In fifty years as a newspaper man and a playwright Kaufman was exposed to, and had scrutinized every form of fakery. Once a con man approached him with a promise that a quick investment in a gold mine would bring him untold wealth.
“You don’t even have to dig the gold,” he was told, “it’s just lying around”. “Hold on,” Kaufman demanded,” do you mean I’d have to stoop over and pick it up?”
At an early Hollywood dinner party an English author was shredding the reputation of a Broadway actress, capping it with, “She’s her own worst enemy”.
To which Kaufman quietly added: “Not while you’re alive.”
An early acquaintance once ran into the gloomy Dean of Broadway who was brought over by M.G.M. Congratulating George on the good work he’d done on the Marx Brothers picture, she asked if he remembered her brother, Stewart Stewart in New York. George remembered him, whereupon she confessed that their family name had been Muckenfus, but they had changed it.
“You mean your brother’s name, “George demanded, ”was Muckenfus, Muckenfus?”
Once while he was being driven about Hollywood by a chauffeur a policeman stopped the car for going through a redlight. Kaufman sat impatiently, reading a newspaper, while the officer wrote out the summons. When his ensuing harangue proved too much, Kaufman leant forward too much, Kaufman leaned forward, showing the front page to the police man. It listed the statistics on unsolved crimes in Los Angeles. Then he addressed the cop, “Two weeks ago, all my clothes were stolen from my hotel room. I called the police and they said they’d be in touch. That was two weeks ago, and now,” Kaufman continued pointing to the summons, “they’re finally gotten in touch with me!”
The Hollywood moghul Adolf Zukor once offered thirty thousand for the movie rights to a Kaufman play. Kaufman shot back a telegram offering Zukor forty thousand for Paramount Pictures.
During a gin rummy session his friend Charles Lederer was humming a tune of Sir. Arthur Sullivan’s with words of his own making, ‘O he nodded his head and never said no, and now he’s head of the studio’. Impressed Kaufman made a deal with Lederer who did not see any merit in his impromptu lyrics. ”You’ve just given me a brilliant idea for a show! I’m going to call it ‘Hollywood Pinafore’.
‘Hollywood Pinafore’ turned out to be a flop. Sometimes later he ran into Lederer again Kaufman clamped his hand over Lederer’s mouth, and said: “For God’s sake don’t sing anything!”