How didn’t I know David Brenner died March 15, of cancer right here in New York City not far from where I live?
He was 78 years old.
That just doesn’t seem possible…he couldn’t have been looking into the eye of his eighth decade. Not the guy I’d rush home to watch whenever he hosted The Tonight Show recording it just in case I was late.
The same guy who took me to dinner a dozen or so times in the early eighties after meeting him through a friend.
When I pop his file so many things bolt out as though the air gave them a fresh coat of paint.
At dinner he’d order a Chef’s Salad because so many fans would besiege him for autographs, his food would get cold.
In those days he lived in an elegant town house in the East 60s that rivaled a Rockerfeller’s filled with antiques and art deco decor.
He had a park bench his pals from his home town of Philadelphia gave him from the old neighborhood he proudly kept on his roof.
He’d pick me up in a stretch limo driven by a young aspiring actor named Elvis he treated like a brother.
I’d hop in the back beside him, the wiggly kid I was, to find him smiling that dinosaur grin of his always happy to see me.
His features, though crooked, all kind of hung together like a bunch of friends who really got along, and of course there was that perennial laugh to make you feel like a million bucks.
I was such a fan of his that one night coasting up First Avenue I asked him, “Could we stop at Catch a Rising Star?” Then the hottest comedy club on the East Coast.
When we pulled up you would have thought the real Elvis had appeared, and it wasn’t far from the truth…David Brenner at that time was truly the Elvis of Comedy.
I stood in the corner in his glow, everyone of course wanting to know who the girl was on Brenner’s arm.
It was only me, a silly sprite in her twenties all agog over a man who could make the world feel better as if that was what he was put on the earth to do.
The last time I saw him he gave me his best toothy grin and said, “Bianchi, what are ya takin, zinc? Why do you look so great while I’m going out screamin?”
He always knew how to make you feel good no matter what the circumstances.
To make your eternal exit knowing you healed the planet every time you opened your mouth is his quintessential legacy he left all those who knew, loved and admired him.
David, funny to the last, as a final request, asked that $100 in small bills be placed in his left sock ‘just in case tipping is recommended where I’m going.’
His final resting place will read,
‘If this is supposed to be a joke — then I don’t get it!’ “
David Brenner 1936-2014