Richard Sale Update

I went to the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts to watch Richard Sale’s performance in The Danube. Unfortunately, it was on video tape which had deteriorated badly. You couldn’t really make out the actor’s faces, and the sound was so bad I couldn’t hear most of it. Towards the end there were a few, brief close-up scenes where I could see and hear him a teeny bit better. But I can’t tell you anything about him based on what little I could see. He was young. He was in good shape.

I think if I was someone who loved him I’d want to go to the library and watch it, if only for the scenes when you can make out his voice. Hearing the sound of someone’s voice, after they are gone, it can be more powerful and affecting than a photograph.

Here is the 1984 Frank Rich review of The Danube in the New York Times. He was not a fan, but his problem was with the play and the director, not the actors.

Hunting around on I learned that Richard was born in Texas in 1952, graduated from Denton High School in 1970, and he went to the University of Michigan. He acted a bit, then he died here, in New York, on August 29, 1985. So he was only 33. And he was living in my neighborhood at the time. I have to find out where. I’ve been in this neighborhood since … 1981 or 1982. Maybe we were neighbors.

Richard (Rick to his high school friends) also won third prize in a poetry contest when he was 18. His obituary, which appeared in the Victoria Advocate on September 4, 1985, follows.

Richard Sale

Richard Sale III Obituary

Chance Music

Spotted on a recent walk along the river. I love when I come upon musicians as I’m going about my business. I know they’re doing it for the joy of it (and sometimes money) but it’s a joy for us to. What’s interesting is, how rare it is when they suck. Think about it, anyone can go out and play or sing. Why aren’t more of them terrible?

Who was Richard Sale?

I just read the obituary for Ganga Stone, the founder of God’s Love We Deliver. I don’t really know much about her, but I think of her as a saint. She showed christians (and the rest of us) how it’s done.

But it was this part of her obituary that stood out for me. “She was asked to deliver a bag of groceries to Richard Sale, a 32-year-old actor who was dying of AIDS. When she realized that he was too weak to cook, she rounded up friends, who agreed to bring him hot meals. “I had never seen anyone look that bad,” she recalled. “He was starving, and he was terrified.”

The italics are mine. My heart. I could just imagine the terror. Which made me love Ganga and the people who joined her and helped her all the more. I wanted to know what happened to Richard. When did he die? Who was he? Googling brought up almost nothing. The only acting role I could find was a part in a movie called The Dirtiest Show in Town, which looks like a perfect time capsule of a movie for the early 1980s.

I just found a picture! The reproduction isn’t the greatest, it’s a screenshot from the March 10, 1984 Daily News which I found on Proquest (accessed through the New York Public Library). He was appearing in a play called Blue Danube by Maria Irene Fornes (who looks like a very interesting person herself, she won Obies for Blue Danube). Other than these few measly pieces of information, that’s all I could find out about Richard Sale.

UPDATE: The NYPL has a video recording on The Danube! It says restricted use. I’ll have to find out what the restrictions are. They also have a photograph and that says supervised use.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I have an appointment to see the film on Thursday! Thank you, New York Public Library!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: I’ve slowly been finding out a little more about Richard Sale. I’ll post an update after I watch the play he was in.

As always, it kills me when someone disappears without much of a trace. It’s one of the things I love about the internet. At least we leave something more of ourselves behind. Maybe someone will come along who can tell us more about him. It looks like he really had the beginnings of a great career. Then, a year after this picture was taken he was alone, terrified, and starving in his apartment. Thank you Ganga and friends for helping him and so many others.

Richard Sale, Actor, New York City


Someone pointed out that my iphone tracks my steps every day. Am I the last to know?? I always think people walk less than they think, and I was talking about this yesterday with some friends. 10,000 steps is a lot of steps, I insisted. It’s a few miles! People are wishful counting if they think they are doing that every day. Then someone pointed out there’s a way of knowing.

Tourists at the Wall Street bull (on Broadway, technically). Seen on my 12,000—iphone verified—step walk.

Wall Street Bull Tourists, New York City

RIP Ken Grimwood and Amy Covey

I just posted this review on Goodreads about Ken Grimwood’s book Replay.

“It may seem like I give every book I read five stars, but that’s because if I don’t love a book within a few chapters, I stop reading it and move on. I didn’t used to do that. It used to be if I started a book I felt I must finish it. But now I want to be carried away within a few chapters. This book carried me away pretty much from the beginning.”

There’s so much in those few sentences that is in some way about my upcoming birthday. First, I’ve been on this spate of reading books with a Groundhog Day structure. People who live a period of their lives over and over and over. Examining your life is something one does when turning 65. (Which is not to say you think your life is over.). Second, this new thing of not finishing books and only wanting to read books I get engrossed in almost immediately. It’s not just about having less time, but being more insistent about how I want to spend it.

And last, I just read Ken Grimwood’s bio. He died of a heart attack in 2003, when he was 59. It’s horrible that he should have died of a heart attack because the main character in Replay dies of a heart attack over and over and Grimwood focuses on how painful a heart attack can be. Grimwood was working on the sequel to Replay when he died (which just kills me, I would have loved to read that).

Anyway, sad, sad, sad. On another sad note, I recently passed by this plaque underneath a tree on Christopher Street.

Amy Covey Memorial Treet, Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, New York City

I figured the tree, which is beautiful, must have been planted a long time ago, it looks like it’s been growing for years, except the plaque didn’t look very old. So I looked up Amy Covey. She died in 2009. They don’t say her age, but based on when she graduated high school she would have been around 33. More sad, sad, sad. It looks like she was a lovely, vibrant human being. Life will break your heart. Repeatedly. (Back to my Groundhog Day theme.). I promise a happier post next! I’m feeling mostly happier these days.

Amy Covey Memorial Treet, Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, New York City