Prolific Composer/Songwriter Billy Goldenberg dies at 84 years old–August 3rd, 2020

Emmy Winning Billy Goldenberg, we say goodbye…

One of the last great composers has left the stage. There are over 192 credits listed for composer, Billy Goldenberg, the songwriter, music director and conductor. Goldenberg added his dramatic, evocative, dreamy and groovy style to so many popular films, tv movies and television themes, you might not have known, was his.

He is an Emmy Award winning composer who garnered over 25 Emmy nominations, and created some of the most haunting melodies, trippy electronics, and catchy themes than are unequaled. 

From Steven Spielberg’s 1971 “Duel”; his combination of electronic and orchestral music for Rod Serling’s 1969 “Night Gallery” pilot; and his grandly romantic 1971,  “Ransom for a Dead Man,” the second “Columbo” pilot that sold the famous Peter Falk series. -Variety

I had the incredible opportunity to see Billy Goldenberg live in New York, while he went on the road with Bea Arthur, playing piano for her one-woman show “…And Then There’s Bea” in the early 2000s.

It was a an incredibly memorable experience to be right up front, near the stage, with two of my most beloved talents. Bea Arthur crooned sentimental tunes, accompanied on piano by the marvelously intuitive Billy Goldenberg. Their synchronicity, their chemistry created a magical evening of music, nostalgia and a deep friendship between these two geniuses.

Billy Goldenberg will be honored in a documentary that is close to completion by writer, director, film producer and friend, Gary Gerani, who has been putting together the tribute, with tireless effort, respect, awe and love for his friend and one, who is one of the greatest composers/musician and mensch.

2020 has seen many, many losses, Olivia de Havilland, Shirley Knight and now Billy Goldenberg. It’s a piece of sweet memories starting to fade away from this side of the veil, but we have to hold on to their presence, because remembering them and their legacy is vital to keeping them with us, and keeping their legacy alive.

Billy Goldenberg scored many popular feature films, for instance: Play it Again, Sam and Up the Sandbox 1972, The Last of Sheila 1973, Busting 1974, Queen of the Stardust Ballroom 1975, and The Domino Principle 1977.

The Domino Principle 1977

The Last of Sheila 1973

Just a few television creditsSteven Spielberg’s directorial debut with -Duel 1971 tv movie, Alias Smith and Jones tv series 1971-73, Reflections of Murder 1974 tv movie, Smile, Jenny You’re Dead 1974 pilot for Harry O, The Legend of Lizzie Borden 1975 tv movie, One of my Wives is Missing 1976 tv movie, Helter Skelter 1976 mini-series

He was responsible for 7 episodes of Columbo with Peter Falk including some of my favorites, Ransom for a Dead Man, Murder by the Book, Suitable for Framing, Lady in Waiting, A Stitch in Crime and A Friend in Deed.

Billy Goldenberg set the trend of staging musical scores that were bathed in supernatural, intriguing  and enigmatic atmosphere. He was a weaver of spellbinding dreams!

Here’s just a snippet of his work in television-

Ransom for a Dead Man

Prescription Murder

Murder by the Book

A Stitch in Time

The Name of the Game 1968-71

Fear No Evil 1969 tv movie

Night Gallery 1969 tv pilot

The Neon Ceiling tv movie with Lee Grant

The Sixth Sense 1972 tv series

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark 1973 tv movie

Circle of Fear tv series 1972-73

Ghost Story/Circle of Fear 1972

Harry O tv series 1974-76

Kojak tv series 1973-77

Your EverLovin’ Joey, with music in my heart says, Farewell Billy…

 

“Out Loud” Part 1– A Biography of the Legendary Lee Grant…

Update! The Film Forum in NYC has put together a retrospective of 13 films and documentaries featuring some of Lee’s best work as an actor and director.

 

“The dichotomy of my genius status at home and my slightly below par status in the outside world gave me a sense of instability and unreality throughout all of my life about exactly who I was and what I was capable of. Could that be why I grabbed so ferociously at acting? Grounding myself in a structure that worked for me, the observant child?”
— And excerpt from I Said Yes to Everything -Lee Grant talking about Sandy Meisner and The Neighborhood Playhouse.

How do you start out a biography about someone who is a virtual legend?

