The Creepy Neighbor
I wrote this for another thread about the creepy neighbor, but I want more people to see it and know more about the guy who played that role. He was my old friend Sidney Berger, who, you may be interested to know, had a long and productive life as a highly respected Drama teacher at the University of Houston. He was a grad student at the University of Kansas when his friend Herk Harvey, known then for educational and industrial films, asked him to play a small role in a theatrical film he was making. Sid jumped in and made his character so memorable that people like us still talk about it more than half a century later.
Over the years Sid made appearances at film festivals that showed Carnival of Souls, and he always got big laughs talking about the way critic Roger Ebert described him. Ebert said Berger's character was the "definitive study of a nerd in lust". I knew Sid by virtue of my work in the UH Broadcast Journalism Dept, and I would kid him about his claim to movie fame by describing him as an "erection with arms and legs". He liked my line better than Ebert's.
Dr. Sidney Berger was Dean of the Acting/Drama Department at University of Houston, and founder and Director of the annual Houston Shakespeare Festival. Over several decades his many students included Randy Quaid, Dennis Quaid, Brent Spiner. Robert Wuhl, Brett Cullen, James Franco, Jim Parsons, Cindy Pickett, just to name a few.
Berger understood his students' deep passion for Theatre. He understood this so well that he tenaciously and steadily brought well-known artists and technicians to the School of Theatre and Dance. Pulitzer Prize winners Edward Albee and Lanford Wilson, Tony Award winners Stuart Ostrow and Sir Peter Hall, Costume Designer Desmond Heeley, actor James Franco and actresses Elizabeth Ashley and Lois Chiles are among the many luminaries that Doc convinced to share their skills and talent, giving the students the opportunity to grow under the tutelage of sages in their chosen field.
Sid stepped down as Dean of the School of Theatre and Dance in July 2007, but he stayed on the faculty to teach acting. and continue directing the Shakespeare Festival and the Children's Theatre Festival. He died on February 15, 2013 in Houston, and his many friends and associates miss him terribly. He was a hugely fun guy to know and be around.
Most of my friends who have inferiority complexes are absolutely right.