Thanks to The Daily What for this.
The passing of Patrick Swayze wasn’t a surprise — his struggle with pancreatic cancer had been reported on for some while — and given his irritation with some of the earlier tabloid stories claiming he had already passed on, it’s actually a blessing to learn via his publicist only the barest details: that his family was with him, and that the ending was peaceful. This is as it should be, when something so unavoidably sad has to be faced.
What’s fascinating to see already in the first couple of hours after the news broke is the range of reactions, and the realization that, on top of anything and everything else, Swayze owned not merely one signature role but several, all in different ways. As my friend Alfred said over on ILX after the news broke, “He seemed like a genuinely good guy, moderately awed by his level of fame — a decent actor who knew his limitations.” Later Scott Seward noted something fun:
my fave swayze moments in no particular order:
the outsiders (bloody greasers)
uncommon valor (bloody big muddy mia revenge)
road house (homoerotic bloodfighting)
next of kin (bloody hillbilly revenge)
steel dawn (bloody post-apocalyptic murder gangs)
youngblood (bloody hockey fights)
red dawn (greatest bloody russian movie ever made)
point break (bloody zen surf robbers)
On the one hand a ridiculously funny commonality between the films, on the other hand, think of all the roles in question — sure, Swayze also ties them all together, but is there that much in each and every one of those roles that does that otherwise? Some actors play the same character over and over, but Swayze — whether by intent, luck, or some combination thereof — didn’t do that at all.
After all, consider Scott’s list, and then think of what isn’t on it — Dirty Dancing, Ghost, City of Joy, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything. Hell, even consider what are almost his bookend roles now, Donnie Darko and, stepping back to a movie I’d never even heard before tonight, Skatetown USA — and now that I have heard of it and seen these clips:
Basically, new favorite movie time, right there.
As Alfred notes, a large part of what made Swayze such an interesting, enjoyable figure is the fact that he seemed to easily roll with his fame, no easy thing to do given everything that had gone on in his life — the LA Times obituary discusses the drinking problem that affected him during his most famous years, not to mention the tragedy of his sister’s suicide.
As a counterexample, consider someone like Bruce Willis, whose own huge burst of fame neatly paralleled Swayze’s but who only ever seemed to end up playing himself time and again during that time, the smug wisecracking asshole, and who in real life seemed to only be a smug wisecracking asshole as well. He could have NEVER let his hair down enough (literally) to make fun of his own image so perfectly as Swayze did here:
And given Willis’s own horribly lumpish attempts at a singing career, it says something that while Swayze wasn’t about to tour arenas, his own late eighties hit riding the Dirty Dancing soundtrack connection is actually not that bad, slick state-of-the-art production that goes down smoothly, mannered vocals and all:
But to return back to my key point — it’s amazing to see so many friends/commenters/random folks jump to not one key role or phrase, but several. Sure, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” might be the one above all else, but for every Dirty Dancing mention out there I’m seeing a Point Break one, for every Ghost mention there’s an Outsiders one. There’s a whole host of idiot right wing commenters that are honestly going to tear up over the fact that the guy who shouted “WOLVERINES!” in Red Dawn is gone, while the Donnie Darko worshippers are having their own say. Hell, I’m pretty sure I first remember him from North and South on TV, having fun in Civil War drag and all a decade before breaking out the actual drag for To Wong Foo. A hell of a random range of fellow actors, directors, screenwriters, styles — the resume of a working actor, but the resume of a working actor with movies people actually watched and remembered, and he was a big part of it in the end.
