All Episodes

February 15, 2023 49 mins

When Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original Broadway production of the musical Cats premiered in 1982, a young dancer named Timothy Scott was just entering his prime. Cast in the role of Mr. Mistoffelees, he left audiences (including a young Mo) spellbound with an acrobatic dancing that seemed to defy physics. But before the end of the decade, Scott was a victim of the AIDS crisis. 35 years after his death, Mo remembers Tim Scott and his dazzling talent, with help from his partner Norman Buckley and Broadway legends Betty Buckley, Baayork Lee and Ken Page. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:12):
Growing up in the Maryland suburbs outside of d C,
Broadway was just far enough away to seem like another world,
a magical one. So it's no surprise that some of
my fondest memories are of the train trips i'd take
with my parents to go and see Broadway shows. First
was the musical Barnum starring Jim Dale. Joined the third

(00:37):
just like hi Wan when I was a killed. After that,
I think it was Annie. I don't mean anything by you.
Both were great shows, but the trip we took in
February was next level. We were going to see a

(00:57):
show that was nothing short of an event. I loved
Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats even before I saw it,
and not in an ironic way. I played that original
Broadway cast album until the vinyl almost melted. The song
memory instantly unforgettable junior Face. My friend Mario and I

(01:28):
would listen to it over and over on the stereo
in his family room, and when Betty Buckley would hit
that big note, I would grab the nearest sofa pello
and bite it. Look, I was only thirteen years old.

(01:49):
I honestly didn't know how else to channel the urges
it tapped into. When I finally saw the show as
a much more sophisticated four year old, my expectations were
actually exceeded. That's set, the costumes, and that dancing. My
parents and I sat in the very last row of

(02:11):
the balcony, so the cats who came into the audience
didn't come anywhere near us. But so what, It was
still impossibly exciting. Afterwards, I went back home to Bethesda,
Maryland with an official cat's sweatshirt, the one with the
two yellow cat eyes on the back. I wore that
sweatshirt to Pile Junior High almost every day for the

(02:32):
rest of the winter. I ended up writing a letter
to every member of the cast twice. I only received
a couple of responses, but I was absolutely thrilled that
one of them was from Mr Mustaphel's himself, Tim Scott,
this dancer. When he did twenty four consecutive weets, he

(02:54):
took my breath away. I didn't know that those wild
spins were called forwetas, or even how spell the word.
All I knew was that I was watching someone defy
the laws of physics. Tim Scott's letter to me was short,
but gracious. I was just so happy that he answered.
But back then I had no idea of the offstage

(03:15):
drama that was quietly building for Tim Scott and for
many in the cast of Cats, for the Broadway community
at large, and especially for the gay men who were
in essential part of that community. AIDS was discovered first
and young homosexual meant there is no cure and it
is often fatal. By the fall of two when Cats

(03:37):
opened on Broadway, AIDS had become a health crisis. By
the end of the decade, it would claim the lives
of over one hundred thousand Americans and would devastate the
arts world. In the original cast of Cats alone, AIDS
would cut down four dancers at the very top of
their careers and in peak physical form. The tragedy of

(04:00):
the whole thing, isn't it. That's a microcosm of the
big picture. You've got to show that's about youth and vitality,
and these are people who were taken down in the
prime of their lives. This is the story of one
of those dancers. It's a story of talent, beautiful, beautiful dancer.
You can't imagine all of the tricks that he did.

(04:21):
It was just absolutely incredible. It's a story of dreams
I'll never begin, he said, you know what, I just
want to be the best dance so I could possibly
be and be on Broadway. Most of all, it's a
love story. One night he turned and looked at me,
and I looked back at him, and there was this long,
meaningful moment. So I like to say that I fell

(04:43):
in love with him when he was dressed as a
cat from CBS Sunday Morning and I heart I'm Morocca
and this is mobituaries, this moment. Timothy Scott, February eight,
death of a dancer. My parents splurged and they brought

(05:14):
me the five dollar souvenir programs and inside there's an
autograph best Ken page. Oh my goodness, oh wonderful look
at that. And I had to thank you for stopping
on Seventh Avenue when it was really cold in February
signing my souvenir program. Uh, we'll see, we didn't know it,

(05:36):
but this day was gonna happen. I'm talking to well,
really gushing over actor Ken Paige, who played the role
of Old Deuteronomy in the original Broadway cast of Cats.

