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September 8: Simon Sez

September 7, 2015

jackie.tony~4Lou Goldstein, who served as tumler (social director) at the Grossinger’s Catskill Mountain resort from 1948 to 1986 and achieved a national reputation for his “Simon Sez” games with both adults and children, was born near Warsaw on this date in 1921. (In the photo at right, Goldstein is standing, center, with Jackie Robinson and Tony Bennett seated with others at a table at Grossinger’s.) His routines at Grossinger’s, in addition to stand-up comedy, included, writes Joseph Berger in the New York Times, “absurd exercise classes. He’d have a circle of grown men don silly hats and maneuver them onto one another’s heads, with one hand and without letting the hats tumble to the ground. He’d tell jokes during pauses in a diving exhibition, or tell stories on tours of the Grossinger’s grounds and kitchens (one for meat and one for dairy).” His mastery as a leader of “Simon Sez” games earned him appearances on television shows including “Wide World of Sports,” “The Mike Douglas Show,” ABC’s “Superstars,” and at sports and charity events, and proved, according to the Jewish Week, that “no matter what you do in this world, you can make a name for yourself by doing it well.” Goldstein also consulted on the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing. He spent his adult life with his dancer wife in Liberty, NY and died at 90.
“ ‘Simon says, move to your right,’ he would tell a group, or, ‘Simon says, jump up in the air,’ then whisper to a too-satisfied participant, ‘By the way, what’s your name?’ When the person answered, Mr. Goldstein would reply in a mock gruff voice, ‘You’re out!’ Corny as it was, there was something about his patter, with its grumpy Yiddish inflection, that charmed.” —Joseph Berger