Henry Becton Remembers: Alistair Cooke

Reading Time: 2 minutes

From Henry Becton

Alistair_Cooke,_head-and-shoulders_portrait,_facing_front,_gesturing_with_left_hand,_during_interview,_March_18,_1974Vanya Tulenko — now an alumna but formerly in charge of the Ralph Lowell Society — reminded me recently of this letter from Alistair Cooke. 

In 1987 with encouragement from our Board we decided to create the major giving society named after our founder.  The intention was to encourage annual fund donors at the $1,000 level and above with special events and recognition in our annual report.  

I don’t recall whose idea it was to solicit some of our on-air stars, but in any event I sent a solicitation letter to Alistair.  He replied promptly with this characteristically dry-whitted, tongue-in-cheek response.  It was one of those letters that makes one’s day!



The text went as follows:

Easter Monday 1987

Dear Mr. Becton:

I am thrilled to receive your
invitation to join the Ralph Lowell
Society. I am not a clubman, but I
have always yearned to rub shoulders
with some of the glamorous starts of
television. And even though I dislike
champagne almost as much as its frequent
accompaniment (caviare), I cannot resist
sending you the enclosed in the hope, one
day, of meeting such breathtaking
celebrities as Vincent Prince and
Julia Childs. Do let me know if a
Ralph Lowell T-shirt comes with the membership.

Yours sincerely,

A. A. Cooke


  1. Ron Della Chiesa on July 8, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Enjoyed Henry’s Alistair Cooke story. He was a big jazz fan and I once ran into him at the Copley Plaza Bar in Boston. Like many others he was there to hear the great jazz pianist Dave McKenna. Alistair himself was a fine pianist and told me that “McKenna’s playing just knocks me out! I come here as often a I can to hear him.” A ubane sophisticated gentleman, whose persona defined the very definition of class. I once had another encounter with one of my other idols Vincent Price. That’s a whole other story that I wrote about in my book “Radio My Way.” Those were the days my Friends!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.