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tv   Recollections of Lenny Bruce  CSPAN  December 24, 2016 3:10pm-4:01pm EST

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somebody deeply involved in the constitution of czechoslovakia. at home he has been deeply involved in issues involving the first amendment and the freedom off expression, which is one of the key things of our conference. heels of had a striking list of celebrity clients, one of whom -- be hearingring about right now. >> am very sorry that before this conference started you all haven't had a chance to see either video or audio of lenny bruce, to hear his commentary about someone you have never or perhaps heard on a dvd
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would be like me trying to something someone about a rembrandt portrait or a book you have never read. him in san francisco. and the most significant thing about lenny's personality was his humility. him whenlity followed he was at the top of his game until the last face -- the last phase of his life.
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trying to elevate him into exactly the kind of person he was talking about here. no one would have been more stalinist than he at what we see her today. at the time they turn down his petition. i remember when nixon gave his speech and said i wish lenny were here. and then when we heard clinton "is"t is the definition of that i wish lenny were here. and as we watch donald trump and hillary i wish lenny was here. i think it is important to know what the atmosphere was.
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it was the diversity of the country. all of this is cyclical. when you have a manlike trumps bea man like trump, who will a permanent part of the culture and became very different, it is important to look at the time and the reasons of his prosecution. what it tells you is many of the same things that were relevant then are relevant today. the case dealt with prosecutorial misconduct. it deals with all of the issues. as we talk about criminal reform in lenny's trial, the lenny -- onof
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the east side of manhattan was a man who was taking up stuff he thought was 30. frank hogan was going to run for office. the whole question of prosecutions, etc.. lenny, youe with have to look back at the culture to understand what is going on. at that time you had a have a license in new york. i was in the supreme court and a involving if film which can be shown in the united states. the unique thing about lenny's
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he was alive in there. lawrence wasn't there, miller wasn't there. lenny was a human being who got caught up. see is lookingto at the times and then trying to .hink about today's times extraordinary forces in the united states. her reaction to the 60's were upon us. and the das office in manhattan, there was an a norma's resistance to the prosecution. if you das refused to prosecute. ultimately took it upon himself. succeed and then ran for the da basically on the basis of the prosecution of
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lenny bruce. i tried to run to the primary. ultimately robert ran. the other thing that is important to mention is at the get that much't attention. lenny didn't become the icon, the hero he was until after the trial. at a trial in ginsburg, who is an uptight student in columbia, sitting at trial was jewel spicer. phillips said since then -- if
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lenny had not been there. and ginsburg also talked about the effect of lenny on these people. with respect to lenny's humility, sophistication, and unawareness, what he wanted to do was take the stand and testify. the way the prosecution got the conviction was not solely on the word. sophisticated and new york was too much of an involved place. did is send a stone cold inspector, and he went to the trial. it became not just the prosecution for words. he got up in the stand and gave on what lenny bruce's
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performance was. he was uneducated basically. he really had no sense what the performance was. he did something like this. the result was lenny was convicted not just because of words, he was convicted for his physical conduct as well. i just want to tell you i hope there is some time -- that it sometime you will have a chance to see what lenny was talking about. when he talked about race --
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nobody doing what he did at all. voice.a singular and the tragedy is that he was not here today. >> our next speaker is a long time cherished friend of -- it is a pleasure to welcome -- -- three't quite sure
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people that certainly influenced my life more than any other were rose a parks, and lenny bruce. years later when i set out to start an auction house that would take a different direction, try to incorporate important collections in the world of art and collectibles, i never did lucite of the inspirations that those remarkable people provided for me. the earliest experience i could recall was something we did that seem to make a difference, there was a man that came up to me that was desperate to raise $30,000 for half hospital bills for his daughter. had room money but he for 90 carousel figures, that he not as a boyhaving
