A group of Shel Dorf’s old friends visited Michael Dorf, Shel’s brother, on Sunday, November 8, 2009, in Los Angeles, California, while Michael was sitting shiva (the traditional Jewish seven days of mourning) for Shel after he had passed away.
While there, Richard Alf recounted Shel’s memorable last visit with Bill Liebowitz, the owner of the Golden Apple Comics store in Hollywood. Fortunately, Richard’s account was recorded and is presented here for your listening pleasure.
Just click on the player button below to have a listen. (If you’re reading this via news reader or email, you may have to visit the web site to play the clip.)
Here is a transcript of the recording:
Mike Towry: After, we were planning, uh, after we left to go to this, uh, comic store called Golden Apple.
Michael Dorf: Oh sure.
Mike Towry: It’s in Los Angeles here, and I guess Shel used to go to it.
Michael Dorf: Yes, yeah, he knew the owner.
Mike Towry: He knew the owner. Anyway, Richard has a wonderful story about Shel going up there in his later years. I thought Richard might tell it.
Michael Dorf: Great.
Mike Towry: Hey Richard?
Richard Alf: Oh, sure.
Mike Towry: You want to tell that story about the Golden Apple?
Richard Alf: Oh, OK, absolutely. This was one of these trips where Shel invited a number of us to go up, I believe it was to Forry Ackerman’s or something like that, and once we got done with the festivities, we’d usually have two or three other places we’d go and visit. Uh, Mike Rossi was driving at the time, he had a blue van. I believe I was sitting in the front with Mike. Shel was in the back, he had his cane and he was having trouble walking. And there were several other people with us in the back of the van as well. Well, we got to Golden Apple, which is on Fairfax or somewhere, it’s a very busy part of …
Michael Dorf: Melrose, Melrose and Spalding.
Richard Alf: Melrose, yes, it’s a very busy part of Hollywood, and, uh, we couldn’t find a place to park initially and so, uh, somebody said, “Why don’t a couple of you guys go in, let the people at Golden Apple know that we’re here and we’ll go and find a parking place. So, I got out, my friend David Lemmo, who you haven’t met, got out and we walked into Golden Apple and Bill Liebowitz who was the owner of Golden Apple was there…
Michael Dorf: Yes, I met him…
Richard Alf: He was a big man, a very nice man.
Michael Dorf: Yes.
Richard Alf: And he didn’t know David, I had met him years ago, I’m not too sure if he actually recognized me or not but he turned to both of us and with a big smile said, “Hi fellas. How you doin’? What’s goin’ on? And I turned, I looked at Bill and I said, “Oh, hi Bill, we were just in the area with Shel Dorf and we thought we’d stop by.” And Bill said, “Shel Dorf?” He said, “Shel Dorf is with you guys?” And I said, “Yeah, he’s out in the car. They’re parking right now.” He said, “Shel Dorf is actually here?” And I said, “Yeah, Bill, he’s in the car. You know he’s having trouble walking. They’re trying to find a place to park but he should be in in a minute.” And he says, “He’s really here?” I said, “Yes he is.”
So he grabbed these two lawn chairs, you know these plastic lawn chairs, and he took them out to the front of the store where there was a little area there were you could sit, sat the chairs down, went over, looked for the van, went over to the van where Shel was, walked him over to the chairs, and they sat down and talked for the duration of the visit while the rest of us were in the store milling around.
Now, Shel didn’t know that that had happened. He only knew that Bill came over to him and they sat down so a couple of months later Shel called me up and he said, “Rich, you’ll never believe what happened. I just got word that Bill Liebowitz died of a heart attack.” And I said, “Shel, I’m so sorry to hear that,” and then I related that story to Shel. And Shel was so touched. And he said, “Wow, he was really that excited to see me?” And I said, “Yes, he was, but,” I said, “you were in the van at the time, you didn’t see all this stuff that happened beforehand but that’s what transpired before you actually met Bill.”
Unidentified Speaker: What year was that you guys went?
Richard Alf: I can only guess it was about 2005, somewhere in there. [Note: the year was actually 2004.] I was telling the guys I might have some bits and pieces of stuff in my files that might relate to the trip so I could nail it down more, but it was within, it was about two months before Liebowitz passed away. It was not that long so we could probably nail down the year based on when Liebowitz passed away.
Michael Dorf: That’s a nice story.
Richard Alf: But, it was just another one of those little things, you know, that happened spontaneously.
According to the Wikipedia article on Golden Apple Comics: “The store’s original owner, Bill Liebowitz, was a yo-yo champion in the 1950s, a co-founder of Rhino Records, and had recurring roles as himself in Archie Comics. He opened Golden Apple in Hollywood in 1979, and the Northridge location in 1983. Liebowitz was well known for hosting signings by comic book artists and writers, as well as for his anti-censorship activism. After Liebowitz’ death in 2004, his widow Sharon and son Ryan took over the business and continue to run the store.”
For more on Golden Apple Comics, visit their Web site at http://www.goldenapplecomics.com/.