(05:58):
When I saw Ken Paige and Cats, I was already
a fan of his from the musical review ain't misbehaving.
I'm going right now and write you might know Ken
Paige best as the voice of the evil Oogie Boogie
in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's good book

(06:23):
and attention now, bogie Man. But I'm talking to Ken
today because of his connection to CATS co star Timothy Scott.
You see, Cats wasn't the first time Ken and Tim
worked together. They both began their professional stage careers as
teenagers at the legendary St. Louis Municipal Opera Theater commonly

(06:47):
known as the Muni, the oldest and largest outdoor musical
theater in North America. He was in the dance ensemble
and I was in the singing ensemble. He danced. I
don't say I moved well, and I will never be
At this day. There's a beautiful fountain between a rehearsal
space and the backstage, and he was sitting up at
the top and the water was sort of running through

(07:07):
his feet and everything. And he said to me, he said,
you know what, I just want to be the best
dance so I could possibly be and be on Broadway.
And I said, yeah, me too. I want to be
I want to be on Broadway too. You know, I
was eighteen, so he must have been probably seventeen. As
it turns out, their dreams of Broadway were not far fetched.

(07:31):
Timothy Scott Schnell was born on September in Morton Grove, Illinois,
a suburb of Chicago. Tim had something of a late start.
A lot of dancers start training as early as four
years old. Tim Scott didn't start taking dance lessons until
he was a teenager, but it was clear from the

(07:52):
get go he was un natural. He went straight from
high school into show business. After the Muni, Tim Scot
moved to New York City. Success came quickly. Broadway impressario
Michael Bennett cast Tim in the first international company of
a chorus line. Soon after, Tim was touring nationally in

(08:17):
Bob Fosse's smash musical review Dance Him. We Got Spent
Sleeps joke Scott Whils another incredible bonny gigs, but I
am not allowed to mention on television. Tim was what's
called an ensemble dancer. Back then, they were called gypsies,
which actress Bonnie Franklin defined at the nine Tony Awards

(08:39):
maybe I'd better explain to the audience at home and
that the term gypsy lovingly applies to all danswers in
the Broadway theater. They were called that because they traveled
from company to company, from chorus line to chorus line,
constantly auditioning for their next gig. This was and is
the life of a dance sir. In Tim toured with

(09:08):
the popular comedy Mine duo Shields and Yarnell. Yes, and
this was the time when mimes could be superstars. To
be a Pepper Pepper all you gotta do. The next year,
Tim danced on a ceiling in a big Dr Pepper commercial. Yeah.
Then in came the casting call for Cats. I think

(09:33):
we all had a sense that it was a really
big deal. We didn't really know what the show is about,
you know. I asked my agent, so, what can you
tell me what it's about? And she goes, Cats, and
I'm like, yeah, but what's the store And she goes,
it's about cats. That, my friends, is the one and
only Betty Buckley, the woman who caused me to bite

(09:54):
that sofa pillow all those years ago when she hit
that note, Oh I love that. When I first met
you and you told me that story. I was so
touched by that. That's amazing to me, so great. She
was called in for the pivotal role of Grizabella the
Bedraggle to pass her prime glamour cat. And so I

(10:18):
went into audition and they told my agent that they
weren't going to consider me because I radiated health and
well being and they wanted someone who radiated death and dying.
Lucky for us, she got the role, joining a cast
that included Ken Paige and Tim Scott. So the first

(10:38):
day of Cats, I walked up to him and I said, well,
I guess you're officially one of the great best dances
on Broadway, and particularly in that role. That was a very,
very coveted role. Tim was cast as Mr Mustapheles, the
conjuring cat. Here he is singing, we can die like

(10:58):
a flying tuck me. In a show that was focused
on spectacular musical numbers and not a whole lot on plot,
Tim's role was one of the most challenging. It required
a dancer with extraordinary technique, but Tim had something more
than that. He had presence. He had these amazing eyes.

(11:20):
His eyes were like blue beans. He also had this
sort of mysterious nous about him and he was always there.
The first time I saw him dance, I found it
un Kenny that I had this rush of joy through
my body that was completely spontaneous and it was not
an intellectual experience of like, oh that guy dances really well.

(11:42):
It was like this kind of breathless, exquisite joy watching
him and I was like, who's that kid, you know,
I mean, why is he able to do that? Okay?
Sidebar Cats is more than anything a dance show for
the actors who had limited background and dance, like Betty

(12:02):
Buckley and Ken Paige. Rehearsing for Cats was like Marine
Corps basic training. The Winter Garden Theater was there Paris Island.
There were five of us that were like normal people,
you know, and the rest of them were like amazing.
Betty and I both had to do the full on
dance class, you know, and you had to do it.

