At the Music Box Theater on Hollywood Boulevard Thursday evening, the Hollywood community said good-bye to legendary preservationist Robert Nudelman, who died in May at the age of 52. Nudelman was director of preservation issues at Hollywood Heritage, an advocacy group that seeks to maintain and refurbish old Hollywood. Last night, friends, colleagues, and sometime foes gave him a tribute.
At the time of his death, Nudelman was working on 58 different preservation projects. He was also a man of many interests, according to friends who spoke at the memorial, who loved film and baseball.
A standing room-only crowd attended the service, which also raised money for the newly established “The Robert W. Nudelman Memorial Preservation Fund.”
“This is a totally surreal event that he's not here,” said friend and Hollywood Heritage President Marc Wanamaker (above), who also co-authored two books with Nudelman. “But he is here.”
“I'd talk with (Nudelman) for two hours and then realize he was writing the Hollywood Heritage newsletter,” recalled Kip Rudd (above), a senior planner at the Community Redevelopment Agency, who often tangled with Nudelman on development issues in Hollywood but forged a respectful relationship with the preservationist. “I'd go home and over the weekend I'd obsess over the headline he would write.” The line received loud, knowing laughs from the audience.
Valerie Yaros (center), another friend who also collected “Nudelisms”–witty rejoinders the preservationist was known for–remembered the time when at a Hollywood Heritage meeting a member didn't care for one of Nudelman's comments. “Someone is trying to be smart,” the man said. “I wasn't TRYing,” Nudelman quickly shot back.
Todd Fisher (above), son of movie star Debbie Reynolds, talked about Nudelman's passionate work in collecting Hollywood memorabilia for the actress's motion picture museum being built in Tennessee.
“Over the years,” Fisher said, “I think he single-handedly supported EBay…Nudelman was as fanatical about saving Hollywood as my mother.”
Fisher also said, “My mother has a history of men letting her down. But she once said Robert was one of the few men in her life that never let her down.”
Robert Silverstein, who often represented Hollywood Heritage in lawsuits against the city of Los Angeles and others and worked closely with Nudelman, said of the preservationist, “The selflessness was amazing, and we were kindred souls who would work until 3 a.m. everyday.”
Silverstein additionally recalled, “A dazzling intellect…a surprising humility. It was fun to work with him.”
For one night in Hollywood, Robert Nudelman was finally the headliner on the marquee.