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Film Director Paul Mazursky.

Film director Paul Mazursky has written the new memoir "Show Me the Magic: My Adventures in Life and Hollywood." (Simon & Schuster) Mazursky films include "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," "An Unmarried Woman," "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," and "Moscow on the Hudson." He wrote the screenplay for "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas."


Other segments from the episode on June 17, 1999

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, June 17, 1999: Interview with Ernie Harburg and Deena Rosenberg; Interview with Paul Mazursky.


Date: JUNE 17, 1999
Time: 12:00
Tran: 061701np.217
Head: Remembering Yip Harburg
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

"Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" "It's Only a Paper Moon," "Old Devil Moon," "April in Paris," "How Are Things in Glocca Mora," "Last Night When We Were Young," and all the songs from "The Wizard of Oz" have lyrics by Yip Harburg. His longest collaboration was with composer Harold Arlen.


JUDY GARLAND, ACTRESS: Hello, Mr. Harburg. Hello, Mr. Arlen.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Hello, Judy. We've been waiting for you.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Judy, we've just finished writing one of the songs you're to sing in "The Wizard of Oz." And no one's heard it yet, so we've got our fingers crossed.

GARLAND: Oh, I can hardly wait. Will you teach it to me, please? Now?


Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There's a land that I heard of

GROSS: My guests are Ernie Harburg, who co-wrote a book about his father, Yip; and music theater scholar Deena Rosenberg, who worked closely with Yip Harburg in the decade before his death in 1981. Ernie Harburg and Deena Rosenberg have been married for 17 years. They've collaborated on a revue of Yip Harburg's songs which is currently being performed at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia.

Harburg was born in 1896, the son of poor Russian immigrants living in New York. In junior high school he became good friends with a soon-to-be great lyricist Ira Gershwin. In an interview that Deena Rosenberg conducted with Yip Harburg she asked how Ira helped Yip get into songwriting.


YIP HARBURG, SONGWRITER: He didn't get me into songwriting. What got me into songwriting was the capitalist system. I went into business right after school because I didn't think you could make money at versifying (ph). I sold poems, and I'd get $10 or $15; how could you live on that?

So I went into business. I had to support my mother and father. And the business started becoming very affluent. It was -- we were making -- it looked as if I was going to be a very successful businessman. But I never stopped contributing to the different columns in the different newspapers so that while I was at business this was my -- really my love.

And I thought I'd be able to sell the business in another few years and become a writer, but heaven was ahead of me. And that beautiful Depression in 1929 came along, knocked the hell out of my business, put me in debt and I immediately got a hold of Ira and said, Ira -- I said, I think I'd like to be a songwriter from here on. I'm through with business.

And he said you should have done it a long time ago. But I was fearful. And he introduced me to Jay Gorney, and Jay Gorney at that time was writing with Howard Dietz, and they broke up. And I began writing with Jay, and it was quite a hard job making a transition from light verse writing to lyric writing because there's a vast difference.

The difference between a lyric and a poem is a histrionic quality that a lyric has that a poem does not have to have. A poem is intellectual, a lyric is emotional and dramatic.

GROSS: That's Yip Harburg in an interview recorded in 1979 with my guest Deena Rosenberg. And she co-wrote a new revue of Harburg's songs, which is now at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia. Also with us is Ernie Harburg, who is the president of the Harburg Foundation. He is Yip Harburg's son. He's a research scientist who also co-wrote a biography of his father.

Well, so we just found out about how Ira Gershwin really played a significant role in getting Yip Harburg started as a lyricist. And even introduced him to Jay Gorney who was the first major composer that Harburg collaborated with. And their really big hit together was "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"

And Ernie Harburg, I want to ask you, you know, in your biography of your father you write how the song "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" started off as a different lyric. I mean, when Harburg met Gorney, Gorney presented him this song that already had a lyric. Would you read us what the original lyric was?

ERNIE HARBURG, PRESIDENT, HARBURG FOUNDATION: Yeah, what happened was that there was a revue called "Americana" devoted to what they called the forgotten man. And it was about the Depression. And the money, it was instantly gone and the show was going under in rehearsal. And Yip wanted the show, he went to Schubert (ph) and he said, "look, I'll get in some composers and I'll put this show together for you." All right.

