[Dixielandjazz] R.I.P. Hal Schaefer

Marek Boym marekboym at gmail.com
Thu Dec 13 15:20:49 PST 2012

Strange that the late Hal Shaefer was a "MODERN jazz" compser!
I have a CD of his playing, and he does not sound a modernist.
May he rest in peace.

On 13 December 2012 20:10, Robert Ringwald <rsr at ringwald.com> wrote:
> Hal Schaefer, Jazz Pianist and Marilyn Monroe Friend, Dies at 87
> by Bruce Weber
> New York Times, December 13, 2012
> On Nov. 5, 1954, not long after Marilyn Monroe filed for divorce from Joe DiMaggio,
> DiMaggio was having dinner with Frank Sinatra when he heard, probably from a private
> investigator, that if he went to a certain apartment house on Waring Avenue in West
> Hollywood, he'd find his wife in the arms of another man.
> There are different accounts of what happened later that night, but what is certain
> is that a party of men, including DiMaggio and Sinatra, showed up at the address
> and someone broke down the door of the ostensible love nest, terrifying the woman
> who lived there, Florence Kotz -- sometimes identified as Florence Kotz Ross -- who
> was in bed by herself.
> "Mrs. Ross was fast asleep about 11 p.m. when five or six men suddenly battered down
> the back door to her apartment, tearing it from its hinges and leaving glass strewn
> on the floor," The Los Angeles Times reported, adding, "A bright flash of light was
> shone in her eyes and she was confronted with a number of men, some of whom seemed
> to be carrying an instrument which at first sight she believed to be an ax."
> The incident, which came to be known as "the wrong door raid," resulted in a lawsuit
> filed by Mrs. Ross against Sinatra, DiMaggio and four others, which was settled for
> $7,500. And where was Monroe? A female friend of hers claimed at the time that they
> had been together that evening, but years later, Hal Schaefer, a jazz pianist who
> was also Monroe's vocal coach and who had become her confidant and romantic partner,
> admitted in interviews that he and Monroe were trysting in an apartment just a few
> yards away.
> "We were very close to making love; I don't remember the stage we were at, but I
> would say half-dressed," Mr. Schaefer recalled. He added: "And all of a sudden for
> some reason, Marilyn got these vibrations, and we went over to the window and saw
> this group standing across the street, one of whom was Joe DiMaggio and another was
> Frank Sinatra. They all came en masse and broke this door in, demolished it. We scrambled
> to get out the back way, and we made it, luckily."
> Mr. Schaefer died on Saturday at 87 at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A friend,
> Charles Bryant, said the cause was congestive heart failure.
> In his professional life as well as his personal one, Mr. Schaefer was often the
> least famous person in the room; his musical career was substantial but largely uncelebrated.
> A former prodigy who was inspired by the clean, tumbling melodic lines of Art Tatum,
> Mr. Schaefer played with big bands led by Benny Carter and Harry James and was the
> accompanist for Peggy Lee, Billy Eckstine, Vic Damone and other singers. Before he
> was 21 he led a trio that performed at the intermission of Duke Ellington concerts.
> He was also an arranger and a modern jazz composer and for more than 50 years performed
> and recorded as a soloist and as a leader of small ensembles and jazz orchestras.
> "A romantic with a rhythmic soul," John S. Wilson of The New York Times called Mr.
> Schaefer after a performance at the Kool Jazz Festival in New York in 1982. "Mr.
> Schaefer is very much a mainstream pianist, but he has his own way of looking at
> the mainstream, enlivening the relatively standard repertory that he played with
> fresh and entertaining ideas."
> Mr. Schaefer probably made his biggest imprint as an arranger and vocal coach in
> Hollywood, where he often worked with the choreographer Jack Cole. He coached Monroe
> through "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," her signature number in the 1953 movie
> "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (he arranged the music as well), and Jane Russell, who
> also starred in that film. He also worked on other movies with Mitzi Gaynor, Betty
> Grable and Judy Garland. He wrote film scores for "The Money Trap," a 1965 police
> drama with Glenn Ford, Elke Sommer and Rita Hayworth, and "The Amsterdam Kill," a
> 1977 thriller with Robert Mitchum.
> Harold Herman Schaefer -- he legally changed his name to Hal -- was born in Queens
> on July 22, 1925. His father, Louis, was a housepainter who loved jazz, kept a player
> piano in the house and taught himself to play ragtime by slowing down the mechanism
> so that he could memorize where to place his fingers. Young Hal attended the High
> School of Music and Art in Manhattan before he began playing professionally at hotels
> in the Catskills.
> Mr. Schaefer's first marriage ended in divorce. His wife of many years, Brenda, died
> about 10 years ago, his brother, Robert, said. A sister, Eve, died two years ago,
> and a daughter, Katie, died this year. In addition to his brother, Mr. Schaefer is
> survived by a grandson.
> Mr. Schaefer's romance with Monroe did not leave him unaffected. After the "wrong
> door" episode, he was reportedly followed and threatened in anonymous phone calls,
> and though he remained deeply in love with her, he said, he had understood that he
> would not be able to hold onto her. On July 27, 1955, he tried to take his own life,
> he said, by washing down sleeping pills and Benzedrine with typewriter cleaning fluid.
> "It seemed overwhelming to me," he said. "I was still a young man, and I couldn't
> really handle it. And I thought the only way out was for me to disappear."
> Monroe came to see him in the hospital, but their relationship flagged as he recovered.
> "Marilyn was an unsettled soul," Mr. Schaefer said. "She could never come to rest
> anyplace. So her falling in love with somebody I don't think would ever have any
> long-range stability to it."
> -30
> -Bob Ringwald
> www.ringwald.com
> Amateur (ham) Radio Operator K6YBV
> 916/ 806-9551
> "Jesus loves you."
> A nice gesture in church but a terrible thing to hear in a Mexican prison.
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