I am late in receiving the news, but I learned last night that Peter Kastner – actor, musician, comedian, upstanding fellow – passed away in September at the age of 64. I met Peter at Club Passim somewhere around 2002 and immediately took a liking to his quirky and clever songs. I performed with him on a number of occasions including a shared showcase slot along with Joe Kowan, Katherine Pritchard, and Jet J. Peter wrote a song paying tribute (with only a little ribbing) to all of us, one verse each, just for that night.
It was only after knowing Peter for years that he once mentioned that he “had done some acting.” I thought that he maybe meant that he was in a couple of commercials or in a Summer Shakespeare company or something. To my surprise, when I looked him up, I found that he had performed in some quite interesting roles. Among his credits are: The Business of Farming (some clips in this comedy piece he did recently), a short in which he co-starred with James Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek!), Nobody Waved Good-bye (viewable here for free), a critically acclaimed Canadian film about teenage rebellion, and You’re a Big Boy Now, one of the first films directed by a fellow named Francis Ford Coppola (director of The Godfather series, Apocalypse Now, etc.). The film, much to the chagrin of many fans, has been out of print for some time, so I have not yet seen it, but I hope to track down a copy soon.
Peter, always exhibiting a positive glow and a great sense of humor about everything, even laughed when we all discovered that a show he starred in, “The Ugliest Girl in Town,” was chosen by TV guide as one of the worst TV shows ever made (#18 on the list of 50).
Premise: A poor American working for a talent agency as a gopher meets a beautiful British actress and, after posing as a female model for his brother, travels to England and is forced to pretend to be a woman so he can spend time with his actress girlfriend.
I had tracked down a copy of it and thought it was actually sort of amusing and it had a great theme song, seen and heard here (Joe Kowan and I had actually considered doing a cover of the song at our joint showcase with Peter, but we didn’t get to it):
The pilot of the show is actually now viewable on Youtube:
Episode 1 Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQdWifK7rC0
Episode 1 Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3Dg711Vnfg
Episode 1 Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjx_qLuhsNg
Peter even appeared on “The Hollywood Squares” around this time.
When he moved back to Canada, I stayed in e-mail contact with Peter. Before I had realized that he was no longer in Boston, I invited him to take part in our shoot for the “30 Lives” video as a teacher. He already had experience playing a teacher in the Animal House offshoot TV series, “Delta House,” which included one of Michelle Pfeiffer’s earliest roles. He couldn’t participate due to the distance, but he offered to shoot some things himself if we could use them and incorporate them into the video. This didn’t work out because of the way the video was structured and the fact that it was shot with a fancy HD camera, but it was great knowing that Peter would have been proud to be involved.
He was a delightful soul, a cheery, clever, and funny fellow. It was always a joy to run into him and hear his songs. He is and will continue to be missed by many here in Boston.
Some of his comedic (and non-comedic) works: