1907 - Mrs. Patrick Campbell lights a cigarette and brings her dog The Plaza Hotel became associated with celebrities and the wealthy upon its opening, surpassing the original Waldorf Astoria in that respect. The Palm Court (then the tea room), with its mostly female guest list, was particularly frequented. Weeks after the hotel's 1907 opening, actress Mrs Patrick Campbell attempted to smoke there, and the resulting controversy boosted the Plaza's stature. The British star known to her fans as “Mrs. Pat” sparked controversy while staying at The Plaza. After ordering dinner she lit up a perfumed Egyptian cigarette and proceeded to smoke it. This occurred in an age when such a thing was unheard-of, and soon the headwaiter appeared and insisted Mrs. Campbell put out the cigarette. She replied, “My good man, I understand this is a free country. I shall do nothing to change it.” The press got wind of the story and a debate started over the ills of smoking. Soon smoking was banned in New York City subways, a law which was said to have come about as a result of this incident. She reportedly received her inseparable canine companion, Pinky Panky Poo in 1890 from Leopold II, the King of the Belgians, who reigned from December 1865 to December 1909.
For her second U.S. tour, Mrs. Patrick Campbell had made arrangements to stay at the brand-new Plaza Hotel. Her schedule included lead roles in several plays, including “The Second Mrs. Tanqueray,” “The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith,” and “Hedda Gabler.” But when the family arrived there that afternoon (with several servants and about 100 trunks in tow), they were shocked to discover that the hotel did not allow dogs. The New York Dramatic Mirror had described the dog as having “bright, black, beady eyes; hair that in a less distinguished dog would be called weedy, and paws like overgrown spiders’ legs.” One New York State newspaper even wrote an ode to Pinky, calling him a “high-bred puplet” and “sniffy little beast from kennels of a king.” Fred Sterry realized that rejecting Pinky Panky Poo would cause a public relations nightmare for the Plaza Hotel, so he decided right on the spot to allow small pets in the hotel. Mrs. Pat had to sign an agreement making her responsible for the dog’s good conduct. Poor Pinky was also relegated to either the maids’ or baggage elevators. Later, according to The New York Times, the doggie checkroom was located in the main corridor of the hotel. But on that day in 1907, Pandora’s Box was opened, and every woman in Manhattan felt entitled to treat her own pup to an afternoon or longer stay at the Plaza Hotel.