What follows has nothing to do with voice over.
Perhaps what follows has everything to do with voice over.
A past memory, what once was, for my family and me, stimulated a familiar and painful need to share my mind. Who better than actors, creative men and women, with the heart capable of understanding a fellow human beings complex emotion?
I favor laughter, the ability to smile, and a firm or soft hand within mine,
the child who brings me unabashed glee as responsiveness to my presence;
The simplicity of a hand written note saying thank you for the help, could never be replaced by an intrinsic value.
I question, is this a time for hope, when hope seems to be the standard for fleeting dreams?
Each day comes with stories being told of what was.
But many of these new stories come to us with tales of what never was, but what the despotic tellers dream and pray for; the total elimination of my people; my brethren; what they, the tellers alone, want it to be.
These tellers seek a recurrence of what was, while denying histories unbiased reports of what took place.
I am here today, writing what follows, courtesy and with a full single line screen credit:
“Existence By The Grace Of God”.
“I swear to tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! So help me God”.
I was a little boy of five. Dad was attentive to me and our family’s needs. Mom was a twenty-four hour a day leader of the home front. We lived in the small up-state community of Newburg, New York. I spent my entire day playing with my friend Cookie. We looked and acted alike. Cookie’s family had emigrated from Ireland, and were practicing Catholics. When I was at Cookie’s house, I practiced right along with him. I attended my first wake at Cookie’s aunt’s home, before reaching the ripe old age of six. Both Cookie’s Mom and mine spent many hours reading to us. His Mother’s heavy duty Irish brogue was a definite influence on my life. It still is to this day. My Mother’s approach to everything was a constant contradiction of thought and practical application. While the Mothers had a great deal in common, they never socialized. The relationship between the two families was entirely the domain of Cookie and me.
By the age of seven or eight, our family had, out of necessity, moved to Brooklyn, New York. It seems a thing they were calling the depression had something to do with it. It was while living in Brooklyn; I found out there was a difference in the beliefs of Catholics and Jews. I really thought a person could be Catholic and Jewish at the same time. I ended up marrying a Catholic girl; so I guess my beliefs remain the same.
In any event what Cookie and I really had in common was, what either religious sect wasn’t espousing. Cookie’s Mother and mine could always be heard saying, “Live and let live.” And that’s just what they meant and that’s exactly what they taught their children. Of course, dependent on their mood, an expletive might be heard as a precursor to the statement. Both ladies shared a bent toward the extreme of a blue-collar demeanor. I never heard an anti-Semitic word, or experienced similarly any nasty gesture towards the Jewish people until I was eight years of age.
Exacts are hard to recall. World War II was raging. Every household in the neighborhood was deeply involved, some more than others. It became a far too common occurrence to see a blue star in a friends window replaced by a gold, when word of a husband or son being killed in action was received. All of us dreaded the sight of a Western Union man on a bicycle coming on to our street, making the formal announcement from our government, that the worst fears had been realized.
On one particular day, my Father’s words became etched in my mind. “Protect yourself Harvey,” he said to me. “It’s always been this way, and it’s never going to change. There are people out there, all over the world who despise us for being who God made us.” When I asked my Father the reason there are those who hate the Jewish people, he was unable to give me one. At the time I remember thinking about my friend Cookie and his Mothers teachings. The words kill or destroy never entered into any conversations we had. But on this day, for this little boy, the world’s axis had brought an unbelievably heinous reality into my personal life. I was introduced first hand to the name Hitler. It was by way of the smuggled out letters from relatives in Europe, that we learned; the Holocaust was in full functional mode. Adolph Hitler had made a promise to cleanse Germany of all people Jewish, or remnants of Jews, their work, and anything, which could possibly dispel their value to the world, past or present.
Hitler’s official doctrine was to eliminate all Jews, Gypsy’s, and homosexuals from Germany, and any and all territory to fall under his maniacal rule. He was well on his way to fulfilling his promises. His total prisoner extermination came to over eleven million human beings annihilated; six million happened to be Jews. They were murdered because of what God made them to be, Jews, Gypsy’s, and homosexuals.
