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Patrick O'Connor, longtime dance writer and enthusiast

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Patrick O'Connor, once a fixture in an around NYC, before moving to the other US cities, died yesterday; he was in his 80s.

A founding member and one-time president of the Dance Critics Association, he reviewed for print, radio, and tv.

His position at Popular Library, the paperback publisher, led him to see that collections of Edwin Denby made it to the pocketbook format; likewise, Don McDonagh's biography of Martha Graham and any number of others too I suppose.

I seem to recall an early review of his either being entitled "I love Meredith Monk's mother" or that was the first sentence? or both?

He was the first dance and theater reviewer for "Thirteen in New York" an affiliate of PBS's Ch. 13 in NYC.

More data will likely be noted and if it contradicts anything stated here I'll try to correct this hasty post.

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the following has been sent to me about Patrick O'Connor:


Patrick O’Connor, writer, theatre and dance critic, publisher, television producer, poet, and theatre director, died from complications of pneumonia on Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Houston, Texas. He was 87.

E.F. Benson, the author of the Mapp and Lucia books, owed a huge debt to Patrick O’Connor who published the series in this country when he was at CBS Books, NAL, Warner Books, Pocket Books, among others. (Patrick actually used Mapplucia as his email address.) He also published a series of first-and-only novels by the likes of New York City Ballet’s Lincoln Kirstein and The New Yorker’s Janet Flanner (“Genet” was her nom de plume) and he annually commissioned a “beach” novel, always with great success. He was the first person to publish the now legendary Edwin Denby in book form. At the other end of the spectrum, Patrick edited (Father) Andrew Greeley, the Chicago-based priest who wrote best-selling (trashy) novels.

(Robert) Patrick O’Connor was born in coal territory, Braddock, Pennsylvania, the eldest of five, on August 26, 1925. His father was the soccer coach at the local high school. Braddock continued to play a major role in Patrick’s life: up until quite recently, Patrick wrote a weekly-ish column for the local paper, The Valley Mirror, about his life and experiences from all over the country and the world. He continued to review theatre. celebrating the Oregon Shakespeare Festival which he attended for at least one week every year (until this one). His first book, No Point for Fritz (1976) was all poetry His second, Don’t Look Back: A Memoir (1978), like the third, which will be issued posthumously, is a collection of short pieces. He served as editor for The Prayers of Man, an anthology. During the 1960 and 70’s, he was the first on-air reviewer of both theatre and dance at the then-new Channel 13/WNET New York. More recently, he reported on the arts on Lee Ryan’s program on WBAI.

After Patrick had attended Catholic University where his classmates became life-long friends included Sada Thompson and Philip Bosco and where he studied with New York Times critic Walter Kerr (Patrick would quote Kerr on the subject of Chekhov; Kerr said that Chekhov was not a playwright. This, of course, appalled almost everyone). During World War II, he was assigned to the Oregon National Guard in the South Pacific,

With his Catholic University friends, he ran a theatre troupe in Rochester (Olympia Dukakis was the box office treasurer), eventually coming to New York where he had a variety of jobs, including that of assistant to a theatrical agent. One of his very best friends was Norma Lee Clark, Woody Allen’s secretary for 30 years, who was encouraged by Patrick to start writing. She had quite a bit of success with her bodice-rippers.

Patrick was a major fan of everything. (Were you to ask him how he enjoyed a performance, he inevitably replied, “I was crazy about it.”). He had on-going correspondence with a wide range of artists, writers and academics; among them Paul Taylor. F. Scott Fitzgerald expert Matthew Bruccoli and Robert Wilson. He launched many careers, including those of Leonard Maltin and Michael Medvedev and he mentored Hilton Als, now a staff writer and theatre critic at the New Yorker and professor at Columbia University.

Patrick was a founding member of the Dance Critics Association and also served as its president and conference coordinator, dipping into his own pocket when DCA’s funds were frozen. Whenever a dance book was published, he would insist that he be sent a copy and a second one be sent to the Patrick O’Connor Dance Library in Israel. As a dance critic (and sometime judge), he attended the annual competition in Varna, Bulgaria.

Patrick also taught a summer course at Harvard in book publishing. He also taught at the University of Colorado/Boulder

He made many, many life-long friends. One of them was an East German scientist whose son is one of Patrick’s godchildren and to whom Patrick would send long-playing records. For years, his friend would express his confusion about Patrick’s choice of records: why send us classical records? One day, he decided to listen to one. It turned out that Patrick had been sneaking jazz records into East Germany in Beethoven sleeves.

Patrick had lived in New York City most of his adult life, moving to Killington, Vermont so his partner, the late Andrew Ciesielski and he could be ski instructors. Then they moved to Glendale, California and also had a home in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Patrick was cremated. There will be memorials in Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale at a later time. He is survived by two sisters and one brother, dozens of nieces and nephews, many grandnieces and grandnephews and by his partner, Bill Sansom of Houston.

additionally, the following has been noted: The family has agreed that any memorial contributions be made to the Dance Critics Association.

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We just received the following press release regarding a memorial service and two celebrations that will be held for Mr. O'Connor:


New York Service to be Held on December 15

A memorial service for editor, dance critic, poet, and author Patrick O'Connor will be held in New York City on Saturday, December 15, at 11:00 AM, at the Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, with a reception to follow. All who wish to attend are welcome.

For the convenience of his many friends across the country, additional celebrations of Patrick's life will be held in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday, January 20, 2013 and in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday, February 24, 2013.

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Thanks, rg, for this material. I did not know Mr. O'Connor's name, but am struck by how many of he people he worked with have had significance in my life.. Like Peggy, I'm a fan of the Benson books. Long ago I spent a day in Rye, not to visit "Henry James's house," but to explore the house in which Mapp and then Lucia lived, and other places where they had their adventures.

I loved one little touch in the obituary: that Mr. O'Connor moved up to Vermont at one point

so his partner, the late Andrew Ciesielski and he could be ski instructors.
So many interests, talents, experiences, and friends -- That's the kind of life I respect. clapping.gif
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