Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Media Psychologist, American Psychological Association Fellow, writer, award-winning screenwriter, consultant, commentator and maybe the only person on the planet (besides Sondheim) who knew all of the words to all of the songs in Sondheim’s stage musical Company, including the ones cut from the show —
Stuart Fischoff, Stuart has died.
Stuart was born in New York City: he often tussled with the neighborhood toughs who beat on him because he was born Jewish; they learned it was in their best interest to curb that behavior.
He loved his parents; his sister hated him, he merely disliked her. Stuart did not care for high school and was a lousy student, but he loved going to Penn State, loved getting his Masters and Doctorate at The New School for Social Research and became what he wanted to become: an intellectual who used really big words and pronounced them correctly — which is why I married him. I can’t pronounce anything over two syllables.
Breaking ranks with tweedy, clean-fingernail intellectuals, Stuart liked woodworking and built furniture for our home, he also crafted bird homes, squirrel homes, dining room tables for mice and big, outdoor wood sculptures in the mode of “rustic impulsive,” the name he made-up for his artistic style.
And even more rebellious, he played basketball with people two feet taller than he was and thirty years younger.
An early dream of Stuart’s was to be a screenwriter in Hollywood, own a custom convertible and have a woman with long, blonde-streaked hair next to him as he sped Ventura Freeway to the pounding score from Blade Runner. He made it happen. We shot out of the tunnel, flew down the freeway to Blade Runner many times.
We never endangered anyone or got a ticket for this reckless tradition because we did it at 2am on weeknights and in those days, there was no one on the L.A. freeways at 2am.
Teaching at California State University, Los Angeles came first in Stuart’s life. He never took sick days, he never ducked department work or heading committees. We threw cool parties for his lab students.
Stuart twitched when people called him a pioneer in the field of Media Psychology, but what do you call the person who:
- was the founding President of the American Psychological Association’s Media Psychology Division
- founded the first Media Psychology Lab in the world at CSULA
- who co-founded the first journal, the Journal of Media Psychology
- started the nation’s first Masters level graduate program in Media Psychology
- helped develop the first Media Psychology Doctoral Program at the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara.
Yes, Stuart was a Pioneer in the field of Media Psychology.
He was quoted thousands of times in the Media. And they never stopped asking his for his input:
- From: XX Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:55:21 PM (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada) To: Fischoff, Stuart Subject: Story for TIME Hi Dr. Fischoff, I’m working on a story for TIME on the public’s reaction to the death of Robin Williams. I’m emailing to see if you have a minute to talk this afternoon. Please let me know. Thanks, Justin
Among the accomplishments he smiled about:
- CNN commentator after the Oklahoma City Bombing.
- His Psychology Today interviews with Oliver Stone, John Malkovich and Clint Eastwood.
- His Psychology Today blog, The Media Zone, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-media-zone
- His nomination for a Humanitas Prize (90 minute teleplay) and his nomination for a Writers Guild of America award. (Because of the Humanitas nomination, Stuart was invited to meet the Pope.)
- Stuart was joyed the day a wrongly-convicted black youth was released from prison because of a second trial which featured Stuart’s research. (that same research was recently mentioned in a NPR piece.)
- Fifteen years on the Judges Panel for the Writers Guild of America Awards
- A hand-holding, young couple — he Hispanic, she Black — came to our restaurant table to thank Stuart for his analysis and supportive comments on the Montel Williams Show, a segment that highlighted the prejudice experienced by mixed couples.
- Stuart flirted with Oprah. On air. Me watching the TV: “Jeeze, look at that, my husband’s flirting with Oprah, shit, she’s flirting back.“
- A sixth grader interviewed Stuart for her school paper. She asked 37 questions, he answered all of them.
Stuart helped every student who ever contacted him.
His recent smiles included the establishment of The Stuart Fischoff Excellence in Musical Theater Award at SIU and his donation of his library and papers to SIU’s Global Media Research Center.
I can’t list everything Stuart did. He did so much.
There will be no religious or spiritual services, no funeral or reception and no “Celebration of Life” event. Stuart didn’t want that. There will be a salon, a party and a Sunday walk — dates to be announced.
And a Friday Morning Guy breakfast (limited to the regulars) and a poker game (limited to the regulars) — dates to be announced.
Per Stuart’s request, there will be no obituary listed in the primary, local newspaper. He hated that newspaper for many reasons — among them, that they didn’t bother to spell-check their headlines. A recent example is the 11/9/14 announcement of the winner of the Stuart Fischoff Excellence in Musical Theater Award:
Schulz recieves musical theater award
In these first days, I ask that you do not call or stop by (please use email and snailmail, thank you.). I’m not going to make it through a conversation this soon…don’t expect much out of me for awhile.
And to those generous people who are casserole-prone in bad times, I thank you for your thoughtfulness, but I eat only organic weeds and seeds.
At the moment when Stuart left us at 2:14AM on November 21st, the music he last heard as I kissed his fingers was https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzQ9VrnNQLQ
A full-hearted thank you to you for being Stuart’s friends, colleagues, and raucous people who played poker with him.
Instead of flowers and fruit baskets, donations may be made to Stuart’s favorites:
—SIU Department of Theater Undergraduate Scholarship Program
You can make your gift by phone by calling the department directly at 618-453-5741, or you can send your support to the department at the address below. Please make sure to designate the intended fund for your contribution, and make checks payable to the SIU Foundation.
—Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra
—SIU University Museum
—SIU Global Media Research Center
wife to widow,
RACHEL GORDON FISCHOFF