Some samples from a partially autobiographical photo album.
Two photos from the distant past of my childhood. Both are with my family. I am standing on the ground in both photos at the lower right. In the photo at left, Mom was around 23. The second photo, right, was taken around two years later when dad was in the US Army. Mom lived until 2006, dad until 1977. My early blonde hair was perhaps due to a maternal grandmother who was a blue-eyed blonde. In both photos is my sister, Armida who died in 1960 while still young. My brother, Ray, right, is in my father's arms. Dad was then around 28. Circa 1934-1936.
The photo to the left was taken around 1938, somewhere in NYC where I was born and grew up.
Jumping some 15 years, I found myself graduated from High School in Hicksville, LI, NY and in the Navy during the Korean War as a Corpsman. I had joined the reserves then put in for active duty, mostly to avoid the Army draft and pick up the GI Bill for college. I'm the one on the left with two buddies from the period, Ralph Carrion and Sylvano Russo.
The medical training I received in the Navy was profound and helped me for the balance of my life. The Corps school I attended was then in Bainbridge, MD
By 1958 I graduated from Adelphi College (now a large somewhat crowded University with buildings where great expanses of lawn and trees once graced the campus) with a baccalaureate degree in psychology and English. Some of my memories still remain. I was already working on campus periodicals and ran a cartoon strip for three years in the campus newspaper, THE DELPHIAN. Above,
right, is one of the samples of my cartoon strip An untrained cartoonist, my first love was writing and I left the art work to my brother, Ray.
The photo to the right was the yearbook alternate that I did not select at the time but later preferred.
In 1956, during my sophomore year at ADELPHI, someone published, SNARF, a humor magazine on campus. I expressed my reaction to it via my cartoon strip, DELPHUS, (see right). I created the comic strip for close to three years for the campus weekly newspaper, THE DELPHIAN. It's doubtful to me that anyone on the current university staff has a clue about its publishing history so you might be looking at something unique here.
After graduating Adelphi I went back in the US Navy and into flight training at NAS Pensacola, FL. Although I was to work for two different General Aviation companies, Cessna, and Aero Commander (division, then of Rockwell International) I directed my career toward writing and creative work and left aviation behind, as much as I enjoyed it. The first book I ever published was an aerobatics manual, primarily sourced from a Navy in-flight guide. (see below, to right.) The book was published by a now defunct publisher in Rochester, NY. I never pursued its distribution so it was more or less a test run.
During the college years on the GI Bill I supplemented my income by working for the State Park Police on Long Island, NY highways and the State Park system. I loved this job but like most jobs that I liked it was short lived and lasted only until my graduation. At that time I could have made it a permanent, career job but opted out. For a brief time I worked as a swim instructor at the Adelphi pool and met a long time friend there who was actually drowning in the deep part at the time.
On the left is the late Jerry Senuta, the publisher of my little AEROBATIC guide, himself also a pilot. Jerry and I had preflighted the twin in preparation for an annual flight we used to do to the Hershey Air Show in Hershey PA. We did this every year. It was a wonderful flight and always a great time in Hershey, a town that always smelled of chocolate. On our way to Hershey from Rochester the shining Finger Lakes Region with its many lakes and rolling, verdant fields of wine grapes two to three thousand feet or so below, soothed out souls. I sorely miss flying. Every man or woman who has ever flown and then had to stop knows exactly what I mean.
In the four years I served on that police force, mostly on LI Highways, the most memorable character I met was Guy Remsen. A strikingly handsome man, he had a wonderful, witty personality.
Eventually I was to introduce him to the woman he would marry. He ended up moving to Los Angeles with his wife, to be near his brother, Bert Remsen, who at that time, was one of the best known "insider" character actors in Hollywood. Guy did not become an actor but opened up a fitness gym in Los Angeles.
To cite an old but very meaningful cliche, I would be remiss not to mention the few special ladies that I have known through the years. It's my belief that every woman who enters a man's heart graces it. This is the feeling that I have upon reflection after the passing years. The first one I am compelled to mention is my brother, Ray's first born, Suzanne. Here, the little pixie is about two years of age. Unfortunately, fate kept us apart but for a few brief moments and eventually she moved to Florence, Italy where she is today.