As the post title indicates, it’s the goofy-ass genius of Road House that’s my own touchstone — Phil Freeman solved the whole conundrum of what made this movie so relentlessly fascinating a while back when he said that what it really is is a fantasy like The Lord of the Rings. Which may sound ridiculous on first blush, but nails it — there’s good and evil (hell, there’s even yin and yang fat guys), troubled townsfolk, vicious henchmen, a grizzled old companion who of course has to die at some point (Sam Elliott has kinda played that role ever since then, but to his credit does it well each time), and of course Our Hero, every feather in his hair styled just so, possessed of seemingly supernatural abilities to get through it all despite the fact that he takes more beatings than entire armies. Like the man says:
It’s hilarious beyond description and it hits every beat just right, it has its cake and eats it too. It’s no wonder that this film in particular became an obsession of the MST3K crowd, especially Mike Nelson, who debuted RiffTrax with a solo take on Road House, and who wrote this slice of genius for a 1991 episode (broadcast, logically, around Christmas):
To end on two points — first, an ILX anecdote from another poster, that captures what Alfred was saying about Swayze’s ability to keep his head on straight and take it all as it came:
I was working at the hotel he stayed at when they were filming North & South Pt 2 in Natchez. He liked to hang out at the hotel bar, but inevitably would have to bail when the groupies started gathering around him. I’d seen him around for a few days, and he already knew about the service elevator by the time I happened to be walking through the lobby and met him coming the other way fast.
“Hey buddy, can you help me a minute?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“Can you take me up to seven in the service elevator?”
“Sure, no problem.”
On the way up, he says “There were a couple of girls in the bar I had to get away from.”
“haha, glad to help.”
Silence while I concentrate on stopping the (manual) elevator flush with the 7th floor.
“Thanks…here you go.”
“‘Preciate it, buddy.”
And lastly, again via the LA Times obit, the man himself, from a few years back:
When asked in 2004 what he did in his spare time, he told The Times that he didn’t have any — being a rancher, wildlife conservationist and actor-director-producer kept him busy.
“I feel like I wasted time with stardom back in the ’80s,” Swayze said. “Now I want it all. I want to do as much as I can.”
The right attitude to always have. And he did more than most. RIP sir.
It already made the rounds that the other night at a certain big awards ceremony James Franco mentioned reading Carl’s excellent entry in the 33 1/3 series on Celine Dion. Well, somebody noticed somewhere because Carl just updated his Facebook status about fifteen minutes back:
Carl Wilson is almost scared to say it aloud, but Carl’s friends might want to watch the Colbert Report on Wed, March 4.
Amazing! And well deserved, of course. His excellent blog Zoilus is always worth checking out.
(A slight bit of shameless piggybacking on my part to note something I keep forgetting to mention — my own proposal for the series has made the shortlist, but that is of course no guarantee at all of making the final cut. Very flattering to have made it this far, though!)
Because there’s some great stuff happening, even in the midst of all the crud. (But isn’t that always the way?)
I hope I don’t have to explain that line if you’re my age or younger, but if you need it:
Check out the rest of it, of course. And happy Halloween. Final thoughts on the remaining two propositions plus discussion of more local positions and candidates over the weekend.
Well, kinda. As I mentioned in the previous post, friend Kari had sent this to me among other notes:
…The last time I saw Brent was on TV…on MV3, when he was playing in Eddie and the Monsters. Remember them??!
MV3 is something that Los Angeles folks of a certain age might remember — it later turned into Video One, and was hosted primarily by Richard Blade, Mr. None-More-Eighties-KROQ. To quote this one blog entry about the show:
New Wave alternative to MTV, Richard Blade of the original KROQ brought videos and live performances from local L.Á. new wave bands as well as ones that were in town. Lo-budget yet compelling to this at the time junior high school kid…
Now, while there are a slew of clips from MV3 around — you can catch a huge batch right here, including performances from the Bangles, Berlin, the Three o’Clock and more — the appearance by Eddie and the Monsters isn’t available, it seems. And who were Eddie and the Monsters?
Well, Eddie and the Munsters would have been a trademark violation, I suspect — even with the featured appearance of Butch Patrick, Eddie himself from that sixties TV series.
