It’s like the end of an era for me. Probably for us all. Michael’s passing left
me speechless. In the years I knew him he always seemed a little larger than
life, an immortal of a fashion; like so many of my friends from the old days. To
have known him was to love him. His character, his compassion and above all,
that indefatigable sense of humor. I remember connecting with Michael while I
was feeling particularly nostalgic, missing the old days at Grossinger’s where I
had performed in the 70s. In my research I FOUND AN ARTICLE Michael had written
for the Megillah, and wrote him. That was, to quote Bogart, “The beginning of a
beautiful friendship.” My God, the hours we spent swapping stories! We laughed,
we cried, and we shared. It was glorious.
Then, when he asked me if I’d write "Backlot", I was so farklempt, I
nearly plotzed! I’d never written a column before, but Michael nurtured
me and guided me, giving me an education in ‘Journalism 101’ that six years in
college couldn’t have matched. But that was how Michael rolled. Nothing was too
big for him to tackle nor too small for him to care about. His generous spirit
and his big heart were an inspiration to, I would argue, us all. I know I
benefited immeasurably from knowing Michael. If I learned anything at all from
Michael it was to never let things stop you. He was a fighter, albeit a gentle
one. His weapons of choice were intelligence and charisma. With those
attributes, one can overcome just about anything.
I’m not going to say “Goodbye” to Michael. Partly because I still haven’t
accepted his being gone, and partly because I know that any time I’m feeling
inadequate or unsure, I’ll hear his voice urging me to press on. I’m sure he’ll
be watching over us all. I hope so; God, but I hope so.
I’ve missed writing my column for the Megillah, and I’ll probably always miss
it. I was in grand company with all of you. It was an honor and a privilege. I
wish everyone every good fortune in the future. And, I ask you all to keep
Arnold in your prayers. As painful as Michael’s passing is for all of us, I
can’t begin to imagine what Arnold is enduring. Arnold, you’re a great man. You
made someone we all loved very happy, and for that, you have my respect and
affection. I especially wish for you, happiness and peace.
And now, for that last time, my Megillah family….Shalom, Gang!