|HOMEBioFilm rights, Screenplays, Representation2021 Commentaries2020 CommentariesOLYMPIC AFFAIR: HITLER'S SIREN AND AMERICA'S HEROTHE WITCH'S SEASONThird Down and a War to GoHORNS, HOGS, AND NIXON COMING'77: DENVER, THE BRONCOS, AND A COMING OF AGEMarch 1939: Before the MadnessPLAYING PIANO IN A BROTHELSave By RoyThey Call Me "Mr. De": The Story of Columbine's Heart, Resilience and RecoveryA Selection of Terry Frei's writing about World War II heroesOlympic Affair Excerpt: Chapter 1, Leni's VisitOlympic Affair Excerpt: Chapter 15, Aren't You Thomas Wolfe?The Witch's Season: Screenplay opening pagesThe Witch's Season Excerpt:Air Force Game, Bitter Protest, a Single ShotThird Down and a War to Go: Screenplay opening pagesThird Down and a War to Go Excerpt: Ohio State vs. WisconsinThird Down and a War to Go genesis: Grateful for the Guard, Jerry FreiThird Down and a War to Go: A Marines' game on GuadalcanalDave Schreiner, Badger and MarineBob Baumann, Badger and MarineLt. Col. John Mosley, Aggie and Tuskegee AirmanHorns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming: Prologue and screenplay opening pagesHorns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming Excerpt: James Street: Wishbone WizardHorns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming Subplot: The day they stopped playing Dixie'77 Excerpt: AFC Title GameMarch 1939 Excerpt: First NCAA Title GameMarch 1939, Excerpt: The StartersPlaying Piano Excerpt: S.F. EarthquakeA Year with Nick Saban before he was Nick SabanTommy Lasorda and the Summer of '70Press CredentialsThe Sporting NewsDenver PostESPN.comThe OregonianGreeley TribuneKids' sports books: The ClassicsJon Hassler, Terry Kay and other favorite novelistsBig Bill Ficke's Big HeartBob Bell's Food For Thought
posted: September 2013
(Marty Glickman, Sam Stoller on SS Manhattan on way to
I finally was able to watch the HBO documentary
on Marty Glickman, a major figure in my novel Olympic Affair: Hitler's Siren and America's Hero, last night.
Glickman, destined for a career as one of the best play-by-play sportscasters
of all time, and fellow Jewish sprinter Sam Stoller were frozen off the U.S. 400-meter relay team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics,
coincidentally leading to Jesse Owens adding to his gold-medal collection with his fourth. As I write in my
book, there is no doubt in my mind that U.S. Olympic Committee czar Avery Brundage and others conspired
to keep Glickman and Stoller off the relay team to avoid "embarrassing" the Games' German hosts — including
Adolf Hitler. The documentary addresses that and reaches the same conclusion.
As I had been promised,
it is a superb and revealing portrait of one of a trailblazing — in more ways than one — sportscaster
who was especially influential within his craft. Writer, director, and producer James L. Freedman did terrific
work here. Time after time, I'd catch myself marveling and congratulating Freedman for his doggedness and ingenuity
because I'm assuming nobody dropped a box of old films and material on his front porch one morning. I also
appreciated and identified with how well he was able to cope with the fact that Glickman died in 2001.
He was able to use footage of earlier Glickman interviews, and while I suspect he was wishing that he had
been able to do this much sooner, while Glickman was alive, and do "new" interviews himself, it's not jarring
or ruinous. I can identify with Freedman in the sense that I suspect angst in having to bring America
this story a decade after Glickman's death — and not while he still was alive — was part
of the motivation every day.
"Glickman" is superb, and for many, it was or is going to be revelation
about a figure they has seen or listened to growing up. But this doesn't need to be only for those old enough to
have that reason. It's a history lesson — a very relevant one — also.
Here are passages from the first half of my book, which revolves around U.S.
decathlon champion Glenn Morris' passionate, yet ultimately toxic and contaminating, affair with the disgusting,
opportunistic and manipulative German actress, propagandist and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.
