DEC. 28, 1934-SEPT. 24, 2003

By Judd Hirsch
Updated December 26, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Farewell: Judd Hirsch pays tribute to Herb Gardner

I think we just lost one of the great humorists and social consciences of our time. I say I think because Mr. Gardner would have been too shy to refer to himself in such a grand manner. Even though he wrote five plays, the screenplays for four of them, another movie, one novel, and a few one-act pieces, he was, in his own words, ”still growing up as a playwright.” I am saddened by this loss. He was my friend and personal playwright — a sort of dramatic landlord, since I took up residence in three of his plays (A Thousand Clowns, I’m Not Rappaport, and Conversations With My Father), a film (The Goodbye People), a one-act, and a TV short comedy. Although Herb and his work were quintessentially New York, his plays were produced in so many foreign countries it would astound you. He left us too soon — but I’m sure that wherever he is, he’s drawing an audience, because that kind of humor never leaves this earth. It remains as part of the lightness of the air we breathe. (Gardner died of lung disease in New York City.)