Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 02 July 2010 00:00
Over the past several years, John Carpenter has turned Massapequa into the Classic Movies Capital of Long Island.
To return the favor, over 70 people traveled to the Bar Harbour Library last Saturday to celebrate Carpenter’s birthday, a day complete with movies, prizes, and gathering of old friends, all paying tribute to the premier scholar of American cinema.
“The library looked more like Woodstock due to the cinematic love-in that was going on,” Carpenter quipped, commenting on the day’s events.
Among those in the audience were longtime fans and movie buffs. Also paying tribute was Carpenter’s mother, Connie, plus David Wright and George Leras, friends from Carpenter’s adolescent days in Jamaica, Queens. Also on hand were Jada Michelle, a model and actress from Brooklyn and Donna Fleischer Dougherty, the costume and makeup designer for Carpenter’s silent film, Late to Lunch.
A highlight of the day was when Richard Ornstein, a producer for Joe Franklin’s perennial television show, presented the Movie Man with one of Franklin’s Emmy awards!
Even that surprise was topped by the appearance of Rosalie Waldman, widow of 1930s Betty Boop animator Myron Waldman. Rosalie’s birthday gift wasn’t a piece of hardware, but sincere praise as she claimed Carpenter is the only rival to Charlie Chaplin and Charley Chase as a master of the silent film.
But that wasn’t all. Later in the day, Carpenter’s friends took him to a birthday dinner at the Nautilus Diner. A private room had to roped off due to all the merriment. At the dinner, Jessica Lay, Dolly O’Kane and Mrs. Carpenter all took turns giving speeches and turning John’s cheeks red with lipstick coverings.
Earlier, it was Carpenter’s turn to speak. At the library, Carpenter told of the inspiration he receives from his fans as they regale in his numerous classic films presentations. He also talked about his life as an independent film producer, especially the making of Late to Lunch. Budget restrictions forced him to become as creative as possible when making the film, but it was all worth it, as Carpenter was able to produce, in his words, a “pure-hearted film that shows good guys and gals don’t finish last—-but first!”
And that was the theme of the big day, one punctuated by a congratulatory letter that Carpenter recently received from Rep. Peter King (R.-Massapequa).
“On the occasion of your Silent Comedy Classics presentation, I commend you for giving generously of your time and talent to our community and the film industry,” the letter stated.
“The numerous accolades you have received during the course of your career are well deserved and your work, especially Smelling Like a Rose, has been an inspiration to many.
“Your passion for silent comedies has brought notoriety to the genre in the community, justifying your title as the Massapequa Movie Man,” the letter concluded.