From bullfighting to classic radio, Kevin Gordon has done it all

After talking to Kevin Gordon and hearing him have fun discussing his various interests and accomplishments, I began to think of him as Clark Kent of Radio Philadelphia.

During the day, from 14:00 to 18:00 on weekdays at WRTI (90.1 FM), Gordon is a soft, gentle host of classical music, in which every day at 17:00 Beethoven and Mozart play on the theme of Elmer Bernstein or Bernard Herman. from the movie.

Away from the microphone and the impeccable pronunciation of names from several languages, Gordon is a conscientious scholar who receives commissions to paint portraits hanging in some of the most beautiful institutions, a veteran of non-Broadway acting, bestselling author and illustrator and world traveler. and one of its landmark events – bullfighting.

Yes, the man representing Mahler and Chopin was in the ring against the animals in anger and running with the bulls in Pamplona.

All of these interests and professions begin with Gordon’s youth and continue through life, which now stands at 68 years old. The best part is that Gordon never admires, but always strives to explore activities, make and retain significant friends in every field along the way.

A broadcasting professional as he is, Gordon begins our phone time with an accurate list of how his entertainment began, which turned into classes: “As for radio, I started in high school; my father was a portrait painter, etc., but soon relaxes and is in everyone’s interest with wit and stories about people he met along the way, including the late comedian Jonathan Winters and the late influential businessman David Koch.

The least attention is paid to the radio. This, with painting and Spain, is one of the leitmotifs of Gordon’s existence, beginning, as he said, in high school, and continuing, no matter what else happened in his life.

Well, perhaps interrupted for short periods as he spent several months in Spain.

“I was on NBC radio in the days when there were also Steve Allen, Don Parda and Dr. Ruth (Westheimer). It was fun to be around all of these individuals and enjoy their minds.

“My role was to spend a classic hour and I became known as a‘ classic person ’. When radio changes, networks disappear and everything becomes more corporate, I stay in New York and go to the New York Times station, WQXR, where my knowledge and love of classical music pays off and I can meet a few important people in it. ”

Eventually Gordon will write a biography and study by longtime Cleveland Symphony Orchestra conductor George Zell, whose interpretations are still considered sterling.

The article that Gordon wrote about Maestro Sell appears in the anthology he proudly talks about, including works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, so he considers himself in good company.

As mentioned, painting was a way for Gordon to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“Basically, I’m commissioned to draw gray-haired men in blue suits for universities and the corporation’s headquarters,” Gordon said.

One of his notable and quite detailed portraits is of the famous woman, mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark.

When I notice that Gordon’s painting of Miss Higgins Clark resembles John Singer Sargent, he says, “My hero!” and describes Sargent as a talent that is so great that he is “not human”.

“We had a great time during and between the sessions,” Gordon said. “I was such a familiar presence in her house, I really felt at home. I knew I appreciated it when I was given privileges in the kitchen. ”

Talking to the people he paints is the leaven of Gordon’s experience. He says the late David Koch, who was often humiliated by the way conservatives pushed George Soros, was an interesting, polite man in an environment where politics and beliefs could be mentioned but were not in the spotlight.

The bullfight first arose when Gordon was 8 years old.

“I took a book from the library on the subject and was fascinated.”

So fascinated, Gordon wrote a letter to the author of the book, Barnaby Conrad, who wrote back and became a close friend.

At age 19, Gordon traveled to what has become a frequent destination in Spain to become a bullfighter.

As usual, he became friends. One of them was the famous Torrero Antonio Ardonez, who was Ernest Hemingway’s model for the film “Dangerous Season”.

“I enjoyed my time in the ring,” says Gordon, “but I quickly came to the conclusion that I was an amateur and the bulls were professionals.”

He spent several years in Madrid, Pamplona and other Spanish cities, as Gordon kept the habit of meeting people wherever he went.

His relationship with Barnaby Conrad continued. Gordon visited him regularly in Santa Barbara. Conrad once said he had an unexpected guest for dinner. It turned out to be Jonathan Winters, who, according to Gordon, was irreparably funny, but could also be serious.

“Jonathan was also a painter, and I asked him if he reveals more of himself on stage or on canvas. He responded as I expected, saying, “I reveal myself more in painting.” On stage I play a role. I am a character, not myself. When I draw, I speak freely. “

Kevin Gordon will never skimp on expression. In addition to everything else, he co-authored with H. Paul Jeffers the best-selling book The Good Cigar, which became a 1996 hit.

The hall is perfect for news at 10 p.m.

Gray Hall has been part of Channel 6’s “Action News” team for almost seven years, but these days he’s strongly coming in as the ABC 6 news anchor provides Channel 17 at 10pm on weekdays and as a fill for a new presenter in 23:00 Rick Williams.

