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Gordon Bennett
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    (May 10, 1841-May 14, 1918)
    Born in New York City, New York
    Birth name was James Gordon Bennett, Jr.
    Published the New York Herald
    Established the Paris Herald (forerunner of the International Herald-Tribune)
    He showed up drunk at the mansion of his fiancée’s family and urinated into a fireplace.
    He and his now-ex-fiancée’s brother fought a duel over the incident (both missed intentionally), after which he went into exile in Paris.
    He would walk among the tables at Maxim’s and other tony restaurants, tugging at tablecloths until he sent the food and china tumbling to the floor. He would then order that everything be replaced, send a bottle of fine wine to the diners, and pull out a wad of bills for the maître d’ to take enough cash to cover the damages.
    His eccentric behavior may have inspired the British use of ‘Gordon Bennett’ as an expression of surprise or outrage.
    He volunteered himself and his newly built yacht Henrietta for the US Revenue Marine Service during the Civil War. He captained the yacht as part of a fleet that captured Amelia Island off Florida (March 3, 1862).
    He could be an incredibly generous tipper, once giving the night porter on a French train $14,000, which the porter used to open his own hotel.
    He won the first trans-Atlantic yacht race (1861).
    He sponsored Henry Morton Stanley’s expedition to find David Livingstone.
    He established three Gordon Bennett Cups, as prizes for yachting, auto racing and ballooning.

Credit: C. Fishel


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