Richard Kollmar

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Richard Kollmar
Kollmar.jpg
Born
Richard Tompkins Kollmar

(1910-12-31)December 31, 1910
DiedJanuary 7, 1971(1971-01-07) (aged 60)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Resting placeGate of Heaven Cemetery
NationalityAmerican
Alma materTusculum College
Yale School of Drama
Occupation
  • Actor
  • television personality
  • stage producer
  • director
Spouse(s)
(m. 1940; died 1965)

(m. 1967)
Children3

Richard Tompkins Kollmar (December 31, 1910[1] – January 7, 1971), also known professionally as Dick Kollmar, was an American stage, radio, film and television actor, television personality and Broadway producer. Kollmar was the husband of journalist Dorothy Kilgallen.

Early life[edit]

Kollmar was born in Brooklyn, New York to John and Christine L. (née Smith) Kollmar. His great-great-grandfather was Daniel D. Tompkins, the fourth governor of New York and the sixth vice president of the United States.[2] When Kollmar was an infant, the family moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey, where his father worked as an architect.[1] Kollmar attended Tusculum College, where he became interested in acting,[3] and he performed in the school's glee club and was the editor of the school newspaper. Upon graduation, he enrolled at the Yale School of Drama but dropped out after winning a role on a radio drama.[1]

Career[edit]

After moving to New York City and procuring steady work on radio commercials, Kollmar appeared in the Broadway plays Knickerbocker Holiday (1938) and Too Many Girls (1939). Kollmar, along with Cy Walter and Jimmy Dobson, composed the song I’ll Never Tire of You. It was performed by the Sam Donahue Orchestra on November 12, 1941 during a recording session at Bluebird Records.[4]

After becoming a Broadway producer, Kollmar hired Fats Waller to compose the 1943 musical Early to Bed. This episode in Kollmar's career was recalled in a 2016 essay about Waller by John McWhorter, an American academic and linguist who is associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.[5]

Even as late as 1943, the idea of a black composer writing the score for a standard-issue white show was unheard of. When Broadway performer and producer Richard Kollmar began planning Early to Bed, his original idea was for Waller to perform in it as a comic character, not to write the music. Waller was, after all, as much a comedian as a musician. ...


Kollmar's original choice for composer [of Early to Bed] was Ferde Grofé, best known as the orchestrator of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," whose signature compositions were portentous concert suites. But Grofé withdrew, and it is to Kollmar's credit that he realized that he had a top-rate pop-song composer available in Waller. Waller's double duty as composer and performer was short-lived. During a cash crisis and in an advanced state of intoxication, Waller threatened to leave the production unless Kollmar bought the rights to his Early to Bed music for $1,000. (This was typical of Waller, who often sold melodies for quick cash when in his cups. The evidence suggests, for example, that the standards "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street" were Waller tunes.) Waller came to his senses the next day, but Kollmar decided that his drinking habits made him too risky a proposition for eight performances a week. From then on, Waller was the show's composer only, with lyrics by George Marion.[6]

In the early 1940s, Kollmar portrayed the role of Dennis Pierce on the radio series Pretty Kitty Kelly on CBS Radio.[7] From 1945 to 1950, Kollmar portrayed Boston Blackie on the radio program of the same name on the Mutual Broadcasting System.[8] He also had lead roles in other radio shows including Gang Busters, Grand Central Station and the soap opera Bright Horizon.[9][10]

In April 1945, Kollmar and his newspaper-columnist wife Dorothy Kilgallen (whom he had married in April 1940) began hosting a 45-minute talk radio show called Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick. The program aired Monday through Friday on WOR and was broadcast live from the couple's 16-room Park Avenue apartment. Over breakfast, served by their butler Julius, Kollmar and Kilgallen talked about New York City entertainment, sports, celebrity gossip and the city's nightclub scene.[11] Their two children, Richard, Jr. ("Dickie") and Jill, often made appearances.[12] Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick was broadcast locally throughout New York City and its suburbs, drawing an audience of 20 million listeners.[12] In January 1953, the Kollmar family moved from their Park Avenue apartment to a five-story townhouse on Manhattan's East 68th Street,[13] and their radio series began originating from there. Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick ceased production on March 21, 1963.[12]

In 1948, Kollmar made his first and only film appearance in the low-budget crime drama Close-Up, directed by Jack Donohue.[14] He played the supporting role of a Nazi war criminal who lived in hiding in the United States. In June 1949, Kollmar began hosting the live television variety series Broadway Spotlight. The series, which aired on NBC, was canceled in September 1949.[15] Throughout the early to mid-1950s, Kollmar continued his career as an actor with guest roles on television.

