Werner Klemperer — the zany Nazi from TV’s Hogan’s Heroes — just turned up in a trashy old movie on TCM, which totally reminded me:
One of the first columns I ever wrote humorously referred to club majordomo Rudolf Pieper as “the Werner Klemperer of open bars.”
I was simply saying Pieper’s the notable German in a whole other situation than the notable German I’d referenced is famous for.
It’s like saying, “He’s the Norman Mailer of trash,” or, “She’s the Queen Elizabeth of origami.”
But Klemperer wasn’t having it.
His lawyer wrote me some very severe letters demanding a retraction because Klemperer didn’t drink and wanted no part of this association.
He just didn’t get it, wrongly interpreting the item to be saying the actor was an alkie.
But I carefully explained myself, assuring them that the write-up made no connection between him and boozing at all.
That shut them up — which confirmed my status as the Norman Mailer of trash.