The two immigrated to the United States separately — Israel in and Cina in — where they met and married. Israel already had four children from his first wife; he had four more children with Cina.
The farm failed, and the family moved back to New York, where his father obtained work as a wine chemist. Zero was described by his family as outgoing and lively, and with a developed sense of humor.
He showed an intelligence and perception that convinced his father he had the makings of a rabbi,  but Mostel preferred painting and drawing, a passion he was to retain for life.
According to Roger Butterfield , his mother sent him to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to copy paintings while dressed in a velvet suit. One afternoon, while a crowd was watching over his velvet-clad shoulder, he solemnly copied the whole painting upside down, delighting his audience.
He attended Public School , where he was an A student. He completed his high school education at Seward Park High School ,  where his yearbook noted: He later claimed that he was on the swimming team and the Reserve Officers Training Corps , though the claim is dubious.
The marriage did not last, however, since Clara could not accept the many hours Mostel spent in his studio with his fellow artists, and he did not seem to be able to provide for her at the level to which she had been accustomed. The arrangement lasted until the mids.
Leading groups of students through the many paintings, Mostel could not suppress his comedic nature, and his lectures were noted less for their artistic content than for his sense of humor. As his reputation grew, he was invited to entertain at parties and other social occasions, earning three to five dollars per performance.
Labor union social clubs followed, where Mostel mixed his comic routine with social commentary. These performances would play a large role in his eventual blacklisting in the next decade. It was here that he adopted the stage name Zero Zee to his friends , created by press agent Ivan Black at the behest of Barney Josephson , the proprietor, who felt that "Sam Mostel" was not appropriate for a comic.
He also made cameo appearances at the Yiddish theatre , the style of which influenced his own. In Life magazine described him as "just about the funniest American now living". Although Mostel gave varying accounts of his Army service, records show he was honorably discharged in August because of an unspecified physical disability.
He subsequently entertained servicemen through the USO until His mother never met Kate or her grandsons. Their relationship was described by friends of the family as complicated, with many fights but having mutual adoration. He appeared in a series of plays, musicals, operas, and movies. Mostel made notable appearances on New York City television in the late s. Blacklist years and HUAC testimony[ edit ] Mostel was a leftist as a college student, and his nightclub routine included political jabs at right-wingers.
His MGM contract was terminated, and his role in Du Barry Was a Lady was truncated, because studio executives were upset that he participated in protests against another MGM film, Tennessee Johnson , which protesters believed had soft-pedaled the racism of former U. The Military Intelligence Division of the U. War Department said it was "reliably reported" that he was a Communist Party member.
Army Special Services unit was denied. Mostel had lobbied hard to transfer to Special Services, at one point traveling to Washington to request a transfer. Kazan describes his attitude and feelings during that period, where Each director has a favorite in his cast,.
I constantly sought his company. For a long time, Zero had not been able to get work in films, but I got him in my film. Fox then abruptly cancelled his contract. Mostel learned this after he was loaned out to Columbia for a film role but not permitted on the set. The studio may have received word that he was about to be named as a Communist in Congressional testimony. After the testimony he was effectively blacklisted. Mostel declined to name names and jousted with the members of Congress, invoked the Fifth Amendment, while standing up for his right to the privacy of his personal political beliefs.
Among other things, he referred to Twentieth Century Fox as "18th Century Fox" due to its collaboration with the committee , and manipulated the committee members to make them appear foolish. If I appeared there, what if I did an imitation of a butterfly at rest? There is no crime in making anybody laugh If your interpretation of a butterfly at rest brought any money into the coffers of the Communist Party, you contributed directly to the propaganda effort of the Communist Party.
Suppose I had the urge to do the butterfly at rest somewhere. The admiration he received for his testimony did nothing to take him out of the blacklist, however, and the family had to struggle throughout the s with little income. Mostel used this time to work in his studio. Later he would say that he cherished those years for the time it had afforded him to do what he loved most. Ulysses in Nighttown and career revival[ edit ] In , Toby Cole, a New York theatrical agent who strongly opposed the blacklist, contacted Mostel and asked to represent him.
Mostel accepted the role of Leopold Bloom in Ulysses in Nighttown , a play based on the novel Ulysses , which he greatly admired in his youth. It was an Off-Off-Broadway play produced in a small Houston Street theater, but the reviews Mostel received were overwhelmingly favorable. After the success of Ulysses, Mostel received many offers to appear in classic roles, especially abroad; however, he declined the offers because of artistic differences with the directors and the low salaries associated with the roles.
The doctors wanted to amputate the leg, which would have effectively ended his stage career. Mostel refused, accepting the risk of gangrene , and remained hospitalized for four months.
The injury took a huge toll; for the rest of his life, the massively-scarred leg gave him pain and required frequent rests and baths. The case was settled for an undisclosed sum. From this time forward Mostel would carry a cane whenever he attended the Metropolitan Opera , to go along with the cape that he also favored. In , he played Jean in Rhinoceros to very favorable reviews. In Mostel began work on the role of Pseudolus in the Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum , which was to be one of his best-remembered roles.
The role of Pseudolus was originally offered to Phil Silvers , who declined it, saying he did not want to do this "old shtick". Mostel did not originally want to do the role either, which he thought below his capabilities, but was convinced by his wife and agent. A film version was produced in , also starring Mostel — and Silvers.
The show received rave reviews and was a great commercial success, running 3, performances, a record at the time. Mostel received a Tony Award for it and was invited to a reception in the White House , officially ending his political pariah status. Mostel refused to accept the role at first, but director Mel Brooks persuaded him to show the script to his wife, who then talked Mostel into doing it.
His performance received mixed reviews, and was not a great success at first, but the film has since achieved classic status. Of it, the critic Roger Ebert said: In the s, he would often play supporting rather than lead roles.
He also appeared as a guest star during Season 2 of The Muppet Show ,  taped during mid He was diagnosed with a respiratory disorder and it was believed he was in no danger and would be released soon. However, on September 8, , Mostel complained of dizziness and lost consciousness. The attending physicians were unable to revive him, and he was pronounced dead that evening.
It is believed that he suffered an aortic aneurysm. Mostel was cremated following his death; the location of his ashes is not publicly known. He was described as irreverent, believing himself to be a comic genius many critics agreed with him and showed little patience for incompetence. He often improvised, which was received well by audiences but which often left other performers who were not prepared for his ad-libbed lines confused and speechless during live performances.
He often dominated the stage whether or not his role called for it. Norman Jewison stated this as a reason for preferring Chaim Topol for the role of Tevye in the movie version of Fiddler on the Roof. Mostel took exception to these criticisms: The producer obviously contributes the money… but must the actor contribute nothing at all?
I contribute a great deal. And they always manage to hang you for having an interpretation. Why must it always be dull as shit? His exuberant personality, though largely responsible for his success, had also intimidated others in his profession and prevented him from receiving some important roles. However, just after being introduced, Mostel got up, walked over to Wilder, hugged him, and planted a big kiss on his lips.
Wilder claims to be grateful to Mostel for teaching him such a valuable lesson, and for picking Wilder up every day so that they could ride to work together. He also tells the story of a dinner celebrating the release of The Producers.
Не будучи религиозной, она не рассчитывала услышать ответ на свою молитву, но вдруг почувствовала внезапную вибрацию на груди и испуганно подскочила, однако тут же поняла: вибрация вовсе не была рукой Божьей - она исходила из кармана стратморовского пиджака.
На своем «Скайпейджере» он установил режим вибрации без звонка, значит, кто-то прислал коммандеру сообщение. Шестью этажами ниже Стратмор стоял возле рубильника.
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