I first heard about this record via the entertaining if scattershot book Hollywood Hi-Fi by George Gimarc and Pat Reeder, which actually ranked said song as a winner. To quote it:
Patrick returned to acting…until 1983, when a drummer pal (with the wonderful early eighties punk name ‘Wreak Havoc’) put him in touch with Phil Kohn, late of Curved Air. Since MTV was new, they decided to make a music video and see if they could get it on the fledgling channel. The result was “Whatever Happened to Eddie”….Patrick recalls that the video was the first by an unsigned band to get MTV airplay, inspiring the Basement Tapes show.
Said video itself isn’t available either it seems — but in the department of ‘wait, IS this a coincidence or not?’, the actual audio track was just added on YouTube earlier today with a homemade fan video:
While here’s the cover:
So, you can see Eddie there and all, plus three others — and while I could be wrong, that sure looks like Brent in the upper left hand corner.
So there’s all that information to digest…but then there’s more! Further searching turned up this interview with Butch Patrick on the Phantom Photography site, which included, understandably, a question about the single. And as it turns out!:
PP: There is a music video, “What Ever Happened To Eddie?” with you on lead vocals. Was the video a one-time deal or were you trying to launch the band?
Butch: Well actually I’m going to let you in on a little something. I didn’t sing on that one, I lip synced. Just like I did in 1971 when we were trying to do teeny-bop records for Metro Media. In 1983 when MTV came on the air, we wanted to start doing rock videos. Since we really didn’t have a band, we created a band to do a video on which was Eddie And The Monsters. Brent Black who played guitar actually sang. His voice was so similar to my look that a lot of people don’t know that it wasn’t me.
(And yes, according to friend Kari, Brent Black is the very same Brent in question.)
So right about now my head is kinda starting to spin. More names to investigate, more questions!
And if Brent is reading this all and chuckling…I approve highly of your sense of humor.
Perhaps the first post of…well, I doubt *many,* but we’ll see where initial inquiries lead. [EDIT: and I've got enough now for a second post!]
Starting in the middle, earlier today friend Mackro shared a link with some friends, refusing to tell us what it was but simply encouraging us to watch it. A fine idea, so:
(The flashbacks of seeing both Skip Stephenson and Richard Dawson are not good for my tender soul, it should be noted.)
The context for this clip’s relative fame is as such — some months back a new user joined YouTube and listed and favorited some videos over the months. Two of the three videos he uploaded had to do with the church he currently belongs to and leads in Hawaii as part of a larger congregation. (And unsurprisingly looks like they’re all big on music.)
The third, without much description, was the above clip — the only information he provided was:
Live on Jerry Lewis Telethon.
“Something is Locked Inside of My Soul”
And if you compare the singer in the clip with the photo of the pastor linked on the Hawaii church site, it’s definitely the same fellow! Meanwhile a commenter, PeacelandMusic, posted the only response so far:
Too cool, Brent…
You guys sound like Genesis…
I remember gigging with your band…
So on the one hand, the demi-music journalist in me is curious enough now to want to drop a line to Brent to find out more about this band and how/why they ended up on the Jerry Lewis Telethon as an unsigned act (not entirely surprising given all the acts and people that ended up on the telethon to this day, but still, there’s got to be a story!) On the other hand — as mentioned, this act was unsigned and in fact utterly obscure. No records seem to have been released, and initial googling and other searching turns up a slew of more recent acts using the name, but nothing about the original.
Or so I thought — a little more finessing with Google (always use as much information as you have to hand) turned up what appears to be the only live review of the band currently on the Net, though in ways it raises more questions than answers. The live review itself is part of an intriguing, Los Angeles-specific archive of early 80s band reviews and stories by Billy Eye and Judy Zee, two writers for what is described as “a gay entertainment magazine called Data-Boy, which had a decades long publishing history in West Hollywood” but which apparently stopped publishing sometime in the late eighties. TVParty.com hosts this archive, so good on ‘em, and it apparently was recently upgraded/redone from a 1994-era (!) version of the site, so even better!
