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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Odds and Ends not in my book, Part 5

Since many of you seem to enjoy my "old Hollywood" recollections, here's another one -- the Marty Feldman story.

Even if you don't recall the name, you know when you've seen him and you'll never forget one of the greatest comedic faces of all time.

Here he is as Igor (pronounced Eye-gor) in Mel Brooks's "Young Frankenstein":

Many remember him this way. Me? I remember him as a frequent houseguest, and a sweetheart of a guy.

When I was in my early teens and living with my dad and his second wife S (the nice stepmother, not the mean one), Marty and his wife Lauretta (who looked a lot like S, with long dark hair and high cheekbones) came often from England for Marty's work here in the States. Whenever they were here, they stayed at our house. It was entertaining, to say the least.

Marty was pretty much the way you saw him on TV and in movies -- very hyper, energetic, wildly funny. He drank a lot of coffee (and alcohol), smoked like a fiend and couldn't sit still for five seconds. But so charming and very endearing. He was a vegetarian, and I remember S cooking separate vegetarian meals for him. Whenever there was a party and she'd make one of her favorite crowd-pleasers, lasagna, she'd make two -- one with meat and one without -- if Marty was there.

Not only was he hyper, but he was accident-prone. One summer night during one of our pool parties, he went charging through the patio door to the pool, intending to jump in, I guess. Unfortunately, while the glass door was open (thank goodness!), the screen door was closed, and he ran into it so hard, the screen split open the bridge of his nose. I still recall him sitting in one of the deck chairs, looking rather dazed, while his wife held tissues to his profusely bleeding nose.

It was so much fun having them as houseguests. But after my dad and S split up and we sold the big house, that all changed. Now he was with Vampira, and God forbid she associate with any of Dad's old friends who had also been friends with S. Stupid cow. So when Marty and Lauretta came to the States after that, they stayed in a hotel, and Dad and I would go visit them.

My #1 favorite memory of Marty is from one of those visits. (Some of you have heard this story before, so please bear with me.)

One Sunday, we were at the Feldmans' hotel; several others were there and they'd ordered a spread of food. I was 16 and already in the throes of my eating disorders, so I sat quietly without touching any of the food. Marty, fresh from all the wonderful treatment he'd had at our house, was determined to be a good and proper host himself, and he was also determined that he was going to get me to have something, even if it was just a beverage.

So, basically, he offered me just about everything liquid in existence, in rapid-fire succession. The conversation, very brief, went as follows, the replies flying like bullets. I don't think either one of us drew a breath.

Him: Erica, love, would you like something to drink?
Me: No, thank you.
Him: Are you sure? A glass of wine?
Me: No, thank you.
Him: How about a soda?
Me: No, thank you.
Him: Juice?
Me: No, thank you.
Him: Water?
Me: No, thank you.
Him: Coffee?
Me: No, thank you.
Him: Tea?
Me: No, thank you.
Him: Well, fuck you, then.
Me: Fuck you, too.

Very calm, very matter-of-fact, in that perfect English accent of his. Of course, afterward, he gave me a big hug and we both laughed.

Marty died in 1982, at age 48, of a heart attack. Way too damn young.

I'll never forget him.


  1. What a lovely reminiscence. I love the way you write, Erica. You make it easy for your readers to put themselves right there, back in time, and in that place. What a marvelously interesting life you've experienced so far.


    Best Regards,

  2. What Quai said. That was lovely. It's very sad that he died so young.


  3. Wonderful Erica. Thank you.

  4. Erica, that was a beautiful 'Hollywood' story on Marty Feldman. You have a gift for writing. Whenever you have decided that your 'spanking days' are over, and all has been accomplished along those lines. Collect all your 'Hollywood' saga's, And publish them. You could have a non-spanking best selling book in future years.

  5. I love these "Odds and Ends" post Erica. What a wonderful memory, thanks for sharing.

    Could be a good idea from SOTB.


  6. Hi Erica,I really enjoy your odd's and end's storie's you are a FABULOUS writer and i agree that when you write about it, i feel like i am right at that moment cause i can visualize it :-)WOW you knew lot's of famous people how EXCITING,At least i know one famous person YOU,which is totally AWESOME :-)Sorry about your friend dying so young that's TERRIBLE :-( As i read this i laughed so hard when he tried to get you to drink something then you both said F U to each other hehehe LMAO :-)Thanks for sharing it was WONDERFUL as always.Much Love and hug's from your naughty girl Jade XOXO

  7. Quai -- I like hearing that about my writing. Thank you. :-)

    Hermione -- it was sad indeed. But I think he overloaded his circuits.

    joey - thanks. :-)

    six -- I don't have quite enough stories, not for a book, anyway. But for an occasional blog, definitely.

