Tag Archives: Hal Holbrook

Friday Flashback #232

A recent “06880” story on the death of Hal Holbrook noted his 1959 Halloween appearance — as Mark Twain, of course — at Staples High.

I wrote: “The school had just opened its modern North Avenue campus. The PTA had an active arts program, bringing musicians, dancers and actors to the new auditorium stage. Hal Holbrook might have been the most famous name of all.”

Staples High School auditorium in its first year: 1959.

He sure had competition. As John Kelley notes, in those early days of the new high school, Ottilie Kaufman — who lived right next to the south entrance — organized and produced a one-of-a-kind, first-ever performing arts series at Staples that included (in addition to Holbrook) the Weavers, Marcel Marceau, Ferrante and Teicher, Odetta, Sir John Gielgud , Andrés Segovia and others.

Segovia — a world-renowned Spanish classical guitarist — died in 1987, at 94. But his legacy — and his visit here — lives on.

Soon after another legendary Latin musician — José Feliciano — turned 75 last year, our Weston neighbor received a gift: Segovia’s footstool.

Autographed. And from that March 1960 Staples concert.

A page from the 1960 Performing Arts series program.

The back story: Prior to his show, Segovia came to the Kaufmans’ home next door to the high school. He warmed up in the living room using that footstool. Many classical guitarists do that; it supports the instrument, as they play seated.

Growing up in Spanish Harlem in the 1950s, Feliciano was highly influenced by the skills and intrigue of Segovia’s delicate flamenco style.

The antique stool sat in the Kaufman family’s attics for decades — first on North Avenue, then at Ottilie and Zenn’s son Roger’s house. A guitarist, singer and founder of Old School Music’s concerts, promotions and events, he’s as famous locally as Feliciano and Segovia are internationally.

The stool seemed a fitting present for Feliciano, who always sits when he plays. Now the “Feliz Navidad” and “Light my Fire” Latin/jazz/blues/soul/rock musician is sitting pretty with Segovia’s stool in hand — er, under foot.

From left: local drummer Tyger MacNeal, Jose Feliciano and Roger Kaufman, with Andres Segovia’s footstool. The 75th birthday presentation was at Sakura.

Roundup: Reusable Takeout, Super Bowl, More

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Like many Westporters, Yulee Aronson’s family orders a lot of takeout food.

Environmentally conscious, he hates throwing away single-use containers. So he researched companies that offer reusable ones.

He found several. The closest — DeliverZero — is in Brooklyn. They provide containers to restaurants, for takeout or delivery. Diners can return them to the delivery person the next time they order from a participating restaurant, or drop them off themselves. A list of DeliverZero restaurants is on their website.

Yulee asked the owner what it would take to bring his service to Westport. He said, “5 participating restaurants.”

So: How about it, Westport? If you’re a restaurant owner, do you want in? If you’re a diner, would you ask your favorite owners to join?

If so, email yulee.aronson@parsons.com. We’ll let you know when we’re ready to start!

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Not sure who to root for in Sunday’s Super Bowl?

Forget the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. Just cheer for a guard: the Bucs’ Ali Marpet.

He has a great back story: The Hobart College alum is the highest Division III player ever drafted in the NFL. Now he’s got a 5-year, $54 million contract blocking for Tom Brady.

He grew up not far away, in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, where his mother sang in the band Housewives on Prozac, and founded both the Mamapalooza music and arts festival and the Museum of Motherhood.

Oh, yeah: That mom is 1975 Staples High School graduate Joy Rose.

The New York Post provides the full back story. Click here for details. (Hat tips: Bill Halprin and Fred Cantor)

Ali Marpet (left) on draft day and his mother Joy Rose (right), flanking his siblings Zena and Blaze.

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Before cheering for Ali Marpet — and digging into wings and nachos — consider doing a tough workout. You’ll feel good. And you’ll help a great cause.

The workout is a 6-minute pullup bar hang or 6-minute plank, followed by either a half-mile run and 30 pushups, or 2 rounds of 75 jumping jacks, 35 mountain climbers, 15 pushups and 7 burpees. There are other options too.

The cause — after registering ($25 per person, or $40 if you want a t-shirt) is Catch a Lift. The national organization — which has a strong Westport presence, thanks to Adam Vengrow and Andy Berman — helps thousands of post-9/11 combat-wounded veterans regain mental and physical health through gym memberships, home gym equipment, personalized fitness and nutrition programs, and a peer support network.

Click here to register, and for more information.

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Lynsey Addario’s compelling New York Times photos of COVID’s very real effects on very real people in the UK has caught the eye of CNN.

The 1991 Staples High School graduate (and Pulitzer Prize winner, and MacArthur fellow) was interviewed by Rosemary Church. It’s a sobering look at her work — and at the lives and deaths of a few of the millions impacted by the pandemic. Click here (not below — that’s a screenshot) to see.

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Once again, Homes with Hope is part of the Wilton Kiwanis Club’s annual Citrus & Chocolate Fundraiser.

A variety of offerings includes combo packaging with samplings of citrus, plus a great assortment of See’s chocolates.

Every box of fruit or chocolate ordered through the Homes with Hope link benefits our local supportive housing organization. Click here to order. Click here for more information.

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Westporters are used to deer. One, two, sometimes even three eat our bushes, and bound out of the woods.

But it’s rare to 6 at once. Eric Roth took this photo yesterday, on Dogwood Lane.

(Photo/Eric Roth)

They look hungry. It’s not easy feeding such a large family — especially in a snowstorm.

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Hal Holbrook — who died recently at 95 — spent more than 6 decades portraying Mark Twain.

As John Kelley notes, one of those performances was on Halloween night in 1959, at Staples High School.

The school had just opened its modern North Avenue campus. The PTA had an active arts program, bringing musicians, dancers and actors to the new auditorium stage.

Hal Holbrook might have been the most famous name of all.

Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain (Photo/Sara Krulwich for the New York Times)

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COVID-delayed openings today: Westport Library (1 p.m.) and Westport Weston Family YMCA (12:30 p.m.).

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And finally … Happy Groundhog Day!