April 27th, 2012

Penny from the block

I was reading the Wiki entry for Penny Marshall, “Laverne” of the TV show “Laverne and Shirley,” when I came across this astounding tidbit:

In the 1950s, she grew up in an apartment on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx on a block that also spawned Neil Simon, Paddy Chayefsky, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren.

Two famous playwrights, two famous designers? And they’re all Jewish except for Marshall, whom I’d always assumed was Jewish but whom I discovered is in fact Italian.

Then again, if they’re talking about the entire Grand Concourse when they write “the block,” it’s loooong. I had a friend who grew up there, but she’s not famous for anything.

[NOTE: The title of this post is a riff on this song, in case you're not entirely familiar with the oeuvre of Ms. Lopez.]

7 Responses to “Penny from the block”

  1. John in Dublin Says:

    My mom, God rest her soul, was born and grew up on the Grand Concourse. She’s famous for being my mom :)

  2. FOAF Says:

    Out of all those names the one that impresses me the most is the brilliant screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. He first made his reputation with the touching “Marty” and later wrote the hysterical but devastating screenplay for “Network” which eviscerated TV news and still packs a wallop today nearly 40 years later.

  3. NeoConScum Says:

    Anyone who has been around Penny for any length of time knows that the girl has a bottomless need for attention. One night at Dodger Stadium, probably ’05, she was with some friends–P. had to be escorted to her seat, dont’cha know–a few rows down from our seats. I still chuckle when I picture what followed…Miss P. stood at her seat, looking around and up at the Lodge balcony whilst most other fans were seated. It was a “Look at MEEEEEEEEE…” deal that continued for 10+minutes until a booming voice from the edge of the lodge section just above us bellowed,”We ALL see you Laverne!! Now SIT THE ***K DOWN!!” Everyone cheered. Funny, young Scarlett Johansson was sitting quietly in the seat behind Penny and no one knew it. Her pretty blond hair was rolled up under a baseball cap and she appeared painfully shy and embarrassed at P’s Need to be Seen. A very nice contrast.

    I’ll say one thing in Penny’s behalf: One talented director. “A League of Their Own” is a near classic and a beautiful salute to the ladies of that little wartime & post war epoch.

  4. Artfldgr Says:

    My mom and her were friends…
    when she came back to the bronx to do the “villa feast/san genero” show where they climb the greased pole to snag the flag… we stopped by.

    we lucked out as the body guard passed her a note… i know what it said… i wont repeat it since marshall would recognize it… but it had to do with mentioning the people those years in school… including a set of twins… :)

    when she read it it got weird… body guards came out, saw my family, grabbed me and my mom (sister was too busy being distracted) and we were pulled through the crowd, and into the trailer.

    we spent a while there, and mom talked and they got back on old times… then they told me when i leave to go around to the other side of the trailer. which i did.

    and as the police converged on me as if i was a fan breaking in. penny stuck her head in curlers out the window… reached down and handed me some autographed photos…

    and that was it…

    when you refer to that crew… your referring to the De Witt Clinton area, bronx science area, otherwise known as fordham university area, the grand concourse…

    by the time i was a kid it became a bad place to live…

    The Bronx contains one of the five poorest Congressional Districts in the U.S., the 16th, but its wide variety of neighborhoods also includes the affluent and middle to upper class Riverdale, Schuylerville and Country Club.[13][14] The Bronx, particularly the South Bronx, saw a sharp decline in population, livable housing, and the quality of life in the late 1960s and the 1970s, culminating in a wave of arson, but has shown some signs of revival in recent

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    In the 1970s, the Bronx became identified with a high rate of poverty and unemployment, which was mainly a persistent problem in the South Bronx. Some property owners committed arson on their own properties for insurance claims as it was more lucrative to get insurance money than to refurbish or sell a building in a severely distressed area. These Bronx fires and urban decay would paint a face of New York City in the 1970s as a down-and-out city in a state of decline. Indeed, out of 289 census tracts in the Bronx borough, seven different tracts lost more than 97% of their buildings to fire and abandonment between 1970 and 1980; while another 44 different tracts had more than 50% of their buildings meet the same fate. However, starting in the 1990s, many burned-out and run-down tenements were replaced by single- and multifamily housing

    of course, since i came from there, i am considered a white priveleged person who lived in the suburbs.

