A Tribute to The Life and Times of Richard “Rick” A. Lertzman
On Sunday, April 18, 2021, at 6:16 PM, Rick sent me a text, “Go watch A Rainy Day in New York. It (sic) 2020 by Woody Allen. You will love it. Shot at the Carlyle, Plaza, etc. A romance letter to NYC.”
I replied, “Ok, thanks.” Little would I know that those would be our last words to one another and in less than forty-five minutes Rick would be gone from life fore-ever. How poignant as a hardcore Hollywood historian and movie buff, that Rick while sitting on his couch holding hands with his new bride, Kathy, would slip away so unexpectedly having just watched a film he so enjoyed.
Rick was a prolific, best selling author. We first met many years ago when he was researching his biography, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MICKEY ROONEY.
We became fast friends. Rick was a natural born storyteller whose books also included the most current release with Lon Davis, Deconstructing the Rat Pack: Joey, the Mob and the Summit, and with co author William J. Birnes- BEYOND COLUMBO: The Life and Times of Peter Falk, The Doctor Feelgood Casebook, and Dr. Feelgood: The Shocking Story of the doctor who may have changes history by treating and Drugging JFK, Marilyn, Elvis and other prominent figures. And his last solo tome of what was soon to be have been released – The Life and Times of Jerry Lewis.
Year after year, day after day, hour after hour, our conversations went from Hollywood, politics and etiquette, to the news of friends, family or current events. We had so much to say to one another we spoke almost daily for a decade.
When in 2020, Rick decided to have a podcast he invited me to be his first guest. A technician he was not. As time went on our four podcasts later, the audio improved. Nonetheless all were unscripted and freewheeling but always so supportive of my work. Honestly, I still don’t know what my recipes had to do with Hollywood other than everyone eats!
There were times the superlatives were in such abundance I had to remind Rick not to embellish my status. But that was Rick; he wanted to give a friend a boost. In fact, Rick wanted to give the websites and companies I contributed to a boost too.
Originally from the Cleveland, Ohio area, Rick studied film at USC. His life was not without great Shakespearean tragedy. His first marriage to Sandy produced two sons, Matthew and Tommy, all of who died prematurely in separate incidents. His second marriage to Diana brought two stepsons, Jason and Aaron, along with two grandchildren. Rick loved being a family man and embraced Diana’s as his own. However, once again darkness felled his life with the loss of Diana in 2019.
As fate would have it, Kathy entered his life just before COVID struck the world and the two clicked instantly. Some might be judgmental and say too soon. But it was a genuine love match. Rick doted on Kathy and visa versa.
I am so grateful to know that Rick left this world being loved and not alone. Rick was a very dear and good friend. He will be sorely missed.
My take away from this sudden loss is to stop and make time for those in your life. Don’t be so “crazed” with excuses, an overbooked schedule or take for granted that a tomorrow will be available. Tell the people you love just that and see or speak to them while you still can.
Here’s our last podcast together in March 2021:
Deconstructing The Rat Pack is available on Amazon.
©2021 Ellen Easton