Dylan cartoon

 by Chris Cooper

Still here? 

OK while last month I attempted to bore you with a huge long list of the cast for Dylan’s masterpiece Renaldo and Clara. This month we sort the anoraks from the crowd. If this is to be an exhaustive look at the film, well you know how it goes, after all, sacrifice is the price of the road…. 

When I started looking thru the various scenes that make up this epic journey I found myself wondering about many of the cast. It may be that Renaldo and Clara was carefully orchestrated (you guessed it, more on that later) or it may be that it was the product of circumstance, either way the one major difference in this film than many others is that a lot of the players in this film had personal connections with Bob himself. As far as I know, this is a deviation from the norm when it comes to making films. I then started looking up various people to see what connection they had with Dylan and indeed what became of them after this contact. We all know that performing on stage with Dylan seems to have plunged many other artists into immediate obscurity. I leave it to you, the reader, to decide why this is. A few possibilities that occur to me is that (1) Dylan likes to be the main man, and to achieve this he has a predilection for under achievers. Ronnie Scott used to say “you know how to look young? It’s easy, hang around with old people!” This may be so with Bob. If you want to be outstanding then pick under achievers. Of course they will then most likely fade into the background afterwards. You can read that another way (2) and say that he picks these people out in an effort to give them a helping hand. (Personally I don’t believe that is so.) (3) There may be a romantic notion that the obscure and strange appeal to our man and this is why so many are there. OR possibly it’s that he (4) favours the underdog. Whatever the reason many people appear in this film and then vanished from the public eye. 

So of course yours truly just had to look them up! Right? So, before we get down to the real nitty gritty stuff here is a breakdown of this unusual rag bag of people, Some of this you may be familiar with, some you may disbelieve ! As far as I have been able to check everything here is made in good faith that it is accurate. 

 Sara DYLAN                                           -played-                                                         Clara

Certainly one of the main players, in Bob’s life as much as the film, obviously the film was certainly in part about Sara. Nee Shirley Noznisky, later Sara Lownds,  it is not known when she  changed name to Sara. She first met Dylan through their mutual friend Sally Grossman in 1964. They were married 22 November 1965 and divorced July 1977, though they have remained in regular contact since. 

 Joan BAEZ                                              -played-                                   the woman in white

Joan Baez was born on January 9, 1941 in Staten Island, New York, the second of three sisters. She involved with  the Civil Rights cause and the peace movement, a spokesman for non-violent resistance to and protest against immoral authority, she has refused to pay taxes that go to escalate the war in Vietnam, and has sung at almost every historic demonstration, and fosters a school for non-violent protest in California. Brought Dylan to a larger audience by taking him on tour with her in 63-64. One time Dylan lover, she hadn’t tour with Dylan since then. She later toured with him again in 1984.

 Ronnie HAWKINS                                 -played-                                                Bob Dylan

Ronnie Hawkins was born in Huntsville, Arkansas, on January 10, 1935, two days after Elvis.

Ronnie Hawkins remains 'Mr. Dynamo', a legend who is credited with bringing rock 'n' roll to Canada, and has had two books written about his life in music. Ronnie has passed the live playing on to his son Robin, who has struck out on his own, playing the Ontario circuit after ten years as a Hawk, and to his daughter Leah, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is pursuing her singing career there. Ronnie, Jr. was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teen and has been living with this terrible disease all these years. Ronnie and Wanda actively raise money for The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario in the hope that, with research, someday a cure will be found...

Ronee BLAKLEY                                    -played-                                              Mrs. Dylan

During the early '70s, country & western artist Ronee Blakely was a favorite singer/songwriter of Bob Dylan and had a fairly successful singing career. In film, she penned a few songs for Welcome Home Soldier (1972). She made a stellar acting debut in 1975 playing Barbara Jean, a tragic, frail singer (alleged to be loosely patterned after Loretta Lynn) who is nearly destroyed by fame in Robert Altman's Nashville. Blakely is said to have written much of the part herself and was so convincing in the role that it won her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She has continued to pursue a career in film, but has since been relegated to leading and supporting roles in low-budget and independent features ranging from Walter Hill's The Driver (1978) and Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) to Someone to Love (1987). In 1985, Blakely directed and starred in the docudrama I Played It for You. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide.

