"Thoughts On Bobby Helfer" by Elmer Bernstein
(Hollywood Musicians Union "Overture", 1970)

After the last academy award show was over, the musicians were leaving
the pit and I was getting my things together when I noticed that Bobby
was still sitting on his stool by the podium looking happy and content -
as I turned to him he said - "You know, I really don't want to leave
here" - and so we sat there for a few moments, the two of us, in the
rapidly emptying theatre, we sat there together listening to echoes
within the shell of the world that Bobby loved most - music and
theatrical excitement - it was a world through which he moved with
confidence, with dignity and with love.

His other world was the world of horses and racing - horse racing and
music have a mutuality in that they are both the stuff that dreams are
made of - Bobby had his share of success in thoe chosen areas and I was
priveleged to be a part of both.

He called one day just about 18 years ago now - he said - "You've never
heard of me but my name is Bobby Helfer and I want to get the musicians
for your next picture because I think I can do a good job for you. If
you're going to be around this town for long, you will find there are
times when you have to speak up for yourself".

Well, we did that job together but perfectionist that Bobby was, he
wasn't right about everything because it turned out he didn't have to
speak for himself as he had a little help from his friends ready to
speak up for him even then.

And when he had his first success, when he became an agent representing
composers, he turned his fierce, unflagging energies to promoting the
talents of those he believed in with a deeply passionate love that will
sustain us through our lives here.

He was an unrelenting giver, driving himself with all his awesome power
to do better, to give even more of his ability, indeed to give perfectly
- but *there* was the flaw - how many times we suffered knowing that
some inner agony made it difficult for him to accept, recieve and be
renewed by the love we had for him - Life, the world was difficult and
sometimes unfathomable for Bobby but he could not bear to see it so for
those he loved --

We sat playing cards one evening in 1954 when, dispirited because of my
lack of progress here, I decided that I had to go back to New York -
Bobby talked to me for some time that evening -- cheering, cajoling and
finally making a proposition - that if I didn't make it within a year,
he would personally send me back to New York with enough to get a new
start --

He was a man who could care, and his love was not made of words. He was
a man of pride -- pride in his work -- pride in his beautiful home,
pride in his people -- He considered himself a materialist, a pragmatist
doing his thing realistically within the machine -- not trying to change
the machine -- seeing the world in its true light, he thought - and yet
his code had no room for chicanery - his principle was innocent of
compromise - his loaylty unswerving his devotion to his commitments
unending -- no, with those qualities, it certainly cannot be this
world he was seeing realistically.

I wonder if Bobby would be surprised to find his real attitudes and
acts characterized as those of the poet and the dreamer? I think not,
for he had the courage of the innocent, of the Don Quixotes of the world
and in the nightmare days of witch hunt and murder by rumor when some
fluent liberals were hiding behind their garden walls, this self-styled
non-political, pragmatic man was employing proscribed, blacklisted
musicians because he said -- they played well - which was the only
matrix Bobby ever observed -- and he stood upright with the
brackbats flying from hate groups, because his innate sense of
decency made him oblivious to the danger.

He was an unremitting truth teller and yet any important secret was
sacrosanct - if he loved you, you could trust him with your life - and
we did - always you could tell him your innermost secrets because when
he loved, he did not judge - he helped....

He tried to protect us from seeing his pain and yet all of us had the
experience of being lashed sometimes when he pushed himself to the limit
and most of us took it, knowing instinctively that there was an
agonizing interlinear - unspoken -- A dear friend suggested to me that I
get the original prints of the photograph of us together that
appeared in the Overture - I thought to myself that at home, I have 25
pictures iwth Bobby in the winners circle - he looks right in those
pictures - smiling the smile of those who have a sometime dream come

His pain is now dissolved and only the good dreams are left and we must
now leave here and those of us who love and have to live too long
without him will do it as Bobby would have wished -- go on to the next
tomorrow commitment, give it everything we have and so his devotion,
energy and spirit will live in us while he rests awhile...

In Peace and with OUR LOVE, Elmer Bernstein July 1970 Overture

From Carol: I had the honor of playing bass on that fine 1970 Academy
Awards show for Bobby Helfer and Elmer Bernstein in LA, and worked 100s
of calls for Mr. Helfer - he was the best.

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