Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel was born on February 28, 1915 – died September 8, 1977. Mostel was an American actor of stage and screen, best known for his portrayal of comic characters such as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Max Bialystock in The Producers. He was blacklisted during the 1950s, and his testimony before HUAC was well-publicized. He was a Tony Award and Obie Award winner. Mostel had often collided with directors and other performers in the course of his professional career.  He often dominated the stage whether or not his role called for it. Norman Jewison stated this as a reason for preferring Chaim Topol to him for the role of Tevye in the movie version of Fiddler on the Roof. Mostel took exception to these criticisms: “There’s a kind of silliness in the theater about what one contributes to a show. The producer obviously contributes the money… but must the actor contribute nothing at all? I’m not a modest fellow about those things. I contribute a great deal. And they always manage to hang you for having an interpretation. Isn’t [the theater] where your imagination should flower? Why must it always be dull as shit?” Other producers, such as Jerome Robbins and Hal Prince, preferred to hire Mostel on short contracts, knowing that he would become less faithful to the script as time went on. His larger-than-life persona, though largely responsible for his success, had also intimidated others in his profession and prevented him from receiving some important roles. In his autobiography, Kiss Me Like A Stranger, actor Gene Wilder describes being initially terrified of Mostel. However, just after being introduced, Mostel got up, walked over to Wilder, and planted a big kiss on him. Wilder claims to be grateful to Mostel for teaching him such a valuable lesson, and for picking Wilder up every day so that they could ride to work together. He also tells the story of a dinner celebrating the release of The Producers. Mostel switched Wilder’s place card with Dick Shawn’s, allowing Wilder to sit at the main table. Mostel and Wilder would later go on to work together in Rhinoceros and the Letterman cartoons for the children’s show The Electric Company. The two remained close friends until Mostel’s death.


Original Zero Mostel Autograph, signed on a page from a playbill. Approx. size 5 3/4 x 9 inches. Written: Zero Mostel. Regular Price – $ 225.00 / Sale Price – $ 149.95.

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