Thursday, January 25, 2018

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXLIV

Nixon promises withdrawal.
Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

November, 1968: A very turbulent year was finally coming to an end!  Protests, draft cards being burned, assassinations and then the election of Richard Nixon. The whole civilization seemed to be tottering on the brink of dissolution! Nixon made a lot of promises: ending the Vietnam War, bringing the people together, ensuring a prosperous economy — a lot of promises!

I had no complaints about work, however.  I had had wonderful illustration commissions. At the beginning of autumn, I got to do a project illustrating a story on the legendary 21 Club for FORTUNE magazine.

This continued for several weeks during which time I spent hours and hours there having lunches, dinners and drinks at the bar — all free and to add to it, getting paid by the magazine to do it!

One of the lunches was with John Charles Daly and his wife Virginia “Nina” Warren, the daughter of California Governor/Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Nina was a graduate of UCLA as was I and we had a few moments of reminiscing but then, somehow the conversation veered toward a discussion of the Vietnam War.

Not a good idea.

Nina and I were in agreement about the war’s immorality and even illegality.  John Daly, however was not!

He expressed with much emotion his disagreement with us!

It was extremely disconcerting to be having an excitedly emotional argument with a man who legendarily had been the first newsman to announce the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and also the death of President Roosevelt!

Finally I was able to steer the conversation away from the war and onto the subject of What’s My Line?, the television show he hosted for years!

Being at 21 finally became tiresome as the Kreindlers who were the owners, proud that Fortune was preparing an article, would truck me out to meet important people and sometimes draw their picture!  I started hiding out, drawing in the kitchen!
So my young friend Craig had moved to New York having left Georgetown where he’d been a student.  Having gone to prep school in France he was bilingual and got a job downtown with the French American Bank.  Annie Rieger and I had become surrogate authority figures.

Meanwhile, work continued.

I met with David “Army” Roggensak at Martell’s to talk about the opening of Dames at Sea, the show for which he’d recommended me to design the logo image.
So I was invited to the dress rehearsal. 
The show was such fun with a young, unknown actress named Bernadette Peters starring as Ruby, a young hopeful who at the last minute steps in for the indisposed star of an elaborate musical.  The script was a winkingly campy takeoff of the 1930's Warner Bros. musical movie, 42nd Street that had starred tap dancing Ruby Keeler.  The film used battalions of dancers on gigantic sets and Dames attempted the illusion in a small theater (originally at the Bouwerie Lane) with six young performers and sets utilizing mirrors to multiply their numbers!

After the show, Annie, Craig and I went with “Army” David to the Cedar Bar where “Army” David recorded the moment in a charmingly naive drawing.
The next day David took me to meet Beverly Landu and Ronnie Paris after which we went to the Blaine Thompson Agency, an agency that handled theatrical client’s’ advertising needs.
At Blaine Thompson I met Howard Atlee, who was a veteran General Press Representative having worked with shows such as the original productions of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Tiny Alice and too many others to mention.  I assumed he was adding Dames at Sea to his list of hits!
The infamous Hong Kong Flu was hitting New York and Ronnie Paris was beginning to feel its effects during the meeting.
Then, abruptly, the meeting was over!

Dames at Sea would be a great succès and move to the Theatre de Lys eventually having a Columbia Records Original Cast Album released for which I painted a more elaborate color version of the logo which had become somewhat iconic of the show!
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