Ruth Antonofsky and Alicia Kaplan
DescriptionCaptivating conversation between mother and daughter, both actresses, about time in New York, in Venezuela, and the loves of their lives.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Ruth Antonofsky
- Alicia Kaplan
Recording LocationGrand Central Terminal
Venue / Recording Kit
- anecdotes (humorous but true stories)
- birth of first child
- family characters
- family favorite songs and poems
- Family singing groups that performed in Venezuela
- family trips and excursions
- Harsh words for obese people
- labor movements and unions
- memories of growing up
- Moving to Venezuela
- personal experiences
- song composing
- Theater non-profit in Harlem
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00:01 Hello, my name is Alicia Kaplan. I'm here with my mother Ruth antonofsky. We are.
00:10 What's the date? It's June 3rd in the year of Our Lord 2007 in New York City at Grand Central Station at the Biltmore. No less.
00:26 Well, I'm her mom and I see on the form. It says name Ruth antonofsky age. I got to the point where I don't discuss my age. They still June and here we are. We are going to talk about many things. So just listen.
00:49 Okay, Mom. What was the happiest moment of your life?
00:56 The happiest moment. I've had so many happy moments. I can't say one. I'll give me a couple then. I'll give you a couple.
01:05 The birth of my first baby just the first that wasn't me. That was Betty. I know when she's a film director in LA and well, okay. So that was the one of the happiest moments or alive. Yes. Well, I tell you when I had my two kids Daniel and Sarah Rivas both times. It was happy. It was always happy. I love my children. Of course. I'm with a very big disciplinarian as Alicea can tell you too much. He believed in in physical punishment. Well, I got that from my Russian parents, but they were good kids that we were and then we had a trio I sent hell. Yeah, we will wear ballet dances. Did she ever tell you that? No, I haven't even started. I mean I wanted to go a little into your childhood or near in New York City and you're my grandparents your parents would Russian.
02:05 Now as they would say Ukrainian immigrants, well, my mother was from Austria, but we was so poor. I was one of the dead end kids. I did everything. I was one of the boys by had three brothers.
02:20 We did everything everything to you. Well, we stole they'll be after you never too late shopping bags when I was eight. Nine years old shopping bags in the marketplace. How did I ever get to be such an entrepreneur?
02:39 Necessity necessity my father at one point was even considered a terrorist. That's that word has a different kind of Tatian today at does soap explain yourself. Thank you. Well, actually when he first came here with a good-looking Russian with blond hair, he was a stevedore and then he got involved in the clothing industry and at that time there was no Union so
03:07 He tried with other stuff form of Union and that's how we they went up to one place and Toro V fabrics and everything. And that was the story. That's why we were so poor. He was blacklisted. When was he thrown in jail for that or no? I didn't but they were going to find him but he had no money so they didn't but wasn't that the point that they wanted to form a union. Is that okay? That's what they were forming the workers closing Union. And that was the beginning. That sounds really cool. How about your mom Fanny Horowitz Fannie Mae Grandma by the willow Grandma well because there was no money there was always fighting they were always fighting and
03:54 What was I going to say? She
03:57 Awesome, red cards at on occasion. She was a witch and I'm the daughter of a witch and it comes in handy sometime and I'm the granddaughter of a witch and that comes in handy to watch it. Watch it. I'm at my my first husband while I was washing. The kitchen floor is her first husband. She means my dad your dad and I was just going to ask you that always say I'll beat you to the punch. I'll tell us about meeting Bernard Kaplan Kaplan. He was a student at Cooper Union and he was a good friend with my brother.
04:33 All of this is after the war or just before the war with the second world war what we're talkin about the Second World War. I mean if it was the first time you should see what my mom looks like as a spirit know. It's a beautiful woman still on the movie. Then we could see a matter of fact. I must have been in love with some point with somebody. Who who are you in love with I won't get into that. You were no love when my father he just happened to be there. He's just happened to be there. I wasn't really in love with him my really big love affair with David Artic, but I was so much laid or mama so much less a second cousin David Rd. I actually was present. This was at the funeral of Bernard Herrmann Bernard Herrmann, which is also your was your second with old as my second grade composer of the Hitchcock films, right? He also have and I happen to be in the elevator and I actually wrote the play about this to do. Yes.
