Tuesday, August 25, 2015

More national acclaim for Dawidziak

PD and former BJ entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak is gaining so much national fame that I’m glad he’s the kind who won’t need a larger hat size.

I was Mark’s editor at Ol’ Blue Walls, and he easily was my best entertainment reporter.

Mark Dawidziak
And I had a great trifecta in David Bianculli, who went on to greater fame at the New York Post; Rich Heldenfels, still at the BJ; and, of course, the New York City guy living in Cuyahoga Falls after a stint in Tennessee journalism who impersonates Mark Twain better than Samuel Langhorne Clemens and, in my opinion, Hal Holbrook, does a wickedly terrifying Edgar Allan Poe show, regurgitates Charles Dickens like the dickens, should wear a rumpled raincoat for his work on his “Columbo” book that Peter Falk loved; and has reincarnated the Civil War in his productions with his wife, Sara Showman.

He has performed his show at the Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut and the famous Barter Theatre in Virginia (admission was groceries, including ham for the hams). And teaches a class at Kent State, to avoid boredom, I guess.

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has been effusive in his praise of Mark’s writings, which include 12 books and insightful entertainment columns in the PD. Losing Mark and Terry Pluto may have been the BJ’s greatest losses to the PD.

Mark is justifiably in the Cleveland Press Club’s Journalism Hall of Fame. In mine, too.

Mark’s latest national acclaim comes from Las Vegas, land of Elvis and casinos every 10 feet.

That article:

Rice's reach exceeds genre


By John L. Smith
Las Vegas Review-Journal

"Night Stalker" author Jeff Rice probably would have appreciated a little more mystery associated with his July 1 death in Las Vegas.

When you live in a creative world riddled with blood suckers and neck crushers, an ordinary death seems just a little tame. But the results of an autopsy by the Clark County coroner's office reveal Rice's demise was accidental: renal failure possibly related to heat exposure. He was 71.

Readers of horror and fantasy novels will remember longtime local Rice as the creator of the character Carl Kolchak, the rumpled newspaper reporter who found a vampire using Las Vegas as a blood bank in "The Night Stalker," a novel that became the influential movie and television series starring Darren McGavin.

Word of Rice's death has been slow to circulate after it broke last month in this column, but author and undisputed Kolchak expert Mark Dawidziak penned an insightful essay on Rice's influence that you'll find on Cleveland.com. Author of "The Kolchak Companion" and many other books, Dawidziak is also the television critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The two were close friends.

"I thought the world of Jeff," Dawidziak said in a phone interview from Cleveland. "He was one of the most honorable men I've ever known."

In his appreciation, Dawidziak detailed Rice's influence on the horror and fantasy genre and some working journalists, too.

"And when you consider the incredible rolling influence of his character, we've all probably been touched by this writer in some way or another," he observed. "If I could write one last scene for Carl, he'd be tipping his pork-pie straw hat in tribute, and he'd be tipping it to Jeff Rice."

To read Mark’s fascinating article about Jeff Rice, whose work begat so many classic horror genre tales by those who were influenced by him, click on

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