JEAN SHEPHERD ENTHUSIASTS IN THE ARTS
I believe that a large percentage of people in the arts, especially those who spent time in New York City and environs from the mid-1950s, listened to Jean Shepherd. And most anyone who listened was an enthusiast. I can say this because, in the last decade or so, there has been a constantly expanding array of well-known people in the arts who have, in one way or another, indicated that they were Shep listeners. To the extent that intellectuals, artist-types, and nerds talked to each other back in the 60s I find it almost inevitable that the subject of listening to Shep would come up. As an example of this sort of talk about enthusiasms between peers, when I interviewed U. S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins for my first Shep-book, he reminisced that, as a youngster, when he mentioned Shepherd to a new acquaintance, if the kid was also a listener, they became instant good friends. I’ve heard of the same kind of experience from others.
I’d guess that also among those who probably listened and were hooked by Shep’s seductive voice and delivery and his sheer entertaining way of expressing his ideas, would have been folk like Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, and others of that ilk.
(I present a very partial list. In parenthesis I indicate some identifier or specific connection to Shep.) For those I’ve left out—my bad! Anyone with firm evidence about other Shep listeners in the arts, please contact me.
David Amram, musician
Fred Barzyk, director, producer (Of Shepherd TV work)
Bill Carter, NYT media columnist (Interviewed Seinfeld—Paley Tribute)
Paddy Chayefsky, screenwriter (Network, etc.)
Ron Della Chiesa, radio broadcaster
Bob Clark, film director (A Christmas Story)
Billy Collins, poet (U. S. Poet Laureate)
Richard Corliss, essayist (Extensive Time Magazine tribute to Shep)
David Dinkins, NYC mayor—comments on Don Imus’s show
Donald Fagan, musician (Steeley Dan. Comment re: his “Night Fly” album & Slate essay.)
Barry Farber, radio broadcaster
Jules Feiffer, cartoonist, playwright
Joe Franklin, radio broadcaster
Herb Gardner, cartoonist, playwright (A Thousand Clowns, etc.)
Bill Griffith, comic strip creator of “Zippy the Pinhead” (His tribute to Shep)
Hugh Hefner, publisher (Playboy)
David Hinkley, NY Daily News columnist
Don Imus, radio broadcaster—said of Shep: “A genius, a genius.”
Penn Jillette, comic
Larry Josephson, radio broadcaster
Andy Kaufman, comic
Jack Kerouac, author
Ernie Kovacs, television comic innovator
Paul Krassner, publisher, author
Bruce Mahler, comedian, actor (Seinfeld’s Rabbi Glickman)
Lois Nettleton, actress (Very early “Listener,” Shep’s wife for 6 years)
Keith Olbermann, political commentator (comments on his shows and foreword to Shep’s Army )
Jackson Pollock, painter
Harry Shearer, radio broadcaster (Narrator, NPR tribute to Shep)
Vince Scelsa, radio broadcaster
Johnathan Schwartz, radio broadcaster
Jerry Seinfeld, comedian (Attributes influence of Shep.)
Shel Silverstein, cartoonist, children’s poet (Shep’s best friend)
John Skoyles. Poet (AP review of Excelsior, You Fathead!)
Dee Snider, musician (Twisted Sister)
R. L. Stine, author (Goosebumps book series author—comment re Shep in interview)
Jerry Talmer, author, V. Voice, etc.
Dan Wakefield, author, V. Voice, etc.
John Wilcock, author, V. Voice, etc.