05:33 Yes, I did. I think I'm selling banished though at the funeral home when you met him. Yes. I saw this man walking down the stairs and our eyes met and that was the end of me.
05:50 And when he asked me for my name I said well, I'm Ruth a Catholic man. I'm in the phone book. That's after I left Venezuela to come to New York. And that's a whole other story. Do you want to continue with this story or should we go back a little when you took your three kids to Venezuela. My father was working there right away would grow up in Venezuela, right? That's why they're Spanish is so good. Say we going to school in Spanish and we even went at one point when Betty graduated high school, we learned my sister writes her firstborn like nothing to do with my second one. I loved her justice. I just happen to live in New York, but you got to see me all the time. Thank God because she's responsible for me now, you know.
06:36 Should I mention it so you can mention whatever you want. I've had open heart surgery 6 months ago. So just think of the responsibility that Alicia has your company hate. She's also my best friend. That's true and she's mine when we go on dates together when he graduated and we took a trip to kanaima and then we went to Angel Falls is Angel Falls and in Venezuela has the highest waterfall in the world is the 9th Wonder. I actually remember going there also, my little brother. He was twelve at the time Rodger Kaplan, right? I got a song about Rodger Kaplan you want to sing in there that would be you know, when my two daughters were born. I didn't want them to be jealous when life.
07:29 Baby was born to keep the kids happy. I did a little number and we quoted Rodger call. It's a song and she does some of the acting in it, but you can't see of coils Rodger Pol Rodger. Poole. Rodger was an Indian chief Rodger Pol Rodger Rodger lived in a great big tent made of brick and cement Rodger Rodger Paul everyday, he'd go out hunting in his to sky blue bunting Rodger. One day. They know Rodger had two sisters Fair. They had long ago, LOL.
08:29 I took a trip on a big white sailing ship to Atlanta. So very far away where day is night and night is day Rodger pool. Now, this is a story that has no end. So sing and dance and just pretend
08:50 Well, you know actually this is a true story because the ship we took was the graceline which brought us to Venezuela. I actually remember being on that ship and all I had to do is change diapers on Rodger about me with my two. They're only 17 months apart much later much later. Maybe you want to talk about how in Venezuela really became involved for the Arts and you became the favorite choreographer of Maria Luis Escobar and years later when we went to Venezuela, we actually
09:25 We encounter this a statue of hers new release founder of the composer's Union in Venezuela and Mom. I remember you stuck Us in Olivehurst sarswela operettas, you were doing the choreography and I even remember playing Tinkerbell and some weird Operetta that she had with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. I was once Upon Jesus people in Venezuela. She wants to the television program every week. We rehearse on Tuesday and Friday. We do it live live television live television and one day I was American Indian Mohawk from New York what she said you were an indigenous person and you made that joke, you said yes. I'm rich Mohawk from New York. Well, I tell you we really had a lot of fun, you know, incidentally. I also taught ballet at the Escuela de sueldo.