And so he called in young Harold Arlen, young Burton Lane, young Sammy Fain, Johnny Greene (ph) to help him with the lyrics. And then he asked each of the composers to play him some tunes which they all had in what they called the trunk. You know, the ones that never got out.

And when Jay's turn came, Jay played him several songs and he heard this one song which Jay sang. And I'm quoting from the book here, "I could go on crying big blue tears ever since you said we were through. I could go on crying big blue tears boo hoo hoo hoo." Whatever.

It was a torch song. And that was what the dominant song was at that time. And Yip listened carefully, heard the tune, the music, and said to Jay could we take out the lyrics. I think we can do something else with that. And then it was supposed to be a satire in a comedic setting in the revue.

And at that time Rockefeller used ago around giving dimes to kids on the street, and Yip had this funny line about sharing a dime between Rockefeller and the kids. But then in the writing of it, all of Yip's political, social philosophies started coming out; that Yip was a socialist at the time. And he was very, very deeply concerned about the working guy.

And it started getting serious. And developed into the great lyric for "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"

DEENA ROSENBERG, CO-WRITER, SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW: YIP HARBURG'S AMERICA: I think one of the reasons it got serious too, besides of course the fact that Yip had all this history to him in terms of his own poverty and his own beliefs, was that that melody was a melody in a minor key, a sadder kind of a key.

And that the musical ear that Yip had heard something that composers over centuries had heard in -- when you put that minor scale going upwards it kind of resounds in our Western music ears anyway to be a kind of a melancholy and poignant resonance. It's not a torch song, a lighter song, a love song, whatever. So there were some incongruance, a deep incongruance he heard between that original lyric and that music.

So I think that the music was an inspiration as well as the fact that Yip wanted to write a different kind of a lyric to the song.

GROSS: Why don't we hear the hit version from 1932, recorded by Bing Crosby. This is "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" Lyric by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney.


They used to tell me I was building dream
And so I followed them all
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear
I was always there

Right on the job
They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line

Just waiting for bread
Once I built a railroad
I made it run
Made it race against time

Once I built a railroad
Now it's done
Brother can you spare a dime
Once I built a tower

Up to the sun
Brick and rivet and (unintelligible)
Once I built a tower
Now it's done

Brother can you spare a dime

GROSS: That's "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" With a lyric by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney; recorded in 1932 by Bing Crosby.

Well, that was the first of many socially conscious types of songs that Yip Harburg wrote. Why was he so into the socially conscious song?

ROSENBERG: Yip was born into extremely dire poverty on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He saw so much even within his own family setting, much less on the street and in the whole context. But had several siblings die in childbirth, had to sleep on a chair or on the floor, you know, with the remaining siblings and so on. And was always without heat, without light and all of that, that he had it in his bones that there had to be a better way.

And as he grew up and was educated and there were wonderful things about America like libraries that he discovered and friends like Ira Gershwin, the Gershwin family, and so on.

And in "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" there's a question -- a lot of questions, actually, and Yip's songs are noted for questions. You know, the title is "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" And the last line of the verse of the song, "why should I be standing in line just waiting for bread?" It's a question.

And so it's sort of a paradoxical thing. Here's a land of plenty, here's a place where there should be work, there should be a situation -- should be better, and yet that's not happening. And so it's a kind of a wanting to get people to understand that there is this paradox and perhaps move them to action.

He was a writer who wanted to, through song, move people to action.

GROSS: We'll talk more about lyricist Yip Harburg after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: We're talking about the lyrics of Yip Harburg, which are being celebrated now in a show in Philadelphia. Which is called "Over the Rainbow," and it's at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia. My guest Deena Rosenberg co-wrote the show, Ernie Harburg, my other guest, is Yip's son and co-wrote a biography of his father. And Deena Rosenberg and Ernie Harburg are married.

