David Angell (1946-2001) and his wife Lynn were among the first victims on September 11. The pair had been vacationing in Cape Cod, and were returning home to Los Angeles via American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, which struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46am.
I have two particular reasons for wanting to remember Angell here today. One is that he was a distant relative. He was from Providence, Rhode Island, where his ancestors and mine were among the earliest settlers. Angell Street has been one of the town’s main thoroughfares since the beginning. It bisects Brown University. H.P. Lovecraft was born on Angell Street. Anyway, our common ancestors are 11 generations ago, pretty far back.
So that’s my personal reason. The other reason is more germane to this blog. Angell was a multiple Emmy winning television producer and writer. He became a staff writer for Cheers in 1983. Was Nick Colasanto (also a Providence native) a connection? At any rate, he rapidly ascended to being one of the show’s supervising producers. Teaming up with Peter Casey and David Lee, the pair went on to create the mega hit Frasier starting in 1993. There was a third show in the Cheers-iverse, the sit-com Wings starring Tim Daly and Steven Weber. (In another personal connection, Daly was a member of Trinity Rep Company in the early to mid 1980s.) Wings was also a hit; it ran from 1990 to 1997. That show acquired a tinge of irony after 9/11. It was about a pair of pilots operating out of a small airport on Nantucket. Anyway: Angell, Wings. Sometimes God is a semiotician. (In that connection, we mention that Kenneth Angell, David’s brother was a Catholic priest. He was the Bishop of Burlington Vermont at the time of his brother’s passing. There are some scandals attached to his name, which I’ll leave you to explore, if that is the direction you wish to take). But you can learn more about David and Lynn Angell and their good works at the website of the foundation set up in their name.
I became aware of Jill Janus (Jill Janiszewski, 1975-2018) from a National Geographic documentary called 9/10: The Final Hours, about the evening of September 10, 2001 — basically some of the last people to enjoy the final pleasant night at Windows on the World, the restaurant and bar atop the North Tower. Janus was a cabaret singer and entertainer in the club, a job that seemed kind of tummler-like. Because of the uniqueness of the venue, it was a bit like a resort, and obviously many of the patrons were tourists. So she was a kind of an ambassador of the venue, engaging and interacting with the visitors over and above her performances as a singer. In the documentary she comes across as an amazing, vivacious and salty character, and obviously she was beautiful. Frankly she reminded me of so many people I have performed with over the years, so I had to look her up. What I learned did not disappoint, although it did sadden.
Janus was from the Catskills, and was a hardcore serious lifelong practitioner of Paganism. A natural soprano, she had a four octave vocal range and studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. In addition to the Windows on the World gig, Janus sang with several heavy metal bands: Huntress, The Starbreakers, and Chelsea Girls. She sometimes performed under the name Penelope Tuesdae, originally as a topless d.j.
But since her teen years, Janus suffered from serious mental health issues: she was bipolar, schizophrenic, dissociative, and alcoholic. She contracted uterine cancer and had a hysterectomy. She attempted suicide numerous times since her mid-teens. She finally succeeded in the attempt in 2018 just short of her 43rd birthday.
David Einhorn was the brother of my good friend and colleague Edward Einhorn; the pair co-founded Untitled Theater Company #61, where I have had the good fortune to work as an actor many times over the decades. Edward is the artistic director and creator; David, a lawyer by profession, was more of a backer and counsel. David was a New York National Guardsman who volunteered for duty at the pile immediately after 9/11. He showed up and served there many days, breathing the toxic air. Last year, two decades after the event, he died of lung cancer. A non-smoker, it’s almost a certainty that his malady was caused by what he breathed back then. Edward wrote this lovely piece in the Daily News last year. In David’s honor, UTC61 just launched The David A. Einhorn Memorial Playwrighting Prize.
For links to more articles and posts related to September 11 see this post, and scroll all the way to the bottom. There is a September 11 section on Travalanche as well, but some of my pieces on the topic are on my other blog and in other publications. The list at the bottom of my 20th anniversary post is more complete.
You must be logged in to post a comment.