Recollections of a Badass
Byron McLean (Mack) Rankin (1930-2013)
Founder, President, & Executive Chairman, McMoRan Oil & Gas Company; Co-Chairman, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold; Advisory Chairman, MD Anderson Cancer Center
The life story of B.M. (Mack) Rankin Jr.
(see excerpt below)
One night, I got a call from my longtime friends Marcia and Bobby French, who owned a house at the Eldorado Country Club. Bobby and I played golf together most days and, during that period of time, I ate dinner with them two or three nights a week. I was unattached, so it was common for friends to invite me over for a meal. It was like having social guardians. On this particular evening, Bobby and Marcia were having a dinner party and they had an odd number because one of their guests didn’t have a date. Marcia asked me if I would attend the party as this lady’s date.
The lady in question was Dinah Shore.
My answer would have been yes regardless of whom my date might be. I wasn’t going to say no to my good friends. So I got myself ready and went to this dinner party. I mused over the idea that I had the advantage of knowing who Dinah was—everyone knew who Dinah was—but she had no idea whom she was being set up with. I was fairly certain the name Mack Rankin would illicit absolutely no reaction from her. My badass reputation hadn’t made its way this far west just yet.
Of course, this wasn’t a date in the traditional sense, and I’m positive Marcia wasn’t trying to play matchmaker when she plotted her seating plan. It was altogether customary for hosts to ensure an even number of guests at a party like this, especially when it was a smaller gathering consisting of mostly couples. And so it was that we enjoyed a lovely evening of food, drink, and conversation.
Several weeks later, I got a call from Jimmy. He was scheduled to play golf with Dinah but got hauled into a conference call at the last minute and couldn’t get out of it. So he asked me if I would take his place and spend the day playing golf with Dinah.
Okee-dokee, I thought.
Let me tell you that sharing a golf cart for eighteen holes is a great way to get to know someone, and that’s exactly what Dinah and I did that afternoon. One thing I learned about her almost immediately was that she was not nearly the golf player she thought she was. In fact, she was not very good at all. Somewhere around the fourteenth hole or so, she hit her ball into a sand trap. I watched from the golf cart as she wiggled around, trying to line up a shot to get her ball out of the sand. She had her back to me and was turning her derriere this way and that way, trying to figure the best angle to swing from. She finally decided to swing. The ball went flying in God knows which direction. She immediately turned to me and said, “Did you see where my ball went?” I smiled politely. Then I said, “Now, that’s a dumb question. You really think I was watching the ball with you wiggling your butt in my face like that?”
This broke the ice — if the ice needed breaking.