February 18, 1922 - October 8, 2011
I met Bob relatively recently. But at every Moon show in the past two years I have enjoyed hearing Bob’s distinct bellowing laughter all the way out in the lobby. When Bob was at a show, everyone knew it. And you could always tell the cast seemed a little livelier, a little more “on,” because when Bob was at the theatre, everyone wanted to hear that laughter.
Then there was the apartment, I kept hearing, “You should go to his apartment, it’s amazing.” Finally, when Bob asked if I’d like to take his collection of programs from old Moon shows, I jumped at the chance. Not only to have an archive for Moon, but I also saw this as my chance to enter a Broadway Nirvana.
An ardent collector of cast recordings myself, I was beyond awed.
I had a wonderful time that afternoon talking to Bob, looking at the collection he still had, as most of it now resides at The Michael Feinstein Foundation at the Center for Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana. He had a mind like a steel trap. He could remember songs, the movies they were from, who starred in the movies, and most amazingly… where in his apartment all those movies, music, and cast recordings were! I can’t even find my car keys in the morning.
Perusing his recordings (VHS, DVD, CD, and Tape), I was dumbfounded at some of the rarities he had! He would ask me about a movie, when I told him honestly I hadn’t seen it, he didn’t seem shocked so much as sweetly pitying me. I left that day with four DVDs and instructions to watch them so we could talk about them another time. That was Bob, he loved this music… and by gum you were gonna too!
Bob amassed over 32,000 pieces of sheet music, many long out of print and not to be found anywhere else, except possibly the Library of Congress – and possibly not even there! Andrea Marcovicci, Paula West, Michael Feinstein, Wesla Whitfield, Klea Blackhurst, Jonathan Franks, and thousands of other performers from all over the world, would come to his apartment in San Francisco and work with him to find some of the most clever, moving, and virtually unknown songs to add to their repertoire.
Without a doubt, he held a special place in all of our hearts. The only thing more impressive than his collection and knowledge, was how kind and gentle a man he was. Bob, I will miss you terribly as I know we all will. As I write this, our cast for Oh, Kay! has just started rehearsals and all I can think is… wherever Bob is now, we will have someone to watch over them and us all.
of San Francisco from "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" to "San Francisco."
Please leave a comment and let us know how Bob touched your life.