Photo courtesy of Mike Pinter
November 6, 2007
My name is Mike Pinter, and I was a friend of Peter Viertel’s. I was at his funeral today. It was supposed to be a quiet, private affair, just a handful of close friends, but Peter was a very friendly man, and the little chapel was well filled. So full that some of us had to stand outside and look in. Two Marines from Rota stood honour guard over his simple coffin and presented the folded American flag to Deborah’s daughter Franchesca after several of Peter’s closest friends shared some of their memories of Peter with us, or read excerpts from other friend’s books and a poem by Peter’s mother. The leader of Marbella’s Majorettes Band played Taps for Peter and we then returned to Peter and Deborah’s friendly, cozy villa. There we shared more of our Peter stories on the grass overlooking Los Monteros golf course.
Some years ago I came across your website and wanted to show it to Peter but he had no Internet connection. Through your site I began to realize just who Peter was. I was Peter’s computer technician, even though Peter wouldn’t touch his computer. He left it for his secretary to use in converting his typewritten text into a handier computer file and to print copies for editing. He preferred his typewriter and there it still sits, on his desk. Next to it his pipe cleaner and pipes, some pens and the stuff of creativity. Across from his desk a fireplace surrounded by bookshelves full of good, solid, quality titles and copies of his own books. Nowhere have I read in any of the articles that pop up in the press about Peter how well read he must have been. His mind must have been full of great thoughts and musings. I only got to know very few of his thoughts, but his garden was full of friends that had shared dinners, trips, smiles and tears with him.
I consider myself very lucky in having met Peter and having had the occasions to chat with him a few times over the years. I kick myself for not having made a closer friendship, for he had a lot to share. Now I only have his books and his friends through which I might learn a bit more the man that was Peter Viertel. And your website, which I expect will continue to collect information about the man that was so warm and friendly (even though his friends admit that he could also be grumpy.) The Peter I know was friendly, warm, unassuming and fun to be around. His other friends can tell us of the Peter that played golf, played tennis, surfed and skied.
The Town hall of Marbella were present at the funeral too, in the person of the Deputy for Culture and she expressed their sorrow that they had not recognized Peter and Deborah’s contribution to Marbella sooner, that it was a great pity that Peter should not see the official renaming of the street that leads to their house as “Deborah Kerr”, and that another street would bear his name too, next to Deborah’s as a tribute to two of the town’s most pleasant neighbours.
Thanks to the information on your website, I can now look forward to the movie that is going to be made about Peter. There is also supposed to be his last book, either finished or just quite unfinished, of his memoirs that has yet to be published. I look forward to it too. A couple of years ago, when I met Peter and made friends with him, I made a search on Google and your page came up. It was the only page that mentioned anything about Peter then. It is a pity more people will come to know about him now that he is gone and not before, but then Peter was kind of private.
I enclose two pictures scanned from today’s “La Tribuna de Marbella” newspaper. There were quite a few people from the press present at the funeral, including a couple of film crew that had more interest in the act of filming than what they were actually filming. I don’t think they realized that we lost someone quietly big. Someone who really knew the glamourous Hollywood and the “glamourous” Hollywood. I said goodbye to Peter in his study, so empty without him. The funny sheepskin cover on his deskchair. No more handshakes from Peter. He had a good handshake. A good heart.
I thank you for reading this far. Peter is among my favourite clients, and I’m sorry I won’t ever receive a call from him again, even to come un-jam his printer.
November 8, 2007
"Hello again, Erik.
Yesterday I meant to send you these two scans of articles that appeared with the pictures that I sent to you. [See scan here]
Today’s paper had more information, but I have yet to scan them in. If possible, I shall try to organize some kind of translation for you.
Doing a search on the Internet brought up this obituary printed in the Guardian here.
I don’t know who wrote it but they sure seem to have managed to put together the most information I have seen to date outside your own website
In case the link doesn’t work, I include the text below. I am still very intrigued about Peter’s military career. He never wanted to talk about it the few times I was with him in his study, working on his computer. I have another client that also served in the US Army in WWII and he doesn’t talk about his experiences either. He served in Monte Cassino and was one of the first troops to liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp. After the war he did some diplomatic work for the US and spent time in Africa too.
I don’t think we “young people” realize what a wealth of knowledge lies untapped in our parents and grandparents. People that lived an age of hardships and creativity on a worldwide scale. Normal people that survived a moment in humanity’s evolution that really has become a point of before and after. Everything that has come after that has been born from a certain sense of common togetherness, common interest that did not particularly exist till the 20th century. Of course, events like the Cold War mess up this statement on a political scale, but the average person in the streets enjoys the liberties that men like Peter Viertel fought for on the battlefields and back home when they returned to their daily lives in a new world.