Last week, there was a meme on Jeff Goldblum and an Ariana song. I liked it, wanted to TBT it, I thought it was a lovely tribute to one of our more interesting actors…and someone present at my own artistic beginnings.
Jeff was still 17 when we met at The Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC in fall of 1970. It was headed by Sanford Meisner, of the Group Theater. He was then one of the holy trinity of Stanislavski: Sandy Meisner, Stella Adler and Lee Strassberg. In the 70’s I got to study with all three. 😉
Jeff was 17, tall, a skilled pianist who could sing and dance and do magic and juggle and…like many of his fellow students, had known what he wanted to do and be for some years already. I was 26, barely home a year from Vietnam, six months out of the hospital. I was there on the G I Bill. My decision to study acting was less than 8 months old…but I was committed. That first year was exciting, revealing, healing. We were both invited back for the second year. Not everyone was. In early winter, within a week, Jeff got offered an Off-Broadway play…and I got offered a role on a soap opera. Somerset. Making $400 a day. Do you know what a 1st Lt made back then? Even with jump pay, combat pay? Maybe $6K annually.
It wasn’t just the money, I had my break! And tho it caused a rift between Sandy and I for many years, I chose the role. There was a hard and fast rule at The Playhouse. You could not act professionally and be a student there. So Jeff and I were forced to leave…and begin our professional careers. In the late 90’s, Sandy was represented by my agent and one Christmas gathering, I got to kneel before him, in his wheelchair and thank him for his guidance and his patience with that troubled veteran and the craft that he had given to me. He seemed to recognize me, even after so many years…but I can’t be sure. I hope so.
This photo was taken in my SoHo loft, summer of ’71. A few years later in ‘76, Jeff sublet my Tribeca loft while he shot Between The Lines and I visited LA. That did not end well, thru no fault of Jeff’s. I behaved badly, requesting my home back, before the agreed upon lease and while he was shooting a film! To this day, I am ashamed of that episode.
Jeff and I have reconnected, in recent years. He was gracious and I am grateful to have reconciled that transgression.