Thursday, 25 April 2013


My obituary of Allan Arbus is online at the Guardian, you can link to it here, and should be in the paper paper soon. It is pretty much as I wrote it. I had traced the timeline of his marriage to Diane more fully--they divorced only after Allan moved to LA in 1969 to pursue acting, and along those lines had also suggested that the world-view which Sidney Freedman espouses acts in some ways as a dialectic with Diane's own bleaker perception of the world, and our coping with it. I'd also mentioned that Allan had met his second wife in an acting class, well before the divorce or his remarriage, and I'm curious about the circumstances under which their marriage failed.

I might have liked mentioning that Diane's brother was the poet Howard Nemerov, and I definitely did mention that the movie Hey Let's Twist actually starred Joey Dee and the Starliters. I definitely want to get a copy of the TV movie Judgement, about the Rosenbergs--I had a vague memory of seeing and disliking it because it assumed their guilt--the issue is more complicated than that--but that could well be one of the other many items about them that I studied in the 70s.

In retrospect, Arbus' portrayal of Major Freedman is perhaps the most memorable of any on M*A*S*H, challenged only by McLean Stevenson's Col. Blake and maybe Ed Winter's Maj. Flagg. As Alan Alda said so perceptively, the depth Arbus provided gave all the characters and their situation more reality. And it was brilliant of the Guardian to get a still from Coffy, with Arbus and Pam Grier, as the art for the piece.

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