    Ronnie -- I wish I had even more of them. But I think I still have a couple left. :-)

    Jade -- glad you liked it.

  8. What a neat story, Erica. I love your writing, too, because you make it real and meaningful.

    I bet you do have enough stories to do a book. It doesn't have to be a huge tome to be a good book that people will want to read. Give it a thought, see what you have, and you might be surprised.

  9. I love Young Frankenstein! I also love your Odds & Ends. They're fascinating and entertaining.

    Btw, nice to know you had a mouth on you back then too. I love it. :)

  10. Bobbie Jo -- something to think about, I guess. But I do have fun posting the occasional story here.

    Beth -- well, he did say it first. ;-)

  11. Lol, very funny story. The humor of a perfectly placed "fuck." I love that word. ;-)

  12. I love Odds and Ends! I loved Igor (and Marty Feldman). I went to (elementary) school with Gene Wilder's daughter, Katharine Anastasia. She was a year ahead of me--we were not friends. I love the way you bring these guys back to life--"Abby Normal" comes to mind when I think of Marty Feldman.

    The 70's had many drawbacks but there were many fond memories too. There was still magic up till 1975; then it all ended. I remember being in the movie theater with Dom Deluise and my friend, Danny, who did magic tricks, in Fire Island, NY. I also remember being chatted up by Mel Brooks in the ocean at Fire Island in 1982 about my travels in Southeast Asia. At the time, he looked so familiar to me--I was going crazy trying to remember which one of my parents' friends he was--before I went back to my towel and my friends asked, "So, what were you and Mel Brooks talking about for so long?" Boy, did I feel dumb....

  13. Thank you, Erica, I hadn't heard that story, pictured it perfectly, and nearly just fell off my chair!

    "YF" will always be one of my faves, but I lvoed Marty i "Silent Movie," too!

    Yeah, I vote for an Erica Sequel Book, too!! I am loving the first one!!

  14. Lea -- I agree! I don't like it overused, but when it's well placed and used for a surprise/shock effect, it's hilarious.

    Dana -- how cool! I never met Mel Brooks. I do have a Carl Reiner story, though. I'll have to trot that one out next.

  15. Dave -- hey, you sneaked in while I was commenting to Lea and Dana. :-) I loved watching Marty on the Dean Martin variety show in the 70s. It was such an off-the-wall show, perfect for his type of humor.

  16. Erica,

    I *love* that story. Marty Feldman was incredibly funny on TV and in movies and you knew him! That is so cool.

    I think my favorite bit of Young Frankenstein trivia is that the classic Aerosmith song "Walk this Way" was inspired by the Igor's bit with the cane. It always looked like an ad lib, but maybe it wasn't.

    You certainly have enough material for another book!


  17. Bonnie -- ha! I didn't know that! Love it.

  18. Love that story. Young Frankenstein has to be my favorite comedy film of all time. I wonder if this conversation inspired the scene between Cloris Leachman and Gene Wilder, When she is offering him a night cap before they retire for the evening.

    If so you should get writing credit.


  19. Jon -- hmmm. The shooting of YF and that conversation happened roughly around the same time, but I couldn't tell you which came first! :-) I really need to watch that movie again. It's been forever.

  20. Ah, the immortal "Werewolf?"

    "There Wolf!"


    The one I remember was a British TV show featuring a trip to the seaside. It was filmed speeded up, and the running gag was Marty chasing after the bus shouting "Wait for me!" at a high pitch after every stop...


  21. Al -- you know, I can completely picture that! LOL

  22. This was one of the most uplifting things I've read in a long time. I loved marty, he was so very funny. Thanks for sharing.


  23. Marty was one funny guy - if he was in a film or on TV you always knew it was going to be hilarious!

  24. WOTB -- imagine that in person staying at your house! :-D Non-stop entertainment.

  25. Saying hi- maybe I will see you this weekend. I think I would have had a huge crush on Marty if I had met him.

  26. Clare -- hey you! :-) Thanks for stopping by.

  27. You know I never, ever, ever tire of these stories.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  28. Craig -- I'm always surprised and pleased to see just how much people enjoy them!