Joyce and I met in college. We dated and eventually became engaged. Unfortunately, this was years before I was actually prepared, in any way, for marriage. She eventually married and had a number of children so I trust she went on to have a good life, having survived me. This is a crop from a group photo that was taken at some fraternity annual dinner. I never joined a fraternity but was apparently popular with this one. Adelphi fraternities were local and not national...why I do not know. I have no idea why I was frowning but it was not because Joyce had become elected to be celebrated by the men who might have envied me. The flower garland on her head was their accolade.
My second fiancee, below, was Sherial, a sweetheart from Mississippi with all of the humor one would imagine in a belle from the South. In this case it was she who was not prepared for marriage. She was an airline Stewardess, as they used to call them, for United Air Lines, although I did not meet her on a flight. In retrospect, perhaps neither of us were prepared for the big step. In any event, my love for her never faded.
The lady I did marry, was Renee, and our marriage lasted over twelve years. It was a "Cool Hand Luke" revisitation and what we had was "a failure to communicate." One finally arrives at the pier, sometimes, long after the boat has left the ferry slip. The shot at the left, with a point and shooter, taken when we were engaged, is ten years prior to the one on the right. Renee's beauty simply deepened as she aged. I took the one on the right with one of my Nikons, as I recall. The ones below that were taken in Pittsburgh, by a professional photographer, where Renee did a little modeling after we were married. A great deal of the years of our marriage she studied for an undergraduate and graduate degree. She received her masters from the University of Rochester a few years before we divorced, as I recall. Her education was something that I encouraged and supported. When we met she was 19 and a high school graduate. We met in Seattle, back then an amazingly lovely city a few years before a great migration to it, transformed it.
If this had been Manhattan and not Pittsburgh perhaps Renee would have
continued. However, modeling can be a nasty profession. While I did
encourage it, when she decided to drop out of it, I offered no argument.
One of my finest employers was the global p.r. agency, Burson-Marsteller. As an account executive there I wrote a great deal of material for clients. Here I am gathering data in the field for a client trade press article.
With a background in filmmaking from the Jamison Handy Organization in Detroit, MI, I was tapped to make a couple of films at Burson-Marsteller and then fast tracked to the Manhattan home office. However, the salary was not enough for the move and I made a giant mistake, taking a job with an agency in Rochester, NY. Due to incompetent upper management, they promised a great deal and delivered nothing for my backbreaking work, in six years. On the positive side of the ledger, one of my largest clients there was Eastman Kodak. While there I began to write books on assignment for them and eventually was to write five books, published by the company. This was alongside my producing films and audiovisual presentations for clients such as Gannett. Headquartered in Rochester, they were then (and might be today) the largest newspaper chain in the U.S. They also publish USA Today. I created multimedia, audiovisual securities analyst's presentations for them.
It has been my good fortune to have my brother, Ray, carrying the hard case, above in the left photo, to my left, helping me on a good number of my projects. His contributions have been terrific on many projects but most memorably on my prizewinning book, The World of Animation and a six-time international film festival prizewinner, The visualized Rime of the Ancient Mariner, my cinematic visualization of the timeless epic poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the right photo, taken the same day at Max Seligman's TELE-CRAFT editing studio, is my friend Michael Twaine, an outstanding stage actor who has worked in the NYC theater district for years and has also appeared in films and TV. He has also been a producer and director. On my Ancient Mariner film he contributed his skills as an associate producer and assistant director, This film's famous narrator, Sir Michael Redgrave, ended his long career on this project. Please see "external links" for more information on this flm.
These two shots, above, are from a cover article I wrote for AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER on the subject of photoanimation. Above on the left is the late Francis Lee, perhaps the finest photoanimator who ever lived, and at the upper right is Max Seligman who headed the best editing studio in Manhattan for many years, TELE-CRAFT.
TELE-CRAFT Studio's last address was in the Sardi's building at 234 West 44th Street. Sardi's, a Broadway Theater District restaurant that first opened its doors in 1921, moved to that location in 1927. They are still there and just as popular as ever so they must be doing something right.
Here is SARDI'S as it appears today. The bar area, like the main dining room, has celebrity caricatures, a feature that has been there since the earliest days. There are a few other restaurants that feature this but Sardi's is the most famous.
(Right) is the set-up shot for the cover of my book on SOUND Recording (see Published Books page)
Greg Goodhew is holding the Nagra and microphone. The Beaulieu I'm holding (no longer manufactured) was a good camera but my favorite was the Arriflex.
To the left, at Niagara Falls on a very sunny day, with Renee (just behind me). I'm taking a shot of the falls using my Arri 16mm which was a very reliable, solid camera. The power belt, developed for use around the waist, is latched on to the tripod.
