Making Montgomery Clift

DATELINE: Extraordinary Film

The man who turned down the lead in Sunset Boulevard and East of Eden made it possible for other stars to have their great moments. Montgomery Clift played down his refusal to do those films, but we think he would have reached latitudes and heights later denied to him.

Monty Clift’s nephew Robert has made a biographical film documentary to correct decades of misinformation and misjudgments. It is better late than never and tries to address the legend that he was a self-hating, self-destructive homosexual.

The charges against Clift, salacious and mean-spirited, may have been vestiges of homophobia he constantly encountered, even from sadistic directors like John Huston (our late friend Jan Merlin who made List of Adrian Messenger with Huston confirmed this—and we have been dunned for saying it).

Robert Clift interviews those still around so many decades later—like Jack Larson (Superman’s Jimmy Olson) and his mother Eleanor Clift. They report Monty was a funny creative man with a giving personality. He was an actor and used life experiences all the time in his art.

Brooks Clift, Monty’s brother, collected and kept everything about his brother to the point of obsession and taped conversations. Yet, it was he who was duped into providing info that would disparage the man he most loved and admired in life.

Robert Clift is to be highly commended for sorting through all this data to give us a more balanced, kindest view. Robert was born long after his uncle died, and he does not have the benefit of a personal relationship. Yet, the trove of collectibles, never seen or heard, provide insights that might only come from sitting down with Monty.

Most people looked at his later performances as biography, not art. He loved being alive and enjoyed being artistic, but it was a world of cruelties and harsh realities.

This is a brilliant work, worth your time and should send you scurrying for any Montgomery Clift movie you can find.

Josh & Kyle Allen, Twin QBs of NFL

DATELINE: Boys Will be Quarterbacks!

 Siamese Twins?

Are we seeing double? Are they separated at birth? Are they twins?

The Red Zone of NFL has given us a double dose of cutie-pie QBs. We are now in double jeopardy of wondering how the NFL can allow players to take the field before they can shave.

Josh Allen and Kyle Allen are among the new generation of NFL quarterbacks. They have leapt into the Internet social media and beefcake dreamboat category simultaneously.

They are not joined at the hip because we saw them in different cities on the same day. However, we still cannot tell them apart without a scorecard.

Of course, one is always a tad shocked to find out that the star players are so young that they look like teenagers who could play the Hardy Boys in a new cable series.

TeenBeat might be featuring them on the cover. They could play Tom Brady’s sons in a movie.

One of them plays for the Buffalo Bills and the other now has taken over the Carolina Panthers. They are not your average blue-collar city boys. They are fresh off the farm.

Gleaming smiles and boyish good looks are not the kind of tough guy image you expect from grizzled NFL leaders, like Troy and Peyton. This is the new generation following in the footsteps of botox Tom Brady, whose looks now try to defy the twenty-somethings whom he must play against.

Of course, there is a big difference between looking young and actually being young. We don’t know if the Bobsey Twins of Josh and Kyle will fall into the youth movement of 2040 and find silicone to fill their wrinkles and cracks.

Right now they are so adorable that you wish the time machine would hold still for a few years.

We wish them long careers and hope they never are able to grow a beard like Ryan Fitzpatrick and cover up those beautiful doll looks. Movie contracts are sure to follow.

Yes, Tom Brady Wants Out of New England

DATELINE: Better to Receive than Deceive 

 Unimpeachable Source?

If you listen to the experts in Boston sports, apart from us, you have learned this week that Tom Brady is greasing the skids to slide out of town at season’s end.

Tom knows which way the wind blows:  and it is blowing westward toward the San Andreas fault, where Tom can shake the earth on his own terms.

We must agree with the details that Tom Brady is done in Boston, though the bigger picture may be smaller.

It seems that Tom has two reasons to leave: and they are Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, both of whom have left him stranded without a receiving corps in an annual denuding of first-rate players. Whenever Tom finds someone to his liking, that player is sent packing for reasons usually salary-related.

And Tom remains among the lowest paid superstars at QB position. Taking a hit for the team has grown tiresome for Tom.

It may be that Tom wants to prove, finally, in his golden years, that it is he, not Belichick, who won six Super Bowls.  If New England wants a seventh, he may provide it on the way out. The door may slam on someone’s ass—but it won’t be Tom. Bill Belichick will stay on. Perhaps Josh McDaniel, beloved Babe, will follow out west.

Tom can win two or three more Super Bowls playing for the Raiders in his hometown. Fifty may be the new retirement goal.

