The title of this Slice was originally going to be “Drew Cary” since I originally thought this fantastic mural was on Cary Avenue. Instead, it’s on its western extension, Post Avenue, where it meets Port Richmond Avenue.
I had gone past it for years on the S44 bus, which runs a convoluted route from the ferry through New Brighton, Livingston and Port Richmond where it meets Staten Island’s aorta, (Port) Richmond Avenue, and follows it south through Bulls Head, New Springville, to the massive Staten Island Mall where it meets just about every other mid-island Staten Island bus route.
The mural appears to be about 20 years old and depicts virtually every showbiz luminary, the biggest names in the biz, seated in a theatre waiting for a movie to begin. (The closest theater by the way is the old Ritz, about a block away, which like many elderly theaters, booked rock acts before finally expiring. That’s how the Kinks and Jethro Tull came to play Staten Island in the Super 70s.)
The mural appears to have been left unfinished, with images toward the top still sepia-colored and not as detailed as those toward the bottom. Still, for a 20 year-old work that is out in the sun most of the afternoon and has been under assault (though not as much as you might think) from neighborhood taggers, it’s in amazing shape. Here we see Mae West, John Wayne, Brando as Corleone, Al Jolson, the Marx Brothers, the quartet from Wizard of Oz, CP30 (who would have been right at home in that movie, wouldn’t you agree?) and a bunch I don’t recognize.
Among those I know here are Bette Davis, W.C. Fields (if you’re gonna sit in front take off that hat, willlya, pal?), Shirley Temple, Charlie Chaplin, Mickey Rooney, Cary Grant, Shelley Winters, Miss Piggy, Elton John, and the Fab Four. But quite a few I don’t know…
Forgotten Fan Jeff Morris: I think I can make out Doris Day, Tony Randall, Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder, possibly Jack Klugman and… could it be David Hasselhoff?
A tagger blotted out a good deal of this panel, but he didn’t expunge Jimmy (The Schnozzola) Durante, Alfred Hitchcock, Lucille Ball, and Liza Minnelli.
Hello Humphrey Bogart, Henry Winkler, Ron Howard, John Astin, Sam Kinison, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Mick Jagger, Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Jayne Meadows, Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Winston Churchill (what’s he doing here?), and again, a few people I don’t know.
I’m reminded of the (swingin’ Sixties farcical group) Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s great “Intro and the Outro” which features mainly obscure British personalities…
Over there, Eric Clapton, ukulele…. Hi Eric!
On my left Sir Kenneth Clark, bass sax…. A great honour, sir.
Nice to see Incredible Shrinking Man on euphonium,
Drop out with Peter Scott on duck call,
Hearing from you later Casanova, on horn,
Yeah! Digging General de Gaulle on accordion….
Really wild, General! Thank you, sir.
Roy Rogers on Trigger…
…but you get the idea. Here’s the annotated version.
Alan Alda, Bette, Kirk, Liz
Lucy, Miss Piggy & Elton, the Gipper
Sam Kinison and … Vince McMahon?!?
Do any Port Richmondites or Staten Islanders know the genesis of this work? Let me know.
But that’s not all. Port Richmond, a neighborhood I already have reviewed, is a bottomless well of Forgottenania. We see that at other corners of Post Avenue and Port Richmond Avenue…
This turreted house with huge dormers is directly opposite the mural. It has a for sale sign, and of course, we hope it won’t soon be demolished, but in the NYC of 2007, that may be a futile wish.
Terra cotta sunflowers, perhaps.
The front entrances seem to have been added several years ago when the house was chopped up into apartments.
The painted ads at the top of the mural were, perhaps, done by the same artist. Some refer to “Richmond Avenue” which was changed to “Port Richmond Avenue” between Richmond Terrace and Forest Avenue around 1980, give or take a couple of years.
And again in the super Seventies, Port Richmond Avenue received a set of “futuristic” lampposts and signposts which look rather dated today, which is “retro-crazy.” I’d bet that Port Richmond Avenue will soon get its own set of retro-Corvingtons.