Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Our Field of Dreams

Our Field of Dreams

        The USA has always been my "field of dreams". Yes, they made a great movie with that title, but for me, it’s a very personal thing. I’m not embarrassed to share that fact of my life with any and all who care to hear, see, and perhaps read details of our country’s glorious past.

        It was many years ago when this very active kid (me) thought it was a great deal of fun to be out there with his dad shoveling snow. The year was 1943, and the main New York airport of the time was LaGuardia Airport.

        For this guy (me), my recall of pleasant nostalgia serves far more beneficially than the recall of peoples' complaints about the ineptitudes of deceitful politicians. I have zero memory of my mom or dad discussing politics. My mother was a flag-waving patriotic zealot, while we never heard my father let on which party he favored.

        At age twenty-one, when I returned from military service, I became aware my dad was a lifelong Republican. The kid (me) had not yet decided regarding the road I would be taking during the course of my lifetime. The “no complaints department” was the driving non-political force in our family.

        At that time, it had been twenty-two years since my dad and I had shoveled snow together for our neighbors, who couldn’t handle the chore themselves. Now we talked, man to man, and I still remember what dad had said with a smile of accomplishment on his face: “Did you get anything out of the army experience, Harv?” he asked.

        “The unbelievable accomplishment of knowing I was part of this great team of young guys who were busting their asses together, helping people to regain their dignity”, I replied. And not since the day my dad had taken me to the train station on my way to basic training, had I seen my father become emotional. We agreed there was much more accomplishment in shoveling snow than complaining about it, regardless of what political party you voted for.

        I write this as a thank you to all the men and women who serve the people who have placed their confidence in those committed to the accomplishment of providing for the building and survival of each other’s dignity.

        And thank you, all, for the marvelous reviews you’ve been sending me about my song, “Vote Them Out. It’s what America's All About”! In the event you haven’t heard it as of yet, just give what follows a click, give a listen, and don’t be afraid to let me know what you think.

Harvey Kalmenson

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Sports and Families


Did you know?
Children 3 and under can enter Dodger Stadium free provided they sit on a parent or guardian’s lap. Should the parent or guardian want a child age 3 and under to have their own seat, a ticket must be purchased.

        Way back to circa 1936, or 1937—long before Dodger’s Stadium or Chavez Ravine was even a gleam in the eyes of the O’Malley family and clan)—in the one and only Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York, I would often be located sitting on my father's lap, learning how to cheer for what was eloquently described as “Dem Bums”. By age five, my dad explained to anyone who was close enough to where we were sitting: “My kid knows all of their names and numbers.”
        Dad wasn’t completely accurate; I was able to rattle off almost everyone who had anything to do with the Dodgers—including a lady named Gladys Goodding, who was the team organist. And of course, the gal who sat way out in the left field named Hilda, ringing a large cow bell when before and after the Dodgers did something good. Hilda never missed a Dodgers game for as long as she lived.

        What my Father didn’t realize was that he was the one responsible for his kid's (little da harv's) ability—or as his brothers put it, “Hervey’s got a real gift”—to memorize. In actuality, and unknowingly, because my dad never stopped talking to me while I was there—me comfortably sitting on his lap at the ballpark—he was teaching me how to pay attention to what was going on around me.
        Long before I knew who Vin Scully was, I had my very own private and hands-on announcer for everything going on around us. He was also making comments about anyone we experienced together at the ballpark. Much of what he was saying is not suitable for me to repeat. In retrospect… I had a version of Vince Scully there with me at all times.

        As I grew older, in conjunction with my dad having to pay for my seat, I began really turning into his buddy. Often, dad would answer a question while doing a variety of dialects of the many immigrants seated around us who had also fallen into a deep love affair with our Dodgers.
        It was before television had arrived on the scene, and well before anything vaguely resembling instant replay. When the Dodgers were playing out of town, just about every father, son, and all of my friends were tuned in to the radio and listening to what we all felt to be a close friend named Red Barber.
If we weren’t at the ballpark, we were paying close attention to what Red had to say. I mean to tell you, Red was the gospel for all of us. In my lifetime to date, the only announcer better than Red was to become the greatest of all time and forever a Dodger. The one and only: Vince Scully. In addition, Vince is also known and recognized as having been one of the game's best teachers.