(12:23):
I had to do cart wheels across the floor in
front of this incredible company of dancers and Cats and
Campaige and I just clung to each other and I
was like I'm going to die and he was like,
I'm right with you. And it was like so humiliating
old Deuteronomy and Chris Sabella are not cartwheeling cats we
should be clear about. No, that's we should be clear. Well,

(12:48):
you have no idea now. When the show finally opened
in October two, it didn't get great reviews, But so
what reviews are about? The here and now cats? As
the commercial tagline pointed out, was now and forever. Catch
now and forever At the Window Garden Theater, it was

(13:09):
the show to see and be seen at Andy Warhol,
Diana Ross, Frank Zappa, Carrie Grant, Mary Tyler Moore. Those
are just a few of the big names who showed up.
Then it swept the Tony's Betty Buckley one for Best
Featured Actress in a Musical. I want to thank my
mom and my dad and my brother no him and

(13:30):
my other brothers and that brother. She thanked Norman, even
though he wasn't in the show, his life was about
to be changed by it. Oh. I was very much
a country boy. I probably still am at heart, you know,
my most essential self. It was an exciting time for me,
but I was also a little lost amongst all the hubbub.

(13:53):
On the other side of the break, Grizabella's younger brother
and Mr Mustaphile's meat. What was it like having your

(14:15):
little brother backstage with you at Cats? Well? At first,
I mean I was really happy that he was there.
And my brother and I, you know, have been at
points in our lives very close. That's Betty Buckley talking
about her little brother, Norman Buckley back in the early
eighties when she was starring in Cats. Norman was new

(14:35):
to New York. Sister and brother may have been close,
but Betty didn't know that Norman was gay. We grew
up in Texas with a military father, and you know,
it wasn't something that was certainly discussed or we even considered.
So he was staying at my apartment when he first
came to New York and was coming out as a

(14:57):
gay person, and I didn't know what was going on.
So he left some of his journals out for me
to see, and I read some entries and was shocked,
was like, what is this? And so there was some
big confrontations between he and I, and I can freely
admit that I don't think I handled those very well.
Norman describes himself as a country boy back then. What

(15:20):
was he like? Was he innocent? Was he very boyish,
totally innocent. Oh my god, that's why I was scared,
wet behind the ears, delicate artistic boy. Yeah, I knew
he was twenty seven, but still to me, he was
always my little baby brother who was a vulnerable, sweet kid. Today,
Norman Buckley is an accomplished TV director, having worked on

(15:44):
over forty shows, including The o C, Gossip Girl, and
Pretty Little Liars? Does It Not Really? But the Sluttier
than Better? Back then, Norman was working as an editing
room assistant on the movie Easy Money, just across the
street from the Winter Garden Theater. I would generally, uh,

(16:06):
just visit with her earn her dressing room until she
had to go back on stage. Norman's favorite place in
the theater was the cat walk high above the stage.
That's where he'd watched the end of the show when
Grizabella ascends on a giant tire to the heavy side
layer the equivalent of cat Heaven, at least I think
that's what it is. That's actually the first time I

(16:28):
had an encounter with Tim Scott, because that was where
he would make his big entrance for his big number
as Mr Mustapoles. He was lowered on a rope from
that same cat walk. For a long period of time,
he didn't even register that I was up there with him.
And then one night he turned and looked at me,
and I looked back at him, and there was this long,

(16:50):
meaningful moment. Tim may have been dressed as a cat
with lots of cat makeup, but Norman was spellbound. He
had very intense eyes. He was kind of otherworldly looking.
I was much taller than him. Norman was six one,
Tim seven. We looked a little bit like Mutt and Jeff.

(17:12):
Some days later, after the show, Norman and his sister
Betty shared a big Checker taxi cab with Tim. During
the ride, Norman and Tim experienced another wordless moment of connection.
This was a much more profound encounter. At that moment,
I thought, oh, this person is going to be significant
in your life. You really thought that there very much,

(17:35):
so I can remember it as though it happened yesterday.
I looked at him, I took him in, he was
taking me in, and I thought, this is it. The
very next night, Norman mustered his courage and stood in
the doorway of Tim's dressing room at intermission, and I said,
do you want to have dinner, and he said, yes,
it was like great, and that was it? Is that

(17:58):
the kind of thing you could have imagined your self
doing even six months before. I can't even imagine myself
doing that now. So it's I think I met him
the next night on the corner. I still didn't want
to tell my sister that I was seeing somebody in
her show. Norman says. The chemistry was instant. Was he funny,

(18:18):
very funny. He had a great sense of humor. I
laughed a lot his jokes. It's got to be at
least one laugher in the relationship. But Betty was concerned.
In New York City, the whole gay scene in the nighties,
you know, was wild, and I was terrified for him.
I was just basically scared, and we didn't know what

(18:41):
AIDS was quite yet. In fact, when AIDS was first reported,
it wasn't even called AIDS. A mystery disease known as
the gay plague has become an epidemic unprecedented in the
history of American medicine. The lifestyle of some male homosexuals
has triggered an epidemic of a rare form of cancer.
A mysterious, newly discovered disease, which affects mostly homosexual men.