Then again, Tommy—and Belichick too—want to show they never needed the other to win the next SB. Unfortunately, they both do need each other—and only will a final separation prove it to them and to the world. Belichick will hold on until his son can become the new King of the Patriots coaching corps.

For New England fans it will be too late and a bitter pill. Tom doesn’t love you anymore.

In the meantime, Tom snipes at the Boston press—whom he has grown to dislike more than ever—and he and his best friend-trainer, the Svengali of TB12 methodology—have put their Massachusetts homes up for sale in prep for the next season in Oakland.

Yes, you can go home, Tom. And Boston was never home, even after 20 years of suffering through fame and fortune, bad weather and a hundred-fold of receivers.

Sam Darnold Sees the Phantoms

DATELINE: Ghost Hunters

If you saw New York Jest Quarterback Sam Darnold, of mono fame, on Monday Night Football, you saw a man spooked.

Yes, the young and callow big QB was mic’d up as they say for the cameras. He did not disappoint. When all the cursing is done, and whitewashed out, you had the tall drink of water having the worst night of his life. If you dismiss the night he caught mono…

He ended up with a QB rating of 6.5, which sounds nearly as abysmal as anything this season by anyone.

That conjurer of ancient gridiron spirits, Merlin Bill Belichick, apparently sent Macbeth’s witches to bubble up some trouble for young Darnold. Too damn young for being darn old.

The Jets main man said on the bench after one appalling interception that he was seeing ghosts out there on the field.

We, of course, believe him, as we have seen the power of orbs flying by at breakneck speed. These little photons of light are really the spirits of past football for Darnold, and they are making mischief that would do poltergeists proud.

Marley’s Ghost might have offered him some sound advice on how to deal with the Patriots defense that was fired up to deny the existence of ghosts.

Perhaps Hamlet’s fatherly ghost might have warned him of a coach would pour poison in his ear. That Jets coach was heard to tell him that he knew what to do. Apparently the coach did not know or have the number of an exorcist on his speed dial.

You can scare children with ghost stories, or conversely you can scare QBs like Josh Allen and Sam Darnold who look like giant kids playing a game of chess with the Grim Reaper. Shades of Shades.

Stonehenge Secrets on Ancient Aliens

DATELINE: Going in Circles

For the seventeenth episode of this highly segmented season, Ancient Alienstackles in depth the ancient monument of Stonehenge, built, no surprise, by aliens or their stand-ins.

Of course, over the years, they have done bits and pieces on the topic. Now, they are putting full focus on the location that they now report is a hotspot of UFO activity, showing an unidentifiable spot in the sky that they claim is a flying saucer.

They also tease viewers with the idea that the builders of Stonehenge have “vanished,” which sounds a great deal like Roanoke Island colony, which is the following show on History Channel. There are no accidents on History’s network.

This week featured more hopscotch than usual, both in terms of logic and logistics. Our British theorists took over travel around their own country, keeping those pesky Americans out of the area:  even Brit Nick Pope was relegated to studio duty.

The ancient theorists contended that there were many, many stone circles all around the globe, many predating the Stonehenge (which is a mere shadow of its original self), coming in at 75% destroyed.

It seems other circles are twice as old—and the heavy stones could have been transported by a race of giants whose DNA record has disappeared. How and why, you may well ask.

It seems the quartz crystals when compressed create a kind of electro-magnetic energy, meaning you needed heavy stones of a certain kind in a tight circle. This might be the means to create portals by which to travel. This is all reminiscent of the Nazi Bell circle (which no one brought up).

We also wondered why they had spaceships if they only needed to make magnetic portals by which to flee earth.

The show never addressed some of these questions but did note that crop circles were telling us how to recreate the lost technology of stone circles.

If you ask us, we have been going in circles for quite some time.

 

Who Was Paul Walker?

DATELINE: Short, Full Life

If you were not a fan of the action series Fast and Furious, you likely never saw actor Paul Walker appear in a big movie. Oh, you likely saw him grow up on TV, as he was a child actor in commercials and series guest roles. He was absolutely stunning to look at from the earliest age.

This documentary titled I am Paul Walker is another in a series of biographical films to study  flashy stars who died prematurely.  This entry presents us with someone you might enjoy knowing.  He was easy-going, charming, beautiful to look at, with a sense of adventure (swimming, surfing, fast cars).

The film is hagiography, without a critical bone, but what’s to criticize except the hideous monster called Fate?