Today amazing film footage can be shot using cameras such as the CANON 7D originally developed as a stills SLR. Often the lens is heavier than the camera itself and footage is limited only to the storage capacity one has on hand. The digital world is astonishing to those of us who grew up in the era now dying away, organic film.
Here I am at Grand Cayman in the Caribbean (south of Cuba) taking a seascape shot with my Arri back in the mid-70s. Note this time I am wearing the power belt. This shot was taken by one of the cameramen from Pittsburgh, who helped me with several films, George Boyle. Until the last time I saw him, George was the only cameraman I ever ran into who used a Swiss, clockwork-like, spring wound Bolex, which he swore by. Could George be very far off the mark? Perhaps not. Bolex, made by Paillard S.A. in Switzerland since the early 30s is still made and sold today. The only modernization I know about is that they now offer a Super 16 aperture along with standard 16mm.
Of all the celebrities I met during my time at bat, it's my deeply felt conviction that I have known a handful of the true media geniuses of their time. I think back on my underprivileged childhood in a grimy New York City and find it difficult to believe that this took place. I have posted only four, the ones who influenced me the most: Jean Shepherd (Shep to his friends) Rod Serling, Frank Capra and Sterling Hayden. I have stated why I have posted them by their photographs.
Shep introduced me to several people who became friends through the years, including John Cassavetes, another inspiration, albeit long distance most of the years that he graced our planet. John's humor mirrored that of Shep who was a constant source of mirth for all of us. The Broadway hit that later became a 1965 movie with Jason Robards Jr., A Thousand Clowns, written by Herb Gardner, was inspired by Shep's life and personality.
The book depicted above is a fine homage to Shep and his work by Gene Bergmann. Almost 500pp long, it includes a great deal of Shep's humor and is a must for anyone who has ever heard Shep and loved his unique humor.
Here, Shep is helping me with a wonderful short film I produced and directed for Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf, No Whistles, Bells or Bedlam, about a macho steel worker whose son is born deaf. When he was writing A Christmas Story, he had not a clue of the incredible national phenomenon that the television movie would become. Today it's seen on television during Christmas season every year.
Frank Capra's inspiration in my life began when as a little boy I saw his movie, Lost Horizon, based on the 1933 James Hilron novel of the same title. In it, the High Lama's dying words to protagonist Robert Conway are: "Be Kind."
It took me many years to fully appreciate the true meaning of this phrase and I then adopted it as a marching order. To have met and known Frank Capra is one of those stunning highlights of my lifetime. I treasure his letters, which are filled with meaning as was most of his life and nearly all of his work. For those who do not recall Frank Capra, he received three Oscars as a feature film director in a four year period (1934-38). To my knowledge this record remains unmatched today.
To the left is an early photo of Rod Serling, during the time he was writing plays for television such as "Patterns" and "Requiem for a Heavyweight" some years before he finally thought of "The Twilight Zone" a program that allowed him to combat the many social travails he encountered during his life.
Rod was a lecturer at Ithaca College in New York State at around the time I was lecturing there.
Rod was a co-worker, friend, helper on my film work and lifetime inspiration. When he died in Rochester New York's
Strong Memorial Hospital, one of the city's leading newspapers asked me to write his eulogy. Many years later I edited the eulogy and expanded it as an article for FATE Magazine (July/August 2008) edition as, My Friend Rod Serling and His Legacy. In the article I cover my occult relationship with Rod. Through the years he also inspired and encouraged me to complete a short story collection, The Corner Where Night Begins (see Home page). Unfortunately, while publishers still love this literature format in Canada, the UK and elsewhere, American publishers disdain it, at least at this writing.
Sterling Hayden might not have made the Hollywood "A" list in Hollywood but he is certainly on my "A" list. At the left is a photo from his early years after a suit from Paramount had read an article about how he had mastered a square rigged tall ship from Boston to the South Pacific as a 22 year old. He was 6'4" with an extraordinary physical appearance.
He hated Hollywood and was quite vocal about it but told me that "If they called me this morning I would be packed to go by noon." He also hated Wall Street and could not understand how people could get involved with it in good conscience. Along the way he turned in some marvelous performances, including the one depicted on the right, from Stanley Kubrick's black comedy, Dr. Strangelove, or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, where he played the imbalanced Brigadier General Jack Ripper.
