Almost any celebrity is glad to stand godparent to a child, a street, a monument, a steamship, a cocktail or a baseball bat. But there is a fitness to be observed in this business of name-lending. It would be very stupid for a manufacturer of safety-razors to name his product after Admiral Erberle; very rude of a mouthwash maker to call his deodorant "The Senator So & So" very short-sighted of a tire producer to christen his inner tubes for The Battleship Maine.* What adjective, then, can be applied to Louis and Isadore Cohen of New York City, who without permission bestowed upon a squat, ugly, evil-smelling cigar** the name of Maria Jeritza, prima donna?
Last week Madame Jeritza filed suit against the Cohens. Her full name, she explained, is "Maria Popper de Podhragy Jeritza, widely known throughout the civilized world." Could the name "La Jeritza" mean anyone else? Did not every Frenchman, Italian, Spaniard, use the definite article "La" to refer to her, the supreme, the only Jeritza, pre-eminent soprano of four continents? And this name the 'Messrs. Cohen had usurped. They had put it, over the trade name of "Cohen Bros.," on two kinds of box. One kind contained some dismal cheroots affectionately known as "Little Cigarros." The other contained larger cheroots; and on this box the Cohen brothers made themselves further offensive by printing, in connection with the name, the "picture of a woman in fancy dress purporting to be that of the plaintiff."
Madame Jeritza asked $25,000 damages.
*The Maine blew up, as everyone knows, in 1898.
**Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Robert Burns, Peter Schuyler, Lillian Russell, William Penn, Judge Gaynor (onetime New York mayor) and many another have had cigars named in their honor.