A Mother’s Concern

I knew an actor named – well, let’s call him Joel, which was, in fact, his name. I’d known him early in his career, and in mine, when he played a leading role in a musical I wrote.

Joel was a big guy with a big baritone voice, so eventually he specialized in roles created by Zero Mostel, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He performed these roles in productions across the U.S.

The following is a true story. It has to be, since I heard it from Joel himself.

He’d just heard the news that Zero Mostel had died. Joel was very upset and phoned his mother in the Bronx.

“Ma,” he said, on the verge of sobbing. “He’s dead – Zero Mostel is dead!”

Silence on the line.

Then his mother asked, “Does this mean you get work?”


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