Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tim Robbins And Susan Sarandon: Who's Almost?

Above, Tim's address in the 1970's when he went to Stuyvesant High School
Possibly the address of Susan Sarandon's mother Lenora Marie Criscione in 1930. As much as I'd like to include them I don't think I have a strong enough case.
An excerpt from a 1992 story about Tim:
Gil and Mary, who met as music majors at UCLA, married in 1952. When Tim, their youngest child, was barely 2, his father was signed to cut a record in New York City. Gil flew ahead from Los Angeles, while Mary packed up the car and drove the kids - Adele, 7; David, 5; Gabrielle, 4; and Tim - to Manhattan. "I have the feeling," says Robbins, "the first two years of my life were very quiet. Serene. Birds chirping. And then into our station wagon and driving cross-country. New York City! Raarrgh! This explosion! Tim was not a happy-go-lucky toddler. "He was very sober and pontifical," recalls his father. "We used to call him Timothy Cardinal Robbins. My ex-manager once came in and saw Tim and called him 'the oldest person in the world.'" Adding to Tim's mystique was the fact that he didn't speak "until a relatively late age," Gil says. "But he didn't have to. He had a form of language, but it was not intelligible. His three siblings translated for him." Tim also, according to his father, had "a wonderful fantasy life." All sorts of characters inhabited "his extra-extra-world. It was Tim's joke." Short on money, the Robbinses - crammed into a top-floor railroad flat on King Street - were long on talent and ambition. The children shared a love of music and drama, and Gil gave them guitar lessons. But he "didn't encourage any of the kids," he says. "It's a very difficult life. I made sure they saw the backside of it as well as the glitzy side." With Ian and Sylvia coming to Thanksgiving dinner and Tom Paxton regularly at the kitchen table, the Robbinses entertained an eclectic group of friends who were smart, outspoken, and involved. The theater of the streets provided a colorful backdrop, with a neighbor who flounced down the block in velvet Shakespearean suits and Norman Vincent Peale leading protests in Washington Square Park. A women's house of detention once stood in the neighborhood. "You'd walk down the street and hear these women: 'Help me. I need to get ... so baaaddd. I need somebody to ...meeee!!' I was, like, 11 years old," says Robbins. "That's probably why they closed it down." The neighborhood did not make him tough, just disciplined. "I have a different meter as far as who I trust and who I don't," he says, measuring his words. "What is real and what isn't. If it's sometimes too defensive, that's called 'street law.'" The Robbins children attended parochial school and were taught by nuns. Tim now says the role of altar boy was his first "stage experience," and when it came time to choose a confirmation name, he wanted Illya, for Illya Kuryakin, of The Man From UNCLE. "My parents said I wasn't allowed to. Illya's not a saint." Gil Robbins continued his career as an actor, appearing in Off-Broadway shows like How to Steal an Election and joining the road company of 1997. The 10-year-old Tim performed with his older sisters in plays for the Theatre for the New City. He directed his first play at the age of 14 and performed satiric political sketches lampooning Watergate figures. The Robbinses voiced outrage at crimes against democracy. "I suppose it was skepticism as far as politics is concerned," recalls Mary. "I think mistrust of the government was probably a theme." When his older sister Adele was attending Ohio's Antioch University, says Robbins, "one time my mother came into my room, woke me up and said 'I want you to be very proud of your sister. She was just arrested for protesting the Vietnam War.'" Acting wasn't Robbins's only obsession. He'd wake up at 4 am for hocked practice, and he also became a decent baseball player. He attended the elite, science-oriented Stuyvesant High School, where he got good grades. [Don't let the word "elite" fool you: it's a public school. - Pol] His brother, David, meanwhile, has veered off into heavy-metal music and left for California. Tim was awarded a Regents Scholarship to the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, twenty miles from the Canadian border. Isolated and remote, the college nevertheless had a small theater department, which Tim participated in. Says Gil, "He was a large frog in a small pond. He wasn't learning anything about himself." But he was learning how to party. He says Plattsburgh had a thriving bacchanalian scene. "I've done hallucinogens, but I don't think it's responsible to talk about this kind of stuff because people read that and think that validates whatever they're doing. I know there are definitely personalities that should not take hallucinogenic drugs.

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