The film is an homage, and really is a family photo album. His brothers and sisters, as well as parents, all devout Mormons, are as all-American as apple pie. They can be angry and have a short-fuse, or so they tell us, but their gleaming smiles and bright eyes belie that assessment. His brothers are just as handsome as Paul. His friends are like brothers.

With an abundance of videos, photos, and film clips, each more intensely picturing Paul, you have a valentine, not a movie.

Paul may not have been Olivier, but he did what he did quite convincingly and with commitment. One of his earliest boosters was actor Michael Landon.

Yet, no one points out that he was robbed of childhood by a stage mother, no matter how sweet she is, who was behind his every audition. Of course, he was always called back: he was a head turner.

Since the film puts most focus on his intense relationships with other men, it comes as a shock that fathers a child out of wedlock, and out of the Varsity Blues. Life with Paul was Pleasantville.

How could you not fall in love with him? He was a surprise and delight at every turn.

As a daredevil surfer boy, he grew into a humanitarian and amateur marine biologist, fascinated by the white sharks that surrounded his favorite surfing haunts. He used his wherewithal to help Haitian earthquake victims—and visited there. He was unconventional and ultimately transcended his outward beauty.

His death in a fiery car crash put an end to potential just starting.

Alien Gray Matter? Mind Your Alien Brain!

DATELINE: Light Thinking on Ancient Aliens

 

When Ancient Aliensdecides to tackle the issue of psychic energies, there is an obvious blame game: those ancient space travelers came to earth 200,000 years ago and turned on the switch for the “neocortex” in the human brain.

 

Then, they completely undercut the theory by examining the cryptic, obscure, inconclusive predictions of Nostradamus. Their explanation for his lack of clarity (though they give him lots of credit) is that he was protecting himself from witchcraft charges and being burned at the stake. It’s around the same time that Leonardo da Vinci had the same problem.

However, the show is on firmer ground when it examines the validity behind psychic research with the discovery in 1935 of ESP.

The information about the differing methods of communications is intriguing: they specifically discuss precognition as looking at the future (as do all good soothsayers) but dismiss more quickly a look at past events (which may be post-cognition).

The show is more interested in the sensational stuff: like moving objects by brain power. These talents were given to all, but only a few select people (perhaps abductees?) are having their neocortex switched on.

Another intriguing examination is the notion that light photons emitted by the human body is a form of telepathy on which communication or messages may be received or sent. They use Biblical examples to illustrate how prophets often are glowing with knowledge.

Again, replacing the Akashic Record with something now called the Holographic Universe, the series insists that past, present, and future, are all stored in a place that is accessible.

And, the show comes full circle with Nostrodamus predicting that humans will migrate to other planets for survival.

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Cooke: Lady You Just Shot Me!

DATELINE: Why Was Sam Cooke Killed?

 You Still Send Me!

How long ago it was! Sam Cooke was a budding, all-American giant of music, but even more amazing, he was the boy next door who was African-American. The film is Lady You Shot Me!, a frightful documentary about the life and death of Sam.

He was murdered, executed, or shot under mysterious circumstances. A religious gospel singer, it seemed unfathomable back than that Cooke was in a “seedy” motel room with some street-walker.

Of course, we know nowadays this may be more often the norm. Yet, with Sam Cooke it seemed improbable. He was lumped in with Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King as the three titans of Civil Rights.

You probably never hear much about Sam because his music is owned by Allen Klein and his associates: and some theorize they had something to do with stealing his profits and doing him in. Klein died in 2009, but he and his followers have stopped many a documentary about Sam from being made without their control.

So, this latest is also one without the most compelling part of Cook’s legacy: you will not hear his music. It isn’t allowed. He wrote “Wonderful Life,” ironically enough, “Cupid,” “You Send Me,” and “Another Saturday Night,” another delightful ditty about being alone. Now you seldom hear his music.

And you certainly don’t often hear the horror and tragedy of what happened to this talent. An inquest quickly dispatched his death, ruling justifiable homicide to a motel manager who shot naked man who had no weapon. She testified in dark glasses and had no attorney. She didn’t need one; the fix was in.

A few of his nephews contribute to the storyline—and also have done what they could to keep Klein’s company out of their lives. The documentary consults noted coroner and lawyer Cyril Wecht who examines the evidence but cannot sign on to a conspiracy of murder.

However, there are enough legal mumbo-jumbo moves by Allen Klein to take over Cooke’s music estate and run with all the profits to think he, at least, took advantage of an untimely death. Of course, it’s not the first time that an uppity black man was put down.

