100 New Yorkers of the 1970s

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Copyright (C) 2005 by Max Millard

100 New Yorkers of the 1970s

By Max Millard

Dedication: to Bruce Logan, who made this book possible.

Copyright 2005 by Max Millard



The interviews for this book were conducted from May 1977 to December 1979. They appeared as cover stories for the __TV Shopper__, a free weekly paper that was distributed to homes and businesses in New York City. Founded by Bruce Logan in the mid-1970s as the __West Side TV Shopper__, it consisted of TV listings, advertisements, and two full-page stories per issue. One was a "friendly" restaurant review of an advertiser; the other was a profile of a prominent resident of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The honoree's face appeared on the cover, framed by a TV screen.

The formula was successful enough so that in 1978, Bruce began publishing the __East Side TV Shopper__ as well. My job was to track down the biggest names I could find for both papers, interview them, and write a 900-word story. Most interviewees were in the arts and entertainment industry -- actors, singers, dancers, writers, musicians, news broadcasters and radio personalities. Bruce quickly recruited me to write the restaurant reviews as well. During my two and a half years at the paper, I wrote about 210 interviews. These are my 100 favorites of the ones that survive.

These stories represent my first professional work as a journalist. I arrived in New York City in November 1976 at age 26, hungry for an opportunity to write full-time after spending six years practicing my craft at college and community newspapers in New England. I had just started to sell a few stories in Maine, but realized I would have to move to a big city if I was serious about switching careers from social worker to journalist.

My gigs as an unpaid writer for small local papers included a music column for the __East Boston Community News__ and a theater column for the _Wise Guide_ in Portland, Maine. I had learned the two most important rules of journalism -- get your facts straight and meet your deadlines. I had taught myself Pitman's shorthand and could take notes at 100 words a minute. So I felt ready to make the leap if someone gave me a chance.

Full of hope, I quit my job in rural Maine as a senior citizens' aide, drove to New York, sold my car, moved into an Upper West Side apartment with two aspiring opera singers, and began to look for work.

One aspect of the New York personality, I soon observed, was that the great often mingled freely with the ordinary. At the Alpen Pantry Cafe in Lincoln Center, where I worked briefly, David Hartman, host of _Good Morning America_, came in for his coffee every morning and waited in line like everyone else. John Lennon was said to walk his Westside neighborhood alone, and largely undisturbed.

The other side of the New York mentality was shown by nightclubs surrounded by velvet ropes, where uniformed doormen stood guard like army sentries. Disdaining the riffraff, they picked out certain attractive individuals milling outside and beckoned them to cut through the crowd, pay their admission and enter. The appearance of status counted for much, and many people who lived on 58th Street, one block from Central Park, got their mail through the back entrance so they could claim the higher class address of Central Park West.

In early 1977 my shorthand skills got me a part-time job at the home of Linda Grover, a scriptwriter for the TV soap opera _The Doctors_. On the day I met her, she dictated a half-hour script to me, winging it while glancing at an outline. My trial of fire was to transcribe it, type it up that night and turn it in the next morning for revisions. I got little sleep, but completed the job. After that I became her secretary.

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⏰ Last updated: Mar 16, 2008 ⏰

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