The longest and, I think, most productive collaboration that Yip Harburg had was with Harold Arlen. And among their many collaborations were the songs for "The Wizard of Oz." What was Yip Harburg's role in "The Wizard of Oz" besides working on the lyrics, because he did more than that?

HARBURG: Yes, he did a lot more. And I would sum it up by saying that first he conceived the idea of integrating the songs and the dances. And he wrote all the setups or dialogue leading into the songs during that -- that period. And then he wrote the whole section at the end where the Wizard gives out the heart, the brain and nerve. And finally, he was the final editor in which he put the whole thing together in a way that he was eminently gifted for, because he had done that with Broadway shows as a show doctor on Broadway.

GROSS: So Yip Harburg pushed to have the songs tell the story and not just be added onto the story.

HARBURG: Yes. Exactly.

ROSENBERG: And the place where the songs tell the story that's the most striking example in "The Wizard of Oz" is the Munchkinland sequence where the house lands in Munchkinland. And you've had "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," of course, the great song. But basically you've been in a black and white world where there isn't color and much music in the little girl's life.

Once you get to Munchkinland you've got music all the way through it weaving in and out of the whole story of what happened to that witch. And the good witch comes and the bad witch died...

GROSS: ... "ding dong the which is dead..."

ROSENBERG: ... dead. And you've got to go off to see the Wizard and follow the yellow brick road and that whole business. And in a way you could think of it that, you know, people credit, rightly, "Oklahoma!" for setting a new trend in the Broadway musical in terms of the integration of elements. But here you have a film musical which is really integrating elements in a similar kind of way that was several years "Oklahoma's!" predecessor.

GROSS: The characters of the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man and the Scarecrow are told through song. The characters are described through their songs. And the lyrics are wonderful for those three songs. Why don't we listen to Yip Harburg himself singing the lyrics he wrote to introduce those characters. This is from "The Wizard of Oz."




I could while way the hours


(Unintelligible) with the flowers
Consulting with the rain

And my thoughts I'd be hatching
While my head was busy scratching
If I only had a brain
I'd unravel any riddle

For any individual
In trouble or in pain
And perhaps I deserve you
And be even worthy of you

If I only had a brain
And a man's an empty kettle
He should be on his mettle
Yet I'm torn apart

Just because I'm presuming
That I could be kind of human
If I only had a heart
Life's sad believe me Missy

When you're born to be a sissy
Without the (unintelligible) and verve
But I could show my prowess
Be a lion not a mouse

If I only had the nerve


GROSS: That's Yip Harburg from a CD called "Yip Sings Harburg."

I think probably the most famous song from "The Wizard of Oz" is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which is the title of your show paying tribute to lyrics of Yip Harburg. And there's a great story, Ernie Harburg, that you tell in your biography of your father about how Yip Harburg suggested the idea of a rainbow to Harold Arlen before Harold Arlen actually wrote the melody for the song.

So tell us just a little bit about the origins of the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." What made your father think that a rainbow should be in this song in the first place, because it's not mentioned, I believe, in the book?

HARBURG: Right. In L. Frank Baum's book in the first paragraph he describes a landscape in Kansas which has no color. It's all black and white and gray and dim. And Dorothy resides there; she's an orphan apparently. And she has this yearning to grow and live in other places, and she's in trouble there.

And then Yip conceived the idea of a rainbow that she could think about and Yip had the idea about I want to get to the other side of the rainbow, and that's what he told Harold.

GROSS: So what did Yip Harburg think of the melody when Harold Arlen gave him the melody and said now you can write the lyric?

HARBURG: Well, Harold was a wonderful piano player, but Harold played it in this symphonic way. And Yip listened to it and he said, "Harold, that sounds like Nelson Eddy (ph), you know, an operatic kind of thing." He said, "that's not for a little girl in Kansas, why don't you keep working at it." And he went away.

And two weeks later Harold called and said, "Yip, you have to come over. This is the music for what we need. I know it." And Yip always respects when a composer says that, so he came over and listened to it. And he was still dubious.

