Photo:   Film DirectorRober Altman

Film Director Robert Altman

1925 ~ 2006

      November 20, 2006

Legendary film director Robert Altman left the building today. I am truly sad about this and as you might imagine his celebrated presence touched my life a shade differently then it touched yours.

I never relished that our mothers bestowed the exact moniker upon us and that after I became somwehat of a public figure I was occasionally confused with him.

The upside is (and I am forever grateful) we actually met last year...

Wednesday, October 25, 2005
The San Francisco Examiner
By P.J. Corkery

"Another lively guy, Robert Altman, the celebrated photographer of the unusual and the lovable in San Francisco (he has just donated 37 photographs of the hippie era to the Haight branch of the SFPL), was an 11-year-old in the Bronx watching a documentary about James Dean "when the movie ended and the credits came up. I almost lost my breath when I saw this on the screen: 'Directed by Robert Altman.' "

That was 48 years ago. But up until last week, the man who went on to become a major photojournalist and the man who became a major film director had never met.

"The funny thing is that when we finally happened to meet, it was when I was with someone else who also has had to deal with 'same-name issues': Robert Downey Sr. I was dining with Downey and his wife, the writer Rosemary Rogers, in Elaine's in New York last Friday. Downey's preparing an update of his epoch-marking movie 'Putney Swope,' but we were talking about 'same-name issues' when I saw a man sitting opposite us.

"Same names can be a bane. I'm always embarrassed when someone tries to buy me a drink because they think I'm the man who directed 'Nashville'. But it's not a real burden: At least, Altman directs good movies.

Of course, at the other table in Elaine's was the other Robert Altman. Our Altman went over and introduced himself. "I've heard of you," said the director, who asked Altman to sit down. A discussion then ensued of their mutual work and the problems of celebrated names. Altman the director asked for the card of Altman the photographer. He had just one left. The director put it in his wallet. Asked S.F. Altman, "Do people ever think you're me?" Director Altman just smiled, and patted his new business card. Directors don't talk; they just show. Neat encounter, and one that our Robert feels he can cross off his list of cosmic to-do items.

And then Elaine's being Elaine's, Warren Hinckle walked in..."


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