    so rather than be a story of a success coming out of the dirt of the getto and going to bronx sciecne instead of jail… i am a imprisoned perosn with few choices, cant move a head or gain..

    why?

    cause i am white and am not considered to have the value of someone who grew up in the same place, and has dark skin or a pudenda…

    took away my schooling, took away my promotions, told me SBA dont help people like me (despite pamphlets), took away my son, took away my chance at everything i worked hard for since i was 5… cant even get a house…

    now i am waiting to be like reginald deny in the other article as i live two blocks from the largest section 8 housing in the country, and the main place where bloods are battling MS13 for the heroin turf.

    why i bother to live is beyond me as its pretty hopeless and never gets better, just worse and worse given i am punished for all that benefit i got from living in the slums as a privelege of being white… not to mention we were janitors and handymen who spen tmost of our time with the filth of others to earn enough to have a life

    American dream?

    given the outcome we would have been better off with Stalin… as the US finished exterminating my family after they were exterminated in europe.

    there are only 2 million or so latvians in the whole world… but 12 million spanish illegals are minorities..

    hopefully when they come to beat my head in for being white and wanting some property (we have been attacked 7 times in two years, so its only a matter of time), they wont leave me alive like Denny…

    Penny was lucky..
    as were MANY others from that school and the mens school De Witt Clinton.. (penny went to Walton)

    here is dewitts notables (only a few)
    notice how many are in arts and theater.

    Don Adams (maxwell smart – last name Yarmy)
    Richard Avedon
    Larry Storch (acorn from F troop)
    Lawrence Fuchs
    Lewis & Jack Rudin (real estate giants)
    Neil Simon
    Charles Rangel
    Budd Friedman (comedy club)
    Tom Pappas (UFT)
    Gilbert “Gil” Cates (produces academy awards)
    Ben Wattenberg (pundit)
    Judd Hirsch (Taxi)
    Garry Marshall (Penny Marshalls husband, and producer of many shows)
    Howard Sherman (Columbia Shuttle)
    David Berliner (the manufactured crisis)
    Robert Esnard (i went to school and played with the grandkids)
    Louis Friedman (JPL,Voyager)
    Kenneth Harper (the Wiz)
    Ralph Lauren (fashion icon)
    Robert Klein (knew him as a child as dad knew him)
    Edward Lewis (essence magazine)
    Barry Schwartz (you dont know him, but he ponied up 10k to help a friend. Calvin Klien)
    Everett Hatcher (DEA agent killed in action)
    Richard Marks (film editor, apocolypse now, and lots more)
    Danny Schechter (20/20, etc)
    Robert Altman (photographer, rolling stone)
    Alan Gordon (Directors guild)

    Walton
    Gertrude Elion (nobel prize)
    Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (nobel prize)
    Bella Abzug
    Shari Lewis (Lambchop)
    Penny Marshall
    Andrea Thomas (indoor sprinter record)

    off the campus of DeWitt is bronx science

    so my family attended these schools, and the idea of working hard and getting out of the slums and ghetto was a hope

    then social engineering said i was too priveleged and took it all away..

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    I should point out that after robert moses screwed up the bronx, and things shifted, the place went violent… the list of famous people from de witt changed colors and quantity. where the school produced bankers, lawyers, judges, athletes, actors, producers, fashion icons, and more..

    after the late 60s… it declined..
    this page lists them
    http://www.dewittclintonalumni.com/files/DWCNotableAlumniJanuary2012.pdf

    31 pages up until the mid to late 70s..
    only 12 from 80 to 90
    only 7 more to 2010

    same with bronx science now that they insure more racial and gender diversity and kicked out those bothersome white boys..

    so the past few years for the first time in history, bronx science had no one in finals of Westinghouse and other awards (dad worked for Westinghouse and other companies i was not allowed to compete because of that)

    :(

  6. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Garry Marshal is Penny’s brother. He was on Huckabee’s show last night. He has written a book about his experiences producing TV shows in Hollywood. Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and The Odd Couple were all his hits. He learned the trade working under others on the Dick Van Dyke Show, the Joey Bishop Show, the Danny Thomas Show, and the Lucy Show.

    A very funny man with an impresssive body of work as his legacy. He did mention during his interview with Huckabee that Penny was an attention addict, which confirms Neoconscums anecdote from Dodger Stadium.

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