So if you’re into all kinds of stories and reviews on acts, local and touring, like 45 Grave, Rain Parade, Missing Persons, Wall of Voodoo, the Plimsouls, XTC, Human Sexual Response, John Cale…you get the drift (plus a story about how a bunch of glam dudes called London strolled into the magazine office to announce their name change to…Motley Crue!), you’ll want to scrounge.
Among all these stories is a review of…Manakin! And yet, there’s something about the description of the band that is both clearly the group in the clip and yet not, or at least not the same version. So something’s up. Here, in any event (with odd spellings at points intact) is Judy Zee’s review:
“Welcome back Manakin for an unannounced performance on April 14th at Club 88″ ran a Man from Uncle-like psychedelic coded message in Showtime. With crystal clear, technologically clean melodic instrumentation; and Brent’s expressive vocals- this ensemble has been swaying Los Angeles audiences consistently.
So we showed up for this one. Manakin has been missing in action for four months already, and friends and fans were getting restless.
Opening with “Manakin-land”, you enter their cartoon. Brent par usual, is carried, a frozen full sized human doll, onto center stage. Then, they start in with their Temptations-like stage presence savoring 60′s-ish black vogue. The pace is upbeat, integrated and intense.
Manakin sounds fuller than ever, much of it do to the addition of a thoroughly appropriate bouncing keybrd/synthesist.
The untabulated eloquence of “Children of Paradise” as well as “Just a Dream” never fails to sway Ms. Zee, tumbling into the imagination of what really could be; strongly grasped romantic ideals, seen through rose colored glasses waltzing to the cadence of human aspiration; stretching towards the near perfection we all feel at times. Manakin nearly composes these utopias merely through sound.
“Bridges on the Other Side”, joyfully rhythmic, breaks on through the windows of Raggae, reminding one of “Dangerous Rhythm” (one of Ultravox’s most overlooked songs, 2nd album).
Punkasso gives a description of the Club 88 dance floor at this point: false manakin puppeteers prolificate on the floor in a Devoesque bath of the 60′s, it was such a cliche I could hardly move.
I wish Manakin was on record already, so that you could hear what I am referring to. No clones these guys. Cream of drums, Guy Epstein shoots off sparks, snaking round the set. On bass you’ve got Andre. The keyboardist is Chas Coleman playing a shoulder strap hand held bone like instrument which is hooked up to a sequential circuits Prophet 5. His presence and musicianship are both outstanding. Bob ‘Moonstone’ Walker’s running liquid quarter notes make up the river world of Manakinland, and synchronize like clockwork with the synth.
A couple moments of erotic beats were caught and frozen into a time/space continuum, encompassing the overall experience of the night. The jam was real.
Now this was three years after the Jerry Lewis clip, and without putting too fine a point on it, it almost sounds like they’d gone through at least one reincarnation if not two (talking about adding a keyboardist when they clearly had one in 1978 perhaps meant they were trying without one for a while, maybe unavoidably). What’s interesting about this review, as well as the clip, is a reminder of just how fluid genre terminology is, and how what seems codified by a later generation means little at the time.
By which I mean — if you look at the clip, the sound and style suggests a poppy prog approach, with the one YouTube commenter mentioning Genesis specifically while other comments on the blogs featuring the clip have invoked Styx. Jobriath also got mentioned by somebody, which makes even more sense. (As well as Klaus Nomi, perhaps the ultimate transitional figure of the time in general, a comparison that also leapt to my mind as well — but it’s interesting to note that Manakin’s TV appearance was some time before Nomi and his compatriots fully codified his look and style; I don’t think there’s a specific connection at work, but it’s interesting to see.)