Fair or not, it is a strong backbone to the story of a man killed fifty years ago in a senseless action in Los Angeles. It was more than black America’s loss, it was the loss of a generation of music he would have created for everyone.

Studio 54: Celebrity Watchers

DATELINE: Time Capsule to Disco World

 Roy Cohn with Schrager & Rubell

For less than three years, a couple of Brooklyn entrepreneurs managed to create and to put on a 1970s theatrical experience called a disco club. It was Studio 54, on the heels of downbeat Watergate. Dance and music was where and when diversity became a fad lifestyle of Manhattan life.

Now a documentary gives us a horror story wrapped in glitterati and cheap sequins.

Studio 54, as a documentary, is a fairy tale with a sledgehammer of social cautions and moral outrage.

Steve Rubell was the more recognizable name: and his partner in business was Ian Schrager. After researching gay, black, traditional nightclubs, they decided to make a dilapidated old CBS studio where Captain Kangarooonce romped, into the disco generation’s celebrity baptismal.

Studio 54 was the place where you found throngs and mobs of stunning beautiful young men: Cartloads more than you might ever suspect could be found in a swarm.

Glitz and chintz made a spot for beauty and money to become a lifestyle passport. In six-weeks they put on a show where a balcony gave patrons with lorgnettes a chance to ogle Warhol, Jagger, Paul Newman, Sinatra, Liz, Liza, Liberace, Cher, Cary, Bianca, Truman, Halston, Barishnikov, Michael Jackson, and every name of the era in one hopped-up setting.

You put the best-looking man out front as the doorman, and you watched a happening happen.

Director Matt Tyrnauer puts together a Zeitgeist film to capture spirit, energy, and history, as a spot where glamour had its last stand. Movie stars, musician superstars, and ordinary beauty, cavorted together with freaks to pulsating lights, music, and—gulp, drugs.

There were floor shows like Las Vegas fantasies with performers who transcended their roles with the patrons.

It was America’s Fall of the Roman Empire: the god-awful punishment awaited, pestilence and plague on all your houses: AIDS. Rubell was the epitome of the age, a gay man in massive denial about his identity and living out his suicidal excesses until the roof caved in. He went in the first wave of incurable and shunned AIDS victims of the late 1980s.

His partner’s father was one of Meyer Lansky’s mouthpieces, though Ian Schrager knew nothing about it.

As if a fall from grace was ever possible without some satanic majesty, one of the biggest frequenters and closet queens of the age, the evil Roy Cohn became the attorney for the club (and later for Donald Trump). It underscores the tale and takes it into the realm of hallucinogenic socio-political shock. No liquor license? Arrested? Schrager and Rubell called Cohn.

Downfalls are good for the soul and bad for the soulless.

 

 

 

Did Tom Brady Just Fall Off a Cliff?

DATELINE: Old Overnight?

We know Tom Brady infamously jumps off the cliff in the off-season, diving into a pool near his vacay estate in Costa Rica Plenti. Now, after years of ominous predictions, have we just witnessed the aging phenom being pushed by the Grim Reaper into a new phase?

Though the Patriots won their fourth game of the season, undefeated still, it was the worst performance by Brady in a winning cause in his career.

No touchdowns—and an interception in the endzone. His QB rating is on a par with Trump’s popularity poll numbers.

Yikes, he could not do much at all. We blame the team management for disarming him: every season they take away one of his best weapons, the latest is the release of Antonio ‘who me a violent offender?’ Brown who made life easier for Tom.

Head Coach Bill Belichick has made it his mission to divest every weapon that Tom likes from the team. Where is Amendola? Gone with the wind. Where is Edelman? Playing hurt, and Tom scrupulously avoided throwing to him.

His best receiver was wearing a Mae West corset under this jersey, which made him look like a candidate for the RuPaul Drag Show. He played gamely with a busted rib or two. No one wants to confirm how many cracks they found in the ribcage.

His go-to second bananas, like James White and Phil Dorsett, were MIA when it came to push and shove.

Tom was also making decisions that rival those of a rookie QB—going for glory and long passes when shorter and less spectacular will do. It was all reminiscent of past aging QBs who refused to admit there is something rotten in the state of their game.

Tom still looks personally spectacular, dapper and smooth, resembling Adam Vinatieri’s son rather than his contemporary. However, under the creamy Botox layer beats the heart of a man who just fell off a cliff.

 

 

 

Jan Merlin: Statuesque Among the Stars, 1925-2019

  Jan with his Emmy Award!

