Friday, June 3, 2016

Mike Dann

Mike Dann passed away the other day at 94. My only encounter with Mr. Dann was when he gave the eulogy at the funeral services for my friends' father, Sidney Piermont in February 1968. I wasn't even yet 20 years old and this was maybe my third funeral service, the first in English.

The prior two services were for my grandparents, six years apart, 1958 and 1964. I don't remember if there were eulogies at those services, but if there were, they were in Greek, and then, as now, I don't fully understand Greek, despite being principally raised by a Greek-American father.

I was friends with the Piermont family, the youngest son Dennis from high school, and eventually his older brother David. I had many a meal over their apartment on West 55th Street, cooked by their mother Susan.

The father, Sidney Piermont, was a native New Yorker, meaning born and raised in Manhattan, working and living in Manhattan, with likely little or no exposure to what even then were the "outer boroughs." (Well, maybe he'd been to Brooklyn and the Bronx.) He worked his way up from being a vaudeville booking agent for Loew's theaters to being a producer of the Carol Burnett and Gary Moore shows on CBS. At the time, I'm sure I didn't realize the hierarchy of the relationship, but Mike Dann was his boss.

The West 55th Street apartment was across the street from 'Black Rock,' the black granite CBS headquarters on Sixth Avenue. There's little better in New York than being able to walk to work, and then needing only one additional traffic light to clear on the way to Toots Shor's. There is a heaven on earth.

By the time I got to know the Piermont family through the son Dennis, Mr. Piermont was still working, but was suffering from emphysema. It is what he would eventually succumb to.

Mr. Piermont was not religious, and the best I can remember was that the services were held at Frank Campbell's. It seemed there was a bit of a pulpit/podium that Mr. Dann spoke from. There were no commercial interruptions.

Dave and Dennis's mother insisted I sit with them, in what I remember were either pews, or bench seats. I was considered a member of the family. I think I mentioned something to Mrs. Piermont that wouldn't it look like she and Mr. Piermont had three sons, instead of two? She told me she didn't care about who might be counting.

In what could be described as a coincidence, but would instead be given some high probability of occurring by Joseph Mazur, author of the recently published book 'Fluke,' I recently mentioned Mike Dann at a cookout to someone who once worked for CBS. They remembered him, and we both wondered if Mr. Dann were still alive. The cookout was May 29, and Mr. Dann passed away May 27. So, when his name came up in that backyard in Flushing, he had just passed away in Boca Raton.

I have absolutely no specific recollection of any of  kind words Mr. Dann had to say for Mr. Piermont. I do however have a recollection of the good feeling they gave me, even now almost 50 years later.

No comments:

Post a Comment