Sterling's first love was the sea. He often told me how he felt that he was born a century too late. He talked me into making a film on Samuel Taylor Colerdige's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a timeless epic poem that speaks for the sanctity of all life on Earth. Since the film is not about sex and violence or horror and I was not a "name" director I could raise only enough to make a modest depiction of the film but what I did make went on to receive six international film festival prizes and universal critical acclaim. In my research I learned that Sir Michael Redgrave had taught the poem when he was a schoolmaster in his early life so I was able to get him to narrate the poem for me for the film. It was to be the last film on which Sir Michael worked in his long experience in the industry.. Please see External Links page for background on this production.
A few of the ladies in my life.
A few milestones...some that went nowhere but are still interesting.
In 1959, while waiting for approval of a flight plan at Pensacola Naval Air Station, I picked up a PLAYBOY magazine left by some other pilot on a reading table and read an editorial by Hugh Hefner. He suggested that he did not know if the magazine would succeed since it was only six years old. I sent the following letter to him at the magazine. Of course, today I would not venture such a creative experiment since everything has changed, sometimes not for the better.
PLAYBOY editors never acknowledged receipt of my ltte so I never heard back from PLAYBOY for the next 20 years. Not only did I not know if my experiment worked but even forgot about it until 1979 when a friend called me from a client's, I believe someone at Kodak, to tell me to get a hold of the 25th Anniversary edition and read the PLAYBOY History. I was astonished to see what I found illustrated below...and to finally have the answer to my question.
Close up of envelope, below.
The information, below. was posted as the now defunct PLAYBOY CLUBS TV drama was in production for broadcast by NBC
the fall (2011) The dramatic series was supposed to be simlar to the hit MAD MEN, on AMC. Unfortunately, it was poorly conceived and written, a great opportunity missed.
How precious are these spiritual things, forbidden in nations locked by fear and greed, such as China? We see billions under the constant threat of punishment and/or death for speaking out against tyranny, as we have witnessed recently with the disappearance of world-famous, gifted artist, Ai Weiwei.
This poster depicts only a handful of the men and women who have devoted their lives in celebration of these precious gifts. There is many more but not enough room in which to fit them. We gratefully bow to them and apologize for having to leave them out.
I created this poster with the help of my brother, Ray, an artist of obvious talents, once with the Walt Disney Company. He still works in his studio in Manhattan. My own background is easily located, for those who are curious or interested, by placing my name in the window of your favorite search engine.
It became clear to me that someone had to come up with a graphic salute that is far more memorable than text. This will endure for some time, perhaps to the completion of our brief sojourns here and remaining after we have gone, to remind those who are to come that we acknowledged this, our precious heritage. (see below the postrer for key of individuals represented)
The wonderful people connected with the show are on the desk and primary, repeating guests and those who are and/or deserve the grace of recognition by Coast-to-Coast are on the wall behind the desk. George Noory is shown in a timeless art image in particular recognition for his position in this critically important work of broadcasting innovative thought.
Descending from right of back wall, top
Rosemary Ellen Guiley
On desk: George Noory
Facing desk. left side
Linda Moulton Howe (side of desk) special consultant
Front of desk left to right:
Art Bell, Founder of Coast-to-Coast, long time host.
Under Art, Ian Punnett (weekend host)
Right desk front: George Knapp, (weekend host)
Under George Knapp
Richard C. Hoagland, Special consultant (scientific)
Feom left to right on back wall
Richard Maurice Bucke
Erich von Däniken
C. G. Jung
My salute to a unique international radio show...where the open mind is celebrated and the American First Amendment is practiced.
Back around 2009 I commissioned my brother, Ray, (whom I almost always pay, gratefully, for his time and talent, always "giving me a good deal") to sculpt a frame for the Walt Disney series Pinocchio Giclee I purchased from the Thomas Kinkade Company. I asked him to do it as if Geppetto himself had carved it. Here it is, below, completed with figures and images from the 1940 Disney animated film release. This is a limited edition print run available only for a time period. The painting also depicts virtually every scene in the Walt Disney animated movie. I consider the classic, the finest animated film to be made by the Disney Studio.
Thomas Kinkade passed away on Good Friday, April 6, 2012. He was 54. His work has been controversial, perhaps due to its wide commercial appeal and its production in various editions, but at this writing the prices of his signed work are moving upward. I have never understood why some people are turned off by his body of work. Some of it is very fine. He also did "impressionist" style paintings, some that I found truly good, under the brush name, Robert Girrard. Like any other artist or ball player, he had his hits and misses.