If Hitler’s plan sounds familiar, it comes without surprise. The Iranian president makes the exact same promises as Adolph did. Iran is close to having nuclear weapons. Can you imagine the outcome if Hitler would have had the same destructive powers? The churches and synagogues that have stood as a symbol of our American democracy would be non-existent. It wasn’t my imagination. I didn’t dream it up. My eyes didn’t betray me. I experienced the transference of the pain in my friends and relatives eyes. I had reached the age when my questions required answers. My Mother cried, and I asked, ” Why are you crying Mommy? Why are you crying aunt Rosie?” The stories, the letters, the pictures of as great a degree of human suffering the world has ever seen, were there for us.
My indignation is righteous. It always will be. What did any peoples of the world do to deserve what was inflicted upon them as a result of one man’s criminally murderous pursuit? Could Cookie and I have made a difference if we were men at the time this anti human, totalitarian, and tyrant came to life? The dates of Adolph Hitler’s beginnings trouble me. 1933 was the height of the depression in our country. It was also an all time low ebb for the German people. Their German economy low point far exceeded ours because of the monumental inflation they were experiencing. The German economy hit bottom long before ours. In 1924 Adolph Hitler had published his book “Mein Kampf)”. Prices for goods and services were actually increasing on a daily basis. It became impossible for most Germans to support themselves or their families. It was an easy doctrine for Hitler to sell to the German people; the Jews were the reason for the German economic collapse. His words are being echoed today in Iran and all across the Middle East.
The history of my thirty years on the voice over scene can only be described as unique. The uniqueness continues, ever growing in substance. Each day something new is presented to Cathy and da harv as a challenge to the way we have done business in the past. Certainly the longer we stay in business, the more we learn, and the more we increase our abilities to deal with the uniqueness of the changes which come with the territory. Every single day, in our business life, the word truth, and making the viability of it’s meaning, the most integral part and placement in our quest for success as our driving force. In short…we learn, and we benefit by understanding one single premise; the most important building block for a successful business, and life with a partner is our predication, without truth all will fail.
Being happy with our love and with our daily work is a genuine satisfaction. Our bottom line is a beautiful one! We’re being paid for our labors attempting to get work for people, and for providing a professional curriculum for our actor students to follow. If that was all there was to our lives this blog would end right here; a happy guy who expressed his thanks for what he has, and for being allowed to continue his dreams without reservations.
For those of you expecting the remainder of this journal to contain information beneficial to you’re on going voice over career, please be forewarned. I am about to open my heart and mind by sharing with you the fear I feel for the welfare of my Jewish cousins and allies in the democracy known as Israel. As a professional, this will be a first time event for me. Never before have I brought anything really personal into my work place. I pray my truth of expression will not offend any who read what follows.
- I am in complete and total agreement regarding the survival of the people of Israel; including all Israeli inhabitants, regardless of their religious beliefs or practices.
- Jews do not occupy Jerusalem.
- Christians, Jews, and Muslims inhabit Jerusalem.
- Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East.
- Israel is the only true ally the United States has in the Middle East.
- The foul mad man, who is currently the president of Iran, is as treacherous as Adolph Hitler.
- He claims the Holocaust never happened.
- He calls for the complete annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people.
- Most of the Arab block sides with his doctrine.
What I grew up hearing, as a little boy is no longer an echo. The same words from the past are once again upon us. Now the promises, and that’s just what they are: promises are far more devastating than ever before. Now it’s not just the Israeli flag being stomped upon, and burned, but it’s companion, the United States of America. Now it no longer is the disallowing of the Jewish rights as human beings, but Christianity has become a target in the same Middle East. All over the Middle East churches are being destroyed with equal vigor as synagogues. Now it isn’t a question of who a supposed occupier might be, now the all out attack is on anything remotely Judeo-Christian.
All of the problems, which now exist in the Middle East, are being blamed on the Jews who occupy Israel. Get the Jews out of Israel, they say and the problems will all go away. But watch the nightly news; take note, Arabs are killing Arabs. You have presidents of country’s ordering soldiers to gun down their own protesting citizenry. None of our children, in this unbelievably wondrous country of ours are being taught, in our churches or synagogues, to burn down each others place s of worship. That’s not who we are or what we do. No Christian that I’ve ever come in contact with has threatened to destroy my family or friends, because they found out Harvey Kalmenson is a Jew. No Christian that I’ve ever come in contact with has ever promised to drive the Israelis from their homeland. The terrorist leaders of the Middle East preach hatred for my people. Many years ago I recognized a simple fact, my people consisted of Christians as well as Jews.