In 1952, Kollmar became the master of ceremonies for the DuMont Television Network game show Guess What?, which aired from July 8, 1952, to August 26, 1952,[16] though no kinescopes of the show exist.

From 1952 to 1965, Kollmar made five appearances on the game show What's My Line?, on which his wife was a regular panelist. Kollmar appeared once as an occupational guest, twice as part of a group of mystery guests and twice as a panelist.[17] His appearance as a panelist on July 6, 1952, has been lost;[17] the mystery guest on the lost episode was actor Dane Clark.[17]

In addition to his work in radio and television, Kollmar produced and directed several Broadway stage musicals. Early to Bed ran from June 17, 1943 to May 13, 1944.[18] Kollmar produced and directed the fantasy musical Dream with Music that premiered on May 19, 1944. The cast included ballerina Vera Zorina.[19][20] The story was written by Kollmar's wife Dorothy, Sidney Sheldon and Ben Roberts.[21] Dream with Music was praised for its ballet sequences, but critics' reviews were otherwise negative. It closed after 28 performances.[22] Kollmar fared better with other Broadway productions including the hits By Jupiter,[23] Are You With It? and Plain and Fancy. Plain and Fancy ran on Broadway from January 27, 1955 to March 3, 1956.[24]

In 1958, Kollmar produced The Body Beautiful, a musical about prize fighters starring Steve Forrest, singers Lonnie Sattin and Barbara McNair (in their Broadway debuts), Mindy Carson and Jack Warden.[25][26] He hired two newcomers, lyricist Sheldon Harnick and composer Jerry Bock, a team who would later write the lyrics and music for the hit shows Fiddler on the Roof and Fiorello!.[27] Upon its debut on January 23, 1958,[28] critics' reviews of The Body Beautiful were generally mixed. However, more influential critics panned the show and the music (though two songs, "All of These and More" and "Summer Is," became standards). The New Yorker called the show "vulgar and feeble minded in equal degrees."[25] The Body Beautiful failed to attract an audience and closed in March 1958 after 60 performances.[26][27] It was the last show that Kollmar would produce.

When not busy with acting and producing, Kollmar operated a supper club called The Left Bank at 309 West 50th Street in Manhattan.[23][29]

He was also involved in the arts community, working with the Art Students League of New York and operating galleries during two different phases of his career. In 1952, his gallery called "The Little Studio" opened and was publicized several times by the New York Journal-American where his wife Dorothy Kilgallen was employed. A year and a few months after she died, "the Pastiche" opened on East 53rd Street in midtown Manhattan.[30][31] The Sunday edition of the New York Daily News gave it prominent attention, including photos of Kollmar posing with artwork, on February 12, 1967.[32] Kollmar knew about Pop art but refused to display any of it,[33] explaining, "I have a theory that the only honest and pure abstract art is by children between the ages of 3 and 6."[34]

Before the 1965 death of Kollmar's first wife Dorothy Kilgallen, his nightclub The Left Bank closed permanently.[23] In the last months of her life, he did not have a nightclub or art gallery, was unemployed and his living expenses were paid entirely by her.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Kollmar was married twice and had three children. On April 6, 1940, he married Dorothy Kilgallen at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan.[36][37] The couple had three children: Richard, Jr., (born 1941) Jill (born 1943) and Kerry (born 1954).[38] Kerry was later confirmed to be the child of an affair with the singer Johnnie Ray, which Kilgallen eventually admitted to her husband.[39]

A primary source on Dorothy Kilgallen's funeral says Anne Fogarty was among those who attended.

Kilgallen was capable of achieving much more in her multiple careers than her husband achieved in his.[40] People who socialized with the couple gravitated toward her high intelligence.[41] This took a heavy emotional toll on Kollmar,[42] but they remained married until her death in November 1965.[43] Those who attended her funeral included fashion designer Anne Fogarty.[44] In June 1967, Kollmar married her. They remained married until his death.[45][46]

In 1967 and early 1968, Kollmar, Fogarty and Kerry Kollmar lived in a penthouse on Manhattan's East 72nd Street.[47] He commuted to and from his East 53rd Street art gallery called the Pastiche.[48] In the spring of 1968, Kollmar and Fogarty purchased the same East 68th Street townhouse where he had lived with his first wife Dorothy Kilgallen and Kerry.[35] The couple made renovations that included tearing down walls, rebuilding hallways and setting up a studio for Fogarty to design clothes.[46] They leased the ground floor to two ophthalmologists who opened a practice there.[35] How long the Pastiche lasted is unknown. In 1969 or 1970, Richard Kollmar disowned Kerry, who was 15 or 16.[35] Kerry lived with friends and in foster homes until he became a legal adult, by which time Richard was dead.[35]

