Garry Goodrow: 1933 – 2014

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We were so sad to hear that Garry Goodrow passed away this week. He is such an important piece of The Committee’s story, and while we did get some strong footage of him when he visited SF for last year’s reunion, we didn’t get enough. We look forward to learning more about him, and we will tell his story, but we can no longer get more from him firsthand and that, frankly, sucks.

Garry was an original member of The Committee. He was hired after some success with the Living Theater (he played a major role in the original stage production and film adaptation of Jack Gelber’s Beat era classic, The Connection). Alan Myerson originally wanted Alan Arkin. When Arkin was cast in a show on Broadway, he suggested Goodrow take his place.

If The Committee was a collective of comedian-activists, Garry embodied the role perfectly. He was on the streets as a leader/emcee for the Vietnam Day march in Oakland in 1965. He was a go-to emcee for every kind of counter-culture benefit and rock show throughout the sixties. In the early seventies, when Jane Fonda started the Fuck The Army (FTA) tour, Garry signed on to replace the overworked, burned-out Elliott Gould. Lindsay Goss, a graduate student who is studying the FTA tour, provided us with a package of research that she compiled, which included this gem from the May 10, 1971 edition of the Monterey Peninsula Herald:

Goodrow, formerly of the San Francisco cabaret troupe The Committee, listened to a jet taking off from Monterey Peninsula airport and commented “In many places in the world, that sound means you have to take cover, you have to get your children in this bomb shelter or they’ll be bombed or strafed or napalmed. That’s why I’m in the show. You have to do something.”

After The Committee, Goodrow was cast in National Lampoon’s Lemmings, the pioneering stage show that brought him together with John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Christopher Guest, Tony Hendra, Sean Kelly, and others. With that show, he achieved a track record that no one could really match at the time.

Of course he kept playing hard in his later years, reuniting with old friends in Sills & Company shows and spots on WKRP in Cincinnati, and establishing a solid career as a character actor in Dirty Dancing and other films throughout the eighties.  Garry lived the role of a comedian embedded in the world, reacting to current events, and simply giving a shit; and that inspires us. The 21st century needs more activists like Garry Goodrow. We hope, as we help tell the story of Garry and The Committee, that more people start to give a shit, do something about it, and start to live in the world.

The man was an original and he is missed.

– Sam Shaw & Jamie Wright

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(Michael Dare polaroid used with permission.)

8 thoughts on “Garry Goodrow: 1933 – 2014

    • Of course, Georgia. Really enjoyed the time we spent with Garry – pretty much a whole afternoon at Vesuvio’s before sending him back home from the reunion last year. A world class storyteller and fascinating mind. Our condolences.

  1. Georgia,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dad (he was a great guy). It was great to see him in TV shows and in the movies over the years. My cousin who is an actor in France is in the play of Dirty Dancing, I said, “Hey I know someone who was in the movie.”
    So I did a search for your dad to see how he was doing…. and it brought me here. My thoughts and prayers to you and your brother (sorry about being late with this).

    David Bellard – Berkeley, CA

  2. I was in a film that Garry and Morgan Upton were in, by Phil Kaufman, shot at the Dunsmuir mansion in Oakland late ’74, released early 1975, possibly never got distribution or was suppressed by Kaufman, though I did go to its grand opening with my ex, who was friends with Phil. It was fun hanging out with Garry and Morgan on set, both funny as hell; I’d seen Garry in Shirley Clarke’s “The Connection” in college and again at SFMOMA a few years ago. Ernie the junkie….

    I have the name of the film in a resume somewhere but can’t find it. I asked Kaufman directly about it later and he blew me off, though it seemed to anger him; in denial, it seems.

    I was a ’60s friend of Gayle Howard, a dancer at the time (1963) and the girlfriend of a Committee actor named John (Brent?)– know about him? Anyone remember Gayle? She was a theatre director in Mill Valley last I heard.

    Thanks so much for your tribute. If there are any events scheduled around your doc. I’d love to come. I’m so sorry he’s gone. I’ve tried to contact him for years but didn’t have this site then. There’s another site with all his film credits. It has a “Fore Play” from ’75 that may be the film. I just wrote them but the message was lost. The cite’s below this one; see “film credits.”

    Ken Scudder
    335 Green
    San Francisco 94133
    415-397-8821

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    • Hi Ken………I am Gayle of the time frame you mentioned, connected with Gary, John, The Comittiee and San Francisco Contemporary Dancers. What a shock to be mentioned in connection with Gary and John……soooooooo moving. Thank you………and if you like….reply

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