(19:05):
When did the disease become real to you? Well, you know,
it's that trajectory that you see so wonderfully portrayed in
Long Time Companion. It really was the thing where people
started whispering, and things started popping up from the newspaper,
and people started making calls saying, did you hear about
this thing that's going around? That's ken page again. He's

(19:25):
referring to the nine movie Longtime Companion, directed by Norman Renee,
who ultimately died from AIDS himself. The film opens on
the morning of July three. The characters wake up to
the ominous New York Times article by Lawrence k Altman,
the first in a mainstream publication to make reference to

(19:46):
the disease that would be called AIDS. They immediately begin
phoning each other, Hello, have you seen the paper? Oh?
I was just shipped to help. Have you got it? Yeah,
the page, you can't miss it. Did you see the paper?
I missed that? Oh well, just listen. Rare cants are

(20:08):
seen in forty one Homosexuals. By the time Cats was
in rehearsal, concern was burgeoning into a sense of alarm.
Then you started to hear did you know so? And
so I heard they're not well, they have they have
that gay cancer. Right. There was fear everywhere. Ken remembers
when early in the epidemic he was working in Los

(20:29):
Angeles and went to pick up a friend at the airport.
Ken was stunned by the friend's appearance. He was a
good twenty five pounds lighter and blessing. He was saying, well,
I got this rash. I want to get in the
sun so I can get rid of this rash. And
I feel bad about it to this very day, thinking
to myself, I don't know do I want him staying
in my house. He came to me for solace and comfort,

(20:53):
but I was afraid of what that all meant. And
I can honestly say that I don't think I handled
it as well as I could have. But it was
typical for what everybody was experiencing. Even after the generic
sounding acronym AIDS Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome was coined in September

(21:13):
of two, it felt like the full force of blame
for the disease was being placed squarely on gay men.
Of course, being gay was already stigmatized. The American Psychiatric
Association had only removed homosexuality from its list of mental
disorders in ninety three, and in two only one state, Wisconsin,

(21:37):
had a law on the books making it illegal to
fire people simply for being gay. Coming out of the closet,
never easy to begin with, was even scarier when it
seemed to carry a death sentence for me. Just realizing
I was gay at the time. I was twelve years
old when AIDS was first being widely reported, wasn't just fraught,

(21:58):
it was frightening. I vividly remember a day in eighth
grade when a teacher finally talked to us about AIDS.
The girl who sat in front of me turned around,
looked straight at me, and said, that's what you're going
to get. Many years later she reached out to me
on social media to apologize. Of course I forgave her.
It was junior high. We were all incredibly mean to

(22:21):
each other. Once Norman and Tim were officially a couple,
Betty gave her blessing, so I was really relieved in
so many ways that Tim was his first great love.
When she did find out about the relationship with Tim,
she was very approving, I told her, and she hesitated
for a moment, thought about it, and she said, well,

(22:42):
you picked the right one. She said, I can see this.
I loved Tim, and of course I love my brother,
so ultimately I was like, well, it's not money of
my business, and I have to say I love them both.
So there we go. But while Betty may have been relieved,
Tim Scott him self was increasingly worried. Dates was always

(23:03):
a specter that kind of hung over our relationship. Tim
had actually been involved with someone who was one of
the really early AIDS cases that young man was dying.
During previews of Cats, Tim would go from the theater
sometimes to his hospital room and sit with him. Now
bear in mind, in AIDS test was still three years

(23:27):
away and any life saving treatment was fourteen years away.
We had a hair dresser named Paul Lopez who worked
on eight Misbehavior, and he got sick and he wasn't
feeling well, like on Wednesday, Mattnee. He wasn't doing well.
Thursday he came in. They said, you really aren't well.
You should go home. Friday he went into the hospital Saturday,

(23:48):
Sunday he was unconscious by Monday, and he died on Tuesday,
and that was from Wednesday. Not even a week later,
he was gone. The federal government wasn't slow to act.
It didn't act at all. On October fifteenth, two, just
a week after CATS opened, President Reagan's Press Secretary Larry Speaks,

(24:10):
was asked about AIDS by a reporter named Lester King, Solving.
Here's how that exchange went. Have any reactions with the
announce from the Center for Disease Control Atlanta that a
d S is now an epidemic in six six hundred cases.

