Shame on me for being so outta the loop regarding the new “Garfield” movie that’s been out for a week or so, but in just now hearing that Bill Murray (why, Bill, why?!?) speaks the cat’s lines for the film reminded me of the late, great Lorenzo Music who died in 2001 after a hellacious battle against cancer, and who to me will always be the Orange One’s true voice (you may also remember him as the voice of the never-seen Carlton the Doorman on “Rhoda” back in 1974 ó a show he produced).
Lorenzo and I met in the late-’80s. Of all things, we were both volunteer crisis counselors at the Suicide Prevention Center when it used to be located on Vermont just south of Olympic Boulevard. And through the course of our time spent there we ended up working several shifts together.
It was odd enough to sit waiting for a call to come in with Garfield’s voice coming out of this, warm-hearted, witty and ebullient man as he regaled us with stories and anecdotes. But the real strangeness took place when a caller Lorenzo’d be on with would pause from whatever was their distress to ask, “You sound very familiar. Do I know you?”
Lorenzo was always very good about keeping the caller focused, but occasionally the dialogue would turn surreal:
Caller: I swear I recognize your voice!
Lorenzo: Who I am is unimportant. Tell me why do you want to kill yourself?
Caller: You tell me who you are first!
Lorenzo: Who I am is someone trying to help you. Why do you want to die?
Caller: Give me a minute. It’ll come to me!
Lorenzo: What, the reason you don’t want to live anymore?
Caller: No! Who you are!
Inevitably, Lorenzo would either get them back on track, or if they persisted with their interrogations he would request that they call back when they were more willing to talk about their crisis and not about who he was.
I don’t know if anyone ever ID’d him during a call, but I can imagine that it happened a time or two where callers later realized they’d reached out for assistance and in such a time of need found Garfield waiting to help them on the other end of the line.
God bless Lorenzo Music.