 Jack ELLIOTT                                      -played-                                  Longheno de Castro

Early influence on Dylan he was a friend of Woody Guthrie’s and sang backing voice on an unreleased recording of Mr. Tambourine Man. Ramblin' Jack Elliot's CD Friends Of Mine contains the song "Bleeker Street Blues", which sums up his relationship with Bob Dylan. In 1998 he won the National Medal of Arts award, presented to him by the President of the US on November 5.

Harry Dean STANTON                          -played-                                                    Lafkezio

Harry Dean Stanton (b. July 14th, 1926) (a.k.a. Dean Stanton)

Enduringly popular character actor Harry Dean Stanton specializes in playing the lost, the weird, and outcast of society. With his lean body and well-weathered skin stretched over a prominent nose, hollow cheeks, and sensitive deep-set eyes, Stanton looks like he is no stranger to adversity. Raised near Lexington, KY  but didn't go anywhere until the '70s when he appeared in several cult movies, including Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and Rancho Deluxe (1975). By the '80s, Stanton had become a supporting actor and was getting larger and increasingly offbeat roles in such films as Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), The Black Marble (1980), and most notably Repo Man, as the fellow who teaches Emilio Estevez to take back cars. His best role has been as a drifter in Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas (1983). But in addition to playing fringe people, the articulate and highly intelligent Stanton also plays more mainstream roles such as Molly Ringwald's over-distracted father in Pretty in Pink (1986). Stanton occasionally plays leading roles in independent films and when not acting has proven himself an excellent singer and musician.

 Bob NEUWIRTH                                   -played-                                 the Masked Tortilla

(b 20 Jun '39, Akron OH) Singer, guitarist and songwriter first met Dylan at the Indian Neck Festival in May 1961. He subsequently became Dylan's regular sidekick on his mid-sixties tours. They were reunited on the Rolling Thunder Revues of 1975/6.

Neuwirth is one of those people whose precise role is hard to define; many quiz him about Dylan and fail to see that he is one of those who act as the glue that binds a scene together: sitting in the circle when the guitar is being passed around, his songs are as worthy as those of the company he keeps.

Mel HOWARD                                        -played-                                                     Ungatz

Born in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1940, Mel left university at the age of 20 and became a “bad actor” for a year. Mel returned to Canada where he continued to broadcast on both radio and television. Ben Healy wrote in October 2000 to bring us up to date: “Mel Howard worked for CJOB in Winnipeg quite some time ago. He went back to being a teacher about ten years ago and has recently retired.”  

Allen GINSBERG                                   -played-                                                  the father

(June 3, 1926 - April 5, 1997)

Perhaps the most noted American poet of the 'beat' generation, he first met Dylan in December 1963 and they have remained friends ever since, recording together in 1971 and 1982. He was also a member of the 1975-6 Rolling Thunder Revue. The relationship between Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan was often portrayed, not least by Ginsberg and Dylan themselves, as a father-and-son relationship. Most notably, in Dylan's film Renaldo and Clara, Ginsberg appears as a fictional character called The Father, and several scenes show him offering religious instruction to Dylan as Renaldo. Of course, these scenes are ironic in many ways: two Jewish poets playing out motifs from Christian theology; the whole joke (a friendly, and entirely non-homophobjoke) of the notoriously gay Ginsberg being portrayed as a progenitor. But beneath the irony there is an entirely serious tribute to the depth and commitment of the friendship between the two.

