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Actor Harold Gould '47 Retained Affection and Gratitude for Alma Mater

September 17, 2010

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The actor at work

Actor Harold Gould returned to campus many times over the years to speak to Department of Theatre students.

Famed character actor Harold Gould '47, who passed away Sept. 11, 2010 at 86, acknowledged he probably caught the acting bug in an unconventional way at the New York State College for Teachers in the early 1940s.

''We used to have these class meetings at the old Page Hall,'' said Gould in a 1987 interview. ''The whole class met on a Friday afternoon and discussed the schedule of class activities, organizational functions, that sort of thing. Somewhere along the line they decided it would be nice to give out the agenda in jingles and little skits. So I became a regular in them.

''God, so many jingles,'' he said with a sigh. ''Those skits and jingles in the community of that assembly gained me a fame at school which I had in no other way. I’ve recognized it since as the first satisfaction of a need I had to be recognized in a crowd.''

Gould would come to be recognized internationally through such movies as The Sting (1973) and Freaky Friday (2003) and the hit TV series ''Rhoda'' and ''The Golden Girls.'' This magnitude was reflected by this weeks’ obituaries in such leading dailies as the Los Angeles Times and New York Times.

Throughout his career, he never lost affection for and sense of obligation to his alma mater, returning for reunions and lectures, and making generous donations to UAlbany, including $100,000 in honor of his old theater instructor at the College, Agnes Futterer.

''I suppose I became one of 'her boys,''' said Gould, who became an Obie award-winning actor on stage, co-starred in several Broadway roles, and starred in classic drama, including the title role in Shakespeare’s King Lear. ''Futterer was a lady much given to precision and control, especially in speech . . . actually, her advanced dramatics class foreshadowed the structure of the Actor’s Workshop for me.''

Gould maintained particular pride in his membership in what was the College’s leading Jewish fraternity, Kappa Beta. “Good on scholarship, tremendous in tennis,” was his 1987 assessment. Surviving members reminisced about the affection and pride they felt for Gould in the Albany Times Union.

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