So at that time there was a wonderful community, which Deena writes about her book -- collaboration on George and Ira Gershwin -- all of these songwriters would meet at the Gershwin house, for instance, and have a (unintelligible). They'd play their songs for each other. So it was just natural for them to call Ira to come over and say, "Ira listen to this, we've got a little difference.

And Ira listened, and he said, "Harold, why don't you just play it in a more simple kind of melody, in a more popular way." Maybe Deena can describe the musical words that Ira used.

ROSENBERG: Well, he said -- OK, Ira said just play the melodic line, the melody, what someone would sing, very simply. And when that other stuff was taken away Yip could hear that this could be the voice of a child of a young girl, and he said, "oh, yes, now I can hear it."

GROSS: Deena Rosenberg and Ernie Harburg will be back in the second half of the show to talk more about the lyrics of Yip Harburg. The revue of his songs is at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia.

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

We're talking about lyricist Yip Harburg. He wrote lyrics to "Brother Can use Spare a Dime?" "Old Devil Moon" and "April in Paris." He collaborated with Harold Arlen on the songs for "The Wizard of Oz." A revue of Harburg songs is being performed at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia. My guests are his son, Ernie Harburg and theater music scholar Deena Rosenberg. She and Ernie Harburg have been married for 17 years.

Harold Arlen told John Lahr, now the theater critic for "The New Yorker," and the son of Burt Lahr who was in "The Wizard of OZ;" Arlen told him that Yip Harburg was not a blues thinker. He said he likes things to be joyous and/or poetic. And in that respect I think Arlen and Harburg were a strange match.

Was it a comfortable relationship for them? What was their working relationship like?

ROSENBERG: As far as I understand it from talking to Yip, they had a wonderful working relationship. There was something maybe about -- I don't know if its opposites attract, or if it's something they could hear in each other's things which made a three dimensionality to the characters.

In other words the, that in order to get a character to come alive you need the various dimensions. You need the part that's got the joyousness, that's got the verbiage that's clever and that is intellectually witty and so on. And you've got a bluesier musical sound that juxtaposes to it.

However, an interesting comment in this regard is that when Yip wanted to do maybe his most famous Broadway show, "Finnian's Rainbow," which is a deeply political show Harold Arlen didn't want to write that show with him because it was too political for him.

And so Yip had to turn to another composer he respected deeply, Burton Lane, who felt as politically strongly as Yip did. And they managed -- Yip always used to like to say, "they guilded the philosophical pill."


They tried not to put, you know, all their attacks on racism and capitalism and so on in too unpalatable a way. But there were cases where Arlen and Harburg could not match up. And in that show, that was a case.

GROSS: Ernie Harburg, your father Yip Harburg wrote something about just the importance of songs and how songs move people. And I'd like you to read that for us.

HARBURG: All right. You know, there's really two parts to this; one is what a song is and the other one is the impact of songs. And what a song is essentially, according to Yip, is that "the magic in song only happens when the words give destination and meaning to the music and the music gives wings to the words together as a song.

"And they go places who've never been before. And the reason is obvious. Words make you think thoughts; music makes you feel a feeling. But a song makes you feel a thought. That's the great advantage, to feel the thought. And that's why you can teach words with song and you can rouse more through song than all the prose in the world or all the poems.

"Songs have been have been the not so secret weapon behind every fight for freedom, every struggle against injustice and bigotry. The "Marseille," the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "We Shall Overcome" and many, many more.

"Songs are the pulse of a nation's heart. A fever chart of its health. Are we at peace? Are we in trouble? Are we floundering? Do we feel beautiful? Do we feel ugly?

"Listen to our songs, the lyricist, like any artist, cannot be neutral. He should be committed to the side of humanity." That was Yip's words.

GROSS: Well, one of the things that Deena Rosenberg and Ernie Harburg you both have in common is your appreciation of Yip Harburg's songs. Another thing you have in common is that you're married.


And I'd be interested in the story of how you met. Now, Deena Rosenberg, I know you were doing a lot of music theater research and that research included spending a lot of time with Yip Harburg; you did many interviews with him. Did you meet Yip Harburg before meeting your husband?

