R.I.P. “Bunny” Bixler

She stepped on the ping-pong ball

Friends and family today paid tribute to New York socialite Laura “Bunny” Bixler following her death at the age of 75 from complications of jaw surgery. 

The cooking-oil heiress was perhaps best known for her expose of the country club life of New York’s privileged young in the late 1950s.  Her book:  “Just Ghastly: What Happened At The Game-room Closet.” enjoyed surprising success when it came out in 1962.  The book is held to be at least partially responsible for halting what many thought was a dangerous tendency toward inter-breeding among the social register’s top families.

Muriel Puce said of her long-time friend: “Bunny never really got over that ping-pong ball incident at the club when we were all at the Upper Richmond Girl’s School. It kind of haunted her. And Gloria (Gloria “Little Glory” Upson) was forever telling the story, everywhere she went – every party!   We were all sick of hearing about it.”  

Bunny, who lived at her family’s apartment at Park Ave and 71st, succumbed to a massive heart attack while undergoing temporomandibular joint surgery last week.   She had suffered chronic jaw pain for most of her life due to the clenched-teeth style of talking preferred by east coast debutantes. 

Mourners described Bunny as “really, top drawer.”

(Gloria explains the “ping-pong incident”, as it came to be known)

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55 Responses to R.I.P. “Bunny” Bixler

  1. bigsheepcommunications says:

    So, what exactly did happen in the game room closet? My condolences to Bunny’s family and friends.

    Like

  2. pegoleg says:

    It was locked. Thanks for your kind words.
    Gloria’s retelling of the incident is my favorite scene in a favorite movie -“Auntie Mame”. Remind me to show you my “Little Glory” imitation sometime – it’s not bad.

    Like

    • louisnbavarrete says:

      Well. And poor poor Gloria Upson with nary a mention! I mean to have been jilted is one thing, but that book was her idea after she visited Mame and saw her gloriously 😉 decorative collection. That have gave her the divine inspiration of commissioning Salvador Dali to design the leather bindings of two ping pong balls and racquet. Why, she went down to visit those blind Peruvian nuns who hand tooled each and every one and gave them her advice. Weekly, btw, that’s how she developed an addiction to cocaine leaves and had to leave 749 Park!!. At least we know that story!

      Like

  3. Libby says:

    A classic!!! Gotta check out Rosalind Russell in “Auntie Mame” (circa late 1950s/early 1960s)… brilliant!!

    Like

  4. rtcrita says:

    Oh, I absolutely LOVE this movie! I haven’t seen it in a while and now you’ve gone and made me want to run immediately to the video store and find it! I should just order it somewhere and buy it, it’s such a favorite. They just don’t make movies like that anymore, do they? Ah…those were the days…!

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  5. Pingback: Google & The Bunny Bixler Obituary: A Cautionary Tale | Ramblings

  6. Alright, I’ve gone and seen it. It must have been a set designer’s dream – all that redecorating! Gloria and her family were funny, but what made me laugh was the pregnant former secretary trying to sit on the backless sofa and ending up slithering on her back, unable to bend.

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  7. Bunny was the epitome of “an Upper Richmond Girl’s School girl.” She will be missed. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Epstein Home for Jewish Children, just outside Mountebank.

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  8. riffraff says:

    I’d go to the funeral but I’m the wrong kind. They’ll ask for a blood test. RIP Bunny Bixler, she was no riffraff.

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  9. It is with gratitude to Mr Kentington Rogers​ that The Pastry Pilgrim was made aware of the death of Bunny Bixler. Frankly, however, The Pilgrim was astonished to hear Ms. Bixler was so recently deceased, as he thought Bunny had died of shame decades ago, following her notorious humiliation in Mame Burnside’s Salon, and subsequent rough treatment in Mrs. Burnside’s memoir (“How Bleak Was My Puberty in Buffalo”).

    But, on reflection, The Pastry Pilgrim’s surprise is ameliorated by the news of Bunny’s astoundingly fortunate marriage into that cooking oil fortune. Such a marriage certainly enabled Bunny to slide into the unctuous embrace of her upper class, and would easily allow her misadventure with the ping-pong ball to be ignored.

    It is sad, however, that Bunny died as a direct result of tempromandibular joint surgery. The Pastry Pilgrim is amazed she did not know such surgery has been proved extremely dangerous. Bunny should have been aware of this, since the news has been full of unfortunate stores about similar procedures attempted on Bulldogs and Pugs — who suffer from the same problems of inbreeding as do Connecticut socialites.

