Newsday from New York, New York on March 23, 1982 · 5
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Newsday from New York, New York · 5

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Tuesday, March 23, 1982
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House for the Final Time Demolition begins at Morosco Theater to make way for Portman Hotel project a r The demolition brought on tears from protesters, top, including actress Colleen Dewhurst, bottom. By Randy Banner and T.J. Collins Even though many of the hundreds of onlookers were actors and actresses, the tears were no act as a bulldozer tore into the Morosco Theater yesterday. The beginning of the end came for the Morosco and the Helen Hayes Theater just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay issued by Justice Thur-good Marshall making way for the clearing of the ground for construction of the 50-story Portman Hotel. The courts decision led to the arrest on charges of trespassing of more than 200 persons, many of them prominent theater people, including Joseph Papp, Tammy Grimes, Colleen Dewhurst and many others. They had flocked to the 45th Street site of the Morosco in a vain hope of halting the demolition crew and were removed by police vans at about 11 AM. Many of those arrested were back at the scene, their "pink badges of courage or summonses, pinned to their coats, when a final 20-minute stay granted by a New York Appellate Division Court judge expired as the court refused to issue any further stay. It was shortly after 2 PM when the hard-hatted operator of the bulldozer first edged his machine toward a wall of the Morosco amid hysterical cries from the crowd of "Dont do it. In an apparent game of cat and mouse, the bulldozer operator placed the giant claw of the machine on a wall of the Morosco and then backed off several times, smiling as many in the crowd, held back by police on the opposite side of 45th Street, wept. Before the destruction could begin, word of the 20-minute stay was received by the crowd and demolition crew, and the bulldozer was turned off. But about 30 minutes later the demolition began in earnest, and the metal claw tore into the eastern wall of the Morosco. "Walk off, strike, actor Frank Converse yelled to the dozen or so men in the demolition crew as tears streaked his cheeks. Others chanted "Shame, Shame and some sang "America the Beautiful. Actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, watching the destruction from a portable stage across the street on which the actors had performed during the day, cried and clutched at her throat saying, "I really cant talk now, I just cant talk. Papp stood on the street hugging a sobbing Colleen Dewhurst as as the bricks started falling in a cloud of cement dust. Character actor Mike Kellin, known for his roleB in the "Boston Strangler, "Hell is for Heroes and many other productions, waved his pink slip in the air and declared, "This is theatricide. A spokesman for the Portman organization said the demolition would continue through the night and into today, but that it would take some time to fully demolish the Helen Hayes since certain architectural features were to be removed for preservation. "I recognized Colleen Dewhurst, Estelle Parsons and Mike Kellin, but didnt have time to get their autographs, said Assistant Police Chief Milton Schwartz who was in charge of the arrest operation that involved 15 vans used to hauling away actors and actresses who had refused to abandon a picket line near the Morosco. The crowd chanted "Joe, Joe, Joe. as Papp. holding Dewhurnt's hand, waited in line to enter a police van. 'T feel so proud of New York. said Papp. one of the leaders cf the fight to save the theaters. "I feel so proud of these people. Shouts of "Shame on Koch. could also be heard from the crowd. One actor who chose not to be arrested was the movies Superman, Christopher Reeve. Reeve said he decided not to be arrested 'because the case has gone to the Supreme Court and that's the law in this country." Koch, who was out of the city yesterday, has supported the building of the Portman Hotel by Atlanta developer John Portman as necessary to the reclamation of the Times Square area. In KochB absence, Herbert Sturz. director of the citys Department of City Planning issued a statement saying, "Now that the demolition has taken place, its time to focus on the future and pivotal role of this project in the rejuvenation of Times Square and the Broadway theater district in general." The Portman, which will have 2.020 rooms and is expected to cost more than S290-million to erect, will also include a new, 1,500 seat theater. But one demonstrator after another made the point yesterday that such large theaters cannot replace the smaller, mere intimate theaters such as the Morosco and Helen Hayes and that the hotel could have incorporated the older theaters into the planned mall area which will encompass from 45th to 47th Streets between Broadway and Eighth Avenues. "Without these kinds of theaters you cant have anything but musicals, said Robert MacRichard, an actor who took part in the demonstration. "In a big theater like the Uris, you have to scream to make it sound like a whisper. Actors Defend Accused 'Raisin Star By Michael Arena Kew Gardens A group of actors, directors and producers has formed a defense fund to help Paul Carrington, a former star in the Broadway musical "Raisin, who is charged with using a flintlock gun to kill one man and wound another after an argument last year in a South Ozone Park schoolyard. Carrington, 19, of 140-13 123rd Ave., South Ozone Park, starred on Broadway in 1974 in the role of "Travis in "Raisin, a musical about a black family living in the Chicago ghetto. He gave up the role shortly before the musical closed in 1975, and went on to appear in several commercials, to graduate from Andrew Jackson High School, to work as a part-time security guard at LaGuardia Airport and to form his own musical group called the Inner City Band. "Paul is the last person in the world to be involved in tire kind of random street violence that he is accused of, said Robert Nemiroff, who produced "Raisin, which won the Tony Award for best musical in 1974. Actors Ralph Carter and Ossie Davis, actresses Ruby Dee and Virginia Capers, director Melvin Van Peebles and others who have worked with Carrington or who know him have joined Nemiroff to form a committee to raise money for Carringtons defense. Carrington is accused of fatally shooting Juan Carmichael, 21, of 127-01 Rockaway Blvd., and wounding another man, who was not identified. According to the Queens district attorneys office, Carmichael was shot once in the chest on July 18, 1981, during a nighttime improvised disco concert in the schoolyard of P.S. 155. The second man was shot in the leg but has recovered from the wound, according to the district attorneys office. Carrington was arrested 12 days later and charged with seco id-degree murder and assault. The weapon was never recovered, according to Carrington's attorney, William Kunstler. Carrington denies the charge. Further details of the case were unavailable from police yesterday, but according to Kunstler, Carrington is accused arguing with Carmichael at the concert and of using a flintlock pistol in the shooting. Carrington was identified as the assailant by Carmichaels brother, Kevin. Carrington spent eight months in jail on Rikers Island before the National Council of Churches Ecumenical Ministry Bail Bond Fund posted a $25,000 bond. He said he was dancing in another part of the schoolyard, located at 132-02 130th St., which was filled with several hundred people when he heard a shot. "Tm still in the dark about what hap-pended, he said yesterday. "I was dancing by myself for a while and then I heard a shot and I just ran. Everyone . took off. I never met or heard of the guy who was killed. Another court appearance has been scheduled for April 5. Carringtons father, Kemp, said the family was unable to secure a bond for the Pauls release, and was reluctant to seek help. But he said he changed his mind when he heard that his son had been beaten twice on Rikers Island by other inmates. Paul Carrington ui V. J

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