10:25 Susie mudos and that is the school of and well knows it's definitely has a politically correct name and I actually don't remember going to help you remember that it was a nun's they were just marvellous and they went they would be there with you showing the students how to do plie and run on every Venezuela has more Saints days than any other country icing and we had to put on a performance for everything today. And at that time we had a little luck. What do you call it again? But with the types, you know, I was I was doing Pat McGee by Beethoven and the girls went dancing, you know where they are flowing gown and there was a poor sister and a nun turned off the type. I do my God turn it back on cuz I was leading them like a musician behind one of the posts like this the way is that they had to
11:25 Look at you and they also could feel the floor. They didn't feel anything because it was concrete floor. As I was with marble floors time ago will a long time ago. We still had marble floors in Venezuela didn't have the wooden floors and they didn't know all about the teaching. You know, now they write books about teaching people that have problems deaf and dumb project to you. I'm sure they have well anyway in the city of Franklin and we were with Nina know about us. Well, I'm yes, oh my goodness and then I was doing some choreography for the Caracas theater club and we did the love for kernels. So I reach Colonel had a little bit, you know of any English Colonel of these
12:21 I think though that plays by Peter Ustinov. Yep, and you know, and then for the 10th Street rag that we need we did I told the girls to do a little bump and grind and it was so young. Well, we had a review and in the end we were the Caracas do bumps and grinds so much for that open for that. Now, let's talk about my second love affair, or do you want to talk about your
12:53 Do do I want to talk now? That's what you took. Well David jajek my love my true love.
13:04 I met a man that loves the first love affair that I had better late than never exactly. That's what I'm telling you you're gorgeous now kid now is the time to make hay while the sun shines before the sun sets the sense of humor that gal as well. Anyway, David jarnac was an inventor. He invented a high-velocity all-purpose weapon that can fire thirty thousand rounds a minute.
13:34 Get it. Yes. Yes, and so through him I met many influential people in Washington and he had a company tround International David passed away in 1999.
13:49 And we had this weapon and storage with files and everything in California. So I wrote to vice president Cheney asking him to help me. I'd like to sell it to some.
14:04 Renown company, that was the only inheritance that David left me.
14:12 As soon as vice president Cheney got the letter he sent to FBI agents after me. So I'm on the most wanted list. No. No, but the funny thing was is that you had lost your purse or something on the van, right? And then they they recover that you went to the police station until you came to your your apartment. You thought they were bringing back your pie. It's yo cuz I wanted my parts and it was an aluminum pots and very old and but I'll tell him he just aggressive minute. The police will wonderful. I went to the police station on 54th Street. They hunted down the bus. Nobody had touched anyting the bus came back down to 14th Street and everything was intact so I don't remember because I joined you there but it's okay, but go back to the other FBI. How can I thank them.
15:09 I made a pie an apple pie with walnuts and raisins in it and brought it to them. And then I want them like pie dish back 12 week went by another week. Then. I'm home. One day no makeup know anything and suddenly the guard downstairs said, oh there are two policemen coming up to see you know, that there are two people coming up to see you. So I open the door and I'm standing there and I said, so you finally returned my pie dish they feel they must have thought I was nuts.
15:40 Anyway, you know, I live in a loft. So I wanted a when they came and I wanted to show me some of the lettuce. Do you know they actually followed me into the other part of that house right that you can take out your secret weapon and could be up. Well at night when I called Betty in California that living sister. Can you handle it for me?
16:02 I don't want them just to take the guns or I think it's a storage facility was in California. Right? And it was like a 7 Foot by 4 by 4 crate. I have photographs of that. Right and you kept trying to Neil they took it away right away. And I rode to vice president Cheney. I wrote to the ATF that's Alcohol Tobacco firearms, and now they have explosives to will you wanted to for them to to pay you some Taiwan? Yes. So now what happened? You do know, there's something that's with. Well, she was able to get you no signatures that they have everything that they've taken and weeks months go by years go by I've written to them they were and I said, well, I wasn't allowed to have it because it wasn't registered to me and then they one of their lettuce said anyting before 1980 did not have to be registered.
17:02 David had invented it when he was with TRW so you actually had a letter saying that they were giving it to him. Well, not only that but people at TRW cuz this was invented around 1950 or so. They no longer knew anything about it's because I no longer the weapons business. So here am I
17:24 Now Betty has found a museum in Washington a naval museum that wants to take it that wants to exhibit at the ATF has said they destroyed it. I do believe it. That's pretty disgusting though. They wouldn't that is it is a friend of mine said that David dardick, you know, your late husband was included in some documentary on arms, right? I mean weapon everybody I did a film in Argentina do know that everybody knew about David Artic he had at some point. Oh well. Oh, well, that's why now after you have a little about little Alicia Kaplan after me please and let me inject when your interjecting. Well, I grew up in Venezuela.