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and watching them intentionally destroyed castles by creating modifiers. he would say something like don't burn that horse, can i have it? and they would say sure kid, why not. out 100 years ago carousels were the most popular amusement you could go to. but they lost fever to more challenging new or rides. he has these 90 figures behind and he asked if we would seldom to help his daughter with hospital bills and i looked at the figure. there are no books on the subject at the time, no one knew .ho cost these figures you can see different carvers hands at work. and certainly seemed worthy of preservation. we began a grassroots research
quote
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project to figure out who carved these. most of them were carved by eastern european jewish immigrants who settled in places like honey island and philadelphia and new haven and created these remarkable figures. the fact they sold for $1 million was certainly a blessing for our cosigner. importantly, these figures never after saw the flames of a bonfire. at the smithsonian with a reflective part of our heritage. not long after that i heard a rumor about how the ss united states, the glory of our maritime fleet, the largest ocean minor ever built, is to be
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towed out to sea and the contents dumped overboard in the north atlantic. i said to myself, how silly is that? what a crime. more importantly the tens of whosands of travelers traveled on that ship. stuff, to dumpt all that seemed insane. i went to the owners of the ship, proposed the notion of an auction only to say they liked this idea so much they took it to their larger competitors. those firms come as wonderful as they are, claimed it would take 10 years if you could do that for thist all to pair monumental task.
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knowing they had a window of three months, they contract with to remove of haiti asbestos that had been discovered on board the ship. were going to give a lovely job of removing the us pestis. -- the asbestos. you have three months to do this auction. the conditions were unbearable. the heat was in excess of 120 degrees at all times. to walk up and down to and i any objects, couldn't find anybody to work quickly on this task of cataloging this massive project. of desperation someone pointed me in the direction of a halfway house.
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this was in virginia, being all ofn by 200 people, whom were african-american and all of whom who were recently released from present. i went to the direct of that we need yourd help, we need these people to do this work. it will include counting the silverware. and every place setting for the 5000 passengers could include as many as 26 utensils. wasn't a fish knife you are dealing with, it is what kind of fish knife. say that if i hire these people, i know half of them have been in jail for theft. i would have been counting the silverware, we will be lucky if we have two spoons left. i said that was a chance we had take. we did hire them.
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i country it was the most inspirational thing i have ever been involved in. these folks worked day and night, around the clock. many years later i probably look back at that event as the world's largest auction, and stayed friends with these folks. we went on to represent the rosa parks archive, which is at the library of congress. i think it is fair to say we -- andot have been there then how the courts have asked us to step in and bring some to that.n now as would become evident in the years ahead, one would see that rosa parks is much more than the little lady who didn't get -- who didn't give up her seat on the bus. thegave her life to
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different she could make in the world. a few years ago the parent of one daughter started as a archivists -- as a graduate. an archivist had a special collection. having the school acquire the most important archive, it was a no-brainer i would do everything i could. we are very happy and pleased it could be here. my daughter is graduating this year. >> the actuarial tables are benign with regards to our next
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to speakers. both of whom knew lenny bruce. introduceeasure to william carl thomas, and he was speak about his own relationship to lenny bruce. >> i became a journalist -- when i was a 19 hours -- when i was 19 i was a cocktail pianist. i was with in nightclub comedian in partnership with another comedian. he wanted to write and direct -- produce offbeat so offbeat films of social and significant controversy. he did produce 20 films and win
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some awards. at that time he was an aspiring film writer. even though he was eight years older than me he asked me to screenplays with him. we ended up 1956 in hollywood, continuing our writing together. i discovered he had been a mentor, a tutor, and a manager to an unknown comic named lenny bruce. he saw the progress we had been making and he asked to writeorate to screenplays. we wrote screenplays. we started filming one of them
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but none of them had ever made -- none of them ever made it to the screen, primarily been has of mismanagement. a venue in that day. lenny was resistant to the idea. they put them in a compilation of six comedians in an album titled, interviews of our time. work was too brief, too nebulous, too controversial. he was surprised that this material was too nebulous.
