Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Darlings, Today We Pay Tribute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Girls, how much sadness can we stand??? But before I get to the matter at hand, some unfinished business.

On Monday, I learned of some tragic repercussions in the death our my acquaintance, Paul. I discovered that on Thursday, two days after his death, Paul's father, who, granted, was in his 80's, not the best of health, and heading towards Alzheimer's, dropped dead of a heart attack. I am sure the demise of his son did not help matters any; in fact aided them in compounding tragedy for this unfortunate family.

It was also learned--and this I did not know, girls--that Paul had been om meds for being bipolar. How much that had to do with car collision death cannot be determined, but it adds another layer to this all too sad story, that was not there before.

And then, yesterday, another tragedy struck, of great personal shock to ME!!!!!!!!!! But let me backtrack.

Back in 1971, when I was a junior in high school, Thomas Tryon, an actor who never became A-list, had a spectacular success with his first published novel, "The Other." So successful, in fact, that it occupied the No. 2 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, right behind, how ironic, "The Exorcist." In a word this story concerned identical twin boys personifying good and evil, and a series of mysterious and tragic happenings on a Connecticut farm in the mid-Thirties.

A year later, Robert Mulligan, an excellent director, made a film of it, that, at 17, blew me away, introduced me to Uta Hagen, whom I had as yet not heard of, and whom I would go on years later to see on the New York stage in two shows, and to two boys, who, had they not made this film, would have blended into the fabric of suburban obscurity. But this film thrust them forward to a brief brush with fame. Those boys where Chris and Martin Udvarnoky, then of Westfield, New Jersey, not far from where I grew up, playing, respectively, Niles and Holland Perry.

As a young theatrical novice at the time, the skill of the boys' acting, especially Chris as Niles, blew me away. I saw "The Other" many times during its initial theatrical run. The boys' acting impressed me--that they could come out of the Nowhere that was suburban Jersey (or so I thought) and give these kind of performances, suggested I might be capable of such someday, too. It was a turning point in my life. How much so was proved the following year, my senior one in high school, when I tracked them down to their then home in Westfield, NJ, and wrote to them, declaring my acclaim for their work, and requesting an interview with them for the school paper. And they graciously complied. Not only, they, but the parents. To this day, I remember three things--being shown the script, the first time I had ever seen a film script, and not imagining that I would go on to work in a field where seeing then was par for the course; being show the Prince Albert tobacco tin (blue) with the mysterious "finger" inside. And, while reviewing a photo album the family made during the shoot a photo I never forgot--of Uta Hagen, in her long white gown and flowing Ada hair, playfully menacing the boys, with a pair of plastic monster feet over hers. Years later, when I saw Uta onstage for the first time, when she first appeared, I could not get this image out of my mind.

It was indeed a turning point for me--pointing towards a life in, surrounded by, being part of, show business in a way I may not have anticipated, but can never deny. And to the Udvarnokys I have always been grateful.

Well, girls, yesterday, my first back at work, I go on the IMDB thread for "The Other," and the first thing I see is "Chris Udvarnoky passed away this morning...." Well, darlings, I was shocked!!!!! I googled and searched and finally came up with the following.

On the morning of October 25, 2010, Chris Udvarnoky, aka Niles Perry in "The Other," died at the Father Hudson Home in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was 49, and had lived in Westfield and Iselin. Apparently he died of polycysitic kidney disease, because the obit info suggested donations in his honor be made to the foundation for this disease, which is by nature an inherited one.

All I can say is, rest in peace, Chris. Too young, too soon. You led a life of service in the health care industry--from the Westfield Rescue Squad to an X-Ray technician at Overlook and Rahway hospitals. A coworker of yours on IMDB attested to your humor and compassion, as well as your reluctance to discuss "The Other" with no one but close friends--a wise choice. And, of course, your performance as Niles in that film was of award calibre, and impacted so many at the time, and will go on to impact others as time passes.

Girls, I cannot believe I am writing this. It is like a part of me has died. And so it has. We all die a little, every day. Who said that? I cannot remember???? But I am asking all my girls out there to remember Chris Udvarnoky. and if you have not, take a look at his work in "The Other," which is now on DVD!!!!!!!!! You will be amazed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will try for happier news in the future, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Adam Zanzie said...

Very sad news. Mulligan's The Other is one of my favorite films and Udvarnoky's performance in it was spellbinding. I'll have to pay tribute on my own blog now.

The Raving Queen said...

When you post your tibute, let me know. I would like to read it!!!!!

Adam Zanzie said...

The most surprising thing about this whole tragedy is that the obituary doesn't even mention the movie. I'm assuming the Udvarnoky family wants him to be remembered for other things. Here's a link to my tribute:

That's cool that you got to meet the twins, though. I'm amazed that Mulligan allowed them to keep the severed finger.