Yes, and The Tender Bar true story reveals that like in the movie, Moehringer's own father, a disc jockey named Johnny Michaels, had left when Moehringer was just seven months old. The boy would eventually find a group of substitute fathers at the bar where his Uncle Charlie worked, both via his uncle (his mother's brother) and some of the colorful regulars that included soldiers, actors, bookies, cops, poets, etc.
In his memoir, Moehringer writes that the bar was the only place where he felt safe. Despite their gambling and cursing, the men helped to guide Moehringer through the ups and downs of his youth. "I guess, in a way, having any role models is better than having no role models, with notable exceptions. But still, these guys were better than nobody." Moehringer grew up hearing his father on the radio, which he said created a kind of "haunting ache" since he could listen to him but not see him. In his memoir, he refers to his father simply as "The Voice." It was one of his father's radio nicknames and what his grandmother called him so she wouldn't have to say his name aloud.
Yes. Ben Affleck's Uncle Charlie in the movie is based on Moehringer's real-life Uncle Charlie, a barkeep who had two nicknames, "Chas" and "Goose." Like in the film, our Tender Bar fact-check confirms that Charlie was a colorful character who had a penchant for gambling and alcohol. However, unlike Ben Affleck's version of Uncle Charlie in the movie, Moehringer described his real-life Uncle Charlie as being bald and without eyelashes or eyebrows. This was the result of alopecia, a disease of the immune system. It resulted in Charlie being self-conscious of his appearance. There are no pictures of Uncle Charlie in Moehringer's memoir, nor do any appear to exist online.
Yes. In comparing The Tender Bar vs. the memoir, we found that in his book, Moehringer describes his impoverished extended family, specifically the time he and his mother spent living in the run-down home of his mother's parents, which included his grandpa, portrayed by Christopher Lloyd. Moehringer writes that his grandfather was "too cheap to be an alcoholic" and would continually call his wife "Stupid Woman" instead of using her name. J.R. Moehringer's grandparents' home was just 142 steps from the bar where his Uncle Charlie worked.
In high school, he went with his mother, Dorothy Moehringer, to live in Arizona. The movie entirely omits the years he spent in high school in Arizona, opting instead to fictionally depict him as living with his grandparents on Long Island until he leaves for college.
Yes, and like in the movie, it was malignant. Dorothy underwent surgery in 1975 to have it removed and spent a week in the hospital. Unlike what's seen in the movie, J.R. and his mother had been living in a nearby apartment in Great Neck, Long Island at the time, not with his grandparents.
Yes. As indicated above, The Tender Bar movie is based on American journalist J.R. Moehringer's memoir of the same name, which was published in 2005. It chronicles the experiences of his youth from age eight to his early twenties, including the time he spent at a local bar called Dickens, often to escape his turbulent family life. In order to condense the book into a movie, the film catches up with Moehringer in 1973 when he is 11 and skips over most of his teenage years. The second half focuses on him when he is a college-age young man (played by Tye Sheridan).
Moehringer says that it took him most of his life to write the novel, repeatedly trying and failing to successfully translate the guys at the bar to the page. He said that he would show up at the bar with chapters for the men to read, eager to get their feedback. "They were flattered that I was trying to write about them," he told NPR in 2005, "but we all recognized that I was not capturing them on the page. So it took a long time 'cause I didn't know how to capture [the bar]."
Yes. J.R. describes his mother, Dorothy Moehringer, as being the real hero of his memoir. He says that she was the person who encouraged him to become a writer. Like in the movie, she was also the one who had become fixated on him going to Harvard or Yale, which had initially seemed like an impossible dream but did in fact come true when he attended Yale. -New York Times
Yes. J.R.'s relationship with Sidney (portrayed by Briana Middleton in the movie) is a significant part of the memoir. Like in the movie, she came from a wealthy family. Her parents owned a construction company and their home was located in southern Connecticut, directly across the sound from Manhasset, J.R.'s hometown. She hoped to become a filmmaker or an architect. The movie alters Sydney's appearance. In real life, she wasn't black. In his memoir, J.R. describes her as having blond hair ("thick yellow hair") and almond-shaped brown eyes. He said that she had a fit body like ice skater Dorothy Hamill and had a version of Hamill's haircut. It's true that Sidney toyed with J.R.'s emotions by seeing other guys and breaking up with him multiple times.
Yes. "The good and the bad," said Moehringer. "I learned what not to do as much as I learned what to do. But they taught me how to love. How to tell stories. And they were always a group of men that I could go to and have them congratulate me and be proud of me, and I think every young boy needs that." -C-SPAN
The bar, which is located in Manhasset, New York (a hamlet on the North Shore of Long Island), still exists but under different ownership. It was called Dickens back when J.R. Moehringer used to hang out there as a boy in the 1970s. The owner, Steve, then renamed it Publicans (a publican is another word for bartender). After it was sold in the 1990s, it was renamed Edison's Ale House. Edison's closed in 2016 and the bar has since reopened as Publicans again. The exact Tender Bar location on Long Island is 550 Plandome Rd., Manhasset, NY 11030.
After the owner of the bar died, his widow, Georgette, fired Uncle Charlie for his "flamboyant rudeness," which instead of being funny had become disagreeable. Charlie had become the caretaker of his parents' (J.R.'s grandparents') house and lived there alone for a time until the house was damaged in a fire. It was then that the house was sold and Charlie left New York, eventually disappearing altogether, something that J.R. says he feared would happen. -The Tender Bar Memoir
"No, I don't," he said. "There was something different about this bar. So, even when I was hanging out there, I didn't think of it as hanging out in bars. I always felt that this bar was better than other bars, and looking back, I feel even more certain of that. It was different, and it was not just a bar. It was a meeting place of my hometown. It was the beating heart of the community where I grew up. It was a way I learned how to become a man, and it was also where I learned to love storytelling and storytellers. To me, it was always something other than a bar, and when the bar closed, I had no reason anymore to hang out in bars." -Expanded Books Interview
"They’re proud of this book," Moehringer told C-SPAN of the men. "And that's a great relief for me, because they feel as if their stories have been presented truthfully and so it sort of validates their lives in a way."