Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mars descending

Last week, Kenneth Mars passed away at the age of 75. You might not recognize the name, that is the fate of character actors, but you have surely seen his work. In movies like Young Frankenstein, Radio Days and The Producers to name a few.

I did a voiceover session with Mr. Mars, many years ago. I couldn't tell you the name of the product or even the name of the agency where I was working at the time, but I can tell you he was one the nicest, funniest guys I've ever met.

Naturally I was in awe of anybody who had the opportunity to work directly with Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. (I find their work a bit shticky today, but back then they were heroes.)

It was with great grace that Kenny signed my copy of The Producers Soundtrack.

It reads, "Hi Rich, The Furher never said:"Baby." Love from Franz Liebkind.

That wasn't the only gift he left me. He told us this great story about working on the set of Radio Days. In one particular scene, he played a rabbi who is upset with Joe (played by a very young Seth Green) for stealing money from the Unicef box. He had to yell at the 10 year old boy and give him a slight slap on the back of the head. Woody Allen, the director, wasn't happy with the zeal Kenny brought to the scene so he pulled him aside.

WOODY: I want you to be really stern with the kid.

KENNY: Alright.

WOODY: And give him a good whack on the back of the head.

KENNY: I don't want to hurt him. He's only 10. He's a kid.

WOODY: Exactly, he's a kid. They're a dime a dozen. Now this time, smack him.

On the next take, Kenny gave the kid a five knuckle wallop and sent him crying to the social worker. He was a real craftsman.

Rest in peace, Kenny.

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