ROSENBERG: Yeah. It's an interesting story, because I did meet Yip well before I met Ernie. And we were doing projects together. I think he appreciated the fact that someone much younger, what he considered the younger generation, appreciated the older generation of great classic songwriter's.

And we just worked on all kinds of things: writing projects, performance projects and so on. And I would meet Ernie in passing at things. We lived in different cities. Ernie was a research scientist and he was living in Michigan. And I was living in New York and doing research on the West Coast.

And then what happened was that Yip, who was an eternal leprechaun, 84 years young when he died, got a little premonition that he might not be immortal. And he started to think about things that he really wanted to have done in his live, or see done after he died.

And the two people that he talked to about these very important projects were his son Ernie, and Ernie would come into New York and they would have long talks about certain aspects of things. And I'm very honored to say, to myself about other kinds of projects.

And so that what happened was that when Yip actually did die, on his way to a production meeting; he never knew what hit him. He just was in a car, was stopped at a traffic light and he had a massive heart attack and died. And creating, you know, to the moment that he was no longer alive.

I went back to his apartment to help his widow with organizing his papers and so on, organizing a tribute in New York. And Ernie came into New York for a similar purpose and walked into the apartment and said, "oh, Deena!" And he sort of threw his arms around me because Yip had talked about me and we'd met at various functions. But there was nothing really that was bringing us together as a social couple.

Ernie had a wife and a family, but unfortunately she was dying of cancer. And so we had this little list from Yip of things we were supposed to work on together. And after the tragedy of Ernie's wife's death we found that we had fallen in love over these things we were doing together and just who we were. And that's how it happened.

GROSS: So Yip Harburg's list is what brought you together.


It's as if part of his bequeathal was to have you married.


ROSENBERG: Something like that. It was almost as if he saw it coming.

GROSS: Well, I want to thank you so much for being with us and for sharing some stories about Yip Harburg. I really appreciate it.


GROSS: And good luck with the show.

ROSENBERG: Thank you. It was wonderful to be here.

GROSS: Ernie Harburg is Yip Harburg's son. Deena Rosenberg founded the music theater writing program at New York University. The Yip Harburg revue is at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia.

This is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Washington, D.C.
Guest: Ernie Harburg and Deena Rosenberg
High: We remember one of America's great lyricists, Yip Harburg. He wrote over 500 songs including, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" and "It's Only a Paper Moon." We talk with his son, Ernie Harburg and his wife Deena Rosenberg. They have collaborated on the new show "Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Yip Harburg's America" which is showing this week in Philadelphia. Rosenberg worked closely with Yip Harburg for nearly a decade including working with him on the early concept of this show. Yip Harburg died in 1981.
Spec: Entertainment; Music Industry; Lifestyle; Culture; Yip Harburg

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1999 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1999 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Remembering Yip Harburg

Date: JUNE 17, 1999
Time: 12:00
Tran: 061702NP.217
Head: Show Me The Magic
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:40

TERRY GROSS, HOST: Paul Mazursky had planned on becoming an actor. He got his start playing a leading role in Stanley Kubrick's first film, "Fear and Desire." But Mazursky became best-known for directing such films as "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," "Next Stop Greenwich Village," "Harry and Tonto," "An Unmarried Woman," and "Down and out in Beverly Hills."

His latest film, made for HBO, starred Stanley Tucci as gossip columnist Walter Winchell. Mazursky has written a new memoir called "Show Me the Magic." His descriptions of his mother sound very much like the overbearing neurotic mother played by Shelley Winters in his film "Next Stop Greenwich Village."

I asked Mazursky to describe his mother.

PAUL MAZURSKY, FILM DIRECTOR; AUTHOR, "SHOW ME THE MAGIC: MY ADVENTURES IN LIFE AND HOLLYWOOD": In the book I call her "Gypsy Jean (ph)." And amazingly when Shelley Winters played this mother in "Next Stop Greenwich Village," she had an uncanny insight into my mother who had already died.

Shelley asked me, for example, "did your mother type? Was she a great typist?" I said, "oh, how did you know that?" She said, "I just did." Did she take you to the movies all the time?" "How did you know?" "I just did."

