In letters to stars, dignitaries, and chairmen of the country's most powerful organizations, Don Novello's alter ego Lazlo Toth pestered his victims for photographs, offered outlandish advice, fired off strange inquiries, and more. The strangest part? Practically everyone answered, leaving Toth with a hilarious collection of outlandish correspondence unmatched in the history of American letters.
The Lazlo Letters contains nearly 100 notes to public figures, including then-President Nixon, Vice President Ford ("I've been Vice President of a lot of organizations myself, so I know how you feel."), Bebe Rebozo, Lester Maddox, Earl Butz, and America's top business leaders. The replies, says the author, "classic examples of American politeness."
In an on-going correspondence with the White House, Toth suggests everything from ridiculously corny jokes for the President to use, to a campaign song sung to the tune of "Tea for Two." He asks the president of a bubble bath company just how to use the product, as the packaging instructions specifically state to "keep dry."
"No matter how absurd my letter was, no matter how much I ranted and raved, they always answered," reports the author. "Many of these replies are beautiful examples of pure public relations nonsense." One is not: columnist James Kilpatrick has a lone sentiment for Toth-"Nuts to You!" 247,000 copies in print.