(24:32):
It's known as gay play. Yes, I mean, it's a
pretty serious thing that one and every three people again
this have died. And I wondered if the president where
I don't have it? Are you do you? You don't
have it? Well, I'm relieved to hear that you don't
answer my question. How do you know? That's right? Speaks

(24:54):
and much of the White House Press Corps, we're treating
AIDS and its victims as a joke. President Reagan himself
didn't utter the word AIDS, and then only in response
to a reporter's question, until the fall of over four
years into the devastation. When Tim's contract with CATS ended

(25:18):
that same year, the couple decided to move west and
begin a new chapter in Los Angeles. Not long after
their move, they drove up to Malibu. We went out
to Zuma Beach one day and he said to me,
very tentatively, I really can't imagine my life without you,
and I want to stay with you for the rest
of my life. And I responded, I want to stay

(25:40):
with you for the rest of my life. It was
this really solemn moment. I like to think of it
as a vows. I considered myself married to Tim. There
was no legal way to do that at the time,
and it was a commitment. And I'm so happy that
had happened before he became ill, because there was no

(26:01):
question but that I would see him through it. And
I think he felt that on the other side of
the break. Tim Scott's last show, the Ultimate tribute to
the dancer What I did doing what we Love. That's

(26:21):
her anthem, what I did for love. I'm visiting tonight
at the home of Tim Scott. I'll knock on the
door now, Hello, Hello, would you like to come in?

(26:45):
I would like to come in. I'm watching home video
of Norman Buckley and Tim Scott. It's sometime in late
or early and they're joking around giving a tour of
their so me two bedroom apartment in West Hollywood. Here
is Kennedy. Here we meet their cat, who just happens

(27:09):
to be named more. Look at the cat's eyes. Really
looked like the eyes on the back of my cat sweatshirt.
Tim and Norman seem happy. Why shouldn't they be. They're young,
thirty years old. They make each other laugh, and career wise,

(27:29):
things are going well for both of them. At the time,
Norman was working as an assistant editor on a horror
movie called Trick or Treat starring Gene Simmons of Kiss
He's a rook and Roll and during this period, Tim
scored two film gigs. He was cast in the four
D spectacular Captain Eo, shown exclusively at Disney Parks. This was,

(27:53):
at the time the most expensive film per minute ever made.
Tim is part of the enormous On so Bold, dancing
behind Michael Jackson. Tim was also cast in the movie
version of the musical A chorus Line. It's a bit part.

(28:14):
He plays boy with headband. Seriously, that's his screen credit.
But so what? It was a job on a movie
up We even get to hear him sing briefly, God,
I really blew it, I really blew it. What I
love about it is that it's very brief, but it

(28:34):
very much captures Tim's spirit. It's a short, lovely cameo.
And then, ten years after he toured internationally in the
stage production of A chorus Line, Tim was cast in
a European tour of the show. Okay, since it's come
up a couple of times, let's talk for a moment

(28:54):
about a chorus line. This musical is the ultimate tribute
to dancers just like Tim, not stars, not household names,
dancers struggling and auditioning for roles in the chorus, not
doing it with the expectation of becoming rich and famous,
but doing it for the love of dancing. Tim was

(29:15):
cast in the role of Mike, a dancer who's up
for any challenge. Perfect for Tim. I mean to have
Tim's technique, his splits and jumps and turns and all
of that quite spectacular. This is Broadway legend. Bi orch Lee,
you are in the original King and I Yes, How

(29:39):
old were you? I was five, by the way, I
was fired at eight because I outgrew my costume. By
York went on to play Connie in the original Broadway
cast of A chorus Line. A good ten, cak what ten?
That's the story of my life. A chorus Line was
conceived by the legendary dancer turned director Michael Bennett, who

(30:03):
would himself die from aids by orc. The keeper of
the chorus Line Flame has been directing revivals and road
companies of the show for decades. It is a tribute
to the dancer. The audience comes in, and what Michael
wanted to convey was that they were peeking in on
an audition, because no one has ever seen an audition

(30:25):
outside of the people who are involved. One song that
Tim Scott sang many times as part of the ensemble
of A chorus Line is what I Did for Love.
It's a song about the short and sometimes painful careers
of dancers. It pops up towards the end of the
show after one of the dancers has had a serious

(30:45):
accident and has to drop out of the industry altogether.
The director asks the remaining dancers what they would say
if they learned that they could never dance again. The
character of Morales starts the song off kiss Today You
could love The suitetness and the sorrow. Wish me luck

(31:15):
the same to you. But I can't regret what I
did for love. What I did for love the message
of the song. Whatever life throws at these artists, they'll

(31:38):
face the future with the same bravery and undefeated optimism
with which they pursued their careers, however short they may be.
It's about survival, but also doing what we love. That's
her anthem, what I did for love. To do it
because you love it. Whether you're dancing, singing, acting, or