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sat through the performance with my stopwatch and note book, and on the third everything.imed i laugh at every one of them, laughs atdience only every third, fourth, or fifth one. either it goes over their head or it is controversial and they are on the other side of the controversy. if they think it is too brief and nebulous, why don't we sit down with the routines,s and script take these one-liners and expand them into larger routines. lenny was resistant but when fantasy didn't return calls he agreed to do it. screenplays,h the
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-- i don't have time to explain all of the routines by any means. most of them are explained in my book. important ones -- i think is relevant is it began with a one-liner. the one-liner was based on the at the time -- lenny decided he would hold up , you realizend say of course the pope was jewish. it got such a reaction from the audience. 50% laugh, 50% were outraged.
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line, a very effective and he said that was the first thing we are going to write. it was about finding the house and world war ii. use to shooto yourself dead. they will let you go are the angels dwell. -- politicians we take you, we die, we go to heaven, st. peter's negotiating with you, and st. peter says, aren't you the guy that said the hope was jewish? -- the pope was jewish? we can really build that. we kicked it around. we used it later on a routine
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called showbiz heaven. the line still hung there. what really was the catalyst for it was i had a bunch of dogeared paperback short books. lenny didn't read much in those days. he read a variety to and that was about it. he gave a critique about the book and the author. he really irritated me by saying -- by making snap judgments. pearl buck was sexually repressed. a handle onn't get
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-- because it was nonfiction. he kept making me go further in the books. term madison avenue boardroom about 10 times. finally he got an epiphany. said, that is it, all the religious leaders are on madison avenue in the boardroom. and billy graham and norman vincent peele and all the religious leaders of the day. they all had television shows, all had proper ratings, and they held a tremendous amount of power. power in a very conservative fashion, endorsing
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conservative politicians. that line ended up as the cap her. per.s the cap he gets a phone call from the pope. yes operator, i will accept the charges. and on and on. and then he would do the whole .outine the very last line he looks , sayinguspiciously don't worry, they know you are jewish.
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a lot of routines were based on religion or based on the power of political or religious leaders. he was the little boy who said the emperor wore no clothes. all those routines were actually months.over three and that material in those three months became the bulk of the material in the first three fantasy albums. thethe stuff we wrote didn't work, we put it on the shelf. it became material for later years. i don't mean to challenge the idea that lenny wrote his own material. forkie wrote guidelines lenny. frankie taught lenny how to do voices.
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we are all made of the talents of those people we have been exposed to and who have helped us along the way. the material for those three albums with some of the best writing i ever did. i wrote 12 books. i have frankie's biography. money was unique -- lenny was that -- and he said it in their language, on their time. it was my privilege -- they are in my book.
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i would be happy to answer any questions after this. [applause] >> thank you so much. our next speaker is a company mary tyler moore show. >> i recently lost a dear friend of 40 years. his name was garry marshall. he was my mentor and manager and he was a comedy icon. he used to say he wanted to be the recess in the school day of comedy. and i look around at all of you
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and say i am the recess of this conference. the reason i am here is because lenny bruce's mother fixed me up with him when i was in college. i want to go on and say i'm blonde. showbiz we have a term that is a director,/producer. an actor/waiter. when i retired from slope -- from show business i got involved with a lot of things. . was the u.n. observer gary said i was the original sitcom writer/nazi hunter. i guess i do fit in here. i just finished my memoir of being a woman in a man's world,
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of the beginning of feminism where comedy changes because hopefully as mary tyler moore -- another thing is unlike the link , i have encountered every icon of my generation. i am in politics, and always in the right place at the right time. it all worked out very well. we have to remember the times we are living in. i am much older than i look. where married couples were not even allowed to be shown in the same bed. visitn't know what send a was until 1968. i grew up in a double wind of that. i grew up in milwaukee wisconsin, which is about as midwest a person as you can be.
