by PAUL ROSOVSKY
As a Variety newbie decades ago, I was lucky enough to come under Abie Torres’ generous wing (after he had come under Syd’s, Murray Rann’s and Jimmy Antinori’s) and learned more from him than I had learned in school. We toiled away on those gargantuan issues and got into our share of trouble in the off hours (the tale of the places the production manager of Screw got us into is another story).
Abie used to call himself a Puerto Rican Jew and he always called me Pablo and I always called him Abraham in front of non-muggs. So the advertisers and others who spoke to either of us on the phone would invariably walk over to the wrong one when they came into the office (assuming I was Abraham and Abie was Pablo). And we usually played along with the joke.
Abie’s sometimes gruff demeanor was just a pose, as he was a pussycat. That was just the way he got people he didn’t want to talk to, to leave him alone, especially in the midst of keeping all the production information in his head on deadline. He did teach me three important lessons (in addition to how to lay out a 464-page issue in one night):
How to drink;
How to manage people, and most importantly,
How to tell people to go screw themselves (expletive deleted) with a smile on your face.
Mort’s remembrance to the contrary, there were a few errors that did manage to creep into print on our watch (and which Abie would appreciate our chuckling over):
The obit that playwright James Kirkwood successfully placed for the (still-living) New York Times book reviewer who had panned his recent novel;
The misplaced legit ad in appreciation to two (again, still-living) Broadway producers that ran with a thick black border in the obit section. This prompted Ruth Gordon to call early one Wednesday morning, irate that we had announced her two friends’ premature demise.
The small graphic of a running man that was intended to appear superimposed on one of the picture ads in a Cannes issue but which got separated from the intended artwork and ended up appearing in multiple ads because we couldn’t remember which one was the right one. I think I occasionally notice the running man art in ads in the Daily. Pasteup artists Idie and June and I suspected either Abie was very drunk or the ad was haunted.
Next time I am on West 46th Street I will look for Abie in the parking lot where our desks used to be and toast him with some sake in front of where Kyoto used to stand.