Jun. 22, 2000

Back Home

by Louis Jenkins

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: June 22, 2000

Poem: "Back Home," by Louis Jenkins, from The Winter Road (Holy Cow Press).

Itís the birthday of theatrical producer Joseph Papp (Yosl Papirofsky), born in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn (1921). His parents spoke only Yiddish and that was all he spoke until he started school. He went into television as a stage manager, and went on to found the New York Shakespeare Festival which presented free Shakespeare in Central Park for more than 3 decades. In the 1960s he transformed the old Astor Library, in Manhattanís East Village, into a 6-theater complex where he encouraged many young playwrights, including David Rabe, Caryl Churchill, David Hare, Wallace Shawn, David Mamet and John Guare, and nurtured actors James Earl Jones, Raul Julia, Meryl Streep, and Kevin Kline. Among the triumphs he produced was the Broadway musical A Chorus Line, which went on to make over $150 million for the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Itís the birthday of writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, born in Englewood, New Jersey (1906). Sheís the author of Gift from the Sea (1955), The Wave of the Future (1940), and other books.

Itís the birthday of American moviemaker (Samuel) Billy Wilder, born in Sucha, in the Galacia region of Poland (1906). His mother—who later died at Auschwitz—nicknamed him Billy because of her fascination with the American Wild West, and with Billy the Kid. His father ran a string of railway cafťs; during his youth Wilder spent a great deal of time in the gaming rooms of hotels, where he played billiards and cards and learned, he later said, "many things about human nature—none of them favorable." When he was 8, the family moved to Vienna where he became addicted to American jazz and dancing. He became a ghostwriter, writing dozens of scripts for silent films, and worked as a hotel dancer-for-hire with older women. After the 1933 Reichstag Fire, Wilder fled to Paris, then to America. With amazing speed he became an American, writing and directing a string of classic films in the 1940s and 1950s: Double Indemnity (1944), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Lost Weekend (1945), and others.

Itís the birthday of novelist Erich Maria Remarque, born in OsnabrŁck, Germany (1898). Fighting on the German side in World War One, he was wounded 5 times. He wrote his novel Im Westen nichts NeuesAll Quiet on the Western Front—in 1929. It sold over a million copies in Germany alone in its first year; it was translated into a many languages and still sells well in the United States. A year after the novel came out, Hollywood issued its film version, starring Lew Ayres, which became a movie classic. The Nazis reviled both novel and film, and attempted to destroy them.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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