 David MANSFIELD                              -played-                                                     the son

First signed (by the legendary Mary Martin), at sixteen, to Warner Bros. Records as member of "Quacky Duck And His Barnyard Friends". Later signed to Arista and released three albums (two of which he co-produced with T-Bone Burnett and Steven Soles) as a member of the critically acclaimed Alpha Band.

Produced soundtrack albums for the films "Heaven's Gate", "Year of the Dragon", "The Sicilian", "Desperate Hours", "Ballad Of Little Jo" and others. Excerpts from his scores for "Heaven's Gate" and "The Sicilian" have been performed at the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall, respectively.

Jack BARAN                                           -played-                                        the truck driver

A full-time actor, Renaldo and Clara being his eighth film. He has gone on to direct or produce many films including most notably Band Of The Hand.

1979 Americathon - First Assistant Director
1983 Breathless - First Assistant Director
1986 Band of the Hand - Screenwriter
1987 Barfly - Associate Producer, First Assistant Director
1987 The Big Easy - Associate Producer, Screenwriter
1989 Great Balls of Fire! - Associate Producer, Composer (Music Score)
1992 Single White Female - First Assistant Director, Executive Producer
1994 Uncovered - Director, Producer, Screenwriter
1995 Destiny Turns on the Radio - Director
1995 Kiss of Death - First Assistant Director, Executive Producer
1998 Shattered Image - Executive Producer
2001 Jack The Dog - First Assistant Director, Producer
2003 View from the Top - First Assistant Director Get 

Helena KALLIANIOTES                       -played-                                                       herself

In the early 1970s, Helena was the resident belly dancer at The Intersection, a Greek restaurant in North Hollywood. Has been credited with introducing “floor dancing” into belly dancing. Has remained an actress and appeared again  with Bob in Catchfire (1989).

Other film roles include:
Head (1968) (uncredited) .... Belly Dancer
Five Easy Pieces (1970) .... Palm Apodaca
Baby Maker, The (1970) .... Wanda
Kansas City Bomber (1972) .... Jackie Burdette
Shanks (1974) .... Mata Hari
Drowning Pool, The (1975) .... Elaine Reavis
Stay Hungry (1976) .... Anita
Passover Plot, The (1976) .... Visionary Woman 

Rubin "Hurricane" CARTER                -played-                                                      himself

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a well known African-American boxer that was wrongly accused. Two years after his championship match in June of '66, two men and a woman were shot in Patterson, NJ. Rubin Carter and John Artis were accused of murder and brought in front of the victims. One of the men could not identify them as the criminals, but they went to trial anyway. They were taken off the stand innocent and did not go back to court for a few months. In October of 1996, Alfred P. Bello stated that he saw Carter and Artis at the crime scene. They were sent back to court and were set before an all white jury. The jury convicted them guilty and they were sentenced to three life terms in jail. His nineteen years in jail had pretty much ruined his boxing career, and the only reason was because he was African-American. Rubin Carter's case is a good example of the segregation that was going on. He was an innocent man but still had to spend nineteen years in prison. It is uncertain whether he was accused because he was black, but because of the background of those years, it seems almost definite that the case was an example of segregation. 

Scarlet RIVERA                                      -played-                                                      herself

Previously unknown violinist discovered by Dylan on the streets of Greenwich Village in June 1975, whose sound made such a contribution on the Desire album and Rolling Thunder tours of 1975/6.  Scarlet was diagnosed with endometrial cancer at the end of 1998. Everyone involved was convinced that surgery would see the end of it, but devastatingly, after her release from Cedars Sinai hospital, it was discovered that the cancer had spread.  A 50-day radiation therapy treatment was immediately instituted. After only 9 days of treatment, Scarlet had a very bad and extremely rare reaction to the radiotherapy. She was consequently re-admitted and put on life-support for a week.  Three charitable foundations joined forces to raise money to help pay for Scarlet's treatment and a benefit for Scarlet was held in Hollywood at the Baked Potato on March 7, 1999 to help raise money to cover her medical expenses. Then, on November 14, 1999 Scarlet Rivera was among the performers at The Baked Potato   1999 "Angel Award" ceremony for Alex Ligertwood and Miles Davis. 

