Ben Gazzara

(Only a bit of linguistics in this.)

In yesterday’s news, the death of Ben Gazzara. From Matt Schudel’s obituary in the Washington Post:

Ben Gazzara, an actor with a quiet, brooding intensity who was featured in films and on Broadway and who starred in the 1960s television series “Run for Your Life,” [and much much more] died Feb. 3 in New York City. He was 81.

… Biagio Anthony Gazzara was born Aug. 28, 1930, in New York City. His parents were Sicilian immigrants, and he grew up speaking Italian.

“Immigrant Italians weren’t geared toward literature,” he said in 1998, “so movies were our novels, and I grew up on the best: Cagney, Bogart, Cary Grant, Gable, Wallace Beery — wonderful actors. Then when I was 12, I was in a play at the Boys Club, and once I heard the applause I was sold.”

… In his 2004 autobiography, “In the Moment,” Mr. Gazzara admitted to occasional problems with alcohol and depression and that he’d had affairs with many women, including actresses Audrey Hepburn, Eva Gabor and Elaine Stritch. [this in addition to three wives]

Two little linguistic points (beyond the Americanization of his name).

First, Gazzara and Stritch came up a while ago on this blog, in connection with the expression confirmed bachelor (here), believe it or not. Rock Hudson was the confirmed bachelor in question, and I recommended watching Stritch’s wonderful   tale of dumping her then-boyfriend Gazzara for Rock Hudson, ending with “We all know what a bum decision that turned out to be!”

Second, there’s the coordination of non-parallel constituents in Schudel’s:

admitted to occasional problems with alcohol and depression and that he’d had affairs with many women

which has two objects of admitted: an oblique object (with the P to) and a direct object that-clause. I’ve posted on this blog about non-parallelism in purpose adjuncts (here and here), but I seem to have only one other example in my files with an oblique object together with a direct object that-clause:

Mr. Oechsner said that a former student, now a police lieutenant, recalled playing there as a child and being told that the [underground] rooms stretched all the way to the Metro-North Railroad tracks, and about a small dock where food and cattle could be unloaded and moved through the rooms. (Barbara Whitaker, “Sinkhole Opens Underground Mystery”, NYT 7/14/07, p. A12)

This one has the that-clause first, while the Schudel sentence has it second.

Not parallel, but not hard to process, and I’ve repeatedly questioned paralellism as a rigid condition on the well-formedness of coordinated constituents.

One Response to “Ben Gazzara”

  1. Elaine Stritch | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] 2/5/12 “Ben Gazzara” […]

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