Beatty's 'Tatira Productions' had Baltimore roots

"Mickey One," this week's oddly riveting revival choice at the Charles, carries the name of a production company, Tatira, that would never be credited again. It was a company that the movie's star, Warren Beatty, set up for this one movie. He named it for his mother, Kathlyn, nicknamed Tat, and his father, Ira Beaty (just one t). They brought their kids up in Virginia.

But they actually met in Lutherville.

Yes, the same suburb that gave us John Waters can also claim some ownership of Warren Beatty. In 1928, Tat MacLean, a frustrated actor who taught for a year at a junior college in West Virginia, moved from Wolfville, Nova Scotia, to Lutherville to teach speech at the Maryland College for Women.

That same year, Ira O. Beaty, a frustrated violinist, took a job teaching education and psychology at the same college to pay his graduate-school bills. He had taught for two years in public schools in Virginia and West Virginia. Then, Suzanne Finstad writes in "Warren Beatty: A Private Man," Beaty "transferred his lost hopes of becoming a concert violinist into the pursuit of a prestigious doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, envisioning himself, romantically, as 'a philosopher.'"

Beaty became a graduate student at Hopkins in education, in the department of philosophy. Because Beaty (according to Finstad) selected "musical appreciation for schoolchildren as the topic of his doctoral thesis," he also studied violin at the Peabody Conservatory under its director, Otto Ortmann.

McLean and Beaty enjoyed a hopeful courtship while they taught at the college for three years. They wore a "newlyweds' glow" (Finstad writes) when they returned after their marriage for a fourth year. But that spring, Hopkins rejected Beaty's thesis. He left college life behind and took a job as a public school principal in Waverly, Va.

Biographer Finstad ascribes much of Warren Beatty's drive and ambition to the failures and frustrations of his parents. Tatira, the company he named for them, would be cited on celluloid only for the story of a doomed nightclub comic, "Mickey One."

Michael Sragow

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