But this review invokes other connotations — the Temptations, Devo, John Foxx-era Ultravox. At once different from what was already talked about…and not. John Foxx-era Ultravox is definitely as much ‘prog’ as anything else, and the whole idea of then-contemporary artists such as (to name only three!) Devo to Ultravox-worshipping Gary Numan to, say, Nash the Slash up in Canada (a Numan collaborator!) to who knows what else is this nexus point where all sorts of themes, styles and sounds mesh and recombine, all laden with the idea of being ‘the future’ or at least futuristically theatrical. An extension of glam, a romanticism in new wave, etc. etc.
Manakin in all this remind me most — especially given Judy Zee’s comment about how they hadn’t released anything — of two other LA bands that similarly never got it quite together on that front — Zolar X and the Screamers. The one was proto-alien glam metal as such, the other synth-punk oddness, then you have these guys and whatever they mutated into further between 1978 to 1981…something’s all there, not a scene per se but a bunch of square pegs and round holes.
And now I kinda want to know more! There’s at least some stories to tell — if they’re willing to tell it! Maybe Brent doesn’t want to go into much more detail, I don’t know, but the least I can do is ask him — and maybe find out more about the band, its compatriots, where they played, what breaks they had. And there are some names listed in that review of the 1981 version of the band, at least — are you all out there? Anyone know them? Also willing to talk?
Can’t hurt to ask!
[EDIT -- friend Sean C. suggested privately that besides Styx, who were invoked on WFMU, I think, another obvious point of comparison might be the Tubes! This makes perfect sense.]
Today I have lost another of my childhood heroes. Bill Melendez is dead.
Everyone knows Bill Melendez’s work, if you’re an American at least. I exaggerate but surely only by so much. He was omnipresent since the mid-sixties, impossible to miss. And he was simply stellar at what he did, which was bringing to life the work of another into a new field and arena.
That other was Charles Schulz, and when he died I penned this piece, still one of my favorites, and one of the saddest I ever had to write. His passing I felt very profoundly, on a level I can’t describe beyond that of the personal griefs I have had as family members have left this life. But I did Melendez a disservice there, by not talking about him more.
Melendez I initially knew by name at the most — but as time went on, by sight. He would appear in books celebrating the strip, and then on specials, looking back on the many marvels he had created. And it’s important to note that he did not simply have the animated Peanuts to his credit — in fact, one reason he got the job in the first place was the face that he had had such a stunning resume already, to quote the previously linked obituary:
Born in Sonora, Mexico, in 1916, Melendez moved with his family to Arizona in 1928, then to Los Angeles, where he attended the Chouinard Art Institute. He was one of the few Latinos working in animation when he began his career at the Walt Disney Studio in 1939, contributing to the features “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia,” “Bambi” and “Dumbo,” as well as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck shorts.
Melendez was an active participant in the bitterly fought strike that led to the unionization of the Disney artists in 1941, after which he moved to Schlesinger Cartoons, animating Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and other classic characters for Warner Bros.
In 1948, Melendez joined UPA, whose innovative approach to animation delighted him. “The animation we were doing was not limited, but stylized,” he recalled in an interview in 1986. “When you analyze Chaplin’s shorts, you realize people don’t move that way–he stylized his movements. We were going to do the same thing for animation. We were going to animate the work of Cobean, Steinberg–all the great cartoonists of the moment–and move them as the designs dictated.”
After animating numerous UPA shorts, including the Oscar-winning “Gerald McBoing-Boing” (1951), Melendez served as a director and producer on more than 1,000 commercials for UPA, Playhouse Pictures and John Sutherland Productions. In 1959, he directed the first animation of the “Peanuts” characters for a series of commercials advertising the Ford Falcon.
And from there to that most perfect of specials — A Charlie Brown Christmas. It is and remains one of the finest half-hours of television ever, a summation of the holiday and its spirit, a lovely embrace and understanding of the religious tradition that underpins it while at the same time acknowledging its secular nature, and of course a translation of much that was Schulz’s obsessions and themes — he wrote the scripts for this and all the shows that followed, after all — into a new format. The many specials that followed ranged in quality but at their best were a lovely series of works, from holidays to general themes, and helped to bring the strips to life in a series of adaptations that, as with so many similar adaptations, were not the strips straight up and yet were their own works of art in turn.