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    • pegoleg says:

      If there are those who intimate that Bunny drowned her sorrows in an excessive consumption of Manhattans in the ensuing years since the ping-pong incident, that is not a topic upon which I choose to comment.
      You know I never gossip.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jhseattle says:

        Of course you are correct: gossip is for the ill-bred. But it has to be said that the consumption of Manhattans could only lead to ruin. Putting aside the willful ignoring of the healthful effects of both gin and vodka taken straight, it is simply stupidity to mix whiskey with vermouth. I though everyone learned that at prep school.

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        • pegoleg says:

          I don’t wish to speak ill of the dead, but I suspect Bunny was from new money.

          Like

          • John Hall says:

            Yes, indeed, new money is at the heart of all that is déclassé, and troublesome. Allowing such types into the fold is probably unavoidable, simply because they make such excellent contribution to the Alumni Funds. Gawd knows that, in 2 or 3 generations, they will have become worth the bother, but putting up with them all that time in between — that’s the problem. One does one’s best to encourage them that, like children, they should be seen, but not heard, but do they listen? Hardly. They end up making whoopee in the Game Room Closet, and throwing up those awful Manhattans in the potted plants. And gawd knows how they do it, but they always seem to make marriages with wealthy families, marriages which should have been ours. Sniff.

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            • pegoleg says:

              So true. If only one didn’t have to accept THEM to get their lovely, lovely money.

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              • John Hall says:

                Precisely! And well said, old chap!
                You are obviously top drawer, someone I would love to have a martini with. You wouldn’t mind buying would you? My trust fund hasn’t been up to snuff lately (actually, since 2008) perhaps you could lend me some financial advice, or the name of your broker, or just a loan? That would be ever so welcome.
                Oh, and do call me “Binky,” please!

                Like

  10. Stephan says:

    The actual line from Auntie Mame is “Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death!” Sadly, such inflammatory language was not acceptable for the movie going public back in those days and it was cleaned up. I’m sure the motion picture people would have preferred the original line but I do believe the Hays office was from Mountebank. Such prudes they were.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. (gasp) four…four….f-f-four thousand shares on Facebook?! HOLY CRAP

    Like

  13. I’d heard some time ago that pickled rattlesnake was served at the post-funeral reception. Which, regrettably, was interrupted by a very pregnant Agnes Gooch requesting to fix herself a Dr. Pepper.

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  15. weebluebirdie says:

    See, this is where I get confused with numbers, especially WordPress numbers. I hopped over here after reading you post about going mini-viral. So how come only me and five others like this one??? And I do like it. My friend loves the Auntie Mame film – must watch it. Bumping up numbers is a time consuming thing, I can’t be arsed with it – that’s my Kim’s Butt cultural reference!!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Good point. I think because all the views came from Facebook, not WordPress and you have to sign in to like or comment. Apparently people were motivated enough to stop by, but not enough to engage. Which is kind of my point.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Shannon says:

    Not to knock a fabulous piece, but I don’t get at all why it went ‘viral.’ This is no ‘David after dentist.’

    Like

  17. Paul Duca says:

    It was actually the late 1930’s when these actions were occurring (in play and film).

    Also, Joanna Barnes, who played Gloria Upson, was a Seven Sisters college grad with no interest in acting at all, and was working at TIME magazine when she won a talent search contest, after a friend’s mother submitted her picture.

    Like

  18. Kevin Dolan says:

    I am so saddened by this news. I can remember vividly how she’d try and (unsuccessfully) order in French whilst sitting at the lunch counter at Shraft’s. She was so desperate to get Patrick Dennis’ attention but always just missed the mark by this much… I hear the club is going to name a new ping pong pavilion after her. That’ll be nice

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Little Glory snagged all of his attention, didn’t she?
      A new ping pong pavilion? How lovely!

      Like

      • John Hall says:

        Harrumph. The Bixlers must have put out a pretty penny for that new ping pong pavillion. I don’t wonder it will be named in “honor” of Bunny – there is absolutely no shame in this world of ours, which is falling apart even as we speak, what with all these Facebook jillionaires showing up. New Money! Argh!

        Like

  19. Mike says:

    And what’s wrong with Muriel Puce?!

    Like

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