What Does It Mean?
If taking a stand translates to making a commitment as far as your concerned, then I do believe you and I are on the very same page; along with just about every fair minded successful human being in the history of this planet. Take away the luck aspect, now we’re down to the real truth. Believing in what you do is what commitment is all about. I ruled out luck, it’s nice to have, but not anything one can depend on. And along with luck I’m ruling out evil. Those two ingredients aren’t success factors over the long hall. I’d like to talk about who we are; the people of influence within this great industry of ours; those of us who’ve been able to make it mostly on the merits of our talent, our integrity, and our commitment to excellence.
My longevity within my life’s calling enables me to offer more by way of personal experience than the average career professional. Having spent a great amount of time on numerous firing lines has provided direct knowledge of what being under fire feels like. Telling you, or attempting to explain what it feels like to experience game conditions will serve no purpose unless you personally have had like experiences or encounters. Understanding and empathy for me comes easier when you have experienced a similar happening. Think about the first time you walked the boards, or felt the hearts and energy of a live audience, or maybe the sickening sensation of that moment when your next line has somehow left you. I’ve had many actors express their feelings about all of those incidents, and I, of course, have experienced them myself. As a stage manager I have lived through the disaster of a performer vomiting in the wings; then with a mutual wink join in that same performers joy as the audience erupts in tumultuous applause.
I speak to all of you who have lived life following the individuality of the personal experiences I’ve described. You have made a commitment to the dictates of your hearts alignment. I applaud you as I have applauded you all, for my entire life as a professional. As Cathy and I have said on numerous occasions:” Without actors, we have no business.”
Without Actor’s We Have No Business. “Without actors”? What a concept!
For Kalmenson & Kalmenson it’s a “no-brainer.” I mean who would come in to audition for us. Cathy and I could go out and get the work, but our company of players would be nil without actors. Yah think!
But now I present the other side of the story. As promised at rise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, without unnecessary embellishment. Succinctly stated, Cathy and Harvey Kalmenson, a married couple are partners in our business of voice casting and education. Both of us are totally and completely apolitical, and share equally in our assertions regarding political correctness. During the course of the last nineteen years of business under the Kalmenson & Kalmenson banner we have never been selective with regard to the religious indulgence of the actors either being chosen to come in for an audition, or for any person wishing to sign up for our workshops. In other words…if we think you’re the right actor for the role you’ll be on our call sheet without hesitation. And of course if you can afford the cost, you can qualify to study with us.
During our best year in casting we brought in twenty thousand actors to read for just about everything you can think of requiring a human voice. I can’t begin to tell you how many that translates into during the last nineteen plus years. We have some twenty two people in our education department, and six permanent in house staff members, none of which was hired on to our team based on their religious preference or whether or not they liked boys or girls. Anyone who has ever had dealings with the Kalmenson & Kalmenson team knows that color of ones skin is also of no consequence.
Millions, upon millions of dollars have been earned by actors, because of our efforts, as a casting company. We treasure the opportunity God has allowed us to have. Like any other business, there have been some rough times thrown in along the way. But at no time did we need to fear for our lives, the way my people of Israel fear for theirs today. As a reminder, a great many people in the Middle East are continuing to call for the ultimate demise of the Jewish people. The same plea, seeking out each and every Jew in order to rid the earth of them; once delivered by Adolph Hitler, and responsible for six million deaths, is again being heralded and supported by thousands of sympathizers.
As an American veteran, I cringe when I see our beautiful flag being stepped on and burned along side the Israeli flag. They say and repeat every day; we are the ones responsible for their economic problems. These are exactly the same oratories given by Hitler, not that very long ago. Think about what would have been the case for German actors who happened to be Jewish. Or what about voice casting folks like Harvey and Cathy. The millions upon millions of dollars earned would not have happened.
Now those same evil people are at it again. This time the churches are being targeted along with the synagogues. The same culprits are making promises of annihilation. Are you listening? If you are, stand up and take a position. Tell anyone and everyone you can how you don’t like what’s going on. It’s not about being Jewish. It’s about being human; the best way. Please let me know you’re taking a stand.
Thank you for your blogs and especially this one. I am a voice actor who took classes at K&K several years ago with Cathy.
I AM TAKING A STAND.