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Did you know... that very sadly, the movie poster hobby recently lost three of the best friends it ever had?

Did you know... that very sadly, the movie poster hobby recently lost three of the best friends it ever had?

It is my very sad duty to report that in just a matter of days, three very long time movie poster people passed away, and not only did they love the hobby, but they were also exemplary human beings, all of whom I had the privilege of interacting with for long periods of time.

1) Bill Ndini - I know this will sound like an exaggeration, but Bill was the absolute nicest and most cultured person I ever met in my entire life. I first met him in 1990, when I ran my first auction for Christie's in New York City, and Bill was about to become the curator of what would become the world's largest privately held movie poster archive. We started as business acquaintances, but that soon evolved into a friendship, one which continued long after his archive ceased actively buying.

We lived a long way apart, but whenever I visited New York we would get together for lunch, and Bill always wanted to eat at the legendary Plaza Hotel, shown here. Bill was a very private person, and was never interested in talking about himself, but through conversations over the years I was able to learn he was the son of working class immigrants, who became a theater major in college, acting in a number of plays.

After college he was drafted into the Army during Vietnam, and he became a medic, because he could never imagine hurting anyone. After that service, he worked at various jobs, but (as I said above) he ended up as the curator of a massive private movie poster archive. The archive (like Bill) always strove to keep a very "low profile", and I will continue to respect that and say no more about that.

Whenever I had the occasion to describe Bill to anyone, I would say, "You have surely met nice people in your life, but I guarantee you have NEVER met anyone as nice as Bill", and in addition, he was SO "cultured" and "classy", and "genuine" that he almost seemed too good to be true, but he indeed WAS every bit as good as he seemed.

A year ago I decided I wanted to take my two daughters (Hayley and Lucy) to New York City for a trip they would never forget, and I called Bill and asked if he would like to have lunch with us. He immediately agreed, and of course suggested we meet at The Plaza. But he went on to ask what other plans I had made, and I said I had just started, and he immediately set to work planning things for us to do, helping me to get good tickets to two Broadway shows, a trip to the Metropolitan Museum, and a guided tour of Julliard (we also went to the Statue of Liberty)!

I had told my daughters that Bill was the nicest person they would ever meet, and indeed, he met us at The Plaza with gifts for each of them, and after our lunch, I could see that Bill had charmed them as completely as I am sure he did everyone else he encountered! A few months later, I took a second trip, this time with my son, Samson, and once again Bill helped set up our itinerary (which again was very memorable, and included the two part Harry Potter Broadway show), and again we had a memorable lunch with Bill at The Plaza, and again, I could see Bill had had a big impact on Samson.

Bill had had serious health problems for some time before that, and last February he was in a car crash and was badly injured, but against all odds he survived, but today he could not fight any longer, and he passed away, and he was 79. But I don't want to dwell on that. I want to think about the many thousands of lives this wonderful man greatly enriched throughout his entire long life. He was everything any good person strives to be, and hopes to someday be, and the world is much the poorer for his no longer being in it.

2) Marty Kearns - He was a wonderfully sweet man, nice to everyone, and never a bad word to say about anyone. He was into movie collectibles (and actual films) at the very beginning, starting in the mid-1960s. I did not cross paths with him in my comic book days in the 1960s and 1970s, but I met him in the early 1980s, when I started buying lots of movie stuff from him.

He was the kind of guy where I would pick out a bunch of stuff at a show, and it would be $300, and I would say, "I'll take these" (because his prices were always very fair), and he would say, "How about $150?" and I would say, "No, $300 is fair", and we would end up meeting in the middle somewhere! Once I was at a show, and I asked him how it was going, and he said "Terrible, hardly any sales at all", and I found several hundred dollars of stuff to buy that I didn't need in the slightest, just so his show wouldn't be so bad. He really was that kind of person, someone you just naturally wanted to see get some good breaks, and sadly, he had many health problems throughout his life, including crippling arthritis, but he endured it with great dignity.

Marty and I shared a great love of studio campaign books (yearbooks), and he had an excellent collection. I did not try to buy them from him, but told him that if the day ever came that he DID want to sell them, to please contact me. Quite a few years later, that call DID come, and I made a deal to buy all his books at his price (I think he needed the money for a down payment on a house), and I am happy to say I still have all of them (his were in great condition, so on the ones that were duplicates to ones I already had I kept his and sold mine).

Once when I lived in California in 1989, he called me about a big group of "trolley cards" he had found, and he was hoping I would take them all. I said I wasn't really familiar with them, and asked if I could see them in person (no Internet then, of course!). He said he was going to be running the showing of a movie near me, and I didn't know what that meant, but he gave me an address to meet him at. I got there, and it was a nursing home. He told me that he showed a movie there (in 16mm, from his collection) once a month, and that he also went to other nursing homes, showing the residents a 1930s movie they would remember.

He told me that they really enjoyed the movies he showed (I don't know if he was paid to do so). When I got there, the move had just ended, and I asked if I could see the posters. He told me he had something important to do first, which was to see his girlfriend back to her room! He went and got a 90 year old lady in a wheelchair, and together we walked her back to her room, and all the way he kept reminding her that she had promised to marry him someday, and you could tell it was wonderful for her to have anyone paying attention to her! Afterwards I made the deal with Marty, and I just kept thinking how much better the world would be if it was filled with many, many "Marty Kearns".

3) Gerardo Vera - I have known Gerardo Vera since 2008, when he discovered my auctions, and he loved movie posters as much as almost anyone I have ever met! But before we met, he was a Spanish costume and set designer, opera director, actor, and film and theatre director, directing five movies between 1990 and 2003. He won two "Goya Awards" (the Spanish Oscars) and also the prestigious National Theater Award. He made his mark in movies, plays, and opera!

I don't know if he had been a collector of movie posters before he started buying from my auctions in 2008, but I suspect he did for quite some time, and he especially loved the posters of his homeland, Spain, and also the colorful Spanish heralds that his country made for just about every movie, almost always having a full-color image of the Spanish poster on the cover.

Starting in 2008, he would buy lots of items from me on a specific actor or theme, and then he would display those at a poster exhibition he organized, and afterwards he would ship most of the items back to me, and then he would repeat the process over and over, buying thousands of items from me, and re-selling them through my auctions! I know for certain he did not do so with any thought of making money. He just loved the posters and heralds SO very much, and thought that posters were a neglected art form the world needed to learn about, and he felt he had to do all he could to help spread the word, kind of a Spanish version of the mythic "Johnny Appleseed", except he was spreading the gospel of movie paper, and not apples!

We had hundreds of emails back and forth over the past twelve years, and he will be very missed by his family, his friends, and all those whose lives he touched through his work, both from creating movies, and from sharing his love of movie posters.

I am SO very sad to report on the passing of the above three very fine men, important figures in the movie poster hobby.


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