Peter Kastner’s Misleading Obituary
I posted the video of “The Ugliest Girl in Town” on Thursday, September 18th having no idea that Peter Kastner (the star of that show) had died that day of a heart attack. I thank Linda who left a comment on the post for letting me know. Why I posted, I don’t know other than the song was rolling around in my head. Kind of spooky, huh? I was not a fan of Peter Kastner other than I thought he was cute in the show and he brought a smile to my face. My condolences go to his family who on top of dealing with their grief had to spend their time refuting an obit that was clearly done with a biased point of view and very little research. I am reposting Mrs. Kastner’s comments on the story below. Unfortunately, the obituary has been copied and disbursed throughout the internet as gospel without Mrs. Kastner’s comments.
Peter’s widow responds Part 1
As the late Peter Kastner’s widow (who was not contacted by Martin Knelman nor John nor Jamie Kastner, the sole sources cited in the article), I am disappointed by the tenor and content of Martin Knelman’s obituary. Peter and I were married for 34 years. The Peter I knew was not to be found in Knelman’s piece. First, some minor innaccuracies: he wasn’t driving when he died, he had pulled over to the side of the road. He was not in downtown Toronto. He never came close to landing the lead in The Graduate, but was just one of a number of actors who read for the part. I am offended at having him portrayed as Norma Desmond a comparison–with a reclusive, delusional actress — that is unfair to Peter and unfair to his memory. Nothing addresses the fine qualities of Peter which would not paint him in such a negative and deluded light. His identity was not wrapped up in being an actor.
Peter’s widow responds, Part 2
After he left acting he became a high school English teacher. He became a maker of quirky and interesting videos on a wide range of subjects. He mentored many teenagers, helped raise his step-daughter and was the constant delight of his grandchildren. Not only is the article inaccurate on a factual basis, it is also a gross misrepresentation of Peter’s life after he left acting. The Peter I knew was actively engaged in the world, through his video work, his songwriting, his political activism and his many friendships. It would have been nice if Knelman had mentioned his first wife Wendy Miller, who also mourns him. The incomplete view presented by Knelman fails to capture the sweetness and soul of the good man who died in his parked car on September 18th, 2008.
I think it was Camus who said something about the best way to die being at a time when one was happy. There was nothing sad about Peter’s “end of life” He was deeply engaged with the world, making wonderful music, starting on an exciting new project, and looking forward to a trip to new York to celebrate his grandsons’ birthdays. This grim obit says nothing about who he was. He was happy, we are the sadder for losing him.
Posted by jenny kastner at 11:18 AM Monday, September 22 2008
If you want to read the obit she is referring to just google Peter Kastner – you are bound to get a version of the one the Toronto paper ran.