Shermane Billingsley, Guardian of the Stork Club’s Legacy, Dies at 78

Author: Yuvi May 20, 2023 Shermane Billingsley, Guardian of the Stork Club's Legacy, Dies at 78

“As a child, I lived in a number of apartments, a townhouse and our farm in Pound Ridge, but the place that I called home was the Stork Club,” she wrote in a revised edition of “The Stork Club Cookbook and Bar Book ,” written with Ken Bloom and published in 2022. “It was where I went after school, to have a Coca-Cola, do my homework and sit with my dad. It was where we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter at our family table. No matter what the occasion, that’s where we were.

She befriended the daughters of Bert Lahr, Gary Cooper and Jack Benny. She met Cary Grant with her friends when he was visiting a friend backstage on Broadway. (“We were a bunch of 14-year-olds,” she gushed later, “and we thought we were going to die!”)

Shermane attended the all-girls Spence School on the Upper East Side (she cringed at being chauffeured there and was finally allowed to take a public bus), learned ballroom dancing and was enrolled by her father in nearby Finch College so that he could keep her from straying like her wayward sisters. She later transferred to Connecticut College in New London but did not graduate.

Ms. Billingsley was in her early 20s when the Stork Club closed. Her father was tapped out. She quit college to save money, her cousin Robert Billingsley said in an interview.

In 1965, she married Craig Drill, a Princeton graduate, former Navy officer and investment advisor, and they eventually moved to Ridgewood, NJ. After that marriage ended in divorce, she married Timothy J. Wheeler, who worked at the magazine National Review. He died in 2007.

In addition to her son Austin, from her first marriage, she is survived by another son from that marriage, Clifford Billingsley Drill; two grandsons; and a stepbrother, Robert Rodenberg.

Did she ever give up on trying to revive the club?

“The club was like a living memory to her,” Austin Drill said by email, “and she hoped others might remember it too.”

“Even in her final months of life,” he added, “she was speaking with filmmakers, restaurateurs, publishers, historians, etc., about the legacy of the Stork Club, and how best to keep its spirit alive. So, no, she never gave up.”

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at

20 May, 2023, 4:04 am

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