Death[edit]

On January 7, 1971, Kollmar died at the Manhattan townhouse where he lived with his wife Anne Fogarty.[3][49] Newspaper reports stated that he "... died in his sleep late Thursday [January 7] in his New York home."[49] According to his friends, Kollmar had broken his shoulder after falling at home three days before his death.[3][50]

His funeral was held on January 9 at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan.[50] Kollmar is buried at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York[citation needed]

Broadway credits[edit]

Date Production Role Notes
October 19, 1938 – March 11, 1939 Knickerbocker Holiday Brom Broeck
October 18, 1939 – May 18, 1940 Too Many Girls Clint Kelley
January 14 – January 18, 1941 Crazy With the Heat Performer
June 3 – June 12, 1943 By Jupiter
Producer
June 17, 1943 – May 13, 1944 Early to Bed El Magnifico Producer
May 18 – June 10, 1944 Dream With Music
Producer, director
November 10, 1945 – June 29, 1946 Are You with It?
Producer
January 27, 1955 – March 3, 1956 Plain and Fancy
Producer
January 23 – March 15, 1958 The Body Beautiful
Producer

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1948 Close-Up Martin Beaumont
1949 Broadway Spotlight Host Unknown episodes
1950 The Web Episode: "The Witness"
1951 Penthouse Party Himself Episode #1.29
1952 Guess What? Host Unknown episodes
Credited as Dick Kollmar
1952-1965 What's My Line Himself/panelist 5 episodes
1954 Armstrong Circle Theatre Episode: "Evening Star"
1954 Who's the Boss? Himself/Panelist Unknown episodes
Credited as Dick Kollmar
1956 Person to Person Himself Episode #3.21
1956 NBC Matinee Theater
Episode: "Pygmalion Jones"
Writer

References[edit]