Lee Grant 1977 © 1978 Ulvis Alberts

When I attended the Chiller Theatre Expo I had the exciting opportunity to meet one of my favorite actors, Academy Award winner Lee Grant. This meeting turned out to be one of the great highlights of my life. While I’ve followed her work my entire life, after connecting with her, I began my exploration into Lee Grant’s life by immersing myself first in her incredibly honest and potent autobiography. “I Said Yes to Everything”  is an expository journey written long-hand by Lee herself in classic black and white note books. It’s a well-written intimate portrait of a courageous and brilliant actor.

“Lee Grant’s I Said Yes to Everything is heart-stopping. More than just a show-business memoir or chronicle of the Hollywood blacklist era, it is a terrifying account of a gifted artist’s tumultuous journey—both personal and professional. You will feel every jolt of terror that Grant endured, wondering if you would have been as brave. Her triumph becomes our own. Readers of this gripping book will surely reach the final page shouting a victorious “Yes! To everything that is Lee Grant.” -Marlo Thomas

With every role Lee Grant undertakes —from stage to early dramatic teleplays, to television series and onto the big screen— she transports an inner truth and an understanding of the world’s pleasures, and too, it’s miseries. Never afraid to take risks, she turned a career that was at one time silenced, into a great triumph by reclaiming her place in Hollywood. She then forged her own road into directing, where her voice and compassionate vision helped marginalized people have their say as well.

This is the spirit of Lee Grant, a woman who kicked down the door, prevailed the madness of the blacklist and without settling. She become a formidable actress, director, a legend, and friend.

Reading about her incredible life story, I Said Yes to Everything, brought me closer to the actress whom I already admired and loved for so many years. It’s a reflexive reminiscence, at times brutal and at other times it evokes laughter. Lee Grant has a primal and candid sense of humor that is so invigorating to experience. And hearing it from Lee herself is life-altering and beyond meaningful.

Portrait of American actress Lee Grant, New York, New York, July 1970. (Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

I also reexamined a lot of her great work so I could surround myself with the essence of her talent. It not only fortified what I had already felt about her capacity to engage each role, I met several characters that I hadn’t seen before. And was completely knocked over by Lee Grant’s awe-inspiring performances. To have the opportunity to talk to someone you’ve known as an acting legend can make you quite star struck as you try to find your own voice without sounding like a fool. But Lee Grant is a real and raw person. She’s one of those people you meet by chance in life, striking up a wonderful connection as if you’ve known them for years. This is just another layer of greatness to an already great actor.

Lee Grant is one of the most expository of actors. She uses her distinctive voice, that moves along the walls of your mind like an elegant cat, with an expressiveness that brings to bear even the most subtle of gestures. She has an attentiveness to detail, and her extraordinary sensuality is deep-rooted with a swift and clever sense of humor.

Lee Grant1965 © 1978 Gene Trindl

As an actor, she brings and intimacy to her roles, complex, passionate sensual dynamic versatile, and authentic. A talent caught up in the net of the HUAC insanity that ruined lives, and literally took her act of belonging away in Hollywood and from an industry where time is essential in order to obtain recognition and primacy.

I suspected that Lee always put a little of her real self in each role. It turns out I was right as you’ll learn from our conversation about her performances. There is no one quite like Lee. Absolutely no other actor like her.

Lee with one of her original oil paintings.

Like David fighting Goliath, she kept her resilience during those dark years of the blacklist. She’s an actor who is truthful enough to bare her vulnerabilities, machinations, fears, fancies, the quirks and chinks in the armor— it’s all out there, and wonderfully bold and ballsy an individualist and unfailingly frank. She is fragile and fierce, honest, courageous and unwilling to be shut off or out.

The insanity of the McCarthy Era and fanatics like Vincent Hartnett tried to steal 12 years from Lee Grant. But she refused to be silenced. To this day she speaks truth to the powers that be. She has earned the right to be seen and heard. She’s a woman who has become a firebrand with her socially conscious lens as a filmmaker, documentarian, director, activist, writer and a mother to yet another gifted soul, Dinah Manoff. Talent and fierceness—it runs in the blood.

Lee Grant to me, is someone I’ll always regard with a sense of awe and respect. I’m incredibly honored that she allowed me a glimpse into her life and shared that sense of humor and her determination to be heard. And what a story she has to tell!

Actress Lee Grant poses for a portrait in circa 1971. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Continue reading ““Out Loud” Part 1– A Biography of the Legendary Lee Grant…”