- In Pictures
- Meat Market
- Union Square
BY ALBERT AMATEAU | Theater and screen luminaries joined New York politicos at The Players Club on Gramercy Park last week for the U.S. Postal Service’s issue of a stamp honoring the actor Jose Ferrer.
It was a fitting stage for the April 28 launch of the newest “Forever” stamp in the U.S.P.S., Distinguished Americans series. The Puerto Rico-born actor, winner of both a Tony and an Oscar for his stage and screen role as Cyrano de Bergerac, was a member of The Players for 56 years and the club’s president from 1983 until 1991, the year before his death.
Hal Prince, himself winner of 11 Tony Awards as producer and director, recalled that he was 18 and a junior at the University of Pennsylvania when he saw Ferrer playing Cyrano in Philadelphia.
“I was awed,” said Prince, recalling that he found the courage to introduce himself to Ferrer at the stage door and told him that he aspired to become a theater director.
Adam Clayton Powell IV, former assemblymember representing East Harlem spoke about being raised in Santurce, P.R., in a house owned by the Ferrer family.
Frances Sternhagen, a 1973 Tony award winner and featured player in many film and television roles, recalled her friendship with Ferrer and his widow, Stella Magee.
Josie de Guzman, a native of Puerto Rico and twice a Tony Award nominee, recalled being directed by Ferrer in a 1979 musical and remaining a friend of the Ferrer family and Magee.
Christopher Lloyd, known for his character roles in the film “Back to the Future” and the television series “Taxi,” remembered Ferrer as director, mentor and friend.
Former Mayor David Dinkins was among the standing-room-only crowd in The Players, along with Theodore Chapin, chairman of the American Theater Wing board of directors and a Broadway producer.
Sidney Poitier sent a message in tribute, and so did Congressmember Jose Serrano and Mayor Bloomberg.
John Martello, an actor and executive director of The Players, recalled Ferrer’s favorite joke on himself — going onstage one night as Cyrano without the character’s famous long nose, “and nobody noticed the difference.”
Jose Ferrer’s son, Rafael, by his former wife, Rosemary Cluny, said Jose’s father would have appreciated the stamp ceremony.
“My grandfather, Rafael Ferrer, had a stamp collection that he started in 1899 and it’s still in the family,” said Rafael.
Luis Balzac, representing Governor Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico, hailed Ferrer as a product of two cultures, Anglo and Hispanic, and a symbol of the New World.
Jose Ferrer moved to New York with his family at age 6 and passed the admission test to enter Princeton University at the age of 15. He was considered too young to attend and so spent a year in a Swiss boarding school. He entered Princeton the next year as a member of the class of 1933 and joined the Triangle Club, the university theater club.
Triangle Club members came to ceremony last week and sang, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” a song popular when Ferrer was at Princeton.