You probably would not recognize John Rothman on sight. I mean, assuming you are not an old Park School classmate or next of kin, you probably would not stop, stare, point and say, "Hey, hey, hey! You're John Rothman, the actor!"
John Rothman is not an immediately recognizable name throughout Baltimore -- not yet anyway. And though it has appeared on television and in motion pictures, his is not an instantly recognizable face. Brooks Robinson's face -- now that's instantly recognizable.
Just the same, Baltimore should be proud to claim John Rothman as a native son, especially this week. Wednesday night, he appears in the premiere of "Birdland," a one-hour ABC-TV drama starring Brian Dennehy (one of our favorite big guys) and featuring Rothman as the administrator of an Oakland, Calif., hospital. "We've shot seven episodes," Rothman said the other day. "It's an exciting step for me." And, relative to other midseason replacement shows that come and go, "Birdland" appears to have some promise -- starting with Dennehy and including the fact that the genre, a hospital drama, is a network standard that, it seems, hasn't been tried in a while.
So look for Baltimore's Johnny Rothman as Dr. Aaron "Bergie" Bergman. Or look for him in roles in any of a handful of Woody Allen films: "Zelig," "Stardust Memories," "Radio Days" and "Purple Rose of Cairo." In "Purple Rose," he played the Hollywood lawyer who utters the line: "Lawsuits, I see lawsuits." Rothman also appeared in a recent episode of "NYPD Blue." He's shown up in "As The World Turns" as well.
Rothman lives in New York and works in theater there. Until yesterday, he was in Baltimore visiting his parents, Donald and Betty Rothman. One day last week, John was working out in the exercise room of a city condominium. There was one other man in the room with him, and he, of course, did not recognize John Rothman, the actor soon to be seen in "Birdland." John Rothman didn't recognize the man either. He wasn't, after all, an old Park School classmate,and he wasn't next of kin. He was, John Rothman learned upon introduction, Brooks Robinson.
One moviegoer described it as "kind of a freaky passage to a cinematic experience," and after checking around, I found that he was not the only person to notice it. At Towson Commons, where Steven Spielberg's widely praised film set in the Nazi holocaust, "Schindler's List," is having its exclusive Baltimore run, moviegoers must take an escalator to reach the General Cinema theater where the film is being shown. Stepping onto the escalator, you can't help but notice the shiny stainless steel letters that form the name of the company that manufactured it: Schindler.
Craig Hankin, a Hopkins art instructor who gets as much of a smile out of malapropisms as I do, has been collecting them over the years. For a time, he had a regular supplier. Years ago, when Hankin was fooling around as a musician, he played in a local band with a guy named John Ebersberger (better known today as the front man in Johnny Monet and The Impressionists). Back when he was playing with Hankin, Ebersberger frequently came up with poetic slips of the tongue. According to his old pal Hankin, he was what I call malapropriately prolific. For instance, when the band had a particularly good session, Ebersberger called the music "transcestial." When the music was bad, it was "cacaphonious." To make a pretty sound, his guitar strings had to be "intertwangled." When the band needed a new singer, Ebersberger suggested they find a female "soulstress." Some of the clubs in which the band played had terrible "cue sticks." And, when someone, especially a large person, bugged Ebersberger, his retort was: "You big Duluth, leave me alone!" Hey, Hank, thanks for sharing.
This is how a man responded to an In-Search-Of ad placed in a certain regional magazine by a Howard County woman, who shared the letter on condition of anonymity -- for herself and for the would-be suitor:
"Aha! Now how many letters do you receive with that for an opener? Not bloody many, I can tell you! . . . I was pleased to see humor as an important part of what you value. I have enough laughter in me for four or five people! I could have you rolling in lTC the aisle! Did I mention I was wearing a clown suit for the occasion? 'Communication must be important.' Eh? What's that? Let me turn up my hearing aid! . . . Stick to the primates -- that's my advice. Corner one of the more literate ones and try sign language. If that fails, try sex. If that fails, try food. . . . Now that you've had a glimpse of my twisted mind, how 'bout some reciprocity (that's recipe with an atrocity committed upon it!) If my stream of consciousness has swept you down the stream of thought, give me a ring. (That's rather forward on such short acquaintance. OK, make it a call.)" In a final comedic flourish, Mr. Saturday Night sent a photo of himself with "an ex."
Wheelchair benefit reunion
Eleven Christmases ago, the Fort Avenue American Legion post presented a battery-powered wheelchair to a handicapped boy named Jason Stigler. His mother couldn't afford one, so the post raised the cash and threw a party for the boy. Those who were there, including Brooks Robinson, will never forget it. Eddie Floyd, one of the legionnaires behind the effort, says the post wants to have a reunion with Jason and his mom. If anyone knows their whereabouts, call the post at 752-5772.