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all my friends want to go to college get their m rs. i wanted to go to hollywood and be a writer. being an only child in a jewish protected home i wasn't allowed until i was 12. i could only get the northwest my first two years. i had an uncle out there. in doing research, since i was going to be speaking for my personal experience, i found a great article. i did want to read these pages of the article. it also shows how strange it was
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girl to little jewish meet lenny bruce. let's say i'm working as a crescendo. will finish a show and some guy will come up to me and say i am a club owner, i would like you to work for me. a lot of people in the lucky. he will kill them. them. will kill i know that people in the audience are a little older than me. the most i can say to people over 50 is thank you, i've had enough to eat. i get to milwaukee. the first thing that frightens to me it they have a 6:30 dinner show. -- that frightens me is they have a 6:30 dinner show.
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if the dinner show is held up it is only because the jell-o is not hard. the people look familiar but have never been to milwaukee before. are theealized these sightseeing bus tours before they leave. it's where they come from. they don't laugh, they don't heckle, they just stare at me in disbelief. and there are walkouts every night. saw your says, i never do that religious bit and those words you use. the chef is confused, the desserts are not moving. old, they for years are in the men's room. this is the first time they haven't -- they have been in a place for their mother is not allowed to go in. -- i'm going to come in and get you. in between the shows i'm getting
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nervous. the owner decides to cushion me. >> the start of our show, lenny bruce. he is incidentally and ask g.i., a hell of a good performer. he doesn't mean what he says. the pope, about jewish religion, colored people, white people. he's a hell of a nice guy. he was at the veterans hospital today for a show. his mother is here. he's probably from here, she lives here in town. a joke is a joke. i wish they would try to cooperate. whoever had been sticking ice picks in the tires outside, it is not funny. now lenny makes it about narcotics, homosexuality, things like that, and he gets walkouts. caredi was, this little's -- little scared jewish virgin
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the night i met lenny bruce. this is my chapter on lenny. through year's eve 1964 1965, i can't remember. older woman was entertaining us. she was a former stripper, but best known as the mother of lenny bruce. lenny, the troubled comedian single-handedly changed comedy with his stream of consciousness. imagine my joy and alarm. she said, you should meet my son, you you should -- you should meet my son, i will call him. lenny bruce, potentially
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dangerous, possibly druggy, --ing to be a jewish virgin to meet a jewish virgin? ellen tomek mother. -- no one tell my mother. and it was smitten at first sight. of different bunch girls. he pointed to the angels. according to lenny, they now looked shocked as they listened to him. we have this is a billion-dollar observation not having noticed him not having known him. by the evening i was in love, or a crush like facsimile thereof. maybe i can come down to his show the following week in the club. played at a club called the crescendo. then i called my uncle.
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he said, this guy is way too dangerous for you. i asked why. he listed about 10 reasons and then he said if i insisted on going out with lenny bruce he was coming along as chaperone. and he did. went with me to the show which was racy and scary and amazing. my uncle admired lenny. now i was really scared to death. -- secret garden back end garden back end -- garde beckoned. wrotewent and he something on a napkin and handed it to me. it was in a row with writing, and it said, we will go to the corner, which he is afraid to go around.
