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.

FINAL UPDATE: I posted a little more about him here.

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

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

9 thoughts on “Who was Richard Sale?

  1. I just read the “Ganga” obituary and wondered if the Richard mentioned is the fictionalised Richard character who featured alongside Meryl Streep in the film “The Hours”. This character is a writer/actor who is dying of AIDS and Streep brings him groceries…….

  2. The Meryl Streep character is straight out of “Mrs Dalloway” but the Richard character certainly resonates.

  3. Richard was my dear friend and it was wonderful to see his name in the nyt.

    He was a hopwood awarded writer for his long prose piece, “ascend to summer”.

    He came from a small town in Texas.
    He attended the university of Michigan. He lived on Perry street in the village in a fourth floor walk up.
    Among his other close friends are Rick Gladstone. Rick works for the times as an editor on the foreign desk.

    Thank you for bringing Richard to the front of mind. He was amazing.

  4. I’m so sorry you lost your friend way too soon. Thank you for stopping by to tell us something about him. Life can be so sad and heartbreaking and unfair. I was wondering if we were neighbors, and as it turns out, you have just confirmed we were. I live on Perry Street in a 5th floor walk-up. I don’t suppose you remember the building number? Or the block (the cross streets)?

  5. In high school Richard was a star debater in Texas; he was from Denton and I was on a rival team from Dallas. Later we lived across the hall from each other in a dorm at the University of Michigan. He finished his BA in three years, taking on enormous course loads while also writing and acting; he was driven, he had enormous energy, and he didn’t sleep much. I remember seeing him perform in Ann Arbor in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. He was a very talented actor and writer, and a good guy.

  6. Thank you so much for telling us more about Richard. It’s heart-breaking though. It just reminds me of this great chasm of lives lost, people with so much promise, who were robbed of the brief time we should all get on earth. I get angry all over again.

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