Morris was from tiny Simla, Colorado, and was a former football
star and student body president at the school now known as Colorado State. Later narrative material documents Glickman
and Stoller's shameful exclusion from the relay team.
They had not "qualified" for the 100 or 200 -- even that involved a bit of controversy,
as noted below -- but went to Berlin as alternates and were expected to be on the relay team, if the usual
protocol was followed. It wasn't.
A few background notes: At a farewell dinner the
night before departure, a Broadway producer had told Morris to win the gold medal and then use it to make a very derisive gesture
The Hotel Lincoln now is the Milford Plaza.
[In 2021, after another change, it is The Row Hotel.] And "Badgers" was the derisive term the athletes had
for Olympic Committee functionaries.
FROM CHAPTER FIVE:
In the middle of the Hotel Lincoln lobby,
the pot-bellied small-time lawyer in
an ill-fitting American Olympic Committee blazer bellowed through a megaphone. Sweat dripped down the Badger’s face despite the early-morning
“Gentlemen . . . and ladies! Have your Olympic
identification card out. Show it when
you get on a bus, so we can check you off. From here on out, you have to assume nobody’s going to recognize you or take your word for who you are! That’s everywhere, but also, if Mr. Hitler is around, the more likely they’ll be to react and ask questions later.
So when men in strange uniforms tell
you where to go or where not to go, do what they say.”
Glenn thought of the Broadway producer’s suggestion the night before and smiled. Then, looking at the Badger in his funny
suit, he laughed. An elbow dug sharply
into his ribs. Next to Glenn, his eyes narrowed by fury, was
the spunky Jewish sprinter from New York City. Barely out of high
more like one of these corner newsboys hawking New York papers than an athlete. Glickman. Marty Glickman.
“What’s the idea, Marty?”
“You think that’s funny?”
“Think what’s funny?”
“The Nazis’ bullshit.”
“Hold on,” Glenn said, pointing at the Badger. “I was just thinking about him warning
us to put up with a bunch of guys in funny uniforms over there. That’s all we’ve been doing for the past two days
Not wanting to sound too cocky, Glenn didn’t bring up the producer’s suggestion for what to do after winning the gold medal.
“Do you even know what
the Nuremberg Laws are?” Glickman asked sharply.
“You’re comparing the Nazis and some guys telling us
to get in line to pick up a handbook?”
“You’re reading too
much into this,” Glenn said. “Way too much.”
the huge shot-putter beloved as “Baby Jack” and “Baby Elephant,” stepped between them. Glickman needed
to stand on his toes and lean to the side to even see the six-foot-two Morris; and that made, first, the decathlete, and then
the sprinter, laugh. If anything was going to foil Torrance in Berlin, it was that the world record-holder and former football
player at Louisiana State University had gotten fat and flabby after leaving college while serving as a Baton Rouge policeman.
The rumor was the scales at the physicals couldn’t even handle him, and that he was up to at least 325 pounds.
“Now boys,” Torrance drawled. “Need I remind you we’re all
on the same team from here on?”
“Honest, Marty,” Glenn said,
“I didn’t mean anything by it . . . except against the Badgers.”
Shaking his head, Glickman said, “Sorry. I guess all this has me a little on edge. I’m going to the Olympics,
but it doesn’t feel right. I’m starting to wonder if Brundage insisted we go over there just so he could hug Hitler
and tell him what fine ideas he has.”
“I understand, Marty,”
Glenn said. “Or at least I’m trying to.”
Torrance said. “Now shake hands . . . or no more throwing lessons for you, Morris, and I’ll accidentally drop
a shot put on your toes, Glickman, about the time we’re passing Greenland.”
Torrance stepped aside, letting them shake hands, and then said, “So we’re square? From here on out, it’s
all red, white, and blue, one for all, and all for one.”
Glenn felt old, telling himself: When
I was Marty’s age, “the world” was the globe in the corner of Old Man DeWitt’s history room at the high school . . . and I didn’t know much about it.
CHAPTER SIX: ONBOARD BONDING
They all ran a few sprints, and at one point, Marty Glickman waited for Glenn and asked if he could talk to him privately. Over here, he gestured.
