Monday, April 9, 2012

A Memory-Filled Farewell to Catskills Treasure Lou Goldstein - the King of Simon Says


While we were busy last week preparing for Pesach, the local newspapers in New York's Hudson Valley reported on the passing of Lou Goldstein, the king of the "Simon Says" games from the 1940's through the 1980's at Grossinger's and other hotels in the Catskills. Goldstein died at the age of 90 in Liberty, the town that Grossinger's made famous.

Born in Poland in 1921, Goldstein performed his shtick at Grossingers from 1948-1986. He also did the half-time shows for NBA teams all over the country. Likewise the NHL and baseball games all featured his nationally known "Simon Says". He enjoyed doing these shows at all the Catskills Resorts, including the Pines, Concord, Nevele, Paramount, Granit, Swan Lake, and the Raleigh.

Goldstein served as the social director at Grossingers, frequented by the likes of Muhammad Ali, Lucille Ball and Wilt Chamberlain in its heyday, but that wasn’t his claim to fame. Simon Says was.

“He was able to take what had been a Catskills phenomenon very much unknown outside of the Catskills hotels and made it into a national game,” said Sullivan County Historian John Conway.
Performing his Simon Says routine in front of thousands during NBA halftime shows, children’s TV shows and national news specials, Goldstein eventually trade marked the game and went on to become one of the most sought out entertainers of his time, but for people here, he was just Lou, a regular customer with a big heart and even bigger personality.
If you never had the pleasure of watching Goldstein in action in the lobby or pool at Grossinger's, as we did many times, here's a short clip of his routine with a group of cheerleaders on the Dick Clark Show as he quickly eliminates one participant after another when they fail to keep up with his rapid-fire instructions. Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)