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January 23, 2014 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-01-23

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This One?

Chance encounters with legendary
figures fuel Bernie Moray's knack
for telling great stories.

Allan Nahajewski I Contributing Writer


a "Master of the Game" He bought

a Gorman's store in Detroit in 1965
and today sells more than $30 million
worth of furniture a year.
But in addition to his business suc-
cess, Moray also is known for telling a
good story. Some have a Forrest Gump
quality How does a furniture sales-
man from Detroit manage to meet
Barbra Streisand, Bill Clinton, Sparky
Anderson and the Jackson 5?
There's a story behind that.

Fabric For The Singer

Back around 1958, Bernie, a Detroit
native, was working Downtown for
Robinson Furniture and would dine
regularly at the Caucus Club. Then, the
restaurant's featured entertainer was a
teenage singer from Brooklyn by the
name of Barbra Streisand.
"When Barbra was 16, she won a
talent contest at the Blue Angel in New
York:' Moray says. "The Caucus Club
hired her to sing for $100 a week. She
had never been away from home. She
was poor. She had no money. I gave her
fabrics so she could make clothes for
herself. We developed a friendship. She
even came to my wedding reception"
Flash forward 40 years.
"One day, Barbra's manager called to
let me know she was going to do two
concerts in New York and two in Los
Angeles and asked which one I wanted
to go to. We picked New York and were
surprised to be seated in the front
Nearby were Barbra's husband James
Brolin, Secretary of State Madeline
Albright, Donna Karan and Regis
"It was a wonderful show, and at the
end, she introduced some of her guests.
When she introduced me and said,
`Where's Bernie?' I was flabbergasted.
She said, 'See you backstage:"
Once backstage, Bernie was sur-
prised again. "People came up to me to
say, 'I know about you. You gave her the
fabrics to make her dresses: We didn't
leave Madison Square Garden until 1
a.m. It was night to remember"

Dinner With The President

It was Saturday, Nov. 9, 1996, five days
after Bill Clinton was re-elected as pres-
ident. After a day of visiting museums
in Washington, D.C., Bernie and his

wife, Muriel, went out to dinner with
Muriel's brother and wife. When they
arrived, the maitre d' apologized for a
delay and asked if they would mind sit-
ting at the bar.
"While at the bar, we heard huge
applause in the dining room. I went to
see what was happening and came back
and said, `Bill Clinton is in there with
Hillary.' They didn't believe me, but it
was true. When the maitre d' came by,
I told him I didn't think it was fair that
I called from Detroit three weeks ago
and made a reservation, and this other
guy comes in off the street and you give
him my table. He knew I was joking
and laughed.
"The next time he came around, he
said, 'I'm going to seat you right next
to the president.' We ended up sitting
so close that our shoulders were almost
touching each other, facing opposite
directions. I could hear every word they
were saying without eavesdropping.
"I waited until they were done talk-
ing, then tapped him on the shoulder
and said, 'Mr. President, I'm Bernie
Moray from Michigan, and I want to
congratulate you on your victory.' I also
told him we have some mutual friends.
He said, 'I love Michigan. When you're
in an election, and you have a state
that's committed to you, it's such a great
feeling. By the way, who are our mutual
"I said Barbra Streisand, for one. We
talked for a while about Barbra. Then
he said, 'Who else?' I opened my suit
coat to show him the label. Martin
Greenfield is an international tailor I
met many years ago in New York. He's a
good friend, and I know he made suits
for the president because once he called
me and I asked where he was, and he
said, 'I'm in Bill Clinton's bedroom. He's
running late, I got bored, and there's a
phone here, so I picked it up, got a dial
tone and called you.'
"Anyway, the president and I talked
for quite a while. A little while later, the
maitre d' came by and said, 'Everyone
in the restaurant wants to know who
you are:"
Bernie was impressed with the presi-
dent's social skills.
"When you talk to him, he is focused
on your eyes. It's mesmerizing. When
we got up to leave, he said, 'Bernie,
how about taking a picture with me?'
He worked the whole room and still
remembered our names."

Have You Heard on page 14

12 January 23 • 2014


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