Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Mayor of 43rd Street

Dan Frazer
My respect for actors who live their lives "in support" is certainly in play here, as this gent was a common face on TV from the 50s through the 90s.  His most recognizable role was probably as Kojak's boss, a long-suffering police captain saddled with a renegade cop. 

He was equally at home with comedy, appearing in a couple of early Woody Allen films (Take the Money and Run, Bananas) and in a slew of sitcoms. 

He played opposite Sidney Poitier in the film which won the latter his Oscar (Lillies of the Field), and in his later career, was a recurring presence on all three New York based Law and Orders.  That New York connection was very real for Frazer, who was born in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, and maintained close ties to the region for the rest of his life.  After his spell in LA, he returned to the neighborhood, since renamed "Clinton," and was such a regular presence there that he became known as the Mayor of 43rd Street.

My New York "branch" is in that neighborhood, but that's not the only reason Dan Frazer is on my radar.  For a decade beginning in 1986, he played the no-nonsense chief of police on As The World Turns, and has the distinction of playing opposite Helen Wagner, whom I have mentioned before in these pages, and who is in the Guinness Book as playing the same role longer than any other actor. 

(I've also written about the now-defunct soap, and the significance it played in my life.)  On the show, Frazer became the second husband of the afore-mentioned Wagner (astonishingly, this soap's matriarch lasted the full 54 years of the show's run, but had only two husbands), and was at the center of an Alzheimer's storyline which was a groundbreaker at the time.

Dan Frazer died several weeks ago, at the age of 90.

No comments: