Peter Kastner, 64: Actor recalled for role as rebel

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King Daevid MacKenzie

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Sep 20, 2008, 5:15:49 PM9/20/08
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Estranged from famous Toronto family, he found fame early in movies,
sitcoms and
Broadway

Sep 20, 2008

Martin Knelman - Toronto Star
Entertainment Columnist

Peter Kastner - who will always be remembered as the juvenile delinquent
rebelling against his upper-middle-class Canadian parents in the 1965
surprise
hit Nobody Waved Goodbye - died suddenly Thursday night while driving
his car in
downtown Toronto.

The cause was apparently a heart attack. He was less than two weeks shy
of his
65th birthday.

Kastner achieved stardom early, beginning as a child actor in the early
days of
Canadian TV and winding up in Hollywood as the star of Francis Ford
Coppola's
1966 comedy You're a Big Boy Now.

But after starring in a disastrous ABC sitcom, The Ugliest Girl in Town, in
which he played a young man disguised as a young woman, his career
tanked, and
his life story turned into a bizarre twist on Sunset Boulevard, with
Kastner
turning into an updated Canadian male incarnation of Norma Desmond, the
deluded
former star of silent movies.

After moving back to Toronto from the U.S. a few years ago, Kastner played
coffee houses (including Free Times Café) and comedy clubs (including
Yuk Yuks)
with a one-man show. He not only milked the irony of his own career
crash but
attacked his mother, the late Rose Kastner, resulting in a bitter
estrangement
from his three siblings and other members of the family.

"We all adored him when we were growing up," says his brother John,
Gemini and
Emmy-winning documentary director. "He was hugely talented and seemed
blessed by
the gods. But he left home at 18, and we don't know why he became so
troubled.
We just did not recognize the Peter Kastner of the last decades.

"We were all estranged from him, but we wished him well. He seemed to be
mired
in a bitter, angry attack on the family that loved him so much. And in
our view,
it was full of lies, especially about our mother. We couldn't understand
it."

Peter was the second of four children who grew up in the family home
backing
onto a Forest Hill ravine. Their parents, prominent leftists, were in the
printing and publishing business.

Peter's older sister, Susan, was a Star staff writer for many years.
John, who
followed in Peter's footsteps as an actor early on, went on to a
distinguished
career as a film producer-director. Their younger sister, Kathy
Kastner-Berns,
worked for a time as host of a Toronto CBC current-affairs show.

With encouragement from Rose, Peter gained acclaim as an amateur in the
Dominion
Drama Festival and was spotted by a CBC casting director who gave him
his big
break in a children's drama called Emil and the Detectives. He remained
a busy
child actor and, at age 18, starred in the popular Canadian variety show
Time of
Your Life.

Nobody Waved Goodbye, directed by Don Owen, was supposed to be a
National Film
Board documentary but became an improvised drama with Kastner earning
acclaim
for his performance as an endearing, misunderstood teenage rebel. The
movie had
a fresh, authentic flavour, and Kastner's performance combined bite with
charm.

When it played the New York Film Festival in 1965, it was called
"marvellous" by
The New Yorker's Brendan Gill and was chosen one of the year's best by
critic
Judith Crist.

The next year Kastner was starring in Coppola's coming-of-age comedy,
with a
supporting cast that included such icons as Rip Torn and Geraldine Page.
That
performance came close to landing Peter the lead in The Graduate - but Mike
Nichols gave the role instead to Dustin Hoffman. Kastner also had a
success on
Broadway in The Playroom opposite Karen Black, who was his girlfriend
for some
time.

His ABC sitcom, The Ugliest Girl in Town, made him some serious money
but turned
out to be a career-killer he could never live down. It was high on TV
Guide's
list of the 50 worst series ever made.

In the 1970s and 1980s Kastner appeared in minor movie roles and acted
frequently on episodic TV series including King of Kensington. But his
career
was on life support by the time he made his last movie, Unfinished
Business -
Owen's sequel to Nobody Waved Goodbye - in 1984.

"He has been a mythic figure for much of my life," says Jamie Kastner, his
nephew, "but I have this sense of someone with huge talent who somehow went
awry."

Last year when Jamie's film Kike Like Me was being screened at Hot Docs
and the
Toronto Jewish Film Festival, his uncle Peter distributed flyers
promoting his
own one-man show, including a video attacking the Kastner family. The flyer
featured the Star's glowing obit for Rose, along with a promise to tell
the real
truth about his mother.

Besides his siblings, Kastner leaves his second wife, Jenny.

http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/502845

http://tinyurl.com/4qbs66
--

kdm
http://kingdaevid.podbean.com/
http://amp.az/home/User/KingDaevid
peace 'n oranges...

Kris Baker

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Sep 20, 2008, 5:39:56 PM9/20/08
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"King Daevid MacKenzie" <KingD...@cox.net>
wrote in message news:rKdBk.11341$Il....@newsfe09.iad...

> Estranged from famous Toronto family, he found fame early
> in movies, sitcoms and Broadway
>
> Sep 20, 2008
>
> Martin Knelman - Toronto Star
> Entertainment Columnist
>
> Peter Kastner -
>
> Kastner achieved stardom early, beginning as a child actor in the early
> days of
> Canadian TV and winding up in Hollywood as the star of Francis Ford
> Coppola's
> 1966 comedy You're a Big Boy Now.

Ahhhh....NOW I recognize him.

Thanks.

Geez....some of us are getting really old.