So Shelley had some great instincts about her, and I loved Shelley and still do. And I thought she did a great job. My mother was a very unique woman. I describe her, as I said, as Gypsy Jean. She was a lower middle-class Jewish lady from Brownsville, and she was not -- whatever cliche you might think that is -- she loved opera. She loved great literature. She loved black jazz music. And she loved foreign films.

And she took her son, this little boy, me, to all those things. She also was very possessive. I was the only child. And so I had a very up-and-down relationship with her, Gypsy Jean.

GROSS: So she took you to the movies a lot. Did you and she respond to different things in the movies?

MAZURSKY: Well, you know, I was -- when I say she took me to the movies I mean she took me when I was 7, 8, 9 years old. I would cut school. She said, "it's OK. I'll write them a note, you had a cold." And she'd load herself up with candy, she loved to the candy. And so did I, and so do I.

And we go to see let's say, "Les Enfant du Paradise (ph)" up at the Thalia Theater (ph) with -- and other great French films, you know, with Gerard Philippe (ph) and Louis Juve (ph) directed by Jean Renoir (ph) and all the greats.

And I like it but I really didn't know that oh, boy am I seeing fine art. I was just sort of seeing movies. So, our tastes -- maybe they were kind of alike. But, you know, later when she -- she was alive to see my first two films. The first was "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice."

And they played at the New York film, you know, what do you call it? Festival. And I took my mother, and of course my wife too. And Mayor Lindsay was there and Natalie Wood and Elliott and all of them were there -- Elliott Gould, Dyan Canon, Bob Culp.

And my mother's first lines to me were, "don't let it go to your head, big shot."


That's the first thing she said. And then when she saw "Alex in Wonderland," with Donald Sutherland, Jean Moreau (ph) Fellini; and an actress named Viola Spolin (ph) played the equivalent of my mother. My mother called me. She said, I saw your picture. It stinks, and I'm suing and I'm going to picket the theater. Why couldn't you get Bette Davis to play me?"

So my mother was far out. I mean, I got scared. "I beg you, I beg you, ma. Please don't picket."


GROSS: What impact did it have on you when she said things like "don't let it go to your head, big shot?"

MAZURSKY: Well, part of me kind of liked it, because it was so lacking in sentimentality. But I knew she had a great deal of love for me. And, you know, the overriding emotion I had with my mother, and I'm very frank about this, I was afraid of her.

GROSS: You said that she was depressive and that you think her life could've been changed with Prozac. Did her depressions affect you?

MAZURSKY: Yeah. Yeah. She'd get very dark. Real, real dark, and then she'd get paranoid. And paranoia often, in my humble opinion, paranoids suspect the truth. "You don't want me out here do you?" She would say. I really didn't. So she'd know the truth. I'd be ambivalent at least.

GROSS: But then you'd have to lie and say, "of course I want you here." Right?

MAZURSKY: Well, I would say yeah. But she was -- it's very hard to totally explain it, but I think you're getting the point. She was not an easy woman to live with, to be around, but she had a life force and a love for art and beauty that made her very strange and very different.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is screenwriter, director and actor Paul Mazursky. He has a new memoir called "Show Me the Magic."

One of your early rules was in the movie "Blackboard Jungle," where Glenn Ford plays a new teacher at a school filled with hoods. And you're one of the hoods. Did you think you looked like a juvenile delinquent when you got the part?

MAZURSKY: I didn't really, but I tried to make it seem so. In order to get the part I tested for it at MGM in New York -- I was living in New York, of course. And, you know, I know how to talk like those guys from Brownsville. You know, like slick my hair back and I wore like a club jacket, you know, and every other word was " hey, what are you talking about? Come on, what do you want?" And all that stuff, you know.

And I got the part and compared to the L.A. kids who filled out the cast -- see, they took from New York Sidney Poitier (ph) Vic Morrow, Rafael Campos (ph), Danny Terranova (ph) and Paul Mazursky. And we looked pretty tough. The kids -- the rest of them looked like surf boy surfers, you know.