  • Arndt Anderson, Heather (2013). Breakfast: A History. AltaMira Press. ISBN 978-0-759-12165-2.
  • Block, Maxine; Herthe Rothe, Anna; Dent Candee, Marjorie (1953). Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson Co.
  • Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-48320-1.
  • Cox, Jim (2007). Radio Speakers: Narrators, News Junkies, Sports Jockeys, Tattletales, Tipsters, Toastmasters and Coffee Klatch Couples Who Verbalized the Jargon of the Aural Ether from the 1920s to the 1980s: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-42780-2.
  • Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0-195-07678-8.
  • Fates, Gil (1978). What's My Line?: The Inside History of Tv's Most Famous Panel Show. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-139-55146-8.
  • Green, Stanley (1980). The World of Musical Comedy: The Story of the American Musical Stage as Told Through the Careers of Its Foremost Composers and Lyricists. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80207-4.
  • Green, Stanley (2009). Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-786-74684-2.
  • Hischak, Thomas S. (2009). Broadway Plays and Musicals: Descriptions and Essential Facts of More Than 14,000 Shows through 2007. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-45309-2.
  • Israel, Lee (1979). Kilgallen. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-440-04522-3.
  • Lambert, Phillip (2010). To Broadway, To Life! : The Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick: The Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 978-0-199-78103-4.
  • The New York Times Biographical Service. Vol. 2. New York Times & Arno Press. 1971.
  • Reinehr, Robert C.; Swartz, Jon D. (2010). The A to Z of Old Time Radio. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-810-87616-3.
  • Signorielli, Nancy (1996). Signorielli, Nancy (ed.). Women in Communication: A Biographical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-29164-0.
  • Terrace, Vincent (2008). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2 ed.). McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-48641-0.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Block, Herthe Rothe, Dent Candee 1953, p. 304
  2. ^ "Miss Dorothy Kilgallen Bride of R. T. Kollmar". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. April 6, 1940. p. 4.
  3. ^ a b c New York Times 1971, p. 73
  4. ^ "Victor matrix BS-068193. I'll never tire of you / Andy Blaine ; Sam Donahue Orchestra". Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved July 19, 2022.
  5. ^ McWhorter, John (October 14, 2016). "The Fats Waller You've Never Heard". City Journal. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  6. ^ McWhorter, John (October 14, 2016). "The Fats Waller You've Never Heard". City Journal. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  7. ^ Senseney, Dan (October 1940). "What's New from Coast to Coast" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. Vol. 14, no. 6. pp. 6–8, 84. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  8. ^ Dunning 1998, p. 110
  9. ^ Reinehr, Swartzg 2010, p. 47
  10. ^ Dunning 1998, p. 118
  11. ^ Arndt Anderson 2013, p. 180
  12. ^ a b c Dunning 1998, pp. 118–119
  13. ^ Livebold.com web page about history of townhouse on 45 East 68th Street in Manhattan
  14. ^ Cox 2007, p. 92
  15. ^ Brooks, Marsh 2007, p. 185
  16. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007) The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network Cable and TV Shows, 1946-Present (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine. p. 567. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4,
  17. ^ a b c Fates 1978, p. 109
  18. ^ RS on Early to Bed with dates of premiere and final performance
  19. ^ The Guardian obituary for Vera Zorina mentions Dream With Music.
  20. ^ Playbill obituary for Vera Zorina mentions Dream With Music.
  21. ^ Hischak 2009, p. 121
  22. ^ "Dream with Music". playbillvault.com. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  23. ^ a b c "Kilgallen Dies; Helped Push Pianist's Career". Jet. Vol. 29, no. 7. November 25, 1965. p. 62. ISSN 0021-5996.
  24. ^ RS on Plain and Fancy dates of premiere and final performance
  25. ^ a b Lambert 2010, pp. 59–60
  26. ^ a b "'Body Beautiful,' $310,000 In Red, Closes". Jet. Vol. 13, no. 21. March 27, 1958. p. 65. ISSN 0021-5996.
  27. ^ a b Green 1980, p. 296
  28. ^ "The Body Beautiful". playbillvault.com. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  29. ^ excerpt from a book by James Gavin with details about The Left Bank
  30. ^ Simkin, John (September 1997). "Richard Kollmar". spartacus-educational.com.
  31. ^ "The Even Tenor of His Ways; Dick without Dorothy has no regrets about surrendering singing fame to a columnist's shadow". Sunday News. New York, New York. February 12, 1967. p. 5. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  32. ^ "The Even Tenor of His Ways; Dick without Dorothy has no regrets about surrendering singing fame to a columnist's shadow". Sunday News. New York, New York. February 12, 1967. p. 5. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  33. ^ "The Even Tenor of His Ways; Dick without Dorothy has no regrets about surrendering singing fame to a columnist's shadow". Sunday News. New York, New York. February 12, 1967. p. 5. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  34. ^ "The Even Tenor of His Ways; Dick without Dorothy has no regrets about surrendering singing fame to a columnist's shadow". Sunday News. New York, New York. February 12, 1967. p. 5. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  35. ^ a b c d e Mark Shaw (2017), The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Post Hill Press, pp. 146–149, ISBN 978-1-68261-443-3
  36. ^ Hughes, Carol (June 1950). "Dorothy Kilgallen: Star Reporter". Coronet. D. A. Smart. 28: 56. ISSN 0010-8936.
  37. ^ Scott, Walter (December 31, 1961). "Personality Parade". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. p. 6. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  38. ^ Signorielli 1996, p. 251
  39. ^ Mark Shaw (2017), The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, Post Hill Press, pp. 146–149, ISBN 978-1-68261-443-3
  40. ^ Rita Mae Brown (November 18, 1979). "What Did Dorothy Know?". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  41. ^ Rita Mae Brown (November 18, 1979). "What Did Dorothy Know?". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  42. ^ Rita Mae Brown (November 18, 1979). "What Did Dorothy Know?". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  43. ^ "Death of TV Panelist Dorothy Kilgallen Investigated". The Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. November 9, 1965. p. 14. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  44. ^ "Notables at the Funeral". New York Journal-American. November 11, 1965. p. 3.
  45. ^ Kollmar, Richard (June 21, 1967). "Serenade To a Bride". The Miami News. Miami, Florida. pp. 3–B. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  46. ^ a b "Anne Fogarty's Fashion 'Rebel'". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. February 20, 1975. p. 16. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  47. ^ "The Even Tenor of His Ways; Dick without Dorothy has no regrets about surrendering singing fame to a columnist's shadow". Sunday News. New York, New York. February 12, 1967. p. 5. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  48. ^ "The Even Tenor of His Ways; Dick without Dorothy has no regrets about surrendering singing fame to a columnist's shadow". Sunday News. New York, New York. February 12, 1967. p. 5. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  49. ^ a b "Richard Kollmar". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Daytona Beach, Florida. January 8, 1971. p. 2. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  50. ^ a b "People on Parade". The Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. January 9, 1971. p. 5B. Retrieved June 12, 2015.

External links[edit]