“First off,” Glickman said, “I’m going to play football at Syracuse, so I
identify with you.”
“Thanks,” Glenn said.
“The other thing you should know . . . well, you were at the Trials, weren’t you?”
Glickman continued, “So
you know, I’m looking over my shoulder a bit here, too. We ran that 100-meter final and they told me I was third—behind
Owens and Metcalfe. So I’m being interviewed on the radio, and they’re saying I’m the boy who’s going
to be running with them in the 100 meters in Berlin, and while I’m talking, the judges come and tell me I’ve been
bumped down to fourth behind Frank Wykoff . . . and then they say I was fifth, behind Foy Draper, too. So I’ve
gone from running in the 100 at the Olympics with Jesse and Ralph to just being on the team and hoping we stick to the way
it’s been done in the past so I have a spot in the sprint relay. The two guys they suddenly placed ahead of me in the
100 run for Cromwell at USC. So . . .”
Dean Cromwell of USC was the American
team’s assistant coach, nominally in charge of the sprinters.
“How do they pick the relay?” Glenn
“It’s always been that the top three from the trials run the 100,
and then the next four run the relay. So if they stick to that, it should be Foy Draper, me, Stoller, and Mack Robinson. But
there are no real rules, so I’m at their mercy now. Mack doesn’t care all that much because he’s running
in the 200, but for me and Stoller, the relay’s our only chance. Writers already are saying the coaches are telling
’em nothing will be decided until we’re in Berlin. Maybe not until the last minute.”
Glenn was incredulous. “How could they take you and not let you run?”
“They might. They said we’d at least run in the exhibitions over there after the Olympics.
And . . .”
Glickman suddenly was a bit self-conscious.
“What else were you going to say?” Glenn asked.
“Well . . . look, we’ve talked about this, but the Germans would prefer there aren’t any Jews competing
at all. The Badgers know that, too. I’m not saying they’ll screw us because of that, but I’m wondering.
We’ll just see what happens.” He paused, and then added, “Come on, let’s run.”
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: OPENING GAMBITS
As the athletes waited on the May Field next to the Olympic Stadium,
Glenn noticed but didn’t at first feel a light rain again falling. He thought: These hats are good for something.
“Get a load of that!” Walter Wood called out, pointing beyond the Bell Tower to the Glockenturm
Armed Germans in various uniforms had gathered. Cars pulled up in the
plaza, and one large limousine arrived at the foot of the Bell Tower. Adolf Hitler emerged from the back seat. Scattered shouts
of greetings came from the few German civilians allowed in the area. Glenn was surprised at how quiet it was otherwise. Hitler,
wearing a brown uniform and high black boots, returned the Nazi salute to an honor guard. Then he moved on to greet three
men, and Glenn recognized two of them from the Americans’ welcoming ceremonies — the chubby mayor of Berlin and
Dr. Theodor Lewald of the German Olympic Organizing Committee. Lewald and the third man — Glenn assumed he was an Olympic
official, too — wore long coats, high collars, and medallions draped around their necks on chains.
Soldiers filed down the corridor on the May Field, showily looking side to side as Hitler and his
entourage followed. Hitler’s group was perhaps seventy-five men—military officers, Olympic officials, and other
Glenn inched up, so close to Hitler’s pathway that the soldiers
brushed him. Then he saw Leni, squeezed onto the flatbed cart behind her cameraman, who was angled to catch the reaction of
the athletes to Hitler. As she approached Glenn’s vantage point, she spotted him. Their eyes met. As the cart went by,
with her poised behind cameraman Walter Frentz, she gave him the start, the barest hint, of a smile. For a moment, Hitler
was no more than ten feet away.
Marty Glickman ended up at Glenn’s
shoulder. He shook his head in wonderment. “Can you believe how close we were? Somebody could have. . .”
He left it there.
looks they exchanged confirmed they both knew Marty wasn’t talking about getting an autograph.
As Hitler moved on, he didn’t look to either side, despite scattered cries from among the athletes.
Mostly, it remained eerily quiet.
Soon, though, the roar announced: The Führer had entered