Memories of Morrie

Marie Silverman Marich recalls Variety mugg Morrie Gelman, who passed away Aug. 26, 2020. (See previous obit posting on Simesite)

White Plains, NY, Dec. 10, 2020

It was 1986 when Morrie Gelman entered my life. In those days at Daily Variety, my desk was in the very back of the crowded newsroom, as far as could be from the City Desk.

I had never met him, but Morrie’s reputation preceded him. I knew how respected he was by my father, Variety publisher Syd Silverman, and others in the business as a solid reporter and historian of television. (He was a chief interviewer for the Archives of American Broadcasting at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and co-wrote with Gene Accas The Best in Television:50 Years of Emmys before retiring in 2000).

Morrie strode into the newsroom that first day, greeting and being greeted by his compadres who had known him during his first stint at the paper. Morrie was burly and barrel-chested with a head of thick salt and pepper hair. He had a deep voice with a trace of Brooklyn and kind eyes. We became fast friends and traded life stories.

Since we both had worked in Manhattan, albeit in different decades, we’d reminisce about his work in newspapers (Brooklyn Eagle and New York Post newspapers) and mine in public relations and syndicated television. We’d talk about the different columnists we’d known such as Jack O’Brian, Leonard Lyons, Radie Harris, Joe Franklin, and Earl Wilson, who Morrie had worked for.

Television was another favorite topic, and Morrie had known a lot of the legends of that business. However, he kept abreast of the developments in his ever-changing beat.  Morrie also talked affectionately about the large family he had grown up with in Brooklyn, and Marisa, his cherished and loving wife, and his beloved sons, Adam and Daniel.

One day, Managing Editor Tom Pryor informed me and Morrie that we were going to be sharing Army Archerd’s private office with him to alleviate the space situation in the newsroom.

Morrie was not happy. I didn’t care because West Coast Editor Hy Hollinger was my boss, and I didn’t need to interact with the City Desk much except for play and concert reviews.

The “Just for Variety” columnist, Army, wasn’t happy either but was gracious about losing his privacy.  See, that office was built for Army because he couldn’t take the smoke in the newsroom and also needed privacy for his legendary column.

There was just one bone of contention: the temperature.  We were all from New York, but only Army liked it sub-zero! If we raised the temp just a bit to take the chill off, Army claimed he was suffocating.

Finally, Denise, our long-suffering office manager, grew weary of our battles and got the thermostat its own plexiglass home complete with a key that only she had. Problem solved!

Morrie and I looked forward to the weekly visit from box office expert Art Murphy and his boxer dog, Eddie. Art and Eddie would make a beeline for our office through the back door of l400 North Cahuenga. Eddie, handsome but slobbery, would stay with us while Art made his rounds. To say Art Murphy could be intimidating is an understatement, but he would beam at that dog like the proud papa he was.

Since my husband Bob had worked with Morrie at Crain Communications, Morrie was thrilled when we started dating and became engaged.  After we married in 1988, Morrie and Marisa invited us to spend a few days with them in Palm Springs where they rented a house. It was great to just relax and talk and laugh. Later, Morrie came to a Fourth of July party we had at our house in Glendale. He was delighted to meet our little son Nicholas and splash water in the pool with him.

We live in suburban New York now, but I often think of those long-ago days and Morrie’s words of wisdom.   He enjoyed being with young people and acting as a mentor and teacher. From Morrie, I learned not to agonize so much over the written word. “Get it in, and forget about it,” he would instruct me. We kept in touch over the years with cards, and Bob called occasionally. Morrie was still writing about subjects that interested him, despite his declining health.

Morrie Gelman was a gentleman and the kind of reporter they don’t make anymore. He was our friend and colleague, and he will be missed by those lucky enough to have known him.