Tuesday, December 09, 2008
GL FLASHBACK: FREDERICK "PAPA" BAUER
The youngest Bauer currently living in Springfield, Jude Cooper-Bauer, is part of a long and distinguished family that includes his dad Rick, his grandfather Ed, his great-grandfather Bill, and his great-great grandfather, the original Frederick Bauer.
The role was originated on the radio by Theodore von Eltz in 1948, but by 1949, it had been assumed by Theo Goetz, who would go on to play it on both radio and television for twenty-three years.
An Austrian-born Jew, Goetz had served in the Army during World War I, was captured by the Russians and served time in a Siberian prisoner of war camp. In 1940, he fled Hitler's Austria and managed to catch the last Italian ship to America before Mussolini declared war. He had abandoned a very succesfull career with the State Theater of Vienna and arrived in the US speaking no English, knowing no one, with the equivalent of $2.00 in cash. He hit the movie theaters to learn his adopted country's language and by 1942 spoke it well enough to participate in a radio play by Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Vincent Benet entitled They Burnt The Books. It premiered on the eighth anniversary of Nazi Germany's first public book burning. (At the time, at least one journalist invoked Heinrich Heine's prediction of 100 years earlier, "Where one burns books, one will soon burn people." No one paid much attention.) Goetz's fellow European refugee Stephan Schnabel also participated in the radio drama. Schnabel would go on to play Dr. Stephen Jackson on GL in 1965. Jackson's daughter Leslie, would marry both Mike and Ed Bauer, and mother Ed's only son, Rick.
Goetz's first soap opera role was on the radio version of Young Doctor Malone, though years later he was quoted as saying, "God wanted me to play Papa Bauer."
The old world patriarch, so close to Goetz' real-life personality, resonated deeply with viewers. When Papa Bauer celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday on the air, fans flooded CBS Studios with close to 40,000 letters and telegrams. The actor burst into tears upon seeing all the good wishes.
He said, "I get so many loving letters. I think Papa fills a great need. Here there is a father, an old European kind of father, who is a worry-wart, who loves his family. Many of the audience don't know what it could be, a love between father and children."
A P&G executive was quoted at the time as observing, "Theo didn't realize how much people loved him. He was extremely moved by this outpouring. He saw himself as a nobody who had come to this country, learned the language, and did his work. He was a very humble man and when all these thousands of people he didn't know wished him well, he was so honored."
Theo Goetz died in 1972 and on February 27, 1973, Guiding Light aired a memorial service for Papa Bauer which served as a memorial for his beloved portrayer, as well.
Mart Hulswit, in character as grandson Ed, eulogized, "He would never let us call him a wise man. He would only say that if you live a long time, you live so much that you begin to have an understanding of human events -- but no more than that. He believed in people, in the basic goodness of people. Sometimes we'd argue with him. We'd say, "The basic goodness of some people, Papa." But he'd shake his head and he'd say, "It's there, God put it there in all of us. But sometimes - in some of us - it never has a chance to bloom, not even a little sprout."
That basic goodness in people, that brotherhood of man was, according to GL creator Irna Phillips, precisely what her show was about.
Posted by Alina Adams at 6:03 AM