Paris, Barry
Interview Date
June 18, 1998
Respondent Biographer, film critic, historian, journalist, born 1948.
[T1S1] Respondent provides background information: born, Pittsburgh, 1948; gives names of parents: father, Wyoming Benjamin Paris, mother, Claire Gill Paris; two siblings. Respondent discusses attendance at Turner Grade School, Wilkinsburg Jr. High School, move to Wichita, Kansas; attended Jesuit Catholic High School, Columbia University, studied film and Slavic languages. Respondent discusses marriage to wife Myrna, opera singer and journalist and return to Pittsburgh, both on fellowships: Respondent at University of Pittsburgh: Slavic languages; wife at Carnegie Mellon University: opera. Respondent notes interest in film at early age, mother took children to cultural events. Respondent describes grandparents from Kiev and Odessa; gives names and birth date of Respondent's father, Wyoming; explains family move to Torrington, Wyoming; father given name Wyoming in honor of State; first Jewish boy born in State. Respondent details religious observance of parents: father: Orthodox Jew, mother: Roman Catholic, discusses conflicts: stressful; Respondent's wife Methodist. Respondent discusses father's involvement with Enoch Rauh Club: skilled basketball player, describes approaching Mrs. Enoch Rauh for funding to provide uniforms, received money, no other contributions given from Rauh family; interviewer reads letter sent by Wyoming Paris describing incident (see Collateral Materials); comments on father's forthcoming visit to Pittsburgh to attend Western Pennsylvania Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and mothers death: 1994. Respondent reflects on writing biographies: how subjects are chosen, provides names: Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn and Tony Curtis.
[T1S2] Respondent continues discussion of Tony Curtis book, how it came to be written.
[T2S3] Respondent discusses Stella Adler: parents, Jacob and Sarah Adler founders of New York Yiddish Theater; commissioned by Knopf Publishing to write book about her; reads from article he wrote "Five Hours with Stella Adler" (see Collateral Materials). Respondent discusses formation of Yiddish Theater, many immigrants literary and intellectual, notes introduction of realism in theater; describes Adler's Jewishness: proud; among most brilliant artists of 20<sup>th</sup> century, unappreciated. Respondent describes interest in Haitian art and visits to Haiti; wrote "Song of Haiti," (see Collateral Materials): discusses work of William Larimer Mellon, Jr: met Albert Schweitzer, built l'Hospital Albert Schweitzer in his honor.
[T2S4] Respondent details his forthcoming biography on Franklin Pierce, 14<sup>th</sup> president of the United States: most obscure; discusses Andre Previn and article Respondent wrote for <i>Vanity Fair</i> magazine: "San Francisco Desire: An Opera Named Streetcar" to be performed 9/98 (see Collateral Materials). Respondent reads from Previn article; upset that Previn was released from Pittsburgh Symphony; describes article in <i>New Yorker</i> magazine: Marcia Davenport (see Collateral Materials) involved in music and literature, daughter of Anna Gluck and stepdaughter of Efrem Zimbalist, interested in Mozart and Czechoslovakia, writer. Respondent describes visit to Prague for interview; trips to Russia and Germany.
[T3S5] Respondent comments on interest in Russian and European film history, notes Americans invented technology and genre, Russians perfected film as art form, notes silent film more powerful than sound film; discusses black and white film vs. color; reads from Respondent's book on Louise Brooks. Respondent explains buyouts and mergers of publishing firms; reflects on interest in stamp collecting since age 4; notes mother secretary to Judge Michael Musmanno, saved stamps from mail he received; discusses collection of political buttons through father's interest in politics.
[T3S6] Respondent continues discussing various other collector items and interests, including political buttons (12,000-15,000 items); mentions association with Fred Hetzel, former publisher of University of Pittsburgh Press; comments on forthcoming visit to San Francisco for Previn's preview of opera "Streetcar Named Desire"; describes reentering Pittsburgh<i> Post-Gazette</i>: needed film critic, Respondent needed benefits for son's series of surgeries. Respondent discusses Leonard Bernstein: genius, multi-talented; adds to discussion of Judge Musmanno, mentions Nuremberg trials. Respondent discusses book sales, advances, royalties, book reviews, <i>New York Times Book Reviews</i>: single most important thing for author: getting review in Sunday's <i>New York Times Book Reviews</i>; his investigative reporting.
[T4S7] Respondent discusses attending premier of Andre Previn's opera " A Streetcar Named Desire" in San Francisco: comments on format, staging, critics and role of critic; adds comments to investigative reporting: Watergate, Vietnam War, Gulf War; unethical reporting and plagiarizing; mentions receiving Golden Quill Award for investigative report.
[T4S8] Respondent describes publication of new book: "Out of the Morgue": photo essay using Pittsburgh <i>Post-Gazette</i> news photos; mentions work with WQED radio: <i>Sunday Arts Magazine</i>. Respondent reflects on his life: too many self interests, father's feistiness, mother instilled love for books and music and provided good education, parents not high school graduates, comments on love for people and writing, grateful to wife Myrna; notes Pittsburgh great city; describes Semester at Sea: University of Pittsburgh, 1984, taught film history.
[T5S9] Respondent repeats discussion on forthcoming publication of Franklin Pierce book; father, Wyoming, best critic; explains relationship between father, brother and self.
Adler, Stella; Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990; Brooks, Louise; Curtis, Tony, 1925-; Davenport, Marcia, 1903-1996; Haiti; Hepburn, Audrey, 1929-1993; Historians; Journalism; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; Newspapers; <i>Pittsburgh post-gazette</i> (Pittsburgh, Pa. : 1978); Paris, Wyoming Benjamin; Pierce, Franklin, 1804-1869; Previn, Andre, 1929-; Wyoming; Theater, Yiddish
Birth Date
Pittsburgh, PA
Writer; author
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Wilkinsburg, PA; Squirrel Hill
Length (hours)
Dinman, Gabrielle
Harrison, Mary
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 104 FF 52
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