November 19, 2018
George Gelernter, actor, play-wright, journeyman plumber, activist and voracious reader, particularly of history, politics, film and theater, died November 11, 2018 in Seattle. He was 85.
He was born Gershon Ulysses Gelernter October 29, 1933, in Orange, N.J., to Matthew and Ada Goldberg Gelernter. Both sets of George's grand-parents had fled anti-Jewish persecution in Europe. Ada and Matthew, seeking to make the world better, joined the Communist Party and had their children George and Judith join the Socialist Youth League. They moved to Tucson because of George's asthma but, encountering strong anti-Semitism, relocated to L.A. George, who was extremely bright and intellectual, graduated from Fairfax High, where he was a champion debater. He became a plumber because his parents expected him to join the working class.
At 19, George married Elaine (May York) Quan. They had daughter Carey before divorcing. He migrated to counterculture Venice Beach; was a Venice Free Theater founder and actor; studied acting and writing, including at the American National Theatre and Academy, Desilu Workshop, and with Lee Grant; joined the improv group "On Guard America"; and acted in many theaters, including the Players' Ring Theatre, Santa Monica Playhouse, and Ice House.
He co-starred in "Faith of Our Fathers," an AFI Film Award winner, and appeared in more than 100 other films and videos. He wrote over 30 plays/screenplays.
Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, he moved in 2010 to Seattle to be near Carey, a longtime reporter and editor at The Seattle Times, son-in-law Jerry Large, then a Times columnist, and grandson Tao Large. He took great pride in Tao, a chemistry Ph.D. student at Stanford University.
He became fondly known at the Summit at First Hill, where he lived for seven years, and at Kline Galland, where he spent his last year. In 2017 a staged reading by Equity actors of his play "On the Fritz," directed by Vanessa Miller, had Summit audience members commenting: "It was just like a Seinfeld episode!"
In addition to Carey, Jerry and Tao, he is survived by sister Judith Reisman, extended family and dear friends.
GELERNTER, George (Gershon Ulysses Gelernter)
Born: 10/29/1933, Orange, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 11/11/2018, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
George Gelernter’s wetern – actor:
The Unknowing - 2009