HISTORY NOTE: It was sometime around 1920 when the tradition of the fans being allowed to keep any baseballs that were hit into the stands began, but that wasn’t always the case. During World War II, everything hit into the stands had to be returned to the home team, who then in turn forwarded on to our armed service members to be used in their service games. When WW2 came to an end, the practice of spectators keeping a game ball that went foul, or was hit into a homerun area of the stadium, became the fans to keep. The fans were truly fanatical when it came to catching one of those balls, no matter how hard it was hit.

Ebbets Field 1947 World Series, Photograph by Albert Bolognese

        For what it’s worth, those early days at the games with my dad were all smiles. Even when “Dem Bums” lost, my dad began saying to me, “we’ll get 'em tomorrow, Harvey”. You know, he wasn’t kidding. He wasn’t doing a strange or funny voice. He, in effect, was preparing for being part of the business I’m in; we’ll get 'em tomorrow! Won’t we?


        ...And yesterday [Tuesday, August 2, 2022], as I watched my Dodgers busily doing away with their archrival, the San Francisco Giants team, the outcome of the game became of secondary interest to me. It was announced by the Dodgers broadcast team: Vin Scully had passed away. For sixty-seven seasons, Vin had been the Dodgers announcer. There will never be another man like him. Vince Scully added to my life!

Vin Scully began his big league broadcasting career on April 18, 1950, for the Brooklyn Dodgers. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, with wife Sandi, waves to the fans after the team’s 10th-inning victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Letter to all my dear friends of "da harv"

Hi to all my dear friends of "da harv",

        It was about fifty years ago—Harvey Kalmenson began his voyage upstream, usually pitted against the abnormality of the waters which have forever filled the rivers of the creative worlds of my existence. Endurance, and some occasional applause, have been the driving force that supplied the necessary energy allowing me to keep swimming upstream.

        And now, if you choose, da harv is asking you to please help with his upstream swim, “paddling towards applause”. Please share this Sunday's message and Youtube link as socially as you might know how. My music has all been registered. My goal is to tell the world.

We welcome your input. Got any connections? 🤷‍♂️

Thank you, and God Bless.

Harvey Kalmenson

Thoughts or ideas are welcome!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

A Passing Thought

“Excerpt from Working Pro, 19 July 2022”

Yours or mine
In our travels
Be they bleak or divine
While pursuing futures,
Often reviewing the past
Sweet, sour, loving, sublime
On display, some past indiscretions
Being one or two
I had a few

Offers rare, honest attempts declined
Straining to understand
A modicum of what will be
But mainly how to portray
Whom I shall become
little left to grasp

Then a life-changing question is asked
Is the hand being extended
By that of a teacher
Helping while praying
For your life’s work to expand

        A question or two for all or any of you, regarding whether or not you recognize the name or names of the following folks— ALL WORTHY AND HERALDED AS THE MOST RENOWNED THEATRICAL EDUCATORS OF ALL TIME:

Konstantin Stanislavsky
Stanislavsky pioneered teaching future thespians—including directors—how to harness emotion, he developed his famous “System”: placing an actor inside a character’s “magic if,” establishing motivation, and identifying both objectives and obstacles.

Lee Strasberg
Co-founder of the groundbreaking Group Theatre, director of the Actors Studio, and creator of the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, responsible for the term “Method acting”. Diverging from Stanislavsky, Strasberg introduced psychological truthfulness through affective memory, or using personal recollections and replicating sensations to color a character’s emotions. Disciples include Dustin Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Elia Kazan, and many other die-hards.

Stella Adler
A prolific actor herself from the age of 4, Adler disagreed with Strasberg in that she favored the power of imagination over personal emotions. Among the countless students of her renowned studio are Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch, and most famously, Marlon Brando. Adler also championed strong choices, using a simple principle every actor should keep in mind: “Don’t be boring.”

Sanford Meisner
By emphasizing instinct over affective memory, reacting to a scene partner over inner turmoil, and “the reality of doing,” Meisner shook up the craft more than any other American. If you’re not sure how repetition and “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances” can help your work, look him up.

Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan, an American director, and author, was noted for his successes on the stage—especially with plays by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller—as well as for his critically acclaimed films and for his role in developing a revolutionary style of acting that embodied psychological and behavioral truth.
Kazan was one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history and introduced a new generation of unknown young actors to the world, including Marlon Brando, James Dean, Warren Beatty, Carroll Baker, Julie Harris, Andy Griffith, Lee Remick, Rip Torn, Eli Wallach, Eva Marie Saint, Martin Balsam, Fred Gwynne, and Pat Hingle.

