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Luis Van Rooten (1906-1973)

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The other day, I was editing the part of my interview with Ed Asner where he talked about breaking into acting with the radio program "The Eternal Light," a weekly show that presented great scenes and figures of Jewish history. Asner mentioned his awe at being in the same room with actors (and voices!) like Alexander Scourby and Leonard Rose ... and a man I hadn’t heard of, Luis Van Rooten.

Besides his work on "The Eternal Light," Van Rooten was in radio's "The Mysterious Traveler" and the serial "Chandu the Magician," and did broadcasts for the US military in several languages. His film work included playing Himmler in “Hitler’s Madman” and “Operation Eichmann,” among many roles. He narrates this anti-Communist (anti-Soviet, really) propaganda film, produced for Radio Liberty to promote its worldwide operations. It’s rather beautifully made.

Van Rooten’s skill with languages led to his book "Mots D'Heures: Gousses, Rames." What is billed as a collection of poems by an unsung Frenchman is actually nonsense that sounds like Mother Goose!

Try out the title, using your best outrageous Charles Boyer “Pepe Le Moko” French accent. Mots D'Heures: Gousses, Rames becomes "MOH-dair GOOS ryms." Here’s Van Rooten's "Humpty Dumpty:"

Un petit d'un petit
S'étonne aux Halles
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! Degrés te fallent