WPHT has confirmed the death last night of Steve Friedman, the human version of IMDB known to radio listeners and cinephiles as "Mr. Movie."
The Harrisburg native, who was 62, hosted a call-in show on 1210 that aired Saturday nights. He previously was on WWDB. He's survived by his wife, Michell Muldoon, and teenage daughter, Darragh.
He'd been fighting kidney failure since 2004. He'd been in and out of the hospital for some time, and had been on dialysis awaiting a transplant. The death, though, was unexpected, according to his friends. No cause of death was announced.
He told interviewers that his favorite film was Forbidden Planet, the 1956 sci-fi version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, about space visitors who journey to an expatriate's one-man space colony on a far-flung planet. He saw it 178 times.
"The greatest thing in the world for him was being a expert in film," said Sharon Pinkenson, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. "It made him alive."
"Anyway you try to describe Mr. Movie, you come up short," said WPHT's Jim Murray.
In a clip from a 1987 Inquirer profile, the show went like this:
"I wanted to ask you about a movie," says a wee-hours caller named Bruce. ''I know it was low-budget, but I thought it was brilliant. It was called David and Lisa."
"David and Lisa is a classic film, 1962, was shot in Philadelphia," says Friedman. "Howard da Silva is no longer with us; he was a great actor, and he's the major star of the film. But Keir Dullea made his debut in the film, and so did Janet Margolin, who have both gone on to other careers.
"Keir Dullea, of course, is mostly famous playing David Bowman in 2001: A Space Odessy and 2010. And he went off to England between the two films and more or less threw his career away as a film star. But David and Lisa is a groundbreaking film about schizophrenia. "
No doubt you're saying to yourself, "Fool, knave, fraud, everybody knows that David and Lisa was shot in '62 but not released until '63. "
But bear in mind that Friedman, working without any reference books whatsoever, is talking off the top of his head. And he does this in phone call after phone call, often about movies the average filmgoer never even heard of.
Friedman simply knows these things. Names, dates, faces, directors, screenwriters, plots, even dialogue.