Jan 27, 2009

Allen Zwerdling, 1922-2009

One of two founders of Back Stage and a newsprint entrepreneur of the old school, Allen Zwerdling was no longer affiliated with the brand when I had occasion to meet him at a Back Stage West Garland Awards ceremony. If I recall correctly, it was on the steps of the Pasadena Playhouse in early 2001. He looked in fine health, and he had kind and encouraging words about the paper. Somewhere in my files I've got a handwritten letter from around the same time, with his unsolicited but entirely welcome wisdom on the business of acting-trade publishing.

He should know. From the Hollywood Reporter obit:
The publication suffered growing pains in its early years, when Zwerdling and [co-founder Ira] Eaker were responsible for writing, editing, ad sales, and production. The pair even carried stacks of issues in their cars, ready to hurry them to any newsstand that might require more copies.

That's almost what it was like starting up Back Stage West back in the early '90s, in the final days of cut-and-paste publication (give me a straight-edge and 1-point tape and I swear I could still apply the rule around a wax-affixed photo).

In short: glad to have met him, proud to have carried his legacy forward my own small bit, and sorry he's gone.

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