Steinberg was the screenwriter for "Blazing Saddles." I thought it was a great movie with a lousy ending. The movie did succeed in being outrageously funny. It shined a light on racism in the 70's by using the old west as a backdrop. It was Mel Brooks creativity and lunacy at its best.
Norman Steinberg was also screenwriter for "My Favorite Year." Regular blog readers will recognize that as my favorite movie.
It was a "boy in a man's world" flick that ended with Benji Stone coming into his own as a television writer. Peter O'Toole was nothing short of spectacular, earning an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Mark Linn Baker played Benji, and he did it in a way that was wonderfully human and relatable. You watch the O'Toole and Linn Baker characters change in two hours. Both grow up before your eyes.
A movie is more than acetate and actors. It is the theater, time and place, and friends.
"My Favorite Year" was released in the fall of 1982. I saw it at the Ritz on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton-- not the greatest place to see a movie. But, I was with college friends. Seeing a movie with good people can make a bad movie good, and a good movie great.
"My Favorite Year" is a good movie.
One of the scenes that made me laugh the hardest took place in an upscale restaurant. Jacket required. Benji didn't have one, so the restaurant gave him a loaner, several sizes too big! At the time the movie hit theaters, I was working at WARM. Station policy. If you were doing a remote broadcast, you had to wear your station issued blazer. Navy blue. Station logo patch on the left breast. I didn't have a WARM blazer of my own. There was a loaner in the closet, several sizes too big!
Benji Stone and I have a lot in common.
Norman Steinberg was 83.
I should also note the passing of George Lowry. He ran the Nay Aug Park Zoo for years. Yes, it was a horrible place. Small cages. Too much concrete. George made the best of a bad situation, and he was genuinely hurt when one of his pets, Toni the elephant, was taken away to a zoo in Washington. I was there. It was in Toni's best interests, but I was very sad for George. You could see his pain, discomfort, and especially his sadness.
I took the Toni photo you see above in 1989.
George loved animals, and any person that loves animals is okay in my book. There is a special place in Heaven for people like that.
George Lowry was 87.