But then I got stuck in playing a lot of parts like that, see, which I didn't want to do.

GROSS: You write in your book that, you know, after you were typecast for a while as like the hood and stuff that you were frustrated you never got the kind of rules that Cassavetes, your friend John Cassavetes got; tough, romantic leading man. Or the guy with the problems of the world on his existential shoulders.

It's funny. Compare the kind roles that you were getting cast with as a very young man with the kind of roles that you've gotten as a mature man. I mean, I think now you're more likely to get cast as the gynecologist.


MAZURSKY: You saw that?

GROSS: Yeah, "Scenes From the Class Struggle."

MAZURSKY: Yeah. No. No. No.

GROSS: Aren't you a gynecologist in that?

MAZURSKY: Well, no, I play Jackie -- Jackie Bisset's husband.

GROSS: But isn't he a gynecologist, or am I remembering wrong?

MAZURSKY: No, I think he was a furrier. I'm not sure.

GROSS: Well, furrier, gynecologist.


MAZURSKY: Playing Jackie Bisset's husband, I would do it free. She has purple eyes. The biggest eyes I've ever seen. But she's a beautiful woman. And very funny. Very nice.

Well, the parts I was getting were punks. You know, the kind who would be licking an ice cream cone in one hand threatening somebody. "Hey, yo, wow." I mean, a lot of that, and I got bored with it.

The parts I get now, well, I'm getting parts of older stuff. You know, guys in their 50s and 60s. And I've had -- I've had four or five wonderful parts. A few in my own movies, you know, I cast myself. In "Enemy's a Love Story" I play Leon Torchiner (ph) who is Lena Olin's (ph) husband, and that's a good part.

I had a good part in, lately, in "two Day's in the Valley," where I play television director who is living in a lot of failure and decides to kill himself. It's very touching and amusing. But I wasn't getting those parts.

You see, you get cast mostly for what they think you look like. And since I was in "Blackboard Jungle" where I played a, you know, tough kid, let's say. I got cast like that.

GROSS: My guest is Paul Mazursky. He's written a new memoir called "Show Me the Magic." We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: My guest is Paul Mazursky. He's best-known for directing such films as "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," "Harry and Tonto," "Next Stop Greenwich Village," "An Unmarried Woman" and "Down and out in Beverly Hills."

One of your early films, "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," is about two suburban couples who decide to try switching partners, and they're kind of ambivalent about the whole thing. You say in your book that this was based on -- this was inspired in part by your encounter group sessions at Esalin (ph) Tell me about that connection between the encounter group and the movie.

MAZURSKY: Well, first let me tell you that I was reading "Time" magazine in 1968, and there was a picture in "Time" of a psychologist named Fritz Perls, "P"-"E"-"R"-"L"-"S", and he was sitting in a hot tub with six naked people. And said "a new kind of therapy." So I told my wife we've got to go up and experience this new kind of therapy. Maybe there's a movie in it.

And we went up and had a 48-hour sort of encounter, and we took the nude hot tubs,. And it was all very trendy, but felt good. It was a lot of fun for a while, and then in the actual encounters we were the only couple and they started to pick, I felt, they started to pick on me, Paul Mazursky.

I controlled my wife. I didn't let her breathe. So she started to cry. And it got very intense. And out of that I wrote the opening 20 or 30 pages of "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," and then it's all fiction after that. I change it to this couple that's experienced this wonderful feeling of elation and freedom and openness. And their best friends who are, you know, squarer and look down upon that sort of thing.

They tell them the good news that they are so open now that they can handle the fact that Bob has had an affair in San Francisco and Carol is so happy for him. And that creates a situation which eventually builds towards both couples deciding to try to have an orgy.

GROSS: You write that you have tested the waters of many of the New Age trips and the psychedelics and the gurus and participated in marathon weekends with Sufi's (ph), but you still basically distrust it all. Why have you tried so much of that if you basically distrust it?

MAZURSKY: What a brilliant question. If only I could give you a brilliant Sufi answer.


