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A Discussion with David Kaufman, Author of the Upcoming New Bio on Mary Martin, at Cooper's Tavern

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Cooper's Tavern

Cooperís Tavern
481 8th Avenue at 35th Street
New York, New York 10001

Open 7 Days
12 Noon - 11 PM
Lunch, Dinner, Special Events
Bar Open Late!

A Discussion with David Kaufman
Author, Critic, Theater AfiÁionado
Drama Desk Board Member

Cooperís Tavern
(Cooperís Tavern Website)
481 8th Avenue at 35th Street
New York, New York 10001

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 16, 2014

I sat down, late this afternoon, at Cooperís Tavern with David Kaufman, a Drama Desk colleague, who has covered the theater in New York for over 30 years. David has written about the theater for Vanity Fair, The New York Times, the New York Daily News, and The Village Voice. His 2009 Doris Day biography, Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door is still widely bought. Davidís newest project is a biography of Mary Martin, unofficially titled Cockeyed Optimist, with an also unofficial publishing date of late 2015, by St. Martinís Press. Talking to David about Ms. Martin and Broadway of the 40ís and 50ís was quite an education on theater and acting. While we chatted, David ordered freshly prepared, Minestrone Soup with Pasta and Italian Vegetables and a side of steaming hot Spaghetti. I ordered Lump Crab Cake with Lemon Pepper Sauce and a side of Grilled Vegetables.

When asked why he chose Mary Martin as his subject this time, David spoke about his playing Peter Pan and listening to the album, while in second grade. Also he feels that his first two books, the other was about Charles Ludlam, called Ridiculous!, were training for this tome on Ms. Martin. His St. Martinís Press editors loved the idea. David feels Ms. Martin is somewhat forgotten now, with her very credible memoir, My Heart Belongs, having been published some 40 years ago. Ms. Martin, David said, lived in the moment, like Charles Ludlam and Doris Day, shining with exuberance and talent. She appeared on television specials, like the 1955 Producers Showcase, with The Skin of Our Teeth. She appeared in theater in Paris, Washington, London, and of course New York, with a stage career spanning from 1938 to 1987, in shows like Annie Get Your Gun, 1947, South Pacific, 1957, and The Sound of Music, 1959. Her Hollywood career spanned from 1938 to 1953, in films like Birth of the Blues, 1941, and Star Spangled Rhythm, 1942. Ms. Martinís television career spanned from 1951 to 1985, reprising her starring roles in Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music.

David discussed Ms. Martinís fear that she lacked enough stage glamour for her 1943 appearance in One Touch of Venus. Ms. Martinís then husband, Richard Halliday, took her to the Met Museum to see various interpretations of Venus, both sculptures and paintings. Immediately, she was emboldened and confident. When I asked David about Ms. Martinís challenges in the flying scenes in Peter Pan, he told me that during Ms. Martinís rehearsals for live television shows, she was also rehearsing new children in flying sequences for Peter Pan. During one sequence she badly injured her arm and arrived for a live presentation of The Sound of Music with her arm in a cast and sling. Ms. Martinís son was the actor, Larry Hagman, from her first marriage to Ben Hagman. David said that in Mr. Hagmanís memoir, he mentioned playing a Seabee in London, in his youth, his first stage role, in South Pacific. David also spoke of Ms. Martin and Richard Hallidayís close friendship with Janet Gaynor and her Hollywood, costume-designer husband, Adrian, with whom they traveled to Brazil. In the 1970ís, David noted, Ms. Martin found a new inspiration and opened her own clothing shop, replete with its own beauty parlor.

I look forward to reading David Kaufmanís upcoming book.

David Kaufman, Author,
with his 2009 Biography of Doris Day.
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Genuine Lump Crab Cake
with Lemon-Pepper Sauce
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Minestrone Soup
with Pasta and Italian Vegetables
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Side of Grilled Vegetables
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at