UWS Encounters: Harry Belafonte, A Suggestion for Seinfeld, and Grey’s Anatomy?

Harry Belafonte. Photograph by David Shankbone.


Decades ago, my sister Joany and I were looking for an affordable UWS apartment. The realtor took us to a building on West End Avenue in the 70s. The minute we walked into the gloomy apartment we knew it wasn’t for us. The realtor said, “I’ll leave you here to picture its potential.” Before stepping out the door, she turned back to add, “Harry Belafonte lives in the building.” Harry Belafonte! Joany was in love with him and had every one of his albums. I convinced her that even if we moved into this dreary apartment, we’d never see Harry. We rang for the elevator. It came. The door opened and — (you’re probably thinking there he was. Wrong.) We got in and when it reached the lobby, the door opened and there was Harry Belafonte. He smiled his beautiful smile and stepped aside allowing us to exit. We still didn’t take the apartment, but what a memorable D-a-a-a-a-y-O!

—Lydia Wilen

“…hope for Mets fans everywhere!”

I saw Jerry Seinfeld in Central Park on Saturday. I was with a group of people and said to my  group as I saw him pass us – hey that’s Jerry Seinfeld! My friends were very confused, but I was able to tell that he clearly heard me. He didn’t flinch and kept walking but I was not going to miss my chance. I ran after him and told him to buy the Mets, he laughed, shook my hand and said thanks for mentioning it! There is hope for Mets fans everywhere!

— Harris Mevorah

“…are you in Grey’s Anatomy?”

When I first moved back to the UWS I’d often see Peter Jacobson walking his cockapoo. He looked familiar, and I knew his face from the TV series House and many other roles, but I wasn’t sure it was him. Around the third time I saw him walking by, I called “Excuse me, but are you in Grey’s Anatomy?” He laughed, and said “Wrong medical show.”

— David E Spiro

If you’ve had or observed a memorable encounter in the neighborhood, jot it down and send it to westsiderag@gmail.com — subject: Encounters Submission. Keep it to 175 words or less, and include your real name and address, so we can give you a byline and deliver a WSR mug to you if we post your story. (We won’t publish your address.)

To read more of our Encounters columns, click here.

COLUMNS | 7 comments | permalink
    1. Intrepid Traveler NYC says:

      I’m pretty familiar with celebrities, having worked in the entertainment field. And I used to watch House starring Hugh Laurie. But who is Peter Jacobson? The only Peter Jacobson I know is a pro golfer.

      • Rick says:

        It’s not rocket science-Google “House TV”. From there you will quickly ascertain that Peter Jacobson played Dr. Taub.

    2. I met Mr. Belafonte “decades ago,” when I was invited to his home. I lived on 74th street off the river.
      I sat with Mr. Belafonte, just the two of us for as I remember,about one hour.
      I represented Mr. Belafonte for the procurement of real estate. He developed/constructed his music studios on the west side.
      We did speak on several subjects, all of which kept me glued. Mr. Belafonte’s softness of heart was deeply felt.

      Mr Belafonte is one of my heroes, for his beliefs, and for his “giving back,”

    3. Steven usdin says:

      Does anyone have information concerning Brian, the newsman on 72nd and CPW. Have not seen him in almost two weeks.

    4. Lew Riley says:

      Good stuff!

      I still watch “Seinfeld” twice a night on weekdays, here in Southern California. Nothing better for the soul than out-loud laughter.

      Maybe he should try to buy the Knicks, too. And make sure Kramer doesn’t harass Spike Lee,

    5. Peter says:

      300 West End Avenue. The legend goes that back in the 1950s the landlord wouldn’t rent to a black man, so Belafonte bought the entire building and converted it to a co-op. He took the entire fifth floor for himself, and sold the others to his friends, like Lena Horne. Great New York story.

    6. Nancy L says:

      One day I was entering my apartment building, I said to the gentleman who held the door for me, “You look familiar”. He said “Desperate Housewives”. We rode the elevator together and I laughed with hi, I worked at ABC and worked on that show every week. He was Roger Bart and he played the Pharmacist.