April 20, 2019
Remembering an ICON: “Mr. Stanley” Marcus
I arrived in Dallas TX in the Spring of 1980. I had never visited Big D. I would be there for four years… less six months in Las Hadas, Mexico but that’s another story. Fairmont Hotels had flown me in for a job interview.
Unpacking in my complimentary suite, I opened the entertainment credenza and turned on the TV … to the opening credits of DALLAS … that swooping helicopter approach to Downtown over The Stemmons Freeway … the ranch scene … and, of course “Southfork” … all with that pulsating Theme From Dallas in the background.
My immediate thought was:
“How much am I going to have to pay these people to allow me to be a part of All This?”
Fairmont Hotels actually paid me to be a part of Dallas in The 80s. An experience I will never forget. I still have the “fake Rolex” and ticket stub from my first Cowboys game somewhere. We’re talking Tom Landry / Roger Staubach’s “Cowboys”.
NOTE: Those of you visiting here for a snarky piece about “hated rivals” sports crap… sorry to disappoint you. I HAVE moved on from binge-streaming. LOL!
17 years removed from Nov 22, 1963 – Dealey Plaza – The Zapruder film et al … Dallas TX – 1980 personified The Delightful Decadence of Nouveau Riche. I don’t say that cynically. It WAS a delightful time – at least for me. I was not nouveau riche … just “a hotel guy” for what was then Dallas’ Most Elegant 5-Star Hotel.
“Mr. Stanley” Marcus was not nouveau-riche either. He was 2nd generation Deep Pockets Money. Stanley Marcus personified – to me – all the Grand Glitz & Glamour of Dallas’ Elite.
More than some faux-celebrity yahoo touted as The #1 Porsche Salesman in America. I forgot his name. I remember Stanley Marcus. … AND, of course, Texie Waterman who was the first Director of The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
As President / CEO / Chairman / Ambassador Emeritus of Neiman-Marcus for 50+ years… until his death in 2002… Stanley Marcus epitomized all that was Grand & Glorious about Dallas … separate from the wheelin’ dealin’ connivin’ JR Ewing-types in “the oil bidness”. I choose to remember “Mr. Stanley” Marcus as My Version of “Mr Dallas” in the 1980s.
Jethro Pugh of Dallas’ Doomsday Defense and Rafael Septien’s wife – Linda – were others on my short list. I knew Jethro through … never mind.
I thought about Stanley Marcus today when I saw that Neiman Marcus is declaring bankruptcy. The Neimans’ and Marcus’ had sold the world-famous retail company multi-decades ago to an souless global conglomerate…
The Era of The Iconic Retail Emporium has long passed. … sigh, sob, sniff.
Nordstroms in Seattle … Marshall Fields in Chicago … Macy’s – Bloomingdales – Saks 5th Ave in NYC … Richs in Atlanta … Famous-Barr in St Louis … even Miller & Rhoads in Richmond etc etc etc have all been sold – resold and swallowed up by evil – souless conglomerates.
If the names still exist … their cache has all but disappeared. To the point of nothing left but memories.
“Memories” of special shopping trips … fabulously decorated windows at Christmas … elegant merchandise with WOW price tags … polite professional sales associates who could tell immediately if you were a “shopper” or a “wannabee shopper” but they were always polite regardless.
I visited the N-M Flagship store in Downtown Dallas on occasion during my four years there. It always made me “feel good” to do so. I’m sure I bought something with the Neiman Marcus logo “just because”.
There was always a “street preacher” rompin’ and stompin’ on the sidewalk outside the store. Why do I remember THAT?
Stanley Marcus often attended the numerous charity soirees that The Fairmont was forever hosting. His familiar face – with perfectly trimmed beard – appeared regularly on the covers of D Magazine and Texas Monthly.
Stanley Marcus received every civic honor the citizens of Dallas ever dreamed up. Many likely “dreamed up” just to present to him.
I bet Stanley Marcus checked his windsor knot in a mirror before stepping out of his Lakewood home to pick up his morning newspaper.
I bet Neiman-Marcus did NOT have “casual Fridays” when “Mr. Stanley” was in charge.
His face was arguably as familiar to the citizens of The Dallas / Ft Worth MetroPlex as Tom Landry in his fedora… or Roger Staubach in #12 … or JR in his white stetson.
Stanley Marcus… was listed in the Houston Chronicle’s list of the 100 most important Texans, and was named by Harvard Business School among the greatest American Business Leaders of the 20th century.
The Advertising Hall of Fame notes: “Stanley Marcus was among the most important figures in the history of American retail merchandising and marketing. Through his many innovations, he transformed a local Dallas clothing store into an international brand synonymous with high style, fashion and gracious service.”
I never met the man. Maybe he kidnapped children and kept them in his basement. Maybe he was a closet cross-dresser with trunks filled with Vegas showgirl costumes. Maybe he had web-feet and put sugar on his grits. I don’t know about any of that. I prefer to think not… with the modicum of naïveté I still possess after all these years.
Here is a compendium of Stanley Marcus’ philosophical anecdotes of The Retail Business & Life. Pretty impressive stuff to me.
Wonder what it must be like To Be A For-Real ICON in a Particular Occupation? … Does one start out to be “an ICON” … or does one wake-up one morning and VOILA… One Is One! … Probably the latter don’t you think?
There are a number of accomplished men/women I wish I could enjoy an extended casual lunch with. Stanley Marcus was one. Tom Landry was another. “Prince Albert” knew Tom Landry. I’ve had many lunches with Albert. Can I count that?
Have you checked out – BobLee’s Favorite Movies ? Its not too late to do so… HERE