I believe that even if I scoff at stuff, you know, I want to know more about it. What attracts people to it? I've been with a Hopi Indian medicine man. I've taken iawasca (ph) in the Peruvian jungles, fantastic. I've had LSD. I've been to synagogues. I've been to Catholic churches. I've had therapy. I had decaf coffee today, which is almost stronger (unintelligible).


GROSS: You're on a little decaf high?

MAZURSKY: Yeah. I mean, I've listened to -- I've been to whirling dervish Sufi things. And I've even gone to a few things with the Depac Choqar (ph) type guys and all that stuff. I want to hear it. I haven't found an answer yet, nor do I expect to.

GROSS: You were born with the name Irwin and you remained Irwin until you made your first film with Stanley Kubrick. The film "Fear and Desire," in which you were an actor. Why did you want to change your name from Irwin to something else? What did Irwin mean to you?

MAZURSKY: Well, there was this -- first of all, there was the sound. My mother used to -- you know, in Brooklyn in those days your mother would come out of the apartment and shout down the block, because everything we did was on the block. We played punch ball on the block, tag, ringolevio (ph), whatever you wanted to play.

"Irwin! Irwin, it's time to eat!" I hated the name Irwin. I just couldn't stand it. And I just developed this phobia for Irwin. And as soon as I got to college I started thinking about -- because I was acting in plays at Brooklyn College.

Maybe I should change it to -- my name is Irwin Lawrence Mazursky -- to Larry Irwin. I didn't mind Irwin as a last name. Or Larry Mazursky. What about Michael Irwin? Which I actually tried for one play. What about Bart? I thought about Bart, but that's a cowboy name. What about Johnny, Johnny Barrow Mazursky (ph). I just couldn't -- didn't know what to do.

And I kept being confused by it. Then I got into Stanley Kubrick's picture, "Fear and Desire" and my would-be wife called me on the phone. I was working in the Catskills. She says, "look, Kubrick is putting the finishing touches on the movie. He's putting in the title cards. Do you want to use Irwin Mazursky." I said, "no!"

And I was at a pay phone up in -- somewhere in the Catskills. And we started pitching names, and I said -- her father's name is Bill Purdy (ph). I said, "what about Bill Purdy?" She said, "what has that got to do with you?" And finally I said, "I'm keeping Mazursky." I just made that decision. I'm keeping -- she said, "well, what about Paul?"

I said, "Paul Mazursky." And the operator said, "your three-minutes are up." And the line went dead. That's how I got my name.

GROSS: It's funny because I think a lot of people would have changed the Mazursky, because that's the really ethnic sounding part.

MAZURSKY: Well, that's the joke.

GROSS: Mmm-hmm.

MAZURSKY: You know, the great joke -- I don't know what I can say on television. I'll say it, if you don't like it we'll wipe it out. The guy goes up, he says, "Judge, my name is Peter Schmuck and I want to change my name." He says, "yeah, so what do you want to call yourself?" He says, "Jack Schmuck."


GROSS: Right. Well, did everyone call you Paul after that?

MAZURSKY: Everyone but my mother.

GROSS: You remained Irwin.

MAZURSKY: "Irwin!"


GROSS: Yet another reason to keep her off the set, right?

MAZURSKY: Well, love-hate. "Irwin. That's my son the big shot. You know his real name is Irwin, Ms. Moreau." She met Jean Moreau. "I love your movies. Love them. I loved you in `Jules and Jim.' I loved you in `Fire Down Below,' whatever they were called. And this is my son, he calls himself Paul. Ha! Ha! Ha! Big shot!"


GROSS: Paul Mazursky. His new memoir is called "Show Me the Magic."

I'm Terry Gross.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Washington, D.C.
Guest: Paul Mazursky
High: Film director Paul Mazursky has written the new memoir "Show Me the Magic: My Adventures in Life and Hollywood." Mazursky's films include "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," "An Unmarried Woman," "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," and "Moscow on the Hudson." He wrote the screenplay for "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas."
Spec: Entertainment; Movie Industry; Lifestyle; Culture; Paul Mazursky

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1999 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1999 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Show Me The Magic
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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