Mama Maria FRASCA                           -played-                                                      herself

The crew visited the Dreamaway Lodge in Becket, on Nov. 7, 1975, to meet its owner, the eccentric 79 year old  musician-host Maria "Mama" Frasca.  Baez struck up a special relationship with Mama in the few hours she spent there"I have the purse she gave me sewn into a cape," said Baez. "My very gifted seamstress sister made it for me. She makes them out of velvet and all of your old scarves and things that you don't need anymore that you want to have forever, like a scarf the Vietnamese gave me at the end of the war. I have a purse the gypsy lady gave me as a pocket in this robe."

 MAD BEAR                                           -played-                                                      himself

Mad Bear was a member of the Bear Clan of the Tuscarora Nation of the Six-Nation Iroquois Confederacy of the United States and Canada. A Native American rights-activist, he was also a medicine man and a leader with great power and influence both among his own people and cross culturally. Mad Bear Anderson walked west in 1985. Rolling Thunder walked west in 1997. They both left huge legacies, and a lot of controversies behind.  He died in 1985.

Roger McGUINN                                    -played-                                                     himself

Despite his leadership of seminal folk-rockers the Byrds, he did not record with Dylan until the fall of 1972. Subsequently played on the Pat Garret & Billy the Kid soundtrack album, was a member of the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975-6 and guested with Dylan in 1980, 1987 and 1990. 

David BLUE                                             -played-                                                      himself

Of all the Dylan imitators of the folk-rock Sixties, David Blue was distinctly the most outrageous. In the Seventies Blue's obsession with Dylan had dwindled.

David Blue did several albums under that name on the Asylum label. He also did at least one album under the name S. David Cohen on Reprise. The Joni Mitchell song "Blue" is written about him and I've seen explanations of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," that say that that song is also about him. (which I doubt) 

Joni MITCHELL                                     -played-                                                      herself

1943: 7 Nov, born Roberta Joan Anderson in Ft. McLeod, Alberta, Canada raised in the city of Saskatoon  World famous singer-songwriter, Joni  joined the Tour towards the end of the 1975 shows. 

Rob STONER                                          -played-                                                      himself

Manhattan native Rob Stoner (neé Rothstein) graduated from New York City's Columbia College in 1969. His rockabilly band, Rockin' Rob and the Rebels, became headliners on the national night club circuit. In 1975, Bob Dylan hired Rob as his bandleader and opening act for the Rolling Thunder Revue. He played and sang on several Dylan albums, including Desire, Hard Rain, Live at Budokan and Live 1975, while touring with Dylan. Resuming his solo career, Rob released a critically acclaimed solo album of original songs on MCA Records. He also became the first non-Southerner to release an album on Sun Records and continued to tour and record with various acts including his own throughout the nineties. His compositions have been recorded by Johnny Winter, Shirley Bassey, Robert Gordon, and others. Rob has co-written three off-off-Broadway musicals, all of which were staged and produced in New York City. He now lives in New York City and Rockland County, N.Y., where he remains active on the music scene. 

Ruth TYRANGIEL                                  -played-                                                 girl friend

Ruth Tyrangiel appears in "Renaldo and Clara," where she plays the part of "The Girlfriend."  In a lawsuit filed in 1993 she claimed she was always available to Dylan during their years together and that he had promised to marry her.

Tryangiel also claimed she helped Dylan in his  business decisions and assisted writing some of  his songs. The lawsuit says Tryangiel is entitled  to $5 million based on property acquired while  they were living together and income from song  royalties and other sources. The lawsuit said she lived with the legendary folk singer from 1974 to 1993. (more about Ruth later)

She conducts that hilarious dialogue with Bob Dylan (played by Ronnie Hawkins) in which he tries to persuade her to come on the road with him.  She also delivers to renaldo (played by Bob Dylan) the memorable line "Stand and bear yourself like the cross and I'll just receive you."