(31:58):
whatever you do, we do it because we love it.
I think there's something really special about Tim Scott's last
show being the show that pays tribute to the dancer. Yeah.
A few weeks into their European tour, by Orc noticed
that Tim Scott was losing stamina. At the time, I

(32:22):
did not know that he was ill. I think we
were in Surich and he wasn't feeling well. He had
no energy at all. Tim was having holistic medications mailed
to him on the road. He'd tried crystals, meditation and
other alternative remedies. They weren't working. He eventually left the tour,

(32:45):
left the tour and he called me and he said,
you know, I don't want to do this anymore. He said,
I'm too old. I don't want to be the dancer anymore.
I want to come home. Tim was still only thirty one.
He went to the doctor and they did an indoscap.
He had a very light case of pneumacist this pneumonia,
which was one of the ways that they diagnosed aids

(33:07):
at the time. And I said, okay, well, we'll take
it a step at a time. But we essentially knew
that it was a death sentence. The question was just
how long we hoped for some type of miraculous cure.
We hoped something would happen, As with so many terminal conditions,
though Tim's illness didn't move in a straight line. By December,

(33:32):
he was experiencing an upswing. On Christmas Eve that year,
he and Norman, underneath their Christmas tree in their West
Hollywood apartment, take turns opening Presence. What is it? It's
a book from from Norma, the Great Towns of California,

(33:56):
Oh great, Oh, the best American short Stories more Slacks.
I don't want to sentimentalize it, and I don't want

(34:19):
to romanticize it, but it was a wonderful period of time.
It sounds counterintuitive to say that, but it was a
wonderful period of time because we were so deeply connected
at that point. The next morning they celebrate at a
friend's home. Tim teaches the friends three daughters a dance. Okay, there,

(34:46):
but I have to say, the girls don't seem all
that focused, and I kind of want to jump into
the video tape and tell them you're getting a free
dance lesson from the original broad White. Mr Mustapholes. Pull
it together. Okay, I'm back now. Not long after that Christmas,
Tim and Norman took a road trip. We drove across

(35:07):
the Southwest and we went to the Grand Canyon and
he went out on this rock. It was very precarious.
I was like, oh, please, don't go out so far.
I don't go out so far. And he went out
on the end of this rock and did this pirouet.
But after returning to Los Angeles and especially virulent case
of pneumonia sent Tim to the hospital. It was at

(35:29):
that point I said, we have to tell your parents,
we have to let them know. And his mother immediately
flew out. She was this wonderful Italian woman who was
a wonderful cook. And took care of us. Tim's parents,
Richard and Rosemary, stayed at a motel nearby. Tim's father,

(35:49):
Richard Schnell, was still working as a technical writer for Motorola.
Rosemary Schnell was a homemaker. Tim was their only child.
When he gave his parents the news about his diagnosis.
Do you think that his mother suspected in any way
they knew something was up? They couldn't have been better

(36:11):
though in their response. They were lovely people, and I
feel enormous gratitude to them. They accepted me, they loved me.
They remained close to me for the rest of their lives.
So many people during that period of time did not
have the support of their parents. For many people in

(36:33):
the theater, it was their chosen family, not their biological one,
that rallied around them. The community had to help themselves.
Women like bi orch Lee, who had grown up performing
with so many gay men who were like brothers to her,
played a special role. He became angels when we started
hearing about all of these people. We started taking care

(36:57):
of them, just being with them to go to get
their medicine or to feed them, helping them. They because
people were afraid these were our friends, and so we
didn't have any fear. My best friends all died of AIDS.
Most of my closest male friends that I met doing

(37:18):
Guys and Dolls and Pearly and the Whiz and so forth,
they all died. They all died. This is can Paige again.
It was devastating, and many many other friends who to
bury degree. Some went home just disappeared. Others had no
home to go to because their families rejected them. Some
of us as friend group at that time, which is

(37:40):
something else I'll always treasure those of us who gathered
and rallied and supported each other, and if someone fell ill,
you just gathered around them and did whatever you needed
to do, including burial. Burial became a terrible challenge for
the bereaved. Early on in Manhattan, only one funeral home,

(38:00):
Reddens on Fourteenth Street, was willing to accept the remains
of the victims of AIDS. Now, it's hard to know
how many people died during the early years of the epidemic. Families, churches,
hospitals often lied about the cause of death. That's how
deep the stigma was. And as David France, author of

(38:21):
How to Survive a Plague, has reported some gay men,
when they detected a lesion or another symptom of infection,
would kill themselves. Many of the dead ended up in
unmarked Potter's fields like Heart Island off the Bronx, the
final resting place for the ostracized and abandoned. When Tim

