Winding Road from ‘Casablanca’

Playwright Explores Her Hollywood Family's Real-Life Drama

Here’s Looking at You, Kid: An encounter between Thilde Foerster (left) and Casablanca director Michael Curtiz (inset) set the stage for a family drama unfolding only decades later.
cUrtiz photo: ap photo
Here’s Looking at You, Kid: An encounter between Thilde Foerster (left) and Casablanca director Michael Curtiz (inset) set the stage for a family drama unfolding only decades later.

By Jon Kalish

Published July 31, 2012, issue of August 03, 2012.
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Michi didn’t end up meeting his father until he was in college, though in the play Forster imagines an encounter when Michi was younger.

Michi: Why did you divorce my mother?

Kertesz: What?

Michi: I said, why did you.

Kertesz: Kid, listen. I never was married to your mother. Never. If she said different, she told you a great big whopping Pinocchio lie. You want to know the truth about her and me? That’s why you come here, yeah? Then I tell you. Hear it right from the horse’s ass. We were two ships passing in the night. Two f——-g ships. That was all.

Michi: I think I should go now.

Kertesz: What’s wrong? You just got here.

Michi: Yeah, well. I got what I came for.

Kertesz: Buck up, kid. Here. Take this. You can put it in your room and throw darts at it.

He gives Michi a large publicity photo of himself. He autographs it.

Kertesz: To Mike. From Mike. I could write from one bastard to another, but your mother might not like. You going to shake my hand?

Michi: Not today.

When Forster first told her father that she wanted to write her grandmother’s story, he initially scoffed at the idea: “My dad basically said to me: ‘You’re cheapening yourself as a writer. You’re just trying to ride on the coattails of your famous grandfather, and that’s beneath you. I’m disappointed in you.’”

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