Julian Beck (1925-1985)

“Turned at door to say good -bye to Julian Beck, Medical Arts Center West 57th street Manhattan, October 1984 wife actress Judith Malina and trouper Hanon of their Living Theater by his bed. Cancer of abdominal wall, yet he rose for another year of stage works, grave in Zurich to declaim the latter’s statement of the state as jail of human spirit, smoke a joint and break the laws of death.” (Ginsberg caption.) photo c Allen Ginsberg Estate

The actor-director, poet, painter, (co-founder of “The Living Theater“), Julian Beck died on this day, September 14, 26 years ago [ 2020 – now 35 years ago]. Allen took this memorable shot a year earlier, when he made a visit to his “57th Street New York hospital room”. Beck’s “stomach-abdomen lining cancer allowed remission for the next year [1984-5] while he made films & video & theater & books from Zurich to Miami”, Allen recalls. “Death is the ultimate corruption”, he (Beck) apparently announced, on that momentous day of his visit.

For documentary record of a (the) more animated Beck, we are grateful to CB Highberger’s footage of a 1975 production of “Turning The Earth – A Legacy of Cain” (an open-air performance held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).

For more vintage, ’60’s, Living Theater footage, here‘s a clip (courtesy Jay Babcock’s late-lamented Arthur magazine) from the DVD – “Paradise Now: The Living Theater In Amerika”

And here’s Julian and Judith Malina in an excerpt from Sheldon Rochlin and Maxine Harris’ “Signals Through The Flames” (1983), speaking on two classic early productions, Jack Gelber’s “The Connection” and Kenneth H Brown’s “The Brig”.

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