Harold Pinter nearly killed me. Not with a knife, a bullet, or a karate chop, but with that most deadly of all weapons, a lofty sneer. While I was working at Shepperton Studios in Middlesex, Surrey, England in the late 1970's, I spied Pinter, alone, standing by the bar during a break in the filming of one of his screenplays. A few years before I had worked with John Bury, a great British scenic designer on my Broadway show, The Rothschilds, and John who became a good friend to me, was a close friend of Pinter. A bear of a man with the most delicate, meticulous talent - and a gruff, generous, elegant heart, John had been the designer of most of the Pinter shows for the National Theater for which he had been highly praised for creating sets that revealed the unspoken menace of Pinter's work.
It is, of course, an old story that a greatly accomplished creative aritst can be a boor, a thug, a liar, a nasty piece of work, a vain fop, or what you will. Nevertheless the way we behave in social situations, particularly awkward ones, reveals a lot about who we really are. For more of Sherman Yellen's post on his disagreeable meeting with Harold Pinter and its reverberations, click here.