Arthur B. Friedman
Professor of Film and Television, Emeritus
One of the most beloved professors for four decades, Art Friedman earned his B.A. at UCLA in 1941, majoring in sociology and economics while acting in more than 18 plays. During World War II he served in the Armed Forces Radio Services and by the time he was discharged in 1946 he was writing and producing documentary programs. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at USC and joined the UCLA Theater Arts Department to teach acting for the stage and radio production. At USC he met and married Madgel Hart - a union which produced four children (three sons and a daughter) and one grandchild. In 1951 Art helped establish the television curriculum, served as curator of the UCLA Television Archive, and taught broadcasting and production techniques while also creating, writing and directing television, radio and theater productions. He developed one of the first sports broadcasting training programs in any university, bringing famous sports personalities to campus. Many of these people later developed fruitful careers in radio and television after their sports careers were completed. Art always believed that students were “what it was all about” and whenever possible he would take his students with him on his research projects. One such project was a landmark series of documentary films on the California prison system, and another was a series of radio docu-dramas illustrating the accomplishments of specialized agencies of the United Nations which received awards and wide national and international distribution, putting the UCLA Radio, Television and Film program into the world spotlight.
One of Art’s most important accomplishments was his 100-plus interviews with the pioneers of entertainment both here and abroad in the award winning program Turning Point as part of the UCLA Oral History Project. These interviews captured voices and experiences of legendary entertainers and has proven to be of great historical and research value to the scholars of today. They can be found in the Charles E. Young Research Library. For Art his students were everything. Students with no place to go for the Thanksgiving holiday were invited to his home to taste his legendary turkey dressing and sup with the likes of Jean Renoir, Julius Epstein, or Norman Corwin. He always made them feel part of the family. His sense of humor was legendary. The consummate actor! A master of voices! On hearing a raucous laugh in the hallways, you knew Art was telling one of his stories - sometimes naughty, but always with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips. Art was a consummate actor appearing on series television such as Mannix, Star Trek, Rich Man Poor Man, War and Remembrance, the television movie The Girl the Gold Watch and Everything, as well as the motion picture Animal. He performed in countless theater productions around Los Angeles where critics raved about his portrayal of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. His award-winning performance in The Subject Was Roses was a family love affair as it also starred his beautiful wife Madgel and his actor son Darrel. Art’s energy was boundless and he approached everything with vigor, whether it was his many administrative assignments, the local neighborhood watch program, or in his lectures throughout the world at places such as the University of British Columbia, University of Southern California, Fundacao Armando Alvarado Penteaco, Faculte Des Arts Dramatiques, or the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Yugoslavia. He was a student of the world; a man who loved humanity and who shared this love. Following his retirement, he and Madgel traveled all over the world. Friends would look forward to the annual Christmas card that Art would create with a picture of he and Madgel on a camel somewhere in Egypt, or sitting on an elephant in Kuala Lumpur. Art had memberships in over a dozen scholarly and professional societies and there were many words that were often used to describe him: writer, director, producer, actor, adaptor, interviewer, teacher, mentor, father, husband, and professor emeritus. Dr. Arthur Friedman’s teaching career spanned 42 years until he retired in 1990. During that time he reached thousands of students who took away with them a little bit of the spirit and passion that was Arthur Friedman. He is in our memory and we will miss him.
Myrl A. Schreibman