Thursday, August 23, 2007

"I Came Here To Blow The Roof Off This Sucker" Chapter One

Like most people, Sam Grubnick was born.

That much is certain. More than that we cannot say for certain.

Later, when he had shot to superstardom as Sam Seventies, he related several versions of his life. In an interview with People magazine, he said he was born in Chicago and his parents were devout Muslims. The very next week in Cosmopolitan, he told the reporter he was born in Honolulu and his parents were Jewish. The next month, he was confronted with the contradiction by a reporter from The Washington Post and promptly admitted he was lying, that he was really born in Saskatchewan and produced a birth certificate to prove it.

The fact that he had brought his birth certificate to an interview should have tipped the reporter off that something was fishy, but he ran the story anyway.

The next day, he denied telling the Post reporter anything, and that he really was born in Nacadoches, Texas, and his parents were in the witness protection program.

Psychologists and devotees of Sam Seventies' career long have given up on ever finding out his true past. In "The Seventies Story," author Madelyne Bushner concluded, "Obviously it was all a part of his schtick. He pretended to come from nowhere, like the decade that spawned him and inspired his stage name."

Others disagree. "I think he was ashamed of his family," said Lucy Marsh, who briefly dated Grubnick in high school. "He never took me to meet his parents. When I asked him about them, he'd just shrug and say, 'They don't like guests in the house.' But everybody knew he came from the poor side of town."

Toward the end of his career, Seventies himself dismissed any talk about his past. "What does it matter where I came from? I'm here now."

Looking for records of Grubnick/Seventies' life before 1955, when he entered first grade at Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary School in Medfield, Iowa, has turned up nothing. It is as if he himself said -- he came from nowhere.

A recently uncovered document, though, hints at a more mundane tale. A copy of a baptismal record at First Unitarian Church in Keystone, Montana, for an Samuel James Grubnick, born August 23, 1950, lists his parents at James Francis Grubnick, a meat cutter, and the former Louise Anne Muldoon, a housewife.

Seventies claimed his birthday was August 23, 1955, which would have made him 19, when he appeared on "Happening!" which had a strict age limit to its contestants. He claimed he had lost his birth certificate, but produced a baptismal record from what show officials said was a "church somewhere in Montana." The birthdate, however, was smudged, but they gave him the benefit of the doubt. He looked 19.

Research into James and Louise Grubnick turns up precious little information. They appear to have been married in 1946, when he was 27 and she was 17. He appeared to have had several occupations before becoming a meat cutter, and he had several more before he died in 1962 of alcohol poisoning. Louise died not too long afterward in an automobile accident.

There is a photo in the Keystone Gazette that is dated Oct. 30, 1954, from a Halloween carnival at a local youth center. It shows the Grubnicks with a small child dressed as a clown. Because of this it's impossible to say for certain whether the child is the same who would grow up to be Sam Seventies.

All that one can say is the people in the photo look very happy and the child is clinging to his mother.


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