Thursday, September 02, 2010

Philip Loeb Panel Emphasized his Activism, Kindness, Humor & Obstinacy.

Philip Loeb was one of the most beloved "TV dads" during the 50s, when he was unjustly named as a communist on a publication called Red Channels, which sought to expunge any possible "commies" from being able to work in TV and film. Eventually, Philip, who was living with Zero and Kate Mostel, committed suicide. Or, as Anna Berger put it, at the panel discussion, sponsored by Actors Equity and the Museum of Jewish Heritage last night, "He died of a disease called the blacklist."

I met the panel earlier that day at O'Lunney's, an Irish bar near Actor's Equity headquarters. Then, we adjourned to the Philip Loeb Room at Actor's Equity. Phil was a fiery activist on behalf of actors, especially concerning issues such as paid rehearsal time, hot running water in dressing room areas, allowing black actors full equality, etc.

This is a new plaque. The old one had his name misspelled with two "l's."

Author Glenn Smith ("Something on My Own"), filmmaker Aviva Kempner ("Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg!"), actress Anna Berger,
Loeb's nephew, Dr. Steve Loeb.

Philip Loeb's great-nephew, Dr. Steve Loeb.

On the wall: Photo of Philip Loeb in a play.

Scholar Glenn Smith holding his Gertrude Berg book, "Something On My Own."
which provided the basis for the film "Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg."

Aviva Kempner, Steve Loeb, Actor Equity President Nick Wyman.

Nick Wyman delivers emotional speech about Phil Loeb and his contributions as an actor.

Author Glenn Smith, actor Jim Brochu.

Actor Peter Friedman ("Brooklyn Bridge"), Steve Loeb, Aviva Kempner, Anna Berger, Glenn Smith, Jim Brochu.

Peter Friedman, Anna Berger, Aviva Kempner, Jim Brochu.

Jim Brochu ("Zero Hour") speaks about Zero Mostel's love for Philip Loeb.

Panel on Philip Loeb.
The DVD of "Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg" is packed with extra footage about Phil.

Philip Loeb panel at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Peter Friedman, Jim Brochu, Glenn Smith, Steve Loeb, Anna Berger, Aviva Kempner.
The panel discussed Phil's life, how he was both beloved and reviled, similarly to the reactions people had to Zero Mostel. They both fought against the blacklist and injustice, but their headstrong ways did not win them friends among their opponents.

They also talked about how funny he was, that he could, without notes, keep an audience or small crowd, laughing. Anna Berger talked about how she, as a young actress, found a defender and helper in Phil Loeb. And how, even after he was forced off the show, he would come to the set and be a friend.

Phil died of an overdose in the Taft Hotel after painful cataract surgery. Shortly afterwards, the FBI cleared his name.

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