Frank Gilroy was a friend of mine. He won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his play, “The Subject Was Roses.” But he was so much more than a well known and celebrated author of many books and plays. How deeply saddened I was to learn of his passing. I wrote a letter to his wife, because if there was ever two people made from the same bones like Adam and Eve, it was Ruth and Frank. I wanted, needed, to share with her my love for them both within the immensity of her sorrow.
Just one word here about a friend, if you will allow me. MacDougal Street in NYC is the perfect place to begin talking about Frank for as I remember he lived just up the street from The Rifle Club, the heart of NY’s Italian street-aristocracy. Frank was like that – hard working, educated, rich, and generous. He was an aristocrat of everything he touched, filling each conversation, or scene, or empty page with the mind of a sensitive no-baloney tough guy, but when he touched you it was only with the hand of the poet. You know, I learned so much from him, and I am forever thankful that I had an opportunity to know him. No one, except for the firefighters of America, ever helped me in anything I did, except for Frank. He was my mentor without ever knowing it, for I studied his writing and his incomparable control of voice, and after that I was certain I could write competently in any genre. And his love of music, and playing music, became also part of my view of the world – and I now play eight instruments fair to middlin’ well. I saw what a great father he was, and I tried to emulate that with my own five.
I invested in three of his movies, and learned so much more about being focused on where you are going and how to get there. Someone should make a movie about the making of The Gig, and how Frank came to the story, raised the money, and corralled those great musicians to work with him. I am in the dancing scene in that movie, and what a wonderful memory that is. With Frank it was always his internal drive to get it done that led to his creations. See his bio and filmology on the net. He always knew and never doubted that whatever he did was done with the hand of the artist. What a great man. He lived a long life of eighty-nine years, but still, how sad I am now, writing this.