Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Arthur Kennedy Recalls "Caesar"

Cleveland Press October 5, 1965

NEW ORLEANS -- Horned rim glasses, a soft voice and words carefully chosen bespoke a different person and setting.

But the setting was a swamp and the man who spoke wore a raggedy cotton outfit. His beard was several days old, his hair unkempt and rivulets of water ran from his heavy shoes.

Arthur Kennedy, who made his Broadway debut in "Richard II," was playing a convict in the film "Nevada Smith." Along with Steve McQueen and others in the cast he had spent the entire morning up to his waist in a Louisiana bayou.

"So you're from Cleveland," he noted. "I played Cleveland once, back around 1937 or so. The exposition -- what was it? Yes, that's it -- the Great Lakes Exposition.

"WE DID CUT down Shakespeare, anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour and a half for a play -- seven shows a day and eight on weekends.

"No, we didn't use any Clevelanders. It was an imported company . David Wayne was in the group.

"I remember a performance of 'Caesar' with two people in the audience. But at the end we sold out.

KENNEDY'S home is in Westport, Conn., but he hopes to get a place in Nova Scotia.

"I'd like a farm up there and I like to fish and the fishing is great."

Kennedy's familiar face keeps popping up on television, but he's done nothing new, says that he plans nothing.

"I don't want to do TV anymore. They grind them out too fast. Television will spend a fortune and plenty of time on a pilot film for a series, but once it's sold they cut the budget and the shooting time."

Kennedy is an actor who has been notably successful on the stage. Some of his best known roles were in "Death of a Salesman" and "The Crucible." But he hasn't been in the legitimate theater since he worked briefly opposite Laurence Olivier in "Becket."

"THERE'S nothing for me on the stage. All they are doing are musicals and one-set comedies.

"It's too bad, but there are no playwrights learning the trade today. In the old days there wasn't the lure of TV money. Guys like Saroyan, Williams and Miller were starting out in the theater, learning how to construct a play.

Kennedy makes about two movies a year. The limit, he says, is self-imposed.

"As I get older and my responsibilities are fewer I work less, spread it out, travel more."