(38:42):
Scott wasn't in the hospital for an infection, he was
at home. Betty Buckley was just down the street. I
don't remember that. I that I was as supportive as
I aspired to be. There wasn't a lot I could do. Yeah,
I remember finding this puppy, this beautiful little ducks and

(39:03):
puppy that I thought would be great to give to Tim.
I gave him this puppy and he didn't want a puppy,
so I was I thought I was doing something to
make him feel, you know, really comforted and engaged. But
it was a wrong choice. I don't know. He had
lost a lot of weight, but I didn't see that.
I didn't see that at the time. While I was

(39:25):
there with him, he was just the person I loved,
and I never really took in the fact that he
was vanishing right before my eyes. Finally, on Halloween, while
Norman was driving him home from his latest hospital visit
for pneumonia. Tim made an announcement and he said, that's it.
I don't want to go back to the hospital again.

(39:45):
Tim would spend his remaining days at home. I've always
felt that there was a beautiful symmetry to the relationship
that Tim and I had. We were together for five years,
and during the first two and a half years, I
would say that he was the one who was taking
care of me. He was the one that was helping
me come into my own and during the second too

(40:06):
and a half years of our relationship, I became the caretaker.
During those weeks, Norman rarely left Tim side. If you're
going to go through some major life trial, you would
want to go through with my brother, Norman. It was
incredibly admirable and inspiring watching him be there for this
person that he loved so much. In the middle of

(40:29):
one night, Norman woke up to find Tim sitting bolt
upright in bed, wide awake, staring out into the distance,
and I said, what's going on. He said nothing. He said,
I'm just trying to measure where we are relative to
that space out there. And I said, well, what space
you're talking about? And he said, Oh, it's not anything
I could explain to you. It's just a lot more

(40:50):
than we know. And I said, well, I'm sure that
that's so. And he said, so are you ready for
your big test? And I said, well, I really know
what you mean by that, but I guess I'm as
ready as I ever will be. And he said, okay,
we'll go back to sleep, and he patted me on
the arm and I went back to sleep. And then
when I woke up, he was in a coma and

(41:12):
he never woke up again. That was the last time
I ever spoke to him. As difficult as that period
of time was, it was also extraordinary. I felt deeply
loved by him, and I deeply loved him. And it's funny,
you know, you don't think about these things for a

(41:34):
long time, and then you talk about them and suddenly
the emotion comes back over you again. What do you
think he meant by are you ready for your big test?
Are you ready to be on your own? Are you
ready to except that you have to let go of me?

(41:55):
Who knows? You know? I mean he was also on
pain killers. You know, there's there's all kinds of possibilities
that maybe he was just hallucinating, but at least he
was hallucinating in a particularly profound poetic way. Tim's parents
and friends gathered and took visuals as he remained comatose

(42:17):
for about ten days. It was Norman who was with
Tim during his final moments. He took his last breath,
I could see like his eyes, his eyes were very blue,
and then all of a sudden, there was just this
point of life, that swimp. It was almost like I
saw the life force leave him. And he died at
six thirty in the morning on February Is it for

(42:42):
gay men your age particularly difficult that a lot of
your contemporaries are no longer with us? Died many years ago? Kin,
Paige and I were sitting together sometime years after Timid died,
and I said, Uh, where's all the game in my age?
And Kin said to me, Norman, they all died. Were

(43:03):
a small number of survivors, the people our age, they're gone.
It really hit me like a ton of bricks when
he said that four from the original Broadway cast of
Cats died from aids. Tim was thirty two, Stephen Guelfer
was thirty nine. Read Jones, who was wonderful in the

(43:24):
role of Skimble, Shanks was thirty five and Renee Clemente
was thirty eight. As a successful TV director of popular
shows featuring picture perfect teens and people in their twenties,
Norman Buckley regularly works with young people who have little
knowledge of the outbreak of the AIDS crisis. It's hard

(43:45):
to explain to the younger generations just what a hollacious
period of time that was in terms of the loss.
I'm very aware that when I talk about my experiences,
that people can only understand certain things when they've experienced
those things themselves, and I have compassion for that, so

(44:06):
I try to just be patient. Ken Paige has a
tougher message for younger generations. What I want to say
to them is, don't be stupid. It's not gone. There's
just ways of handling it. Don't be cavalier. Don't take
it for granted that you're well and you're gonna be well,
and there's a pill and as this is that you

(44:26):
can do anything you want. Don't be stupid. People paid
for what you know. People paid for the cocktails and
the pills and the things that you have that make
you able to not worry about how you have sex.
Someone paid literally their lives for that. Don't forget that.
Never forget. When Cats returned to Broadway in ken Paige

