Jul 11, 2006

Zero Minus a Few Years

The Zero Mostel bio-play Zero Hour, featuring Jim Brochu, at Hollywood's Egyptian Arena Theatre, looks and sounds like fun. But I was startled to read in Deborah Klugman's LA Weekly review that it's set "in 1962 shortly before the comedian's death." I know from his essential work in The Producers (1967) and his memorable appearance on The Muppets (some time in my '70s childhood) that this date had to be wrong, so I looked it up. Imdb tells us that Mostel died in 1977, at the age of 62, leaving the world a poorer, quieter place.
I never had the privilege of seeing the great man onstage, but I remember sitting next to a woman at a Reprise! performance some years ago who said, in possibly a slight exaggeration, that Mostel's not being cast in the film version of Fiddler was a "crime against humanity." Against humor-anity, certainly.


Anonymous said...

He sang Happy Birthday to my friend James at a restaurant in Detroit many years ago (well, it would have to have been!) He found out via James's friends that James worshipped him, particularly in "The Producers," so he came over and serenaded him.

James said that Mostel (who was touring with "Fiddler" at the time) was walking with two crutches offstage -- but somehow pulled it together for that performance every night. A remarkable man, indeed.


Anonymous said...

Klugman got it wrong. The author's notes in the program say that Brochu met Mostel for the first time in 1962, the play itself is set in July, 1977 - three months before Mostel's death.

SteveSchalchlin said...

Hi Rob! Steve Schalchlin here. Didn't know you had a blog but was doing a search on Jim's play and saw your entry here. Good catch on your part but yes, the person above is correct. The play is set in 1977 right before Zero died.

Jim is so good in it. In fact, now that it's up and running, he's already done some really great rewrites and the show is even better than before. Also, hopefully, we'll be out there doing The Big Voice soon. Keep an eye out for us!