Hall has a presence, balance and individuality that has long been lacking, even in a market like Philadelphia that boasts several excellent anchors, or on Channel 6, where Matt O’Donnell and Brian Taff are among the leaders.

The hall is businesslike but friendly. He also seems to be familiar with the stories he tells, and I am especially looking for and admiring this trait.

Williams is the successor to Jim Gardner, who resigned at 11pm in late 2021 and will fully retire later this year. Hall, based on his speeches so far, needs to be included in a conversation with O’Donnell, Taff and Sarah Blumquist about who might ever replace Williams as the main presenter of “Action News”.

It’s all premature. Williams only began his run at 11pm and did not start driving at 6 p.m.

The fact is that Channel 6 has another impressive anchor in its stable. Hall didn’t necessarily go unnoticed in the face of his recent host duties, but his new role at 10pm, once Tafa, reveals talents that went unnoticed and promise good for both the station and Hall.

Remembering Ray Allen

Ray Allen may not have been famous, but a full-time stage and television actress who got Tony in 1971 for a supporting role in a play and died last week at age 95, has three memorable TV commercials that could make her instantly cognitive. .

One of them is a recurring role. Two are guest appearances on popular TV shows.

“The Sopranos” will always be one of the most historic shows of all time, because it has led to the fact that non-network, and especially cable series have become important.

Allen regularly appeared in the role of Quintina Blandet, sister of Tony Soprano’s mother, Libya (the late Nancy Marchand, whose death led to Libya’s death), and Tony Blandet’s mother or Tony B. (Steve Buscemi), parole with resentment at Tony S., whose attempt immediately after prison, like his continued existence, was short-lived.

Allen was not Quinn’s first aunt. Barbara Andres was, but Allen the actress is more associated with the role.

My favorite of the two significant guest appearances is in another historical program, All in the Family, in which Allen plays Edith Banker’s wealthy cousin, Amelia, who gives Edith an expensive fur coat that Archie objects to. (In subsequent seasons, Amelia is played by Elizabeth Wilson.)

The duel between Amelia and Archie is invaluable and sets up for the next visit of another of Edith’s cousins, Maud Findley. We all know what’s going on with that. Isabel Sanford appears in Amelia’s first film “Everyone in the Family” as Louise Jefferson.

Another memorable TV twist is 2006’s Gray’s Anatomy, a gorgeous play in which Allen plays an elderly woman who visits another in a hospital with a girlfriend played by the late Betty Garrett.

Allen got her Tony in 1971 in Paul Zindel’s now obscure play “And Miss Reardan Drinks A Little.” In which she played a colleague of the main character in the original Broadway production, which included Bill Macy as her husband and Nancy Marchand as Miss Reardan’s sister. (He starred in Philadelphia’s Playhouse in the Park with Sandy Dennis in the lead role.)

Allen is also known for the original stage and film role of the annoying reporter Gloria Thorpe, who sings “Without Shoes Joe from Hannibal, Mo.” In the musical “The Cursed Yankees”.

Bobby Rydel is a true legend

Bobby Rydel visited the Upper Darby-Sellers Library to discuss and sign his 2017 book “Teenage Idol on the Rocks”.

Television wasn’t Bobby Rydell’s main affair, but any column in a Philadelphia newspaper would be a mistake not to mention that he went away from non-COVID-19 pneumonia at age 79 last week.

Rydel had great fun since childhood, making the Billboard hit as a teenager and was the youngest to ever head the famous New York Copa nightclub at 19 years old.

Above all, he amicably attended hundreds of concerts and events in Philadelphia. Always cordial and easy to communicate, Rydel was great at interviewing and having fun talking to him, even if he was just part of the crowd who enjoyed the performance or event.

Many of his Cameo-Parkway hits from the late 50’s and early 60’s – “Wild One”, “We’ve Got Love”, “Volare”, “Kissin ‘Time”, etc. – and he earned a solid reputation as Hugo Peabody against Anne-Margret and Jesse Pearson in the film version of “Bye-bye, Bird.”

A real sign of Rydel’s fame and immortality is that Danny Zuko and others attend high school in “Grease,” named after him.

Growing up in Philadelphia and meeting Rydel several times, I always considered him young, even as he got older, and considered him, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian the top three singers to survive.

Alas, if you discard the “Lubricant”, Rydel is deadly. His death affects every Philadelphian and everyone who has heard the truly versatile voice of the singer, which goes beyond teenage idolatry, lifelong fandom and time in general.

Rest in peace, Bobby. You will always be remembered as one of the best.

Neil Zoren’s column appears every Monday.

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