Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Daniel McDonald (1960-2007)

Being a huge fan of Broadway, I was shocked and saddened when I read yesterday that Scranton native and Broadway actor Daniel McDonald died on February 15th at the age of 46. In addition to his Tony-nominated work on the New York stage, McDonald made several appearances on TV and in film.

Daniel McDonald was born in Scranton, PA on July 30, 1960. He was raised in Romulus, NY and was the youngest of seven children (his brother is actor Christopher McDonald (Thelma & Louise, Quiz Show). He graduated from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY and also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

McDonald's work on the Broadway stage includes 1997's Steel Pier, a Kander and Ebb musical set in Atlantic City, which earned him a Best Actor Tony nomination; he also won the Theatre World Award foor best Actor for the role. McDonald also starred in the stage version of Cole Porter's High Society in 1998. His most recent work on Broadway was as a replacement in the role of Sam Carmichael, one of Sophie's three possible dads in the smash musical Mamma Mia!

He also wrote and starred in Chesterfield, a one-act inspired by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, which played in both New York and Los Angeles.

McDonald made his film debut in the 1984 sex comedy Where The Boys Are '84, co-starring Lisa Hartman. In a 2001 interview on, McDonald looked back fondly and humorously on the making of his debut movie. His other roles include 1985's The Falcon and the Snowman, starring Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton, 1993's What's Love Got To Do With It? starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, and Ang Lee's 1997 film The Ice Storm, starring Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, Tobey Maguire and Christina Ricci.

McDonald's television credits include episodes of Law and Order, D.C., Sex & the City, and CSI: Miami.

Daniel McDonald died Thursday, February 15th, 2007 in New York City after a long and brave battle with brain cancer. He is survived by his wife and two children. His obituary has appeared in newspapers across the country, including USA Today and the Broadway magazine Playbill.

According to, McDonald was recording a CD of standards from the American songbook including two songs from Steel Pier. That album is due to be released in April.

One of Daniel McDonald's songs, First You Dream, from Steel Pier (a duet with Karen ZiƩmba), is featured on a CD titled Broadway in Love, which is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System by clicking here.

To make a donation in Daniel's memory to Team Continuum, which cares for the immediate needs of cancer patients from all over the world, click here.

The Reference Department sends our heartfelt condolences to Daniel McDonald's family on the passing of this truly talented Scranton native.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"South of Scranton" by Peter Blume (1931)

Peter Blume (American, born Russia, 1906–1992)
South of Scranton, 1931
Oil on canvas; H. 56, W. 66 in. (142.2 x 167 cm)
George A. Hearn Fund, 1942 (42.155)
© Estate of Peter Blume/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Image Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC

In addition to film and music, Scranton, Pennsylvania also has a history as inspiration of fine art, as depicted in Peter Blume's 1931 surrealist painting South of Scranton, which was inspired by a car trip he took here in the Spring of 1930.

Artist Peter Blume (1906-1992) was born October 27, 1906 in Smorgon, Russia; he and his family emigrated to the United States in 1911 and settled in New York City.

Burke died on November 30, 1992 in New York City. He studied art at the Educational Alliance Art School from 1919 to 1924, at the Art Students League of New York and at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design. He had his first one-man show in New York City in 1930.

Blume's art first gained fame and notoriety with the exhibition of his 1931 painting South of Scranton. Taking about a year and a half to complete, the painting was inspired by a car trip Blume took across Pennsylvania. Often stopping for repairs, Blume was inspired by the coal mines, locamotives and steel mills he encountered along his trip. He told reporters at the time, "I moved in my mind from Scranton to Bethlehem to Charleston.... Things lost their logical connection as they do in a dream."

South of Scranton was awarded first prize at the 1934 Carnegie International Exhibition; its selection for the prize evoked both harsh criticism and glowing praise from the art world. In 1942, South of Scranton won the second prize at the Artists for Victory Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. During World War II it was sent to the Tate Gallery in London by the U.S. Government as one of a group of outstanding works by living American artists.

Peter Blume died in New York City on Nov. 30, 1992.

South of Scranton is part of the Permanant Collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.