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Szymon Szurmiej, Jewish actor and Polish leader, dies at 91

Jewish actor and director Szymon Szurmiej, longtime head of Poland’s State Jewish Theatre, has died.

Szurmiej, a leading Jewish figure for years during the post-Holocaust communist era, died July 16 in Warsaw. He was 91.

He survived the widespread anti-Semitic purges of 1968 and, in addition to heading the theater since 1970, served as the longtime president of the Social and Cultural Association of Polish Jews, or TSKZ, a secular, state-allied body that was one of the few Jewish organizations permitted to operate under communism.

Szurmiej also served as a member of Poland’s Parliament in the 1980s and represented Polish Jewry in international Jewish organizations. — jta

 

‘Red’ Klotz, player and coach for Globetrotters ‘opponent’

Louis “Red” Klotz, the driving force behind the team that served as the foil for the Harlem Globetrotters, has died.

Klotz, who with his Globetrotters counterpart, Abe Saperstein, formed a Jewish-run traveling basketball show that has traveled around the world for more than six decades, died at his home in Margate, N.J. He was 93, and had suffered several strokes the past two years.

He was the founder, owner and coach of the squad best known as the Washington Generals, which has squared off against the Globetrotters in more than 100 countries dating back to 1952. The 5-foot-7-inch Klotz, a standout in college and professionally in the NBA’s forerunner league, also played for the Generals and often was the victim of the Globetrotters’ renowned hijinks.

Their games, at least in theory, were meant to be competitive — as competitive as a team like Klotz’s could be, when the odds against an opponent are 14,000 to 1. The Generals’ sole victory, in 1971 in Tennessee, was documented and a source of pride for Klotz, although he maintained that an earlier win went unrecorded due to a scoreboard operator’s error.

The Globetrotters “had to play somebody,” said Klotz’s biographer, Tim Kelly.

The teams were independent organizations that traveled and practiced separately, he said.

“You’ve got a 5’7” guy, the son of Jewish immigrants, playing in front of the shah of Iran, three popes, at the bottom of a drained pool and in bull rings,” said Kelly, whose biography, titled “The Legend of Red Klotz: How Basketball’s Loss Leader Won Over the World — 14,000 Times,” was published last year. To the end, he added, Klotz “was very, very aware of [the Generals’] role as ambassadors.”

Klotz began his career as the star point guard at South Philadelphia High School and Villanova University. — jta


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