Now all she wants to receive is five million dollars. 

Steven SOLES                                         -played-                                                      Ramon

Bob Dylan asked Soles to tour with him on his 1975 "Rolling Thunder Revue" tour. When that tour had ended, Soles and two other members of Dylan's band, T-Bone Burnett and David Mansfield formed The Alpha Band. The band released three albums, The Alpha Band in 1977, Spark In The Dark in 1977, and The Statue Makers of Hollywood in 1978. After the break up of The Alpha Band, Soles released two solo albums, Promise in 1980, and 1982's Walk by Love, and went on to produce or perform on albums by Dylan, Burnett, Peter Case, Elvis Costello, Roger McGuinn, Don McLean, The Monkees, The 77s, Olivia Newton-John, Roy Orbison, Tonio K, Victoria Williams and others. 

Mick RONSON                                       -played-                                          security guard

Born May 26, 1946 Mick Ronson died on April 30 1993, of Liver cancer, at the age of 47.

When Mick died, the music world lost a man of many talents: songwriter, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and a brilliant guitarist whose searing lead style provided the earthly grounding for a new generation of rock flamboyance in David Bowie's character of Ziggy Stardust. Many have never really acknowledged the extent of Ronson's role in shaping the sound of Bowie's best-loved albums, but those who knew kept "Ronno" busy with production work for 20 years after the Spiders From Mars burst onto the scene In the latter stages of his life Mick worked on his 'solo' album, Heaven and Hull. The album has since been produced posthumously, having been almost completed at the time of Mick's death. 

Anne WALDMAN                                  -played-                                          sister of mercy

Born  2 April 1945, in  Millville, New Jersey, USA  Was a member of the Sisters Of Mercy, a trio who do not appear to have made any recordings. 

Denise MERCEDES                               -played-                                         sister of mercy

Was a member of the Sisters Of Mercy, a trio who do not appear to have made any recordings. Denise went on  join the Stimulators, she later helped a punk styled band The Cro Mags. With theit CD Loud Fast Recordings, which also featured a bonus track by, The Stimulators The Stimulators live track was called "M.A.C.H.I.N.E." 

Linda THOMASES                                 -played-                                         sister of mercy

Was a member of the Sisters Of Mercy, a trio who do not appear to have made any recordings  she was also known as  “Muffin” and is credited with costumes in Renaldo and Clara. 

T-Bone BURNETT                                 -played-                                          the inner voice

Writer / Performer / Producer T Bone Burnett was born Joseph Henry Burnett, January 14, 1948 in St. Louis, Missouri.. He now lives and works in Los Angeles, California and has released two albums. "Tooth of Crime" was written for the Sam Shepard play of the same name, which premiered in New York in 1997. "The True False Identity" is his first album of original songs since 1992's "The Criminal Un er My Own Hat," for which he received a Grammy nomination. While devoting the balance of 1999 to working on the Coen Brothers' new film, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" 

Sheila SHOTTON                                    -played-                                                 CBC lady

The presenter who wrongly identifies “Dylan” in the film, Shelia was in fact a reporter for CBC  and went on to work as a TV presenter most notably for  the Pamela Wallin Program in the US since retired, she was last  on the show in 1996 (September 15 1996) discussing the Toronto Film Festival. 

Kevin CROSSLEY                                  -played-                                              piano player

Is a Piano player who worked for the company from which light and sound equipment was rented on the tour. Present location is unknown. 

Larry SLOMAN                                      -played-                                        newspaper man

Unofficial chronicler of the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue, the results published as the magnificent On the Road with Bob Dylan. In 1984 he co-produced the promotional video of Dylan's 'Jokerman'. 

Hal FRAZIER                                          -played-                                                       singer

Father of Classical singer LaGavlia he was a professional singer who came up through the ranks with such performers as Nat King Cole, Al Martino, Tony Bennett and Vic Damone.  Known to have covered My Way. 