Elia Kazan & Marilyn Monroe

Uta Hagen
Best known for originating Martha in Broadway’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” Hagen co-founded the Herbert Berghof Studio and authored several books. It works for her students Al Pacino, Liza Minnelli, and Whoopi Goldberg!


        For all the thousands of boys and girls, those standing in the back of life’s theaters while waiting to go on, while pondering what it will be, and by what date your acclaim to being a fine thespian of sorts, shall be announced by way of celebration… Now lean in, lean forward, and listen to my unadulterated answer:
“I just don’t know!”

And now for just a tad few minutes, I’d love for you to look and listen, while paying attention to a friend of mine speaking of his friend and teacher, Uta Hagen. This is “Charles Nelson Riley”.

Change, or not to change, that is your question. Your answer will be what it’s always been; acting is what life demands, not merely change, but most importantly, adaptation to endless change!

A short note from Harvey Kalmenson, before he became da harv:
If you believe in a label, please be sure it’s both your heart and mind in tandem, responsible for your belief and not merely one of nature's unqualified understudies who, without warrant, takes it upon themselves in order to secure emanant failure—YOURS!

Harvey Kalmenson
Source(s): Google

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Our Day Together At Work

“Our Day Together At Work”

        In no uncertain terms, I became the stage manager for all and everything taking place during the recording of “A Troll in Central Park”. Even Don Bluth and Gary Goldman acknowledged my work as being the best they had ever experienced. To this day, it remains a strange happening—or should I say, even though they paid me well, Harvey Kalmenson’s name never appeared on anything emanating from the Sullivan Bluth organization. That’s not to say either Don or Gary had anything to do with the supposed oversight. They had both been extremely cordial during my stay with them.

1974 Cloris and friends:
Never a dull moment. She was always working with the best performers Hollywood had to offer. For me, it was once again “hog's heaven” time.

        As planned, the limo carrying Cloris arrived at the studio right on time, and as planned da harv was there right on time as well. “I’m Harvey Kalmenson”, I offered. Cloris placed her arm in mine. “Oh, I know who you are,” she said as we moved away from a large crowd of people who had gathered in anticipation of her arrival. It was all business for both of us.
        My young assistant was introduced to Cloris, and he instantly reported to me. He had checked out the back seat of the limo, as well as guaranteed the phone number of the driver, and acknowledged he would be in the vicinity of the recording studio in order to pick Cloris up at our request.
        At my instruction, it was to be the same driver who would be picking her up at the end of the session. The driver was to remain with Cloris until she was securely home or at the location of her choice (in Los Angeles). Cloris Leachman would be receiving the star celebrity treatment she had earned, never demanded.
        Inside the building, Cloris was introduced by me to Don Bluth. At that point, it was his job as the director to intro anyone he chose to intro. Everything was supposedly now in his hands. Cloris and I recognized, simultaneously, that the actor and director etiquette wasn’t Don Bluth’s forte. It went quickly along with her sly wink to me and me alone.

        She was prepared to receive and nod her head "yes" while her performance didn’t quite resemble what Don was asking her to do. She was marvelous from the beginning and all through the day. Everything Don required was there for him at his beck and call. I functioned for him as the invisible man.
Don had turned away from the booth and began talking to people in his entourage, before telling me—or anyone else for that matter—what was going on. “Shall we take a bathroom break?”, I asked. “Okay, everyone, take a break”, Don said to no one in particular. “Should we release Cloris?” I asked. Don waved to me signaling it was okay.
        Cloris had come around and into the control area. I had put my head down, resting for a moment on my hands. Cloris deliberately ignored everybody in the control area and moved over to where I was resting while she began to rub the back of my neck. It was then, that the one and only Cloris Leachman said in a very polite voice for all to hear, “Thank you for your help, Harvey”.
        My goodness, “A Troll In Central Park”, was about forty-nine years ago. The best part of this business for me isn’t the money or the acclaim. It was the genuine graciousness of the very one and only:
Cloris Leachman
Harvey Kalmenson

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Troll

“The Troll”

There were many who worked with Cloris Leachman before Harvey Kalmenson came along, and certainly many more who were privileged to follow in my footsteps.
But none will be able to claim more lasting joy forever than I.
Yes, I got to work with Cloris Leachman.
A day to last a lifetime!

