On November 16, 1906, Caruso went to the Monkey House in the Central Park Zoo, one of his favorite retreats in his adopted hometown of New York City. There a young woman accused him of pinching her bottom. A policeman on the scene immediately took Caruso–confused and sobbing–to jail. The woman failed to appear at the consequent trial, and police were unable to produce any witnesses other than the arresting officer, who turned out to have been best man at the accuser’s wedding.
The judge found Caruso guilty of disorderly conduct and fined him ten dollars. The public, for its part, though initially unsure of Caruso’s innocence, soon returned to its thunderous approval of his performances.
Despite these episodes, Caruso’s life outside the theater was not entirely tumultuous. His marriage to Dorothy Park Benjamin in 1918 was happy and secure. His celebrated earnings allowed him to collect art, stamps, and coins. His clothing and furnishings were luxurious. He ate with gusto. And he was extremely generous.
A gifted caricaturist, Caruso gave his drawings away.
He would fill his pockets with gold coins and shower stagehands with them at the end of his concerts each Christmas.
He gave numerous charity concerts and helped raise millions of dollars for the Allied cause during World War I.
This remarkable man even paid his taxes early. “If I wait, something might happen to me, then it would be hard to collect,” Caruso reasoned. “Now I pay, then if something happen to me the money belongs to the United States, and that is good.”