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backstage and brought out a few pages of one of his routines and gave them to me. he signed it. turned out to be the famous bit about how to make your comfortable -- how to make your comfortable at a party. it was classic and became a collectors item. years later it was stolen from my house in california. i was shocked when not too long after our date lenny bruce died. he od in a gruesome way in his bathroom. he had been dating in other jewish college girl. my uncle couldn't stop from saying, i told you so. had, or whok i knows what kind of trouble i would have gotten into. truth be told i wanted to take care of him. he had the most soulful eyes. he was gentle and was a
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gentleman. he knew he scared me to death and gave me a graceful way out. later i worked with mort. mort was not a sweet soul. now.on twitter i worked for six months. by the end of the six months everyone ahead of me had been fired and i was the producer of his talk show, because you weren't allowed to talk when he talked or do anything that annoyed him. he told the story of how he and lenny used to work together and half the time when he was arrested so mort had to do his show both places. i worked withreer marvin, who was kind of taking care of the state of -- the estate of lenny. i wanted to tell marvin, who thought lenny was the sweetest dustin person he knew,
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hoffman was not nearly as sexy as he was. [laughter] [applause] >> this week and on american history tv on c-span3, this afternoon just before five eastern, architectural historian barry lewis talks about the construction of the brooklyn bridge, why manhattan needed the bridge, and how transportation changed at the turn of the 20th century. >> when the brooklyn bridge was theed it did not put ferries out of business. the fairies were still running at capacity. the 1890's the city of brooklyn had reached one million people. thingt is the interesting about country music, it is the music of poor white people. people who are privileged to be
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white. arealso people who underprivileged in terms of their class identity and economic opportunities. >> how it impacted the origins of country music. then sunday afternoon at four in real america. >> a cautious congress, cutbacks, and entangled administrative problems created evidence that this crusade against societies greatest enemies may be slowed, or may level off. was the climate, the land, -- the unfinished pass unfinished past that faced lyndon johnson. >> the film documents the final month of the year of president lyndon b. johnson.
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celebrating the holidays with his family at his texas branch. and author of madam president, the secret presidency of edith wilson. access to the president as he recovered from a massive stroke in 1919. for our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. >> join us tuesday, january 3 for the opening day of the new congress. watch the official swearing-in of the reelected members of the house and senate. our all-day live coverage from the events of capitol hill begins at 7 a.m. eastern on c-span, or you can listen to it on the free c-span radio app. history tv'srican
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real america brings you archival films that provide context for today's public affairs issues. >> the arms embargo is far too great a security. with the a surrender must ditch fight. the warmongers and the interventionist can solve most of the avenues of propaganda. >> at this critical moment, when
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the democracies are facing the test of life or death, all americans are of one mind. we want to list these democracies with materials and supplies. england is the last barrier between the united states and total war. our aid must not come too late. therefore we must give president roosevelt power to set into a blitzkrieg that will make it possible for a little blast hit live from the face of the earth. were stand interventionists and isolationists. earnest young men in the white the hands of those who wanted to know peace, who
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worshiped war. ther earnest young men picketed. debate, they were permitted to speak in our democracy. uniforms butless they wrap themselves in the american flag. doctrine for the hitler's have said -- -- followed
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we let them speak when occasionally a lone dissenter wants to wear his opposition. gardens madison square in new york city. city -- later this speaker was arrested. sent to brood on the strange ways of democracy. another debate was in progress. the subtle differences at times surged into violence. seems such as these convince they had nothing to fear. we can never use it to the full,
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they said. they were made idle. america was at war. it had been at war but fewer americans realized it for more than 10 years. ever since september 18, 1931, out japan clotted manchuria of the body of china. japan had already begun weaving the pattern of aggression. of that here are some of our featured programs. we will hear from a retiring member of congress and charles wrangle of new york. then from the shakespeare theater on capitol hill, we take you to the romeo and juliet wrongful death mock trial.
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at 6:30 p.m., a look at the career of vice president-elect mike pence and his new role as much -- as vice president. listen on the free c-span radio app. on the morning of december 7, 1941, japanese warplanes attacked the pacific fleet at pearl harbor. almost 2400 americans were killed and 1200 wounded. bookshelf, and author talks about his book pearl harbor priss dish pearl harbor christmas, a world at war -- pearl harbor christmas, a world at war. whiston church hill's visit to the white house to meet with president roosevelt. this was recorded at the chester county book company stanley: the arctic and data
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history that all of us were memorably if we are ultimate remember them at all. i remember pearl harbor. it was a very important event for may. it was important for my older friends who expected to go up someday in uniform. depending on your age, you might remember other events. for example, the assassination of john kennedy or the assassination of martin luther bring the event even closer to our time in history, 9/11, 2001. all kinds of its i stick in the mind. we keep remembering because they have an impact on our lives.

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