(44:52):
was in the audience on opening night, but for him
it wasn't as much a revival as it was a remembrance.
M I went to the opening night. Rosie O'Donnell was
sitting there to night left, and I said, oh god,
she goes. What's it like for you, she asked me.
I said, I just see ghosts. I said, there's so
many people up there with the makeup and all. It
was pretty much the same. I said, I see Renee Clamente,

(45:16):
I see Read Jones, I see Tim Scott, I see
Stephen Guelfer right there in front of me on the stage.
I was happy they were doing it, and I supported
the revival and on no no, But it was also
very difficult to sit and watch because you couldn't not
go through the memory. Tim Scott was cremated. For his

(45:40):
final resting place, Tim's parents and Norman decided on that
very spot in Arizona where Tim had once pirouetted, and
so we went out to the Grand Canyon, the five
or six of us, and we went out on the
end of that rock, which in retrospect is totally crazy,
is uh. I look at pictures of it now and

(46:02):
I think, oh my god, we can have all fallen
off and joined him with this episode. I wanted to
pay tribute to all those artists whose names didn't make
headlines when they died, and so I wrote to Tom Viola,
the head of Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS. It's one
of the oldest and largest groups raising money to support

(46:24):
artists living with HIV AIDS. I wanted to know what
he might have to say about Tim Scott. I didn't
know Tim Scott well, he wrote, but with Cats being
such a smash hit when it opened, and Tim being
so blazing hot as the original Mr Mustopheles, he was
one of the eighties most beautiful and popular Broadway dancers.

(46:46):
Plus he was a very sweet guy. Tim's passing from
AIDS was truly one of the deaths that galvanized to
the community into the very early efforts to do something
that culminated in the founding of Equity Fights AIDS and
Broadway Cares. Will let Ken Page the wise old deuteronomy

(47:08):
of Cats have the final word. Those of us who
have survived aids this that the other even whatever, just age.
If we don't tell the story, who does? Because you
can only tell it if you were there. And if
we are not responsible in telling it and passing it
on when people ask like you have, then it dies

(47:29):
literally and it's too valuable a story, whether it's in
one person named Tim Scott or in any of the
number of people we named from cats, or the greater
number that we're in the theater New York at the time,
or the even greater number that was the world population
that we lost. We who have survived have to tell
the story. I hope you've enjoyed seas and three of Mobituaries.

(48:02):
If you were with us the first two seasons, thanks
for sticking around. If you haven't heard our previous seasons,
I hope you'll do a little delving. Either way, feel
free to spread the word about mobids me. I ask
you to please rate and review this podcast. You can
also follow Mobituaries on Facebook and Instagram, and you can
follow me on Twitter at morocco and check out Mobituaries.

(48:26):
Great Lives Worth Reliving the New York Times best selling book,
now available in paperback and audiobook. It includes plenty of
stories not in the podcast. This episode of Mobituaries was
produced by Francisco Robina. Our team of producers also includes
Aaron Shrink, Wilco, Martinezcaceto, and me Morocca. It was edited

(48:49):
by Moral Wolves and engineered by Josh Hahn, with fact
checking by Naomi bar Our production company is Neon Houm Media.
Our archival produce sir is Jamie Benson. Our theme music
is written by Daniel Hart. Indispensable support from Craig Swaggler,
Dustin Gervais, Alan Pang, Reggie Basio and everyone at CBS

(49:13):
News Radio. Special thanks to David France, Tom Biola, Bill
Keith Richard, j Alexander, Megan Marcus, Molly Raleigh, Steven Spanbauer,
and Alberto Robina. The Invincible. Aaron Shrank is our senior producer.
Executive producers for Mobituaries include Steve Raizys and Morocca. The

(49:35):
series is created by Yours Truly and as always, thanks
to Rant Morrison and John carp for helping breathe life
into Mobituaries
Advertise With Us

Popular Podcasts

Dateline NBC
Who Killed JFK?

Who Killed JFK?

Who Killed JFK? For 60 years, we are still asking that question. In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's tragic assassination, legendary filmmaker Rob Reiner teams up with award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien to tell the history of America’s greatest murder mystery. They interview CIA officials, medical experts, Pulitzer-prize winning journalists, eyewitnesses and a former Secret Service agent who, in 2023, came forward with groundbreaking new evidence. They dig deep into the layers of the 60-year-old question ‘Who Killed JFK?’, how that question has shaped America, and why it matters that we’re still asking it today.

Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang

Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang

Ding dong! Join your culture consultants, Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang, on an unforgettable journey into the beating heart of CULTURE. Alongside sizzling special guests, they GET INTO the hottest pop-culture moments of the day and the formative cultural experiences that turned them into Culturistas. Produced by the Big Money Players Network and iHeartRadio.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.