Director’s Note from Fred Barzyk

This entry is part 24 of 24 in the series The Fred Barzyk Collection

Fred Barzyk recalls an embarrassing moment from this first year of being a director at WGBH, in 1960.

Fred says “Please forgive the language I attributed to Dave Davis. It was actually more curt and direct. I got carried away recalling the moment.”

4 thoughts on “Director’s Note from Fred Barzyk

  1. Yes! Eliot Norton’s guests were often a hand full. I remember being the producer trainee assigned to the show, I think Sharon Pucker might have been the producer/director. On one occasion my task was to find out what had happened to Eartha Kitt who hadn’t arrived at the scheduled time. I raced over to her hotel on Commonwealth Ave. and they said “oh, she’s out walking her dogs.” Walking her dogs? I raced up the divider and found her and her two little dogs and convinced her that I could be trusted to supervise their needs (the sacrifices one makes) while she went back to the hotel to change, “quickly please! Miss Kitt!” We were only a little late for taping. Or the time Richard Burton was talent. Of course there was a massive crowd in the little studio area at the MOS. He finished up and made a flourishing exit – straight into Dan Beach’s editing room. He closed the door behind him and we all stood there stunned for a couple of beats and then he flourished back out, totally in charge, and exited appropriately.

  2. I do understand what a pain Brendan Behan could be. Before we came to WGBH, Rosemary McDonald and I were at The Living Theatre in New York. A repertory company led by Judith Malina and Julian Beck, one of our plays was a big hit running for five years, The Connection. First it drew an avante garde type audience and then it went mainstream drawing Broadway theatergoers and a lot of celebrities. Rosemary, House Manager, was standing at the door leading from the lobby into the theater when Brendan Behan, smoking a large cigar tried to walk past. She told him, politely of course, that smoking was not allowed in the theater but he ignored her and tried to push on by. I had been in the lobby and was passing through to get to my stage manager position in the wings when Rosemary called me over and told me about her cigar problem. I repeated to Behan what what Rosemary had already told him said about smoking not being allowed in the theater. He was not impressed and we faced off. It was tense for a moment and then, Behan seemed to relax. He took the cigar out of his mouth and looked around for a place to put it. In his Borstal brogue he asked, “What do you want me to do with it?” It was an obvious straight line begging for a somewhat rude answer. The tenseness returned, but just for a moment. Then we both laughed and he, good naturedly, gave up the cigar and found a seat inside.

  3. Yes, Dave had his standards! I remember doing a half hour with Elliot Norton and the distinguished, brilliant, alcoholic and hilarious playwright Brendan Behan in 1960 or 61. There wasn’t room in the control room or green room for Behan’s entourage, so I put them on folding chairs in the back of the studio. Naturally — I couldn’t prevent it from happening — there was laughter during the show. Dave reamed me out. You can’t have laughter on educational television!

  4. This is a wonderful, funny remembrance.

    Me? At the bizarre suggestion of Michael Rice, *I* got Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, and John Havlicek to do promos for The Advocates. (Howard Cosell wouldn’t play.)

    Russ Morash did the scripts. It appears they are all lost. ….smile…

    Namath spat tobacco through most of his and wanted to know if I “wanted an autograph…..” Nope. Yuck.

    Ali’s was brilliant: “The Advocates. The PBS Fight of the Week. It’s good training for your mind….”

    Whatever, whatever happened to Sylvia Davis? …Susan

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