The Accidental Caregiver

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The Accidental Caregiver
Accidental Caregiver.jpg
AuthorGregor Collins
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SubjectMemoir, intergenerational relation, art restituion
GenreNon-fiction
PublisherBloch-Bauer Books
Publication date
2012
Pages362
ISBN9780985865405
OCLC820878705

The Accidental Caregiver: How I Met, Loved, and Lost Legendary Holocaust Refugee Maria Altmann is a 2012 memoir by Gregor Collins, recounting the three years he was a caregiver for Maria Altmann,[1] and a stageplay, which premiered at the Robert Moss Theater in New York City on January 26, 2015.[2]

Book[edit]

In late 2007 a friend of Collins's, Tom Trudeau, answered an ad on Craigslist for a caregiver to a 92-year-old woman from Austria who lived in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles. Trudeau mentioned to Collins he had taken the job, moved into her bungalow on Danalda Drive, and urged him to visit. But Collins was in pre-production on the film Night Before the Wedding, and focused on his acting career. A few weeks later, in January 2008, another caregiver quit, leaving Trudeau as the lady's sole caregiver. The family asked Trudeau if he knew anyone who could immediately fill the vacant position, and he asked Collins, who eventually agreed to take the job, at first as a temporary fill-in. The lady was Holocaust refugee Maria Altmann.[3]

Aside from their day-to-day relationship chronicled in journal-entry-style chapters, the book depicts Maria's childhood in pre-Hitler Vienna as a member of the influential Bloch-Bauer family, and the family's relationship with the painter Gustav Klimt, who was regularly commissioned by Maria's wealthy Uncle Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer to paint portraits of his wife Adele Bloch-Bauer, a prominent Jewish patron of the arts.[4] It also depicts Altmann and her family’s relationships with eclectic notables such as Joan Sutherland, Walter Slezak, Hedy Lamarr, Placido Domingo, Danny Thomas, Gary Cooper, Ezio Pinza, Paul Henreid and others, and Altmann and her husband Fritz's escape from Austria during the Anschluss, fleeing through Holland, England and Massachusetts, and their eventual nesting in Los Angeles.[5]

In 2012, a year and a half after Altmann's death, Collins published his book to commemorate the 37 months they spent together, meticulously detailing their chance meeting and unusual bond, culminating in Altmann's death in early 2011. The book received favorable reviews in the US,[6][7] as well as in the Australian, German and Austrian press.[8][9]

The book was also sold at the Neue Galerie New York, where the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I remains in permanent collection.

In 2015 a translated version of the book was published in Poland.[10]

Collins has spoken at various venues around the world sharing his experience as Altmann's caregiver, including Richmond's historic Tuckahoe Woman's Club, The Brotherhood Synagogue in Greenwich Village, Herndon ArtSpace[11], Austrian Cultural Forum New York[12], and in private residences in multiple countries. He has been the keynote speaker at functions at Crown Melbourne, Central Synagogue, Sydney, and the Bendat Centre in Perth, sponsored by the Women's International Zionist Organization. [13][14]

Stageplay[edit]

The Accidental Caregiver stageplay world premiered at the Robert Moss Theater in New York City on January 26, 2015, and was directed by British theatre director Alice Kornitzer.[2][15] The play was also presented as a staged reading at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York on June 25, 2015. Directed by Collins, Actors Christian Scheider and Rochelle Slovin read the parts of Gregor and Maria, respectively.[16][17]

See also[edit]

Editions[edit]

References[edit]

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