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Abe Lass, Piano Player of the Silent Movies

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Manhattan Ave & Milton St Brooklyn NY 11222 USA

At the age of 16, Abe Lass began playing piano to the silent movies at the Old Eagle Theater in Borough Park, Brooklyn. He became, as stated in his "New York Times" obituary, "a master of improvisation, churning out falling-over-a-cliff music, lovers-kissing music and what he called 'hurry' music to go with wild screen chases, and he did it every weekend for four years, helping to pay his way through college." He was born on September 16, 1907. When he died at the age of 93, he was considered by many to be the oldest living silent movie piano player. He always insisted to us that he was a "piano player," not a "pianist." But, according to his wife, Sylvia Cole, his playing still made "the girls daffy."

Credits: Interview with Abe Lass conducted by producers Dave Isay and Steve Zeitlin for "American Talkers" series on WNYC. First broadcast November 9, 1997. Co-sponsored by City Lore and Sound Portraits. (4:06)