Mr. Rene Black

Mr. Rene Black in the Empire Room

Mr. Rene Black

The phrase “rich, full life” was tailor-made for Rene Black who, in his 83 years, had seemingly been everywhere, seen everything and known everyone who could claim to be anyone. From 1943 to 1954, Mr. Black wore multiple hats here at our hotel – very similar to Oscar of the Waldorf – he served as maitre d’hôtel, master chef and director of restaurants where he implemented his love of culture and cuisine combined with his passion for art into everything he did.

Original sketch showing Rene Black toasting to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for another healthy year.

Original sketch showing Rene Black toasting to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for another healthy year (1949).

 

His kind spirit and humorous nature were infectious to all he encountered. It was at the Waldorf where Rene Black encouraged the Crown Prince of Norway to dunk doughnuts in his coffee, played chess with Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and helped the Duchess of Windsor with floral arrangements for her dinner parties. Armed with battalions of the Waldorf’s best silver and gold-encrusted glass, he even “refought” some of the world’s great battles in the Waldorf Towers with Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur through the numerous discussions they shared. His obituary states “He was known for his donations of bags of pennies to various charities. The pennies were collected from his waiters as a fine each time they made an error in serving or failed to answer one of his detailed questions on the origins of foods.”

Mr. Rene Black in the Empire Room

Mr. Rene Black in the Empire Room

 

This past week, our archive received a very generous donation from Mrs. Pamela Woods, a woman whose grandfather, art Professor Roger Pierotti, was a fond friend of The Waldorf’s Rene Black. This donation contains rare photographs, correspondence and original drawings which help to capture the true genuine nature of Rene Black. As our archive continues to grow, the stories about our hotel continue to be shared with you all.

A rough sketch of the Christmas card sent out by Rene Black juxtaposed to the finished product.

A rough sketch of the Christmas card sent out by Rene Black juxtaposed to the finished product (1951-1952). Every year during his time at the Waldorf, he sent out a Christmas card to his employees.

 

Though Rene Black was only with us for eleven years, his legacy lives on in the Waldorf archive. We take pride in the true Waldorf service we provide our guests. It is this pride we all share that is what makes us the greatest hotel in the world. So whatever it is that you do, do it with generosity, with kindness and with passion, like Rene Black. After all, people may forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.

 

For more information on Rene Black and other unforgettable Waldorf team members, please visit our archive website at http://www.waldorfarchive.org!

 

Erin Allsop, Archivist of The Waldorf Astoria New York

EA

@WaldorfNYC    http://www.waldorfarchive.org

Erin is a graduate student in the Masters program of Library and Information Science at CUNY – Queens College, where she is focusing her studies on Archival Management and Preservation. You may contact her by email at erin.allsop@waldorfastoria.com with any inquiries or questions you may have.