JUNE 21, 1903-JAN. 20, 2003

By Bernadette Peters
Updated December 26, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Farewell: Bernadette Peters pays tribute to Al Hirschfeld

The first one must have been for George M!: little lips, little eyes, round face. There’s one of me in Sunday in the Park With George hanging in the Shubert office. I also have the one he did for Annie Get Your Gun. I’d never dare ask him about how he drew me. You don’t dare, even in your mind, mess with a Hirschfeld caricature. You’re just grateful for it. You want to see, through his eyes, what something looks like.

You could tell he loved the theater, the way he drew it. He was supportive of the actors. He gave his little reviews with the Ninas [his daughter’s name, hidden in the drawing]. You always wanted to see if you got a Nina. That was such a wonderful game each Sunday: Where are the Ninas and who got them? He’d hide them in people’s hair, people’s clothes. When he liked someone, he gave them lots of Ninas. It was a great theater tradition.

Al was an observer. He sat and watched. Maybe that’s what kept him alive for so long — he was interested in everything. He was such a presence, with that long beard. You couldn’t miss him. (Hirschfeld died of natural causes in New York City.)