Friday, February 15, 2013

Gabriel Pascal

Filmmaker Gabriel Pascal (1894-1954) remains one of the most fascinating western male followers of Meher Baba -- if one finds intrigue, rogue adventures, difficult genius personalities, and heart-ripping pathos, coupled with great love and enthusiasm for Meher Baba, fascinating.

Pascal was a Hungarian-born Hollywood film producer, whose life deeply intertwined with Baba's, and who was a central player in Baba's film work in the 1930s. A blog post can't do Pascal's life and connection with Meher Baba justice. For those who have no idea who he was, a fairly accurate quick glimpse about him can be found on Wikipedia.

Baba said Pascal had "deep past connections" with him (Lord Meher, 1890), and called Pascal by the nickname "Phoenix." At other times Baba referred to Pascal as his "Black Panther." Why he chose these names is not known.

Pascal heard of Baba in connection with Baba's film ideas in the 1930s, worked hard on various film projects for Baba that did not materialize, and remained in contact with Baba right up to his dying day in New York's Roosevelt Hospital in 1954. Some of Pascal's final letters to Baba from the hospital can be found in the Awakener Magazine, here and here.

Pascal is discussed often in Lord Meher, by Bhau Kalchuri, as well as in The Awakener Magazine, edited by Filis Frederick. Anyone interested in his personality and exploits, with Baba and otherwise, should not miss the wonderfully written account by his wife Valerie, The Disciple and His Devil. For those wanting to flesh out their Meher Baba library, vintage copies (including rare early editions) can be found for far less than the reprinting at Abe Books. Though the book is not expressly about Baba, there are many references to Pascal and Baba that are not printed anywhere else, many of these episodes entertaining and even startling.

Below is a March of Time Newsreel featuring Pascal's production of Caesar and Cleopatra, with a short scene of pascal directing.

Sadly video has been removed

The best known story of Pascal is when Baba gave him a pair of his sandals. Finding himself out of money not long after, he convinced the supertitious manager of the Saint Francis Hotel, where he was staying, to accept them as security for his bill until he could return. When he later returned with money the manager would not return them, having become a millionaire, which he attributed to the 'magic sandals.' Pascal was allowed, however, to view the sandals one last time – taken from a safe, on a golden platter. [Source]

Pascal was apparently so impressed with the event that near the end of his life he wished to make a film including it, titled The Slippers of a Perfect Master. He wrote to Baba, "When you hear The Slippers of a Perfect Master you will laugh tears." [Source]

See also The Black Panther

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