Nachman, Gerald 1938–
Nachman, Gerald 1938–
PERSONAL: Born January 13, 1938, in Oakland, CA; son of Leonard Calvert (a salesman and actor) and Isabel (Weil) Nachman; married Mary Campbell McGeachy, September 3, 1966 (divorced, 1979). Education: Merritt College, A.A., 1958; San Jose State University, B.A., 1960. Politics: Independent. Religion: Jewish.
CAREER: San Jose Mercury, San Jose, CA, humor columnist and television critic, 1960–63; New York Post, New York, NY, feature writer, 1964–66; Oakland Tribune, Oakland, CA, drama and film critic and columnist, 1966–71; New York Daily News, New York, NY, feature writer and television critic, 1972–73, syndicated humor columnist, 1973–79; San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA, theater critic and columnist, 1979–93. Adjunct professor of journalism, New York University, spring, 1976. Member of Pulitzer Prize jury to select best play, 1991–92.
AWARDS, HONORS: Page One Award, New York Newspaper Guild, 1965, for humor piece in New York Post; feature-writing award, Associated Press, 1974, for series "The Party-Goers"; Deems Taylor Award, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), 1989, for critical writing on lyricists.
The Portable Nachman, 1960.
Playing House, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1977.
Out on a Whim: Some Very Close Brushes with Life, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1983.
The Fragile Bachelor, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 1989.
Raised on Radio: In Quest of the Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, Amos 'n' Andy, the Shadow, etc., Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2003.
(Coauthor and lyricist) Quirks (musical revue), 1979.
(Coauthor and lyricist) Aftershocks (musical revue), 1992.
(Coauthor and lyricist) New Wrinkles (musical revue), 1999.
Also contributor to books, including Snooze, Workman Publishing, 1988. Formerly author of twice-weekly humor column, "The Single Life," syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate. Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Esquire, Newsweek, New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Penthouse, Saturday Review, and TheaterWeek.
SIDELIGHTS: Gerald Nachman's collection Out on a Whim: Some Very Close Brushes with Life presents many of the syndicated columnist's humorous observations on life and mankind. New York Times writer Anatole Broyard compared Nachman to a man walking down a street observing everything around him. "He strolls not only along the street," noted Broyard, "but through the whole of our urban culture as well. And as he does, he throws out his comments, like a man feeding breadcrumbs to pigeons." Nachman tells readers how to speed-read in body language and offers suggestions for improving television (have Alistair Cooke do introductions to such shows as Love Boat, for example); he also studies the relative talking styles of men and women and explains how they developed. Broyard describes the resulting book as "a witty and civilized introduction to the situation comedy we call life."
Nachman looked at the golden era of radio in his book Raised on Radio: In Quest of the Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, Amos 'n' Andy, the Shadow, etc. The book is "a paean to the medium," reported Ruth Bayard Smith in the New York Times Book Review. Smith faulted the author for including too much "gossipy" detail about various radio personalities, but praised the author's discussion of radio's influence.
In Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s Nachman examines the lives and careers of comedians who, he believes, were rebels against societal norms. Some of his picks, such as Lenny Bruce, are widely acknowledged as groundbreaking, but others, such as Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart, are not so readily identified as controversial. Nachman explains how their work opened new doors in a way that is both "enjoyable and informative," according to Booklist contributor Mike Tribby. A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that Seriously Funny is both a "must-have for comedy fans" and "a notable study of America."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Austin Chronicle, April 18, 2003, Ken Lieck, review of Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s.
Booklist, April 1, 2003, Mike Tribby, review of Seriously Funny, p. 1364.
Houston Chronicle, April 25, 2003, David L. Beck, review of Seriously Funny.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of Seriously Funny, p. 288.
New Yorker, May 12, 2003, Adam Gopnik, review of Seriously Funny, p. 106.
New York Times, March 7, 1983, Anatole Broyard, review of Out on a Whim: Some Very Close Brushes with Life, p. C17; June 8, 2003, Gene Santoro, review of Seriously Funny.
New York Times Book Review, February 7, 1999, Ruth Bayard Smith, review of Raised on Radio: In Quest of the Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, Amos 'n' Andy, the Shadow, etc., p. 17.
Publishers Weekly, October 5, 1998, review of Raised on Radio, p. 72; February 10, 2003, review of Seriously Funny, p. 171.
Variety, June 23, 2003, Craig Teper, review of Seriously Funny, p. 35.
Washington Monthly, April, 2003, Matthew Cooper, review of Seriously Funny, p. 39.
Jerry Jazz Musician, http://www.jerryjazzmusician.com/ (February 10, 2006), Paul Hallaman, interview with Gerald Nachman.