On Monday, November 23, 2009 The Players Foundation will present a Benefit/Celebration to honor the life’s work of Jerry Tallmer, the legendary, prolific NYC theater journalist and critic who was a founder of the Village Voice and creator of the OBIE Awards. Artists and admirers will gather to toast the man whose inquiring intellect and visionary writings started many careers.
It is unlikely that the New York arts scene, with its respect for new work and its dependence on a constant inflow of new talent, would be the same today without Jerry Tallmer’s reportage. Energetic, principled, keenly intelligent, ever-curious and unstoppable in his literary output, he has discovered and championed more blooming talents than any other single source in the American news media.
Born in NYC on December 9, 1920, Jerry Tallmer graduated Lincoln School of Teachers College in 1938. He enlisted in the U.S. Army a few days after Pearl Harbor and was a Radio/Radar Man in the US Army Air Force from 1941 to 1945, serving in the Caribbean and Western Pacific. He saw the Nagasaki mushroom cloud from an aircraft 130 miles away and, as he now says, “didn’t like it then or now.” He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1946 (as Class of 1942).
He was on the founding staff of the Village Voice and was that publication’s Associate Editor and drama critic from 1955 to 1962. He was involved in every aspect of the first seven years of that great adventure, from recruiting and encouraging a vast array of gifted, often then unknown talent (Jules Feiffer, Nat Hentoff, Bill Manville, Jonas Mekas, Andrew Sarris, Jill Johnson, Charles Marowitz, etc.), to the ongoing weekly struggle for survival, finding printers, assigning stories, editing copy, handling layout, reading and rereading and proofreading down to the last comma in the smallest classified ad. With it all, he provided the best writing of his own that he could do. In 1962, he was awarded the George Jean Nathan Award in Drama Criticism.
Between 1962 and 1993, he worked at the New York Post under under the ownerships of Dorothy Schiff, Rupert Murdoch, Peter Kalikow, Abe Hirschfeld, et al, and again Rupert Murdoch. He was a reporter, editor, drama critic, film critic, art columnist, occasional TV critic, feature writer, interim editorial writer, rewrite man, makeup man, copy editor, etc. During all those years, he also free-lanced for Evergreen Review, Dissent, New York magazine, Woman magazine, Hollywood magazine, the London Independent, the Toronto Star, Playboy, Cavalier, Show Business, The Nation, Saturday Review, P.S. magazine, Architectural Forum and B’nai B’rith Bulletin. Between 1994 and 2005, he was Senior Copy Editor at General Media (Penthouse) while maintaining an unusual velocity of free-lance arts writing. Tallmer was a pioneer in online journalism for the arts, contributing to The New York Theatre Wire from 1996 onward.
Master of Ceremonies for the event will be Austin Pendleton. Edward Albee, Charles Busch, Baby Jane Dexter, Jules Feiffer, Marian Seldes, Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara, KT Sullivan and other special guests will appear.
Tickets are $100 per person; $65 of each ticket will be tax-deductible. All profits will be presented to the honoree. The event will be at The Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park South. Cocktails will be at 6:30; the program begins at 7:30. For reservations contact The Players at (212) 475-6116 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cannot attend, contributions can be mailed to The Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park South, NYC 10003. Make checks payable to The Players Foundation and indicate “Jerry Tallmer Celebration” in the subject line.