I would guess it was such a special that first awoke me to the possibility of Peanuts, though I am not positive. It could even have been Snoopy Come Home, the second of the four feature films the team of Schulz, Melendez and producer Lee Mendelson made together separately from the TV shows. Whatever it was, my obsession and knowledge of the strip was part and parcel with those shows and movies, and to extract one from the other would be a disservice, and so my earlier piece on Schultz’s passing, while accurate, is flawed for not giving greater prominence to them beyond a passing mention.
The lovely thing was how Melendez took the basic color schemes (given the Sunday strips) and simplicities of the strip as a whole and brought them to life just enough. By which I mean — sometimes he simply had the characters walking down a road, leaning against a brick wall, talking in a room — all familiar situations from the strips. But he also allowed for more detailed backgrounds, sometimes flights of fancy (literally, as with Snoopy’s dogfight in the second special the team did together, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown), even trips to other countries and settings such as England and France. The characters moved and looked a little differently to the strip, by default, and yet close enough — it was an approximation that honored Schulz’s wonderful clean lines but brought a sometimes frenetic energy to things that was not always possible in the strip.
And then of course there was Snoopy, who Melendez voiced for the Christmas special due to a last minute time crunch and who from then on was the only choice for the role. And what a job! While Snoopy of course thinks and thinks and thinks again in the strip, his thoughts covering everything from failed novels to thoughts on economics, in the specials and shows and movies he had to act without a legible voice or an internal one. By both animating and voicing the character, Melendez gave Snoopy his own wonderful spark, his not-very-doglike-but-damn-funny moans, howls and murmurs suiting the mad explosions of movement that he often exhibited on the screen. Melendez’s background with that more kinetic style of animation familiar from his Schlesinger/Warner Bros’ work reached its later apotheosis with Snoopy, and of the many moments I could name where look, voice and script all came together, consider his audition for the roles of all the animals in the Christmas pageant (scroll ahead to 3:30):
But just as great — and as representative of what Melendez could and did do — was a voiceless bit from the same show, where Snoopy’s enjoyment of Schroeder’s music gets a little too involved:
How he just crawls away never fails to get me to laugh — in recognition — every time.
Compared to the famously self-tortured Schulz, Melendez came across as vibrant, positive, aware of how to deftly suggest the darker shades of Peanuts without losing the easy-going, inviting feel of the strip, a perfect match. Imagining other possibilities — what if Hanna-Barbera had done it! — doesn’t bear thinking about. The right man for the right job, an artist in his own right who found a perfect partnership — and I can’t thank him enough.
Señor, Usted es magnificado — muchas gracias.
The obituary links to this interview on YouTube, where he talks of some of his many different animation experiences (you might need to turn up the volume), and other interviews can be found from there. A treasure trove of experience and stories that should not be overlooked. The family has indicated that donations in his memory can be made to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
As it were. A random sampling, as I sit here being bored by the US against Bulgaria in men’s volleyball. (I’m sure it’s thrilling some people…but not me.)
My earliest Olympics — Munich 72. I have the photographic proof here:
My dad’s mustache was a short-lived phase, but he looked pretty good with that. As for me, I suspect I wasn’t paying too much attention.
My first ‘real’ Olympics — Lake Placid 80. It was the one I was first consciously aware of, that I tried to watch as much of as I could, though that was only so much. Eric Heiden I remember very well. The skiing Mahre brothers, reasonably well. And I might be the only person besides themselves who remember Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner — and how they ended up not competing.
