By Christopher A. Pape
Sheldon and Margery Gray Harnick are New Yorkers, through and through. In appreciation of this fact, they have created a testament to their love affair. With poetry by Sheldon and pictures from Margery - The Outdoor Museum – is their passion personified.
This regal pair sat down with me in their tony upper west side apartment to discuss their newest project. I hope you love the piece, as much as I loved their book!
Resident (R): What was the inspiration for the book?
Margery Gray Harnick (MGH): I always take my own photographs and use them as a point of departure. After I got my Nikon camera I couldn’t stop shooting pictures. As I kept shooting, I would find different categories that I was drawn to and this point of departure just got wider and wider, so I showed the pictures to Sheldon and he thought it was like poetry.
Sheldon Harnick (SH): We called our friend, Jane Lahr, she has a literary agency and thought the photos were wonderful. She was excited because the pictures were from New York and there was a market for that. So, I wrote poems with them, we hired a designer who did a great job.
R: Do you have a favorite part of the city in which you like to shoot?
MGH: I don’t really have a favorite part to shoot in, I got a lot of inspiration from the park, but I can’t say I have a favorite.
R: Have you worked on any other books?
MGH: No we haven’t. I’ve been in the theater all my life and I’m an artist, but this is entirely new for me.
R: Is this book a tribute to New York?
MGH: No, not necessarily. We just had fun doing something that is beautiul.
R: What does it mean to be a New Yorker?
SH: I’m originally from Chicago and when I graduated from Northwestern I contributed songs to the student revue. There was a disc jockey there called Dave Garroway. I met him and asked him if there was any chance of being a writer on his show. He said they were moving to New York and if there is any hope of being in entertainment then I should go to New York, so in 1950, I came.
MGH: I am from Sunnyside in Queens. At seven, I sang on a radio program at NBC then went onto CBS. Later, I got into the High School for Performing Arts and from that moment on my life has always been in the theater. It was only when I got married that I started doing TV work.
SH: We feel very privileged to be in New York. New York is full of culture and has these extraordinary museums, which are actually reflected in the book.
R: Do you have any plans for another book in the near future?
SH: Yes, we have another idea, but we aren’t at liberty to discuss! •