Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gerald Bordman .. RIP, my old friend.

My dear friend Gerry died in Philadelphia today. He was 79, which wasn't bad because he'd never expected .. given his medical history ... to make it to such an age.
I suppose someone will be writing obituaries about him for the New York Times and other more seriously academic journals ... well, they may even ask me, but my recollections of Gerry would be perhaps a little personal and irreligious for a learned journal. And, anyway, neither of us had a huge penchant for being 'learned', which was quite a good thing, given the subject of which he chose to revolutionise the historical recording ... closely followed by his first and most enduring disciple: me.
His The American Musical Theatre was directly responsible for my The British Musical Theatre and the dozen tomes that followed it. So, you could say he changed my life.

This isn't the sort of photo you usually see of Gerry. He'll usually be black-and-white, stiff and rather embarrassed looking, So I hope some of the obituarists find this. I took it. And I declare it non-copyright. It was at my neighbour's wedding, on the ramparts at St Paul de Vence and - oh, Ian must have taken it, that's my wrist with the glass of champagne behind his shoulder.

I'll write some more when it's all sunk in properly. Funny, last time we spoke -- about six weeks ago -- across the world, it was he who was worrying about my health. The stroke, and all. Then suddenly he wasn't answering his phone ...

Exit stage centre, you might say. His book remains, and will always remain the best chronicle of the American Musical Theatre.
A fitting memorial. And one or two of us are left with a different kind of memorial as well ... a dear, lovely, generous man ..


Baltimore said...

Thanks Kurt. When I last spoke to Gerry and he could comprehend properly (he was drugged in hospital and thought he was on the stage, in a third act) he was himself, criticizing the revival of Anything Goes, which he had not seen. He felt that something like Out of This World or even Mexican Hayride would have been a better choice. Jacques Kelly


Dear Jacques ..

How wonderful to have contact!
Have you an email address, so I can write properly?
I'm ganzl@xtra.co.nz

Love, Kurt

milowent said...

I've created a long-over due Wikipedia biography on Mr. Bordman, and included your photo based on your willingness to offer it to the public domain. Can you tell me what year the photo was taken?





Milo, I took that photo in the square by the church in St Paul de Vence the last time Gerry visited me there. So that would be late 90s. Contact me on ganzl@xtra.co.nz if you like.