American Dreamer: My Story of Survival, Adventure, and by Robert Halmi Sr., Dan Gabbay

By Robert Halmi Sr., Dan Gabbay

On July 30, 2014, almost immediately after finishing this autobiography, Robert Halmi, the prolific manufacturer of tv videos and miniseries, died on the age of ninety. Hailed through sort as "A Gulliver between television motion picture Producers," he had a hand in additional than 2 hundred long-form narrative tv tasks from 1989's Lonesome Dove, starring Robert Duvall, to 2000's "Don Quixote" starring John Lithgow. full of quite a bit of the marquee expertise of the previous century, his existence story—from scuffling with opposed to the Nazis to turning into a photographer for all times and activities Illustrated to his tv work—is actually amazing.

Robert Halmi used to be born in Hungary to a father who served as authentic photographer to the Vatican and the final Habsburg court docket. while the Nazis invaded, he fought within the resistance, and prefer lots of his countrymen he was once captured and condemned to demise. however the advancing pink military freed him prior to the Germans may well perform the execution. Seeing the risks of the increasing Soviet empire, which additionally took carry of his place of birth in an army dictatorship, he grew to become heel and joined the OSS to struggle the autumn of the Iron Curtain. In 1951, with $5 in his pocket and a Leica round his neck, he made his solution to the USA. As a photographer for all times and activities Illustrated, he back showcased his Bond-like abilities for chasing event and dishonest demise through dangling from helicopters, searching large video game in Africa with dictators, blowing himself up, marooning himself on a glacier for 3 weeks, or even portray Marilyn Monroe's bare physique for a photograph shoot. within the 3rd act of his rollicking lifestyles, as a television magnate, he bought an superb 448 Emmy nods whereas befriending a Who's Who of Hollywood and dealing with the good boldface actors of our time: Jimmy Cagney gave him his final functionality. He chased George C. Scott (on a bender) via a resort. Omar Sharif did the Twist for him. He watched Patrick Stewart approximately drown at the again of an animatronic whale, and Isabella Rossellini braved a herd of rampaging elephants for him. He has lived the yankee dream to the hilt. A fast moving glance again at a existence constantly in growth, his outstanding tale unearths approximately a century of bold and boundless optimism even within the face of bad odds. It's a narrative of warfare, love, and ambition, the fundamental American story of a lifestyles lived huge.

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But Hungary resisted, backing Germany in word but not in deed, vowing to refrain from joining the war. The vow lasted until June 26. After planes identified as Soviet bombed the city of Kassa, the military in Budapest, overwhelmingly pro-German, demanded satisfaction. Two days later Hungary officially declared war on the Soviet Union. That the planes were in all likelihood stolen, piloted by and under the command of the German Luftwaffe, was beside the point. Hitler was exactly what Hungary was waiting for, the man on the white horse, the symbol of nationalism and victory—the trick of the aircraft the culmination of a thousand years of illusions and delusions.

We’d find out if we could shoot when the time came, taking turns lugging the thing around, a kind of Russian roulette: Who would be holding it when the time came to blast our way through a German patrol? After a few nights—we were moving south, figuring we’d find our way home sooner or later—our hunger made us brazen. We took a risk, picking out isolated farmhouses, knocking on doors, offering to work for our supper. We were close enough to Hungary now that communication wasn’t a problem. And it was astonishing how much these old farmers— all the young men gone—wanted to help.

It’s odd how the mind works. Of course I was scared, but strangely, my greatest concern in the backseat of that car was that I would be unable to keep my word to join Klâri for dinner. Would she ever forgive me? I asked the police where we were going and got the back of one of their hands for an answer. I didn’t ask again. The answer, it turned out—I could have saved myself a bloody lip if I’d just waited a couple of minutes—was the Royal Hotel. A real classy joint, which was why the German police had taken it over.

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