Monday, September 16, 2019

Happy Birthday Dad

This is always a tough day because it was my father’s birthday. Cliff Levine would have been 92. He made it to 89. Only the good die too soon.

People ask where I got my sense of humor. It was from my dad. I was hoping for his looks, but the sense of humor has served me well.

I was lucky enough to have a great father. He’s always been my role model… except when it comes to playing golf or fixing things.

He was always supportive, which took some real doing. When your kid wants to be a Top 40 disc jockey or TV comedy writer and at 8 years-old was announcing Little League Games instead of playing them, I’m sure it took real willpower to not lock me in a crate. I see parents wrestling with their child wanting to be transgender and I think, yeah but it’s not like he wants to go into radio. And not only did Dad let me go off and follow my DJ dream, he even listened to me (once or twice). Forget FIELD OF DREAMS – that’s a father’s love.

Cliff (as I never called him) had a distinguished career in broadcast management and followed that up by doing charity work and acting on television. Eventually he became a star on our Nancy Travis series, ALMOST PERFECT (he really sold those two lines a show).

One of the great days of my life was May 15, 1982. Dad and I happened to both be in New York and on that Saturday he took me to Washington Heights to see where he grew up. And we got a drink together. There was a guy with a pushcart who had a fully functional bar (true story). So we stood in line and got a drink. This was 10 a.m.

I love him and miss him everyday. So please, whatever street corner you’re currently on, have the bartender pour you a cool one and raise a glass to Cliff Levine.

Cheers, Dad.


Mike Barer said...

CHEERS to your father! Having lost my father 3 years ago, I could really relate.

Arlen Peters said...

Lovely tribute to your dad Ken. So refreshing to hear such love and admiration for a father who was obviously an exceptional man. But you are the best tribute to your dad each day with all you've done and all you will do.

Pete Grossman said...

Thank you for your beautiful and humorous words about your dad. Like you, I have a supportive, loving father - as each day passes, we come to understand what an unusual thing this is - especially since two of us desired to go into show business at early ages. The other brother was the smart one and became a scientist.

Michael said...

A lovely piece that reminds those of us whose fathers are still among us that we need to give them an extra hug. I should note, your dad would especially appreciate a typo you have in the word doing.

John Hammes said...

We all join this fraternity/sorority in life. Certainly a fraternity/sorority we would all prefer not to be part of, but one that our parents, grandparents, etc. had to experience, also. There is some comfort, that life considers us worthy enough, to share this bond, this very bond our loved ones have gone through before.

My father also made it to 89. Great minds think alike.

Quite frankly, among the greatest gifts our parents leave with us, through their lifetime of example, is the practical knowledge and wisdom... of how to deal with all the nonsense that life likes to throw our way. (Yes, the more things change, etc., etc.)

Ken, you have clearly done well for yourself, for loved ones, for others. This is about as much as any parent could ask, of any of us. Keep on keeping on.

Anthony Hoffman said...

"He was always supportive, which took some real dong."

Not what you meant to type but I like this sentiment better. Ha.

Roger Owen Green said...

My dad didn't quite make it to 74. He died in 1974. Still sucks
My condolences

Peter said...

Cheers, Ken's Dad.

Unknown said...

A media reporter in Chicago mentioned your father:
Paragraph ~3/4 down the page

Anonymous said...

One of the two times I saw my dad cry was when his father died at the age of 70. He was always afraid he would go early, too. But Dad made it to almost 88 when he passed 6 years ago. An unusually cool day in mid July with his feet on the third baseline of the ball field below and headed for the front door of a Bass Pro Shop on top of the hill across from the cemetery. My mom knew what she was doing when she picked that spot.

Nice piece on your dad, Ken. We don't always realize what we have until its gone.

Pam, St. Louis

Mike Bloodworth said...

My dad died when I was six years old. So, I grew up without a permanent father figure in my life.
Over the years I've met people who've hated their fathers, loved their fathers, never knew their fathers, etc. Therefore, it's heartening to know that at least you had a loving relationship with your dad. You're a lucky man.

P.S. By the way, which one is he? And was Cliff Calvin named for your dad?

Tudor Queen said...

My condolences on this difficult day. Your father sounds like a champ in all ways. And I get the impression that the know-it-all postman and Momma's boy Cliff Clavin was NOT based on your dad!

My father died, unexpectedly, in early 2001. My mother died, all too expectedly, at the end of 2007. To this day I miss them both beyond words and can't quite get beyond the urge to call one or both with various news items. So I understand, to at least some extent, the hole in your life and heart.

franko said...

Children don’t “want” to be transgender any more than they “want” to be straight or blue-eyed or Chinese. They just are.

Unknown said...

Hey Ken

What a great tribute to your dad. The warm words elsewhere about your daughter and your wife's patience with you offer a real heartening glimpse into someone I think of as a TV writing genius (among many other things, you've helped me appreciate the gifts of Nancy Travis!).

Thanks for writing your blog and recording your podcasts. I read you everyday (except for the baseball stuff but even that makes me smile at how much enjoyment you are probably giving other readers). Your decency and the occasional bracing all caps FUCK YOU to worthwhile targets give me a sense of hope in these weird times.

Jon said...

My sister shared your dad's birthday. She turned 65 today.

My dad died April two years ago, the day before he would've turned 89. I was glad to have him as long as I did.

Norm said...

Beautiful words. May his memory be for a blessing.