18:17 And I was lucky and privileged to since I had a totally bilingual education. I came up here.
18:25 Went to the Center for stanislavski Arts, which we all did we all did we skip any antonette's will go back to that in the morning. If we have time my soon-to-be husband and after having done a lot of theater here and where I felt most comfortable is in the Hispanic theater. I actually work with several groups here including repertorio espanol. I was so comfortable and even more comfortable working in theater in Spanish.
18:55 I know it only that your husband wants to getting to that I met him my my ex-husband we went to Mexico together was very young and she did a lot of theater their films soaps everything and when I became pregnant with my first born later to be known as Daniel Rivas we came back and we had restaurants and I guess soon my daughter arrived Sarah Rivas and I took time off from the theater.
19:28 Well when things went South in this marriage, I actually he's out because he was a womanizer my story please
19:38 Reviews are subjective. But that was part of it. Whatever he had. It's like not of interest to the story. The story is basically about what happened to me and how I progress my two kids two babies and I actually, you know, I raised them myself I gave them. That's how I say, I first became a non-profit because I was writing Leathers about getting them scholarships for everything because no child support. No alimony. Nothing was basically me on my own. I asked you went back into the theater. I did a play with the Puerto Rican traveling theater with medium colon.
20:18 I also became more and more involved than I too would drag my kids with me. If I was doing a film they be on the film said if I was doing a play they would be on the unit on the set. I got them involved will never forget when Danny was with Devin Warren Beatty and they're doing the take over and over he so it goes up to Wine. He's a Little Tike and he said why must we do this again. He was going to bring you the Reds that was the red Reddit. He was really little in Hay was also in Sid and Nancy. That's how we got to Sag papers. That was also very little and thank God I got my sag cards to my union card that has helped me tremendously Union people. What can I say? But let me go about these. I want to talk a little about then he sat there which is my nonprofit which we actually do theater in East Harlem.
21:08 And of course is named after my best Productions, which are still works in progress, which are Daniel and Sarah and you know, that's been part of the Hispanic world. I was awarded and I said a word, you know Association the cronistas espectaculo, which is the New York Association of New York Latino critics based on what my company has done for theater in New York City. I mean, this is besides working as an actress besides trying to earn a living besides trying to learn the living. So that's that's where I am. Now, we we do play writing workshops in East Harlem. We put on the Festival of bilingual theater Festival, which we've actually done for the last 15 years.
21:58 And in the past year
22:02 This person is going to Washington DC and done a classical 15th century play with the gala theater and rufian quickest route show and also another idea like the one you did dinner dinner for two dinner for two. She was absolutely adorable. So you can dye my best critic right Thalia theater and then done washing exactly the same Play Beautiful play Santiago moncada spanish author.
22:35 And the ones that I did now it was just recently last year up with a Puerto Rican traveling theater. We do the tour. This is one of the beautiful things that this theater group is done. I think the last let's see the group's been around for 40 years while direction of medium cologne and it sores all the parks and senior centers in churches in and you don't and usually I try to follow along to see what she's doing say she's my official photographer when I get things in East Harlem that he said that she's there taking pictures and when we did the stores is there taking pictures and it was a lot of fun lot of fun.
23:16 Okay, what's this now? I'll read you don't know where and who I might have been thinking about. This is a poem you wrote. What evil spirit possessed me to think that for one brief moment. I still on the brink of immortality.
23:33 And that's what you lured Me Through Your Eyes was desire that sprang on forbidden.
23:39 For which for when I looked again you were not there?
23:46 So, what did you write this?
