I met Jack while growing up on Long Island and spent years doing high school musical theater with him. All the old standards: South Pacific, The King and I, Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma, Carousel, and more. Some of the most unforgettable moments of my life were spent with him and the gang onstage and off. I learned today that he died in early January.
Jack had a smile that exceeded the space limitations of his face. The best looking guy in our senior class at Carle Place High School, still turning heads in his mid-70s. I had a crush on him since 8th grade (along with most of the other girls in my class) and although we were never involved romantically, our scene in South Pacific as Liat and Lieutenant Cable called for a great big smooch during "Younger Than Springtime" - not only good looking, Jack was a great kisser! Buoyant when he walked, as if surfing on hot sand, trying to skim the surface without leaving footprints, he raised the temperature of a room just by being there.
The Pied Piper of pleasantries, the life of any party, he laughed easily, told great stories and made everyone feel included. He commanded a room with his presence, energized by others, happy where ever he was, but happiest of all when with his beloved wife, family and friends.
Decades before a variable playback setting could adjust the speed of a podcast, Jack Curphy could tell a 6 minute story in three minutes flat without omitting a single detail. Jack had an integrated adjustable playback speed all his own; there was an urgency to his presence. Everyone loved to be around him; he made everybody feel special.
He always sounded a bit out of breath when starting a story, taking you into his confidence, as if he couldn't wait to begin. "Hello, my dear!" his signature salute, sounded more like a musical bridge than a greeting. "Let me tell you something," he effused, eyes bright, unable to contain his excitement.
Every story, a linguistic labyrinth, filled with bobs and weaves, merriment and mayhem. Even if you didn't know a single person, place, or thing he was talking about, you listened anyway. Jack was a storyteller. A people person. An entertainer.
He conducted himself like a good bar keep, always taking care of everyone, making sure everybody had what they needed. He made everyone feel welcome, kept the conversation moving, the laughs coming, the drinks flowing. Whether tending his at-home bar, or on a golf course or with his family and friends, the party started with Jack.
He moved out to California years ago, but we kept in touch, our visits restricted to high school reunions, our last, in 2015 at our 50th. Our scene from South Pacific, still a favorite memory. "Younger than springtime” are you, Jack, one-of-a-kind. Loved you then. Love you now. Oh, how quiet a world without you, my dear....