My first full-on Olympics year — 1984. Sarajevo, Los Angeles, ABC covering both, Jim McKay looking pretty comfortable, Bill Johnson, Torvill and Dean, Katarina Witt (she was in that Olympics, wasn’t she?), Carl Lewis, Daley Thompson, Mary Lou Retton, Joan Benoit smoking the field in the women’s marathon, lots of other things. And bad Sergio Mendes songs on the radio. (But that was obviated by the presence of Prince and Van Halen and more besides.)
My first nearly ‘live’ Olympics — Calgary 1988. One time zone away, so the coverage was actually live! Amazing! Witt definitely in that one, Bonnie Blair…what else happened that year? Oh right, Tomba.
My first black and white Olympics — Seoul 1988. I had to crouch over a small B/W TV in my dorm room, having just moved into UCLA for freshmen year. Oh the Ben Johnson roffles.
My first actually ‘live’ Olympics via TV — Barcelona 1992, thanks to being in the UK at the time. BBC coverage, Des Lyman as commentator (was that his name?), and the greatest night of track and field in history. I heard later that all the water polo dudes on the high school team that were friends of my sis all came over and watched the NBC triplecast of said sports’ games. Cause why not?
My first Internet Olympics — Lillehammer 1994. “Check out our site on Prodigy!” alt.tonya-harding.whack-whack-whack — alt.nancy-kerrigan.ouch-ouch-ouch — and Dave Letterman’s mom interviewing the titular subject of the latter was the best Olympics TV moment in years.
My first ‘wait, what?’ Olympics — Atlanta 1996. A bombing, Celine Dion, Kerri Strug and John Tesh. Wait, what?
My last Olympics I watched in any great detail — Salt Lake City 2002. Vague memories.
The current one, which I’m only watching due to being home for a few days — the Christian Slater ads are laughable.
Roll on the track and field coverage, PLEASE!
As reported on at the NY Times as well as many other spots.
I cannot claim to have grown up on McKay’s work, but he was a familiar figure to me in my younger years — ABC’s Wide World of Sports was a regular fixture to watch on late Saturday afternoons, almost as regular a thing for as Saturday morning cartoons, while I remember him being an avuncular enough host for the Sarajevo and Los Angeles Olympics (I believe I must have seen him on the Lake Placid coverage as well but the memories are slightly dimmer then).
I was too young to have known the work he did which still defined his career, which I’m sure must have been at once profoundly moving and distressing for him to look back at — Munich 1972, specifically his 16-hour-stint of covering the Israeli athletes’ kidnapping and the resultant botched rescue attempt where both kidnappers and victims were slain.
This piece he wrote in 2002 looking back over thirty years to that time is well worth a read. To quote:
These were athletes in the old Olympic tradition. They were amateurs. Almost from the first minute I was on the air, I thought about a young man named David Berger, who had immigrated to Israel because he wanted to be in the Olympic. It just made the whole thing worse and worse.
A producer called me early in the morning of Sept. 5 and said terrorists had broken into the Olympic Village, and to get right over because we were going on the air in 45 minutes. When he called to tell me what was going on, I was in the sauna. I had just taken a swim. I just put on my clothes and went out there. I still had a bathing suit on under my clothes.
Roone told me he selected me to do this because I had been a newspaper reporter, not a sports reporter. He knew I had been a reporter and wanted me in the studio so I wasn’t scared.
I realized in the end, I am going to be the person who is going to tell David Berger’s family whether he is alive or dead.
The interview I’m linking below, done for the Archive of American Television‘s TV Oral History project, discusses that time as well as other work he did. A half-hour long, it doesn’t cover his full career by any means, but is a good primer, and gives a sense of his abilities with the camera as well as with his voice, warm and intelligent. Worth a watch.
Thanks sir — your son’s testimony seems to be the best summary (Sean McManus runs CBS Sports):
“Because of the profession I’m in, not a day goes by when someone doesn’t stop me and say, ‘I admire your father’ or ‘I loved his work,’ ” Mr. McManus said. “That tells you a lot about the kind of man he was.”