Remarkable Men

RIP quintessential New Yorker Jerry Stiller, 92. Born in Brooklyn, his career spanned 1957–2016. A graduate of Syracuse University, he was at home on the big and small screen and the stage, even doing a bit of Shakespeare and musicals along his life’s journey. He and his wife, Anne Meara, formed a highly successful standup comedy team that appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 36 times. Both flourished after they decided to go solo professionally. Stiller has 115 titles under his name at IMDb, but that doesn’t begin to reveal how prolific he was. He was in 206 episodes of The King of Queens alone. What he’ll likely be remembered for most is his wacky turn as Frank Costanza in 26 episodes of Seinfeld. He brought the terms Festivus and Serenity Now to such life that they still resonate. He has also acted with his son Ben and daughter Amy. He was married for more than 60 years. Well, done, sir. Thank you. Here’s the hardbound cover of his memoir:

As I was driving yesterday, Ella Fitzgerald’s beautiful rendition of the Gerhwin brothers’ The Man I Love came up on the homemade CD in the car’s player. And what did Movies!, channel 5–2 on over the air antennas in NYC, run last night in its continuing Sunday Night Noir series? A 1946 film of that title starring Ida Lupino, arguably the most underrated and underutilized actress in Hollywood history, as a tough as nails nightclub singer. Her voice was dubbed by Peg La Centra, who sang in the orchestras of Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Victor Young and Johnny Green, and who had an eponymous radio show on NBC in 1939. She also has 25 acting credits. She passed away at 86 in 1996.

Adapted from a novel by Maritta M. Wolff, directed by Raoul Walsh, who would later helm the crime classic White Heat (1949), the movie never really gets going and is more love story than noir. It is notable in one aspect — Bruce Bennett’s piano playing, which blew me away. Had I known his bio, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The guy was incredibly accomplished. Not only did he have a decent Hollywood career in supporting roles, he excelled in several other areas. A graduate of the University of Washington, he was a starting tackle in the 1929 Rose Bowl. He was the silver medalist in the shot put at the 1928 Olympics. Among the 151 titles under his name are three classics: Sahara (1943), Mildred Pierce (1945) and Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). He was also a successful businessman. He was married for 67 years when his wife passed away in 2000. He died at 100 in 2007. Kudos, sir, Here he is banging out Ira Gershwin’s immortal melody:

And here’s another remarkable gentleman. He’s in his 90’s. I see him most days out on his own, never in the company of an attendant. His wife is still living but doesn’t get out much. He has even dropped off a few books to me through the years.

I was in Stop n Shop at about 6:15 AM. For the first time in a while, there was almost nobody in there. I hope that’s a good sign… New York’s Finest have been taking heat for aggressively enforcing social distancing, so Mayor Red Billy DeBlasio is hiring 2300 “ambassadors” to do the job. Will anyone be surprised if beatdowns occur?
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vic fortezza

I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to Sicilian immigrants. I’ve had more than 50 short stories published world wide. I have 13 books in print.