Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Amazing Mr. Marshall

Often one has to stop and take a big deep breath, otherwise you forget how great it is to be able to breath. Mostly breathing happens when we pay the least attention to it.  The same holds true with gratitude.  Sometimes one has to stop and take inventory of the things for which you are grateful lest you take them for granted.
At the top of my list of gratitude is friendship.  I hope my epitaph says, "He had wonderful Friends." I hope those friends know how blessed I am to be considered their friend. I don't have a ranking order of friends because they are all unique and all crowd the top because of their own special and wonderful qualities.  However...
Last night was a wonderful reminder of how blessed I am. It was an evening at the Paley Center for the Media honoring Peter Marshall.  It was also his 90th birthday.  The audience was filled with 300 or so invited guests, family and friends.  What struck me most about the crowd was the depth of performers from every field of entertainment.  There is no type of show business Peter Marshall has not excelled in. From first banana in a comedy duo, to  big band singer, to stage star, to movie and television actor, recording star, to pitch man, night club performer, game show host, variety show host and guru expert on the music of Big Band Swing, Peter has done it all, extremely well.  He is the happiest, nicest most engaging person who commands a steel trap mind and memory with twice the energy of people half his age.  His singing voice is as strong and beautiful as ever and he remembers every detail of every moment of his life.  Treasures like Peter defy what age is supposed to act like. 
Fred Willard and Peter Marshall

First came a 40 minute video tribute to Peter gathered and edited by Jim Pierson. It started with film clips of Peter singing from 1949 Television shows and included cherries picked from the best moments of his 16 years as host of Hollywood Squares. After that,  Peter Marshall himself took the stage. 
Leading Peter in an informal conversation about his life and career was his friend Fred Willard. Fred, one of the great comedy minds of all time and Peter one of the great comedy team straight men of all time, made for very easy listening.  It was not an interview nor even a chat.  It was like eaves dropping on two amazing minds having a dinner conversation. The Paley Center was filming the entire event, but to be there "live" as it was happening is a moment that can not be captured by any media. 
Jay Johnson - Jim Pierson - Peter Marshall
Photo by Steve Cox
I marveled at what a large brush this artist named Peter Marshall has used to paint his life.  The best game show hosts, the best game show producers, best actors, best comics, best writers, best dancers, singers and musicians (not to mention a ventriloquist) were there to honor the 90th anniversary of the birth of their friend Peter.  We have all been touched by the charm of his personality and the joy of his talents.   The very same can be said of Peter's beautiful wife Laurie who was the force behind the event. To meet Peter and Laurie is to love them.
Peter is my hero. At 90 years old his is not the guy who screams "kids get off my lawn",  he is the guy who says, "hey kids, come over to my lawn so we can play together." The world would be a better place if there were more humans like the Amazing Mr. Marshall.
As you were,
Jay


3 comments:

P. Grecian said...

I knew Peter Marshall only through his gameshow hosting. I've learned a lot today. What a lovely, talented gentleman.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute to a wonderful talent and fantastic man.

Joanne Furshpan said...

We were honored and privileged to witness this Tribute to Peter Marshall and flew from NYC to come celebrate him. He so much deserved it and More. Peter is so much loved not only for what he contributed to the industry but because of who he is as a person.