He was known around town as the tap dancing man with the wildly outlandish stories . His real name was George Bookasta, and it was only until recently that I learned those stories he told were all true.
Born on July 14, 1917 it didn’t take long before he was discovered by a talent scout. His Hollywood career began at the age of three and the family moved out to Hollywood. He starred in movies such as “Hell Harbor” and “Night Bird”. George was not only an actor but a track star, band leader, army sergeant, publisher, and above all a father.
I met George in the summer of 2011 when he came into Impressions looking for a turtle figurine. He was the kind of man that commanded attention. I can still recall the click of his boots on tile at the store. He spoke of his horse, Luck in the City, and invited me to watch her race at the Race Course from his box. Although I politely declined, that didn’t stop him. Over the course of the next few weeks I was greeted by George with “orchids” (purple carnations) and a story of his past. I grew to learn so much about his full and exciting life. I joined him on a few occasions for lunch and learned I was not the only one who had been enjoying his stories. Everyone in town knew George and loved the fascinating stories that were his life.
Impressions became a routine stop for George. He would greet us all and provide us with some “director’s wisdom” and of course a compliment. Even at 96, he was walking downtown from his apartment. On a few occasions, we enjoyed a tap dance routine. We heard stories of the war, his Hollywood band days, co-stars in his films, his love for his sons, and horse racing.
We all learned a lot from Mr. George Bookasta.
“Be firm but gracious”, “Be the real thing”, “Make people smile”.