My co-author and most important literary collaborator has gone from this world.

Jan Merlin might be recognizable to a generation or two of film and TV fans as the villain who populated a hundred TV shows. He made movies with Ann Sheridan, George C. Scott, and Woody Allen. He starred in two 1950s TV series, The Rough Riders—and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, with Frankie Thomas.

A veteran of the Navy in World War II, Jan went from the military during the big war to the Neighborhood Playhouse where he learned the craft of acting, though he had many talents. He always thought his acting fame was a lesser role. He was always the antagonist to some western star, or some dubious military man.

Yet, despite playing dastardly villains almost constantly, with his Aryan looks (Polish American out of New York City), he was a genteel man with a sense of art and brilliantly self-educated. Like a generation of those who were never able to attend college, he more than made up for it with a dozen books to his credit. He loved fiction—drawing  upon his movie background, or his experiences in Japan after the war.

Together we did a half-dozen books of which I am most proud. We did only one work of fiction, The Paid Companion of J. Wilkes Booth. Most of our Hollywood history tales were based on his insider knowledge of how a set work, from knowing nearly every star of the 1950s and 1960s. He laughed they were all “six feet tall,” no matter what the truth might be.

We wrote about Boys Town, Billy Budd, Reflections in a Golden Eye, among other films, giving a unique perspective on daily life during the studio shoot. He knew Brando, Taylor, Clift, James Dean, in ways that others could never understand. He threw James Dean out of the Pier Angeli house at her mother’s request.

When we did not write books together, he gave me editorial and research insights for my books on James Kirkwood and Audie Murphy. Oh, he knew them too.

Now he is gone, irreplaceable in my life and in Hollywood history, with all those insights and memories. He had stories he would not tell about the damaged figures of show business. He took those secrets with him, as much as I wanted to hear them. He was loyal to the memory of the business he loved and hated.

Once I called it ‘Tinseltown’, and he reprimanded me: it was a cherished professional location, not a frivolous tabloid fantasy to him. He introduced me as his “son” on occasion, which amused me–and made movie star Frankie Thomas look at me with quite an impression.

Goodbye, dear Jan. I am so lucky to have known you and to have worked with you. I have been left a treasure trove of his life, and maybe one day I will tell what he told me. He was my touchstone to a bygone era and glorious movie history.

Patrick Swayze Remembered!

DATELINE: Gone 10 Years!

 I am Patrick Swayze!

Has the Dirty Dancing Ghost star been gone for ten years?

The documentary put together by those who loved him (wife, brother, costars, friends, agents) is powerful its use of one word: “heart.” It seems to crop up regularly from a variety of people. He had it and he gave it.

The film description said he “challenged Hollywood’s notion of masculinity,” which perplexed us, as he seemed instead to epitomize it. He could play a cowboy, a dancer, a roadhouse thug, in action films where he did his own stunts. He was vibrant, and only handsome incidentally. He was an athlete or a ballet dancer, and from that root came everything else. This is one of a series of biographical films, this called I am Patrick Swayze.

His mother was the ultimate stage mother: she ran a Texas ballet school, and it was obvious Patrick Swayze would be part of that world. Knee reconstruction from football injuries put him in pain whenever he did those roles thereafter.

He did not want to be a teen idol, though his roller blading was stunning, and his dirty dancing made him internationally famous.

Friends talk of his soul of a poet, how well-rounded in arts he was. Rob Lowe and C. Thomas Howell were teammates, rivals, and friends, from the Coppola movie The Outsiders. He costars noted he was mild and dynamic at the same time.

We always found him watchable and curious about what he might do: sometimes he took on roles that did not interest everyone, but he was his own man in that regard. Then, he was sick with pancreatic cancer and gone abruptly. It now appears to be a grave injustice of the universe to take away a person who epitomized life.

He wanted to prove there was life beyond being a sex symbol, which led him to do sky-diving stunts in Point Break and brutal fight scenes. He was not wanted for one of his great roles, in Ghost.The director had to be convinced, but Patrick Swayze always convinced anyone who put his attentions on.

Like the proverbial meteor, he came, shined by in the firmament, and went away. Like many others, after seeing this film of his life, we miss him too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halston: Fashionista with Un-Common Touch

DATELINE: Clothes Make the Woman

 Halston, Taylor, Minelli at Studio 54!

