ED GORMAN RAMBLES
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Last night’s column inspired some interesting letters. Thanks for writing them, folks.
I wonder how many people remember N.Y.P.D.? Not NYPD Blue, with its contrived characters and sanitized “nudity” and “language,” but the short-lived ABC show (1967 or thereabouts) that starred Jack Warden as a veteran plainclothes detective and Robert Hooks and Frank Converse as his younger partners. As I recall, it was an unpretentious and rather solid show with some fine on-location NYC photography – thank God, predating the lamentable Steven Bochco/David Kelley era of self-important and shallow TV drama. Warden never resorted to any actorly mannerisms, never seemed (unlike Dennis Franz in a similar role in “Blue”) to be pushing a little too hard to be a “character.” He simply presented himself as somebody you might meet on the street, and might admire for doing his job quietly, without fanfare, and well.
That was the stock in trade of an entire generation of actors from the early ‘50s to the mid ‘60s – Karl Malden, Ernest Borgnine, and then Warden, and then George Kennedy, Ed Asner, and Carroll O’Connor a little later – whose like seems to have disappeared from the Hollywood landscape in recent years, expert at playing a wide range of roles (including psychopaths, louts, weasels, and other varieties of bad guy), but most quietly excellent in roles grounded in integrity, dignity, and lack of sham.
Jack Warden’s real name was “Red Abselta,” and, as a youth, he was a hood in Newark, NJ, with a thousand anecdotes that one of my compatriots at the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office used to regale us with on the midnight shift. My personal fave: From THE VERDICT: “Not the Prince of FUCKING Darkness?”
That was very nice what you said about Teresa Wright. She was a good friend of my aunt’s here in New York, so I was lucky enough to meet her several times. She was the sweetest Oscar winner I’ve ever encountered. I really liked her, which inspired me to see SHADOW OF A DOUBT, THE MEN and MRS. MINIVER, THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES, and her best movie (and of the best ever), THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES. Just a great person.