Monday, September 13, 2010

So long, old friend--Kevin McCarthy

There are a number of Kevin McCarthy obituaries on the net today the best being the NY Times one which you can find here.

I've written before about our friendship with Kevin and I do mean "our." He was much taken with Carol and they had long talks when I was gone. Kevin was an old school gentleman and a very kind man. In the sixteen or seventeen years of our friendship I only heard him say something unkind about one person, a famous agent he'd encountered during the war. He knew everybody and everything. He'd absorbed a world of knowledge and wisdom in his seventy year acting career.

As he always said, he loved to work. When he was in his late eighties he had a recurring role on a CBS series that shot in Chicago. One day he flew out to see us. He had a lot more energy than I did.

Late in the game he got interested in the business of going to conventions to sign autographed photographs. He was a wry but never condescending observer of all that went on there. I think that as his health began to fail the conventions gave him a physical and spiritual boost. He was after all the star of the science fiction picture voted again and again one of the ten best of all time and was treated accordingly.

I last talked to him maybe a month and a half ago. He was confused part of the time and I could tell it was difficult for him to speak. When he laughed he was the old Kevin. When I described our conversation to Carol she was sad and said maybe we'd never hear from him again. As we didn't.

So long, old friend. Your made our lives singularly better with your charm, your wit and your very agreeable take on life and all its foibles.


Kevin and I did a book about his life and Invasion of The Body Snatchers. I can't be impartial but I will say that I'm proud of this book and and proud of the reviews we got. As I said a fair amount of the book is Kevin being interviewed about his career--his early days with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift starting the early version of The Actors' Studio are especially interesting--and then many well-known writers looking at Invasion of The Body Snatchers from various angles. There's even a a sort of grudge match here between producer and director of a later version of the movie. You can order it from Stark House.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: A Tribute
Edited by Kevin McCarthy & Ed Gorman
1-933586-07-9 $17.95
Features essays by Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Jon L. Breen, Tom Piccirilli & more, plus interviews with Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Philip Kaufman, Robert H. Solo, Abel Ferrara, Stuart Gordon and W. D. Richter. Completely revised from the original 1999 edition and includes many photos from the first two films.


Unknown said...

I was sad to hear this news, and of course instantly thought of you, Ed. So sorry for the loss of your friend.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful and tender farewell, Ed. Thanks for giving us this.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear Kevin lost it a little at the end, but he sure had a great run. I don't know of anyone who stayed as sharp for as long. He used to come into my bookstore fairly regularly just to say hello and man, was that some kind of a thrill. I really loved that guy. What an amazing character. Any of us who were lucky enough to know him just a little were better people for it.


Matthew Bradley said...

What a wonderful piece, Ed, and so welcome coming from one who knew him so well. You are right to be proud of the book, as I am to have been a part of it in both incarnations. My wife also had the memorable experience of chatting with Kevin when I wasn't around. His big heart was every bit the equal of his talent. Thanks for a nice tribute.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these thoughts and memories.

Marta C. Weeks said...

I met Kevin around 1964. He was living in beach home and I was living at the Hollywood Studio Club. My impression of him is not very good, I am sorry to say. May he rest in peace. If you would like to contact me I erescently started a blog and will post my commnet there: :

Terrill Lankford said...

Thanks for the insight, Marta. Your opinion is so important to all of us. Now please go away.


Peter L. Winkler said...

Unless you own this blog, Mr. Lankford, you are in no position to tell anyone else they should depart.

As a great fan of Kevin McCarthy, I asked Marta out of curiosity why he left an unfavorable impression upon her, and she responded on her blog. She was hardly desecrating his grave.

I love McCarthy's acting, never met him, but am not the least surprised or dismayed that he wasn't a saint. So get over it, sir.

Terrill Lankford said...

Peter, I've been waiting a long time to say this to you: You are quite the jackass. This is something I think just about every time I see one of your posts. I doubt I'm alone in this either. But this wasn't the place for this. And neither was it the place for her comment or yours about Kevin McCarthy. Anyone with common sense would know that. So Marta says he wasn't a saint and you agree? Wow, what experts you are on the subject. No one here said he was a saint. We expressed our feelings of affection and loss for a man who had more class than you and a hundred Marta's rolled together. And hearing hearsay from some crank who has a 45 year axe to grind is insulting to all involved (except you, who needs to hear the dirt, it seems). No, I don't own this blog, but I'm sure Ed is too polite to give either of you the back of his hand.

And I'll get over it the same day you get over your extremely inflated sense of self-importance, Peter. Which, I suspect, will be never.

Ed, I apologize if I've stepped over the line here. But I'm furious at these two nitwits. Feel free to delete my comments if I've offended you.