Jerry Lewis’ bodyguard gives a lift to comic Jackie Mason
In the course of his duties as entertainment writer and critic for various local publications like the West Side Leader and the Medina Gazette, Fairlawn resident Irv Korman had the opportunity to meet and interview many celebrities. In his first book, I Was Jerry Lewis’ Bodyguard for 10 Minutes! … And Other Celebrity Encounters, Korman described his brushes with stars who came to perform at places like the former Carousel Dinner Theatre and Tangier’s Sultan’s Cabaret.
In his new book, I Was Jackie Mason’s Chauffeur for 5 Minutes … And More Celebrity Encounters, Korman contributes more stories about stars at different levels of fame. Actor-singer Noel Harrison, son of Rex, who starred in the spinoff The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., described the descent of his career as taking him from TV series to game shows, variety shows, summer stock and finally dinner theater. Harrison, who died Oct. 19, was in the last stage when he appeared at Canal Fulton Dinner Playhouse in 1979, but Korman found him “cordial, soft spoken and courteous.”
Most of the other stars Korman met were friendly as well, like actor-dancer George Chakiris, Bobby Vinton and Xerox pitchman Jack “Brother Dominic” Eagle.
There’s one example of truly jerkish behavior from a star, and a few others that can be interpreted as just somebody having a bad day. Having to deal with long-winded folksinger Peter Yarrow would be redeemed by an unforgettable experience that began with a routine interview with Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath.
Korman saves the story closest to his heart for last. As a Buchtel High School sophomore in 1960, he appeared in a student production of Arsenic and Old Lace. The only other sophomore in the show was John Lithgow, and 52 years later, the classmates reconnected on Lithgow’s return to Akron.
I Was Jackie Mason’s Chauffeur for 5 Minutes (294 pages, softcover) costs $14.95 from Loconeal Publishing. Korman will talk about and sign his book from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Highland Square branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 807 W. Market St. Registration is suggested; call 330-376-2927. Irv Korman retired as a speech pathologist from the Akron Board of Education.
‘Thelma’s Diary 1935’
In an afterword to Thelma’s Diary 1935, Joyce M. Wiedie remarks that she doesn’t know how her husband’s late aunt, Thelma Dyke, and her sister Marge could afford to take a six-month world tour in 1935. Whatever it cost, it was worth it. Wiedie has published Thelma’s travel journal in its entirety, with annotations for names of places and people.
The sisters, 27 and 29 years old when they set out in May, drove cross-country to take in the sights of America, which included a Texas dust storm and checking out Hollywood stars’ homes. Boarding the S.S. President Hoover in San Francisco, they soon became accustomed to what would be months of cocktail parties, baskets of orchids and dancing with handsome deck officers.
Thelma’s portrait of Hawaii is luscious, and Japan equally exotic; the girls proved their daring by strolling into a brothel and a sex shop. In China, shocking poverty weighed against luxurious air-conditioned private homes, a novelty to the girls in 1935. They spent a week at the Goodyear plantation in the Philippines, had tea at Raffles Hotel and ate fettucine Alfredo made by Alfredo himself. They had an audience with the pope, whom they did not tell about the sex shop.
Though Thelma and Marge’s family must treasure Thelma’s diary as an heirloom, readers will be glad they shared this firsthand account of the romance of pre-war travel.
Thelma’s Diary 1935 (235 pages, softcover) costs $19.95 from online retailers. Thelma Dyke died in 1999; Marge in 1986. Joyce Wiedie lives in Tallmadge.
Barberton Library (602 W. Park St.) — Brecksville author Casey Daniels, who writes the Pepper Martin comic mystery series and, as Kylie Logan, the Button Box and League of Literary Ladies mysteries, talks about her work from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Max McQ’s Sports Bar and Grill (1562 Akron-Peninsula Road, Akron) — Students and members of the creative-writing faculty at the University of Akron, including Mary Biddinger, Julie Drew, David Giffels, James Renner and Eric Wasserman, read from their works. Also appearing will be Jim Tressel, who will read poetry by his daughter, Carlee Tressel Alison. Meet the authors from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday; readings begin at 7.
Olin Hall Auditorium, University of Akron — Michael D. Hill, ’83, will discuss his career as a historical researcher and his book, The Diary and Letters of Elihu Washburne. Free; donations welcome. 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Poet Brandon Stroud, founder of Cleveland’s HobGob Press, reads from his work, 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday; GrilledShane blogger Shane Kearns of Solon signs Melt: 100 Amazing Adventures of Grilled Cheese, 7 p.m. Saturday.
Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — James Green Jr. talks about the punk band the Misfits and signs his book This Music Leaves Stains: The Complete Story of The Misfits, 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Medina County District Library (Buckeye branch, 6625 Wolff Road, Medina) — Nancy Marion, professor of political science at the University of Akron, discusses assassinations and signs her book (with Willard Oliver) Killing the President: Assassinations, Attempts, and Rumored Attempts on U.S. Commanders-in-Chief, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Twinsburg Public Library (10050 Ravenna Road) — Comic artists and authors will appear starting at 6:45 p.m. Friday for the Superman Celebration, which also includes panel discussions and movie showings. Registration required at www.twinsburglibrary.org.
— Barbara McIntyre
Special to the Beacon Journal