a prince, an assassin and a duke walk into a bar….

Prince Michael Romanoff was really an amiable American conman by the name of Harry Gerguson.

image found here

A short, debonair, mustachioed gentleman with an Oxford accent, walking stick and spats, he claimed to be the half brother of Czar Nicholas, or sometimes he was a cousin to the Czar, and more often than not, the Czar’s son. At other times he proclaimed himself to be a descendant of British Prime Minister William Gladstone, of a British Army officer, or of the man who killed Rasputin.

image of Rasputin’s assassin found here

The prince sported a carefully waxed moustache and usually dressed in a frock coat and gray striped trousers, carried a malacca cane and sometimes wore a monocle. In 1939 a group of his Hollywood buddies loaned him $7,500 to set up a restaurant. They didn’t expect it to become a success, but Prince Mike surprised them. He designed an eatery as flamboyant as himself.

Hat check room at Romanoff’s 1954

In 1945, Life Magazine wrote an article about him

“Under one alias or another Mike had cheated the tradesmen of two continents out of choice food, rare wines and luxurious lodgings. He once sold a priceless old master for $1500 while it still hung on the walls of a museum and made a fine art out of passing worthless checks. He was tossed out of England for ‘impersonating and marauding’ but the people he duped became very fond of the dauntless impostor and it was considered almost a privilege to be bilked by him.

image of Sinatra and Mikey found here

Although at his restaurant he moves skillfully from table to table, he treats many celebrities to nothing more than a good look at his retreating back.  Others, like the movie executive that displeased him or the lady columnist who irritated him and got kicked in the shins, are banned forever. Recently mentioned as a candidate for Mayor, he claims to be too restless for civic office and wants to sell his business to a proper party.  Already Mike has counted out the Duke of Windsor as ‘lacking the background’.

image found here

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 8:44 am  Comments (32)  
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32 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Aren’t ‘impostors’ interesting? We have one in the UK who is pretending to be a Prime Minister….

  2. I love the photo of him with Sinatra! doesn’t he look proud?

  3. The Duke of Windsor looks as cute and sweet as his wee doggie.

    • his outfit is so cool

  4. Ahhh to live in the day before background checks.

  5. it’s fun that despite being ‘found out’ for being nobody interesting, or of any particular talent, he was still a celebrity… the 1950’s equivalent of paris hilton.

  6. I know it’s just a romanticized notion at this point but I wish I could have been part of the ’50s Hollywood scene. What careless fun! Which era would you have liked to live in?

    • maybe the 60s London scene, or The Factory scene with Andy Warhol… no wait, the literary scene in Paris in the 20s….

      • Oh, shit. Those are all good ones. Can I change my vote? I’m going with London.

      • If we had a time machine we could do them all

  7. There’s something almost Dali-like in his mien.

    Always something for a late night here at The Crack


    The King

    • Good morning Your Majesty, you’ve been missing in action lately…..

  8. Impersonation is the sincerest form of flattery. Unfortunately the corsets give me hell – – – –

    nurse archievestite 😉

  9. You could get away with anything back then. And they’d love you for it….oh, what a life.

  10. “The prince sported a carefully waxed moustache and usually dressed in a frock coat and gray striped trousers, carried a malacca cane and sometimes wore a monocle. ”

    I do that all the time and I can’t get away with anything!

    • It’s all in the attitude 😉

  11. I think I’m going to give up on this hard work and diligent excellence bullshit and just start lying to people. It seems to be a lot more profitable.

    • I’ve been wildly fabricating and outright lying for almost five years. I haven’t seen dime one. Of course, you may come up with more profitable lies than I have.

  12. I’ve been impersonating an ordinary moderately sane American dude for a while, and it’s getting kind of boring.

  13. Yes…the good old days certainly seemed a lot more fun and forgiving than the times we live in now

    • Not if you were a woman, Sabrina. Hey, are you doing T-shirt Friday this week?

  14. *taking notes* …… just working on my winning smile now ……

    • It might be a little too late for some daddyp…

  15. I knew the English weren’t fond of ‘impersonating and marauding’ but I didn’t know they booted you out of the country for it. Is there anyone left there?

    • daddyp is still there…. with his gingernuts….

  16. makes a pleasant change from the usual ‘an Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman walks into a bar’ !

  17. Never have trusted a man sporting a mustache. It’s the facial hair of choice with conmen.

  18. So then, Michael Jackson named his kid after him?

  19. it is a privilege to be bilked by you,
    nurse myra. you can bilk me anytime.

    • Aw gosh Sera… thanks for the vote of confidence

  20. Another life less ordinary. nce thing for sure – he cetainly had the Duke of Windsor’s number!

  21. maybe I should go into this line of work if things don’t pan out for me. Don’t think I’d want to do the waxed mustache however.

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