        Right smack in the middle of working on a movie called “The Ice Whale”, at a meeting conducted by Don Bluth himself, we were informed the production was being stopped, and we were immediately beginning work on “A Troll In Central Park”.

NOTE: There’s quite a story that goes with the cause for Don Bluth making his decision, but perhaps one day someone will make a movie out of it. It won’t be da harv.

        “The Troll” was how I referred to it from day one. The next day, following the announcement, scripts began coming from Ireland. Pages kept flowing my way. I was enjoying everything about what was transpiring into a constant excitement and challenge it offered us all.
        After completing my personal script breakdown of the Troll, I was ready to move ahead with my celebrity choices for the some forty or so speaking roles, beginning with the lead(s) being cast first. My very first choice—to be sent to Don Bluth in Ireland, seeking his slam dunk approval—was for Cloris Leachman as “Queen Gnorga”. She would easily be our biggest named star of the film; I was sure of it.

Queen Gnorga from A Troll in Central Park (1994)

        Other than leading roles being written and secured as soon as possible (the nature of the way feature films take place, having to do with financing being secured), there is usually a flow of rewrites through the project duration, requiring additional and constant assignments being made throughout the casting.

        Early the very next morning, my supervisor, John, called me into his office to let me know he wanted many more actresses to choose from. I was absolutely shocked and disappointed, to say the least!
        John relayed the message from Don Bluth, loud and clear, he wasn’t familiar with Cloris Leachman’s work. I couldn’t believe my ears. "Come on, John”, I said. “Cloris has more awards for acting than just about any other currently living actress alive, and still at work and in constant demand!" All to no avail. The word had come from Don Bluth, and that was all there was to it.
        About eight weeks went by and almost all of my celebrity casting had been completed except for one remaining role, that of “Queen Gnorga”. Once again, I was told by John he wanted me to submit Cloris Leachman for the part. I got upset a little when I was told by John he got the idea for Cloris Leachman from his next door neighbor.
        “She was my first choice ten weeks ago, and you told me Don wasn’t familiar with her work!” He answered, “Well, he wants you to send him some samples of her work.” I explained to him her work was available in every English-speaking country in the world. “I mean… give me a break. This has to be one of the silliest assignments I’ve ever been given!”
        That same day and into the evening, I went after it like a rabid dog in search of food! Something different that would make Cloris the only possible choice in the world who could possibly be right for playing “Gnorga”.

        You read correctly. It isn’t unusual at all for it to take many weeks in order to cast the celebrity voices on an animated feature film, especially in today's market arena when a casting director and the producers might be scattered all over the world. In this case, my work was made a little easier because of the fact it was a “favored nation's arrangement for all the celebrity casting”. (All the celebs got the same money…) “The Troll” was about forty years ago. Much has changed, especially da harv!

        It was hard for me to believe it could be possible for the head of a studio not to have been familiar with the work of the one and only Cloris Leachman. It was like first-class “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”! Then, without notice, two good things happened—I can’t recall in what order.
        One of the premier artists at Sullivan Bluth, who was considered a key player with the company, explained to me over lunch the way the game had to be played here at Bluth. He explained it was all about ego. Turned out, Don Bluth knew all about Cloris Leachman. It was simply a fact of life: if it wasn’t Don’s idea first, it almost always wouldn’t happen.
        I received a call from a distant friend who worked at the UCLA Film library. He had discovered a recent series of film clips that had been put together in celebration of a Cloris Leachman birthday party. The film was almost entirely a collage of excerpts of scenes of her performing a wide variety of roles in award-winning performances being requested by guests at her birthday party.
        The next thing to do was get them off to Ireland and into Don’s hands, along with my note congratulating him on having chosen Cloris as his first choice. Within twenty-four hours, I was on the phone making a deal for Cloris to become our “Queen Gnorga”.
        The way it worked out: my first and only choice for the part of "Gnorga", Cloris Leachman, ended up being the only celebrity casting that was never replaced during the production of "A Troll In Central Park".
Harvey Kalmenson

Image Source(s): Harvey Kalmenson's personal collection

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Our Liberty continues...

What brighter light could burn, than that which has been nurtured by those who have understood and appreciated the gifts that endow, any and all, who may venture within the boundaries of this country's great heart.
Harvey Kalmenson

Did You Know:

  • "The Declaration of Independence" was signed on July 4t, 1776
  • We had thirteen states
  • Our first president was George Washington
  • Elected February 4, 1789
  • Our first vice president was John Adams