Julian Martin, actor/writer/director, NYU/Tisch FTVUG class of ’96
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Although I was living so close to her residence on the shores of Lago Maggiore, I never actually had the opportunity to meet her in person. As fate would have it, in odd ways I kept on crossing paths she had laid down during her generous and giving life as an artist and sponsor thereof.
While I was growing up, I was unable to perceive the mystical magic of this area, but now that I am a grown human being, I truly know how blessed I was to have been able to live in such a unique place. I only wish I could actually reap the benefits of my education in this dreamland, but unfortunately the arts have not been as strongly represented as in the past, when many Bauhaus artists such as Chagall and Kandinsky spent time and time again in Ascona. I would give anything in order to live here forever if only I could find a way to combine my art with the local agenda.
My summers were usually spent visiting my late father’s family back in Nashville, But when I was 16 I spent my first summer in Switzerland, and worked for a family friend in Porto Ronco, not too far from my house in Ascona. Linneo Poroli hired me as a helping hand for his boating business and port fuel station for that summer. When helping moor his clients’ boats, I remember that often we would approach a splendid property, which had an impressive rock right in front of it. I was told that a diva from Hollywood would regularly sunbathe on it. Little did I know this was the property of Paulette Goddard and her late husband Erich Maria Remarque. That summer I decided I would one day also be a successful writer and have Hollywood divas come sunbathe on my Lago Maggiore property.
In 1991 I applied to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts’ undergraduate Drama program, to which I was accepted and started attending from 1992 until I graduated in 1996, double majoring in Film&TV UG, receiving a bachelor of fine arts from both. In my first film history class we screened a Charlie Chaplin film, “Modern Times”, and a childhood memory came back to life: the scene, where the two main characters bump into each other on the street. That awkward looking man and that beautiful lady looking into each other’s eyes was my first memorable movie moment. Such contrast yet so much harmony and above all: love at first sight. I do not believe in coincidence, so finding out Paulette Goddard was the female lead in that film came as a final sign I had chosen the right path.
I recall that many of my fellow students were only able to attend the Drama track thanks to a scholarship grant donated by Paulette Goddard. Without this grant most of them would have had to give up their hopes and dreams of becoming actors. So I am so very thankful that she had such a generous heart for the generations to come.
And as if this were not enough, her donations, which included the rights to her late hus- band’s books, helped so much, that NYU was able to invest them in a Manhattan building, which would become Goddard Hall, on 79 Washington Square East, in the middle of the NYU campus, overlooking Washington Square, one of Manhattan’s landmarks, with its own Arc de Triomphe and statue of Italy’s liberator Giuseppe Garibaldi, and one of the only places on earth one would have been able to see both the Empire State building and the late twin towers from ground level.
Goddard Hall houses 212 students and 6 resident assistants, giving them the opportunity to live in the heart of Greenwich Village, the epicenter of cultural development and creativity on this planet, while attending classes at NYU.
I only wish there were more art magnates like Paulette Goddard, to help present and future generations of artists, such as myself to live their dreams and reach their goals. It is only thanks to people like her that we have such a lively artist community nowadays, which is able to develop its creativity and give it back to the world in all kinds of forms and media.
Thank you Paulette, and may our dreams live on forever.
creative director in film and video production
actor, writer, director