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If I were a Billionaire I’d buy the Chelsea Hotel…

I just watched a video on the Reuters site about the Hotel Chelsea in NYC being up for sale. While a price on the 120+ year old building has not been set, its history in the world of the arts is unique. Aside from having been home to Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller & Marilyn Monroe, Arthur C. Clarke as he wrote “2001 –  A Space Odyssey”, and hundreds of artists, writers, actors, dancers and musicians, it is the central monument of the Chelsea neighborhood.

When I lived in Chelsea some years ago (1970s), I was a couple of blocks away from the Chelsea Hotel and walked by it on my way to work every day. When I managed exhibitions (among other things) at the Jamaica Arts Center in Queens, I did one show with a curator who lived in the Chelsea Hotel and spent lots of hours there in meetings… a great experience. In the 60s, when developers tried to tear down the Queen Anne style building, New Yorkers campaigned together and saved it by having it declared a National Landmark. To this day, the Chelsea still operates as a hotel with both private apartments and regular hotel rooms.

Now it is for sale, although a price gas not been put on it yet. Hopefully, whoever buys it will continue in its preservation and encourage it to keep supplying a home for artists at work… few of these are left in New York.

Here’s where to go to see the Reuters video:

Kevin McCarthy has died at 96…

Kevin McCarthy, the suave, square-jawed actor who will always be best known as the star of the 1956 science fiction movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” died Saturday at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Mass. He was 96 and lived in Sherman Oaks, Calif. His death was confirmed by his daughter Lillah McCarthy.

Nothing in the NY Times notice said why he was on Cape Cod, but I assume he was vacationing. The Hyannis hospital serves the entire Cape, so he might have been staying in any of the towns from Provincetown to the Canal. One of his daughters, Mary Dabney McCarthy, lives on Cape Cod.

Kevin McCarthy was born on Feb. 15, 1914, in Seattle, the son of Roy Winfield McCarthy and the former Therese Preston. Both parents died in the famous influenza epidemic of 1918… their four children (one of which became the famous writer Mary McCarthy) were sent to live with relatives in Minneapolis. After five years of near-Dickensian mistreatment, described in Ms. McCarthy’s memoirs, the youngsters moved in with their maternal grandfather.

McCarthy went to college at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with the intention of having a career in diplomacy… but at some point he took up acting and went to New York in the late 1930s. His first part was in Abe Lincoln In Illinois.

After serving as a Military Policeman in WWII, he returned to NY to actively pursue a theatrical career. At 35, a veteran of seven Broadway plays,  he was cast as Biff, the shallow, elder son of Willy Loman, in the London stage production of “Death of a Salesman,” Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1949 drama about illusion and the common man. His portrayal of Biff in the 1951 film version earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.

Although Body Snatchers is what most people knew him from during his long life, he never abandoned the stage and did both live and filmed performances for the rest of his life (his last film was 2 years ago.)