Fashion designer extraordinaire, Halston was part of a generation that self-immolated by 1990. Most of them were gone: trend-setting, pop culture icons:  notably Halston (he only needed one name, like Liberace). A fascinating documentary aptly named Halstontells the tale.

The 1950s gave young talents like Halston and Warhol a youthful connection to fame, but it was by the 1960s they took charge of their lives. Halston was a gypsy of America, living in no true fixed abode. So, he was likely to be self-made.

He was ambitious and flamboyant, ready to take his energy and ideas into all kinds of creative realms. He was the pioneer who made Europe take note of American fashion, though he was later given rivals like Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein.

Halston tried to stay ahead of the curve, branching out into aesthetics like perfume with bottles as arty as popular. He melded movies and fashion together, finding that his association with people like Liza Minelli and Elizabeth Taylor were ways to grow socially and artfully.

It started to go wrong when he splurged into Studio 54 with Warhol, Capote, and the raft of disco dollies. It was, some said, the beginning of a dissolution.

The documentary never says much about his aging, but it’s there: clearly losing youth to something harder. He became as hard as his looks, or perhaps his looks took on his personality: moody, bossy, self-centered.  It wasn’t pretty, when he started to be less pretty.

Others thought his greed was the deciding factor that led to his destruction: he sold out to J.C. Penney, going from class to mass appeal. It alienated his well-to-do friends and undermined his name. He actually sold his own name, and lost control of it.

The end featured more intrigue that Ancient Rome, as he was pushed out (literally locked out) of his own empire by locksmiths and Playtex bra people who bought his name. A few thought it was drugs that did him in, if not promiscuity.

It was the 1980s and the deadly virus that swept through art circles in theatre, fashion, music, especially in New York, took him too. Andy Warhol once said that he’d want Halston and Elizabeth Taylor as his chums because they were so nice.

This celebrity name-dropping documentary may stir memories in a generation grown old. Halston was loved by many people who felt he epitomized tragedy by the end.

 

 

 

 

The Last Monarch

DATELINE: Birth & Rebirth

Seasons come and go, and so does life. We were surprised to see a late season chrysalis on the nearby tree. We waited for the inevitable cycle of birth and transformation. The beautiful green cocoon with its threaded gold leaf like a zipper held firm in the wind.

And so we waited for the inevitable blackness to befall it.

 

Usually within 24 to 48 hours after turning black, the chrysalis will start to crack open like an egg, and the inside beauty shall emerge—depending on weather and dryness. But it was chilly lately, the end of a coolish summer.

   Our last vision was of the Monarch flying south for the winter, heading for Mexico, perhaps, as long as ICE did not stop him at border!

Every Act of Life: Terrence McNally

DATELINE: Surviving Show Business

 Terry McNally & Eddie Albee back when….

In all my connections to Broadway writers, Terrence McNally never came up much.

Now James Kirkwood would talk about everyone in show biz! We gossiped about them all. Yet, there is no memory of him mentioning McNally.

Oh, they knew of each other: gay writers winning friends in great theater. Kirkwood certainly knew Edward Albee who was McNally’s first important boyfriend, but McNally may have been too openly gay for Jim Kirkwood. It’s the only conclusion to make.

Every Act of Lifeis a documentary on the life of McNally who worked with every actor imaginable since the death of Jim Kirkwood in 1989, and that may be the survival of your reputation in show business. Richard Thomas, Nathan Lane, Rita Moreno, F. Murray Abraham, Angela Lansbury, all share memories of their careers and personal ties to McNally and his funny and varied plays.

All Jim’s closest actor friends, like Sal Mineo, are long gone. One young writer once said to me: “Wow, I didn’t think any of Kirkwood’s friends were still alive.”

McNally survived, though people like Robert Drivas, his tempestuous and exotic actor boyfriend after Albee, died of AIDS in 1985 in the first wave of notable show business deaths. Drivas was a closet case, and yet it was open and flamboyant McNally who still lives nearly forty years later.

There is no accounting for survival, but you have to admire it when it shows up at your door. The film on the life of McNally is likely a tonic and a fizz for gay people who need superior role models. If you die too soon, you can’t be much of a mentor. If Jim Kirkwood were here, I might say you should never have told me to write your autobiography and play coy about your gay life. Yet, he did.

McNally, had I known him, would never have said such a thing, but those plays and characters never quite grabbed like Jim Kirkwood’s creations.

Oh, it’s too late now to do much about it, but we can celebrate the life of Terrence McNally, albeit a tad on the late side.

 

Dr. William Russo wrote Riding James Kirkwood’s Pony, available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.