M. WILL                                                  -played-                                                          MC

Nothing known. 

Sam SHEPARD                                      -played-                                                      Rodeo

Playwright commissioned by Dylan to write a screenplay for a film to be shot on the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue. Though the script idea was later dropped, Shepard contributed his ideas and acting to the film Renaldo and Clara and documented the tour in his Rolling Thunder Logbook. He subsequently collaborated with Dylan on the 1984 song 'New Danville Girl' and on a June 1987 feature for Esquire magazine. 

Howie WYETH                                        -played-                                            the drummer

Wyeth, the grandson of the artist N.C. Wyeth and the nephew of Andrew Wyeth, was born in 1944. He studied percussion with Alan Abel of the Philadelphia Orchestra and graduated with a bachelor's degree in music from Syracuse University in 1966. He moved to New York City in 1969. Wyeth toured in 1975 and 1976  He also  rehearsed for, but withdrew before, the 1978 tour.

Wyeth played drums on two albums with Dylan, "Desire" and "Hard Rain"; he also performed on four albums by the rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon, and on albums by Roger McGuinn, Don McLean, Leslie West, Kinky Friedman, James Moody and others. More recently Wyeth concentrated on piano, leading his own groups in ragtime, blues and early jazz at New York clubs.

He died on March 29, 1996 at St Vincents Hospital, NYC of a cardiac arrest. 

Luther RIX                                              -played-                                            the drummer

Jazz soul. Meditated before every set. Delicate touch on percussion. Hard-driving congas on "Hurricane". Little else known. 

Andre Bernard TREMBLAY                  -played-                                                   Maurice

Nothing known.

Dominic PAULO                                      -played-                                                 the realist

The café owner who went on to own a restaurant You can’t talk about dining in the Theatre District without talking about Dominic’s (255 Tremont St., 426-8769). Located directly across the street from the Wang Theatre and next door to the Shubert, Dominic’s has stood as a Theatre District landmark for almost 30 years. Owner Dominic Paulo has seen dozens of Broadway stars saunter through his doors over the past two decades, including Laurence Olivier, Jennifer Holliday and Liza Minnelli. The restaurant serves up a simple yet delicious stable of food. 

Arlo GUTHRIE                                        -played-                                       mandolin player

Arlo Guthrie was born with a guitar in one hand and a harmonica in the other, in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York in 1947. He is the eldest son of America's most beloved singer/writer/philosopher Woody Guthrie and Marjorie Mazia Guthrie. Arlo Guthrie's career exploded in 1967 with the release of "Alice's Restaurant", whose title song premiered at the Newport Folk Festival helped foster a new commitment among the '60s generation to social consciousness and activism. Arlo went on to star in the 1969 Hollywood film version of "Alice's Restaurant", directed by Arthur Penn.

Today Arlo spends nearly ten months of the year on the road, and is frequently accompanied by his son Abe. His daughter Sarah Lee and her husband Johnny Irion contribute acoustic guitar and supporting vocals. 

Roberta FLACK                                      -played-                                               guest artist

Smooth R&B vocalist Roberta Flack was born in Ashville, N.C., in 1939 and, inspired by her father, a church organist, began playing piano at a young age. She went on to win a music scholarship to Howard University, after which she briefly taught music before landing a record deal with Atlantic in the late 1960s.

Throughout the 1980s and '90s Flack continued recording and touring, scoring her most recent Top 10 hit with 1991's "Set the Night to Music," a duet with Maxi Priest. Roberta Flack's most recent album is a 1997 anthology of Christmas standards simply titled Christmas Album.

Claudia CARR                                         -played-                                                      dancer

Nothing known other than she was a belly dancer!

And that’s all!! 

There were many others involved who are not credited and one or two who will prove influential in the structure of the tour and / or the film, but that’s for next time.