riverhead Books, 2008). Nesbit died in obscurity in California at age 81 in 1967. Garden II hosted a sporting card heavy with boxing, wrestling, six-day bicycle races and horse shows, along with national events such as the 1924 Democratic National Convention, a marathon that lasted through 16 days and 103 ballots. Movie buffs will recall that in Orson Welles’ 1941 classic Citizen Kane, Charles Foster Kane’s acceptance of the 1916 New York gubernatorial nomination takes place at Garden II (although, obviously, it wasn’t actually filmed there). Garden II closed with a boxing card on May 5, 1925, followed by a mournful eulogy by ring announcer Joe Humphreys: “Farewell to thee, o temple of fistiana. Farewell to thee, o sweet Miss Diana...”. The New York Life Insurance Building (51 Madison Avenue) occupies the former site of Gardens I and II, while Diana found a new home at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Garden III - the “Old Garden” - was built in just 249 days at 49th Street and Eighth Avenue under the watchful eyes of promoter Tex Rickard and architect Thomas Lamb. The fabled 18,000-seat arena, built at a cost of $5.6 million, opened with a six-day bicycle race on Nov. 24, 1925, and for 43 years was America’s premier sports and entertainment showplace. Ironically, Rickard did not live to see the blossoming of Garden III, suffering a fatal appendicitis attack on Jan. 6, 1929. Anyone who ever set foot in the Old Garden remembers its unforgettable atmosphere. ..the sky-high balcony...the haze from decades of cigarette smoke...the main lobby, a schmoozer’s paradise...the marquee...G.O. Cards...the organ (played first by Gladys Goodding, later by Virginia Thomas)... the unmistakable voice of John Condon...the Nedick’s and Adam Hats stores that flanked the main entrance... Sports - especially hockey, basketball, boxing and track - would be the lifeblood of the Old Garden. But it also hosted entertainment extravaganzas ranging from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Gene Autry Rodeo to star-studded spectacles like Mike Todd’s 1957 anniversary party for his film Around the World in 80 Days and President John F. Kennedy’s May 19, 1962 birthday party which featured Marilyn Monroe’s breathless version of “Happy Birthday.” On the screen, the Garden provided the inspiration, and title, for the 1932 Paramount epic Madison Square Garden,


2016-17 New York Rangers Yearbook
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