Other Stuff–Marty

by Lynn on May 19, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

Other Stuff

Meyers MartyMarty

Martin Meyers was many things. He was a devoted husband, a writer, an actor, a curmudgeon, a wit, a walking encyclopaedia about films of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. He was a loyal friend.

I knew Annette first. In the early 1970s I would write fan letters to Harold Prince, enclosing a Tootsie Pop as thanks for directing/producing so many of my favourite shows. Prince would answer occasionally, but more often than not the reply came from Annette, his executive assistant. We got to know each other through the mail. We began to meet when I was in New York, and eventually I met Annette’s husband. In the 1970s Marty began writing the Hardy series of detective novels about Patrick Hardy, a suave detective. The writing is spare, to the point and stylish. I bought every one of them as soon as it was published.

When I was in New York Annette, Marty and I would have Sunday brunch at a restaurant close to the theatre where I’d be seeing a matinee. The conversation was always lively. Marty and Annette wanted a rundown of what I had seen so far that weekend. And the answer couldn’t be a general, “It was OK.” Marty would want details, specifics. He would challenge me. I had to be on my toes.

He could be prickly and impish at the same time. And when he ‘got’ me he’d break out in a huge, toothy smile. At these moments “got ya” really wasn’t necessary. That big smile said it all.

Somewhere in one of our conversations I told them that as a sign of affection, when I least expected it, my father would squeeze one of my knees. For some reason I was sensitive in my knees and when that happened I just shrieked. And one Sunday, when I least expected it, Marty did that too. I doubled over with laughter. It became our ‘thing.’ Annette looked on, bemused at the silliness of it all. He always sent me clippings of articles he thought I’d enjoy from the New York Times, usually about Canada or Toronto, with a handwritten note on the clipping: “Save for Slotkin.” In our e-mail correspondence he just shortened it to “Slot.” I loved that.

After 16 ½ years of working for Hal Prince, Annette had had enough. She went to work on Wall Street as a headhunter. She also began writing murder mysteries involving two Wall Street executive search specialists named Xenia Smith and Leslie Wetzon. Wetzon was an ex Broadway hoofer, and Wetzon was a bone fide hard-nosed Wall Street maven. Murders seemed to happen around these women and they took it upon themselves to solve them. The writing goes like the wind, resulting in a great read.

Annette’s biggest fan and critic was Marty. He had a superb critical eye, a no-nonsense way of getting across his ideas and key points, and only wanted the best from her. When I started writing my Slotkin Letter in hard copy, Jane Alexander got the first issue (since she gave me the idea) and Annette and Marty got the second. Marty was always ready with a comment that was delivered with respect and was almost always right on. His BS detector was infallible. He offered points of style or corrected information that was incorrect, or simply gave me his observation. It was all helpful. Annette was his biggest fan and his protector. A few years ago after our brunch when we had talked about everything and our writing and projects, Marty beamed and said, “I love my life.” And you knew it was true.

The most logical progression was for Marty and Annette to work together on writing projects and so the MAAN MEYERS series of historical mystery books was born. They took place in New York in the 1600s and later and their detective was Pieter Tonneman. Marty’s research into early New York was prodigious. There was nothing he didn’t know about the history of his hometown.

And I don’t think there was anything that he didn’t know about human nature or psychology. He was always watchful of what was going on around him; observant. Always quietly making notes, like a New York Chekhov. He told the story that once he saw Sue Mengers, the power agent on the street (he knew her). She was with a noted movie star. She called Marty over to introduce him to the star. Marty told me that Mengers wasn’t being kind in wanting to introduce him to the star. What she was doing was showing off. I loved that distinction and always remembered it.

In the last few years Marty had trouble with his hearing, but refused to get a hearing aid. His knees gave him grief so he couldn’t do stairs which meant some subway stops were problematic. He had to miss some of our brunches because of mobility issues. Then he developed dementia. This was particularly hard on Annette. Marty was angry and it was understandable. Eventually she had to put him into a facility to give him the best care. He lost weight and his usual sparkle, and sometimes didn’t recognize her. But recently when she went to see him he was lucid, knew her and talked of their life together. Annette sensed that he was saying good bye.

Marty died May 14th, 2014. He was 79. I’ll miss terribly not being able to see him when I’m in New York. But when my knees twitch, or itch, or tickle, I’ll know it’s him.

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