The people you meet on the web can be very interesting. I've met Broadway stars, publishers, recording artists, gossip columnists and many others in the business. But none were ever like Sparkleneelysparkle. He was special.
Allow me to explain. On the Internet, especially in chat rooms, one chooses a handle, so to speak, to express their opinions and it's pretty much a way of talking to the world in disguise. When Sparkleneelysparkle started posting on Talkin' Broadway's message board, All That Chat, it wasn't hard to figure out who he was. The sparkling wit and caustic comments could only belong to one person, Edward Margulies, the Hollywood columnist, whose caustic wit and observations made millions laugh.
And yes, Sparkle was Ed, and yes, he made us scream with laughter. But he had keen observations on the film industry as well. Sadly, Sparkle passed away on November 16th from a heart attack at the age of 48. It came as a shock and those of us who knew him are simply stunned. He was our friend. His wit was so incredibly on target that you could not help but convulse with laughter with his cynicisms.
Even his last column at Showbiz.com suggested that Michael Jackson should not be cast as Edgar Alan Poe in a film but should be cast in the re-make of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Sparkle went on to say that Jacko should be cast as the "painting." Such was the wit of our dear friend, Sparkle Neely Sparkle.
Ed loved trashy old bad movies, thus the handle, which came from The Valley of the Dolls. He even co-authored a book titled "Bad Movies We Love."
In the 3 years Talkin' Broadway has been published many of us have met in cyberspace and then brought those meetings to the real world where we gained new friendships. I've asked 2 of those friends to share their experiences, Old Man, a regular poster on our forum and Bruce Kimmel, record producer at the Varese Sarabande label.
"Like a lot of people here at Talkin' Broadway, I first encountered Sparkleneelysparkle as a fellow poster on All That Chat. Always irreverent but clearly soaring in the smarts department, I always looked forward to a Sparkle post. Not knowing Sparkle's gender or even the origin of the name (I obviously found out both - in time), I was nonetheless constantly intrigued by Sparkle's breadth of knowledge and the clarity and fearlessness of his unmuddied opinions. Sparkle also made it known that he and I had the same geographic origins and we both still lived in the same vicinity. So I asked a fellow forumer to see if Sparkle would be willing to accept a communication from me. With our initial communications, we decided to have lunch at a local LA eatery.
I knew Ed Margulies for about a year and a half and he made quite an impact on me. My first reaction to Ed was that he looked very similar to Martin Mull, with the same sort of acerbic, biting sense of humor that Mull himself might have. Though separated in age by about a dozen years, our paths were quite similar. We attended the same high school and university, though at different time. We both were children of parents in the entertainment industry and, as adults, we made our own livings in entertainment as well. We understood each other and both enjoyed our lunch conversations a great deal.
He would talk about being on the sets of projects like Roots, The Thorn Birds, and, more recently, Dash & Lily (after all, his dad remains one of the best and most respected producers in television history), and I would listen. When I would apologize for not being all that interesting myself, he would often frustratedly ask why I would ever say such a thing - that I was being totally ridiculous. His no-nonsense attitude made such a statement from him a real honor. But, his life was so interesting to me, as it was similar to mine but for the fact that his seemed so much more LIVED! My sense of responsibility was countered by his sense of adventure. And I think we admired each other for the other's strengths. We talked about theater, movies and television, about my job, about his job as an editor and columnist at Movieline and planning the Movieline website. We spoke of the awards last year in Santa Barbara, about his departure from Movieline and his new column for Mr. Showbiz. (I even provided him with the material to write the piece that got him the Mr. Showbiz job!) And we talked about life, family (both being the products of divorced parents), religion and (what else in LA?) traffic.
At our last lunch, on October 22, we talked about Ed's two jobs of the moment (and how much he liked them) and how he had decided to plan financially for his future. He thought it was time to finally start acting like a responsible adult. He said that this was a subject that he had always avoided, but that he wanted my advice on how to start getting his "grown up" act together. Again, what an honor! He was actually asking ME for advice! We had a great conversation - as always - and it certainly wasn't only about the "business" of "growing up". We talked about his burgeoning (and thriving) business on eBay, what was up with the forum and some of the forumers, our thoughts on television and some of the information from his latest Mr. Showbiz column, plus countless other topics. I had to get back to my office, so we had to cut the lunch short (I think that's allowable after a two-hour lunch). But we both were eager for the next lunch and the next exchange of ideas.
What a terrific guy he was, and I could (but won't) go on and on. Though I only knew him for a short time, I don't think I'll ever forget Ed. He was intelligent, articulate, funny, thoughtful, open to new ideas, straightforward and appreciative. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. John (V.J.) Gillespie created this little community, and some of us have actually made human connections that have truly impacted our lives. My wife and I have established REAL friendships with people because of this cyber-meeting place - people like Bob, Steve, Jim, Maisey, Michael, Rodney and others - and, of course, there will always be Ed Margulies - who was, and shall remain, much, much more than just a Sparkle."
"I met Sparkleneelysparkle on a discussion board just like the one here at Talkin' Broadway. There was some thread about theaters-in-the-round from the 60s and it turned out that we'd both seen all the same shows at all the same theaters. We began to correspond and also found out we'd attended the same restaurants, done the same things and known the same people all throughout our childhood, teens and adult lives. In fact, we surmised that at one time or another we'd probably been in the same place at the same time but had simply not met. We had many things in common. Our senses of humor, the film business, love of musical theater and a vast knowledge of all things trivial. We were never able to stump each other in terms of bad movies; we both knew and had seen them all. Our favorite was The Creeping Terror, an incredibly bad monster film in which the monster is five men in what appears to be a large piece of carpet.
We finally met and had dinner, accompanied by my pal Jason Graae, who I knew would love Sparkle. We supped at La Boheme, a trendy restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd. filled with trendy people who we spent the evening skewering with great delight. We barely had time to eat we were laughing so hard.
Because of our schedules, we hadn't been in touch as often in recent months. On Halloween, I received the following e-mail from him:
I was leaving for New York the following morning and just figured I'd answer it when I returned. I got back a week later and kept forgetting to go to my "saved" pile of e-mails. As irony would have it, I was going to answer it this last Wednesday evening when I got the news that dear Sparkle had passed away. Needless to say, I was in shock. The world has one less light without the wit and warmth and kindness of my friend Sparkle. He DID sparkle, and he made all around him sparkle, too. I'm somehow certain that wherever he's gone to he's telling them all about The Creeping Terror and keeping them in stitches. Rest in peace, dear Ed. We miss you already."
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