Kris

Brad Ferguson

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Sep 20, 2008, 6:02:45 PM9/20/08
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In article <rKdBk.11341$Il....@newsfe09.iad>, King Daevid MacKenzie
<KingD...@cox.net> wrote:

> But after starring in a disastrous ABC sitcom, The Ugliest Girl in Town

I suppose it adds to Kastner's disaster that when I saw his name in the
headers, I recognized it instantly, and "The Ugliest Girl in Town" was
the only thing I thought of. (It's only been forty years. Eventually,
people will forget.)

IMDb says his co-star, Patricia Brake, is still working more or less
steadily.

Jed

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Sep 20, 2008, 6:07:17 PM9/20/08
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On Sat, 20 Sep 2008 14:15:49 -0700, King Daevid MacKenzie
<KingD...@cox.net> wrote:

>Estranged from famous Toronto family, he found fame early in movies,
>sitcoms and
>Broadway
>
>Sep 20, 2008
>
>Martin Knelman - Toronto Star
>Entertainment Columnist
>
>Peter Kastner - who will always be remembered as the juvenile delinquent
>rebelling against his upper-middle-class Canadian parents in the 1965
>surprise
>hit Nobody Waved Goodbye - died suddenly Thursday night while driving
>his car in
>downtown Toronto.

Thanks. I had long wondered why Kastner seemed to have diappeared so
completely after You're a Big Boy Now. I enjoyed that film, but I was
more a fan of the Lovin' Spoonful's sountrack.

La N

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Sep 20, 2008, 7:37:56 PM9/20/08
to

"King Daevid MacKenzie" <KingD...@cox.net> wrote in message
news:rKdBk.11341$Il....@newsfe09.iad...

> Estranged from famous Toronto family, he found fame early in movies,
> sitcoms and
> Broadway
>
> Sep 20, 2008
>
> Martin Knelman - Toronto Star
> Entertainment Columnist
>
>
Awww .... geeze ... I remember a couple or so years ago making a WEHT Peter
Kastner? post in this group. IIRC, it was Charlene who did some research
and found the answer for me.

How sad. I *loved* the movie YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW and, as a result, got
hooked on the Lovin' Spoonful song "Darlin' Be Home Soon".

- nilita

Laurie Mann

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Sep 20, 2008, 8:08:23 PM9/20/08
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He was a good example of an acting one-hit wonder. You're a Big Boy
Now was a terrific movie.

Message has been deleted

jenn...@sympatico.ca

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Sep 21, 2008, 11:04:13 PM9/21/08
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As the late Peter Kastner's widow (who was not contacted by Martin
Knelman nor John nor Jamie Kastner, the sole sources cited in the
article), I am disappointed by the tenor and content of Martin
Knelman's obituary. Peter and I were together for 34 years. The
Peter I knew was not to be found in Knelman's piece. The sources
cited had refused all contact with him for 25 years.

First, some minor innaccuracies: he wasn't driving when he died, he
had pulled over to the side of the road. He was not in downtown
Toronto. He never came close to landing the lead in The Graduate, but
was just one of a cattle call of actors who read for the part.

I am offended at having him portrayed as Norma Desmond a comparison--
with a reclusive, delusional actress -- that is unfair to Peter and
unfair to his memory. Nothing addresses the fine qualities of Peter
which would not paint him in such a negative and deluded light. His
identity was not wrapped up in being an actor.

After he left acting he became a high school English teacher. He
became a songwriter and maker of quirky and interesting videos on a
wide range of subjects. He mentored many teenagers, helped raise his
step-daughter and was the constant delight of his grandchildren.

Not only is the article inaccurate on a factual basis, it is also a
gross misrepresentation of Peter's life after he left acting. The
Peter I knew was actively engaged in the world, through his video
work, his songwriting, his political activism and his many
friendships.

It would have been nice if Knelman had mentioned his first wife Wendy
Miller, who also mourns him.
The incomplete view presented by Knelman fails to capture the
sweetness and soul of the good man who died in his parked car on
September 18th, 2008.

jenn...@sympatico.ca

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Sep 21, 2008, 11:04:49 PM9/21/08
to

As the late Peter Kastner's widow (who was not contacted by Martin
Knelman nor John nor Jamie Kastner, the sole sources cited in the
article), I am disappointed by the tenor and content of Martin

Knelman's obituary. Peter and I were married for 34 years. The Peter


I knew was not to be found in Knelman's piece.

First, some minor innaccuracies: he wasn't driving when he died, he


had pulled over to the side of the road. He was not in downtown
Toronto. He never came close to landing the lead in The Graduate, but

was just one of a number of actors who read for the part.

I am offended at having him portrayed as Norma Desmond a comparison--
with a reclusive, delusional actress -- that is unfair to Peter and
unfair to his memory. Nothing addresses the fine qualities of Peter
which would not paint him in such a negative and deluded light. His
identity was not wrapped up in being an actor.

After he left acting he became a high school English teacher. He

became a maker of quirky and interesting videos on a wide range of

jenn...@sympatico.ca

unread,
Sep 21, 2008, 11:06:11 PM9/21/08
to
On Sep 20, 8:08 pm, Laurie Mann <laurieman...@gmail.com> wrote:
> He was a good example of an acting one-hit wonder.  You're a Big Boy
> Now was a terrific movie.

jenn...@sympatico.ca

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Sep 21, 2008, 11:07:22 PM9/21/08
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On Sep 20, 7:37 pm, "La N" <nilita2004NOS...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> "King Daevid MacKenzie" <KingDae...@cox.net> wrote in messagenews:rKdBk.11341$Il....@newsfe09.iad...> Estranged from famous Toronto family, he found fame early in movies,
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