23:48 Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on must have been an adolescent. So who are you in love with? I don't know. I know I had a crush on for a while there. I had a crush on my physiography teacher, but that's besides the point. Let's get to some of the songs. Oh, yes, my mom composes songs, which I agree with you the full actually. I mean the lyrics are incredible and like the end of an affair.
24:15 They said I'm Just a Fool a fool to fall in love with you.
24:21 How else can I explain other kisses are not the same?
24:28 That's what they say is true. But what else can I do?
24:33 They said you tell me lies disguised in a thousand size.
24:40 But I will never know but they will never know that I'll still love you. So and regardless what they say. I still need yours. Anyway, that's beautiful. What you need is to have some famous singer sings. He's so you have the music I have the music. It's copyrighted. We got to get it out there because some of the music that's out there now the Hip Hop, how can you fall in love with anybody like something around all the new generation as what they do they fall in love around hopefully not losing their pants when they do stuff will they might they might things have changed considerably since I was a girl voice change sometimes doesn't change how good any romance and nausea.
25:33 Well, I could have made my secret crushes to the whole well, well, so what else what else? Let me look at some of these what what are your what would you most like to do now? What what I'm doing, which is I am an actress.
25:55 And that's what I'd like to do.
25:59 I don't think I at this moment that I can do stage where it's just too much but still I'm ready for that. Well, if you could do anything in your life differently, what would you do nothing without love what I did I am if when when my make a calls me? I'm ready. I just hope he makes a quick so I don't have any lingering lingering makes it quick. So like if I walk out of here I pop down so that would be great to have the responsibility hopefully and we got to see those great-grandchildren. What are they doing? Excuse me? I'm actually the person that had children here.
26:46 Well in my day go that's I'm starting to write a a bit of a movie.
26:54 You know, I couldn't get pregnant immediately. And I remember I had little canaries and they were laying eggs. And my mother would come by and see the canaries can reproduce. What about you? That's her mother. That's my mother especially in that generation work. I'll have you got married you have to have children and family didn't get married her you didn't have children. I was like forget about it.
27:20 Well times have changed you want to go into that about the times change know about how you are pregnant. I don't know.
27:31 Well, what do you think? Maybe you should save it for the movie. I'll save it to the movie.
27:38 Right. That's that's good. Yeah, I don't think I want to discuss it right now.
27:45 How would you like to be remembered?
27:49 As a mother
27:55 And Rodger
27:58 Rogers up in Ithaca, he works for the synchrotron lab off of Cornell.
28:03 The only one of us that never had any autistic Tendencies D&R family. He's the black sheep and yet when he was 12 years old, he was able to do a double tour, you know, the devil tour is a Classical Ballet, but after that that was his last performance and a thousand years of Christianity in Poland.
28:27 Nope. No, that was the celebration of that. You have to clarify that. I'm sorry. I know sometimes my so what's move ahead too fast. Is there something about me that you always wanted to know but I've never asked back, you know me about you and then I'll say you know the same thing about you know, do I?
28:56 Always felt that you felt that you were in love, but you were always because you're the second child. That's why I was the middle one the middle one that you happened. That's how you started this interview saying, you know, your happiest moment was when your first child was born. That's true. I was my bester but I was still the happy when you you came very fast as a matter of fact, I had no problems with any out you were yeah. That was great. We had a great time.
29:30 Definitely. Definitely we've been at several cruises right away. Oh at least you and I went to where did we go? We flew to Copenhagen.
29:40 And then we took a ship we went to that I can see right. Yeah, and we went to St Petersburg and we were there window with a white nights.
29:51 Beautiful. I was beautiful. Also. We took the trip on the Queen Elizabeth the last journey. We took on the Queen Elizabeth with Betty at least he likes to sleep late a little my secrets know but still, you know, we were in that we don't have money. So we were in the very we were in steerage you might say but the captain took such a shine to us. He sends three messages down to invite each one of us to his party and you took a shine to him. I took a shine to him and I was and I was just kidding he was cute, but I was furious with him because he wouldn't dance with me. But then later on as I came to think of it.
30:37 He couldn't just dance with me he have to dance with everybody said but he took his lunch at Queen Mary amazing, but then he didn't seem the same anymore. You know, it wasn't the Romantic captain of the ship regular guy. Oh, well, you know you always full for someone in the uniform. Well you speak for yourself. I could even fall in love with a policeman. Okay, Mom are in uniform. Okay, who is the
31:20 I actually do I was very little but there were moments that I actually remember I mean the real so, you know, there's certain things in your life that you remember remember what we came back here and we went to Niagara Falls and I remember that Betty slipped or something my sister Betty and I remember the dress that we were wearing these little dresses that you made mine was blue with little cats sign it and she had a pink one and I remember that she fell and then only thing I was going to fall into the Falls probably nothing to that effect, but even going to Venezuela and trip, I remember my father waiting for us and that little blue station wagon, which we called thumpy. I tell you that I must have not even been 3 years old, you know when this happened then do your memories of when it has? Oh, well, that's your memory still running.
32:12 So what what is your earliest memory mom my earliest memories of when?
32:18 My brother is a baby carriage. And that's the same time something. Is it Samson's Park pumpkin Square Park? Yeah, and I'm about to two and a half and I'm freezing and my father's talkin talkin talkin. He he always was a man's man. They were discussing you and their am I standing and freezing and I couldn't do anything about it.
32:48 I would have loved to crawl into the carriage with my brother and I'm not only that at one point that was kidnapped. I understand and then my father's friends. You know, he he knew everybody caught this person taking me into a cab and stop Timothy if you must have been a beautiful day. You must have been able to take your picture to take my picture. Oh God is woman. That's true. But thank God for that because at this moment in my life, I become a streetwalker, which is not
33:35 I love to walk love to walk through that doesn't make me a streetwalker but I watch people and the women now, they they come out with a hair disheveled. It's like they don't take time out to make themselves look better than they are in the age of be as comfortable. As you are all really know everybody with their little flip flops and I don't know how it goes from one extreme to the other. It's like we're these like 7 inch high heels and tight dresses and we're going jeans and flip-flops, but no mostly I see them in jeans and fat some of them up. Okay, don't don't start something against fat people right now and they might have been born that way. No they weren't
34:18 No, they weren't. Anyway, let's round up this interview anything that that we haven't discussed that you want to leave leave for posterity. What else can I say? All right when she when she decided at 1.00 mean I don't like this. I mean, you know you and you're forcing me. I said listen you belong to me say this is the mentality of those days. Anyway, this is something you started, you know that the trio with you and my sister and myself and we actually worked on all the channels in Venezuela all the Brandy channels and not only that but what was interesting is when the least she is telling me how she has to direct and costume and this and that I never realized what can I put in I never thought about it. I mean I did the choreography. I mean off of the records that I had which was Mack the Knife 12th Street rag.
35:18 When can I did the choreography I costumed everybody I had address mega mega, and you know, it's not like you're going to a shop here and buy a costume know but it was much better when hey when you get somebody to make your costume I had with the with the name again.
35:36 I forget but mama she had to talk about it living in Venezuela. I mean, it was a pretty comfy life. It was my dad was an engineer. Thank God. He supported us exactly what to do while your Artistic Endeavors with ride ride. But anyway, who would you like to listen to have listened to this interview who you like to dedicate this to dedicate you like your
36:12 Well your grandchildren to hear it's a little bits of your life. I'm sure they all know it well and how about your great-grandchildren? And well, I'm waiting for that if I live so long as I hope so I hope it's a glimpse. So they're busy with their careers, you know, everything occurs later nowadays. Yeah. Well, that's too bad. Anyway, Mom. I love you. I love you to do that's another thing every time we leave each other we say I love you and I tell each other when we get to wherever we're going. I love you because we never know at this point. That's true. You never know anybody.
36:52 Okay. Love you, too. Love you, Mom.