R.I.P. John Munsell

University of Wisconsin-Superior professor John Munsell died on Tuesday. He taught at UWS from 1967 to 2001 and was one heck of a character.

Speaking of his characters, one of them in April 1997 was Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, shown above.

More info about Munsell in the Superior Telegram story “Twin Ports theater community mourns UWS instructor.”



about 11 years ago

I don't think a guy can peruse this thread without noticing the budding presence of one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. In this clip, comedian Bill Burr outlines Arnold Schwarzeneggar's rise from the trenches of Austria to American world leader. And in these rare photos, we glimpse the humble beginnings of Conan. Ladies, IMGFHO, the skit, or comedian isn't as sexist as the title would have you believe, as most of it centers around UWS' most distinguished alumnus, and human behavior. I guess the moderators will delete it if deemed too inappropriate. But I thought it was relevant, since Munsell probably had an influence on him. 

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

The photos above that include Arnold Schwarzenegger are from 1996, when he received an honorary degree at UWS. They are not from before the movie Conan the Barbarian was shot.

I think the only influence Prof. Munsell had on Arnold would be limited to exchanging wisecracks on stage at that commencement ceremony.

For fun, here what Schwarzenegger looked like during his Aug. 8, 1979, visit to UWS for a Special Olympics Workshop.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

Schwartzenegger's 1996 degree was an honorary doctorate given to him for his work with the Special Olympics and the Inner City Games. His 1979 bachelor's degree from UWS was in "international marketing of fitness and business administration" and was completed largely by correspondance. 

The UWS communicating arts department refused to give Schwartzenegger any life-experience credits for his film acting up to that point (which was a pre-Conan hodgepodge of B-movies, plus an appearance in the documentary Pumping Iron), so maybe Munsell did have some influence on his life.


about 11 years ago

I never met John Munsell, nonetheless as a lover of all things radio, especially community-oriented radio, I will say that he has definitely had an influence on me.  

Mrs. Goose graduated from UWS in December where Rick Sordelet (mentioned in the Superior Telegram obituary/story of Munsell) gave the commencement address. He had Munsell on speakerphone because he couldn't be there in person.  (I believe it was Munsell, or maybe another one of his professors) The entire address really focused on the can-do attitude toward education and success that he received at UWS. He talked about just how much Munsell poured into him, and he talked about being able to go back to Munsell again and again long after he graduated for advice, encouragement, and, I supposed, the occasional rhetorical ass-kicking.  He also talked about the strong network of friends that were fostered in the program and the supportive nature of UWS alumni in places like New York, where people really try to help one another out in a famously dog-eat-dog community.  I was really moved by the speech and it drew out in broad strokes the influence that UWS theater and communications grads have had on the region, and, in fact, the nation (Sordelet now teaches at Yale, for example).  

The power of a really good teacher is the power to change the world.  Is that too cheesy?  Also, I don't want to twist Sordelet's words, but that's what I got from him.  I am glad if the UWS summer theater program is being revived.  Maybe they should name it or include some other kind of honorific for Munsell.


about 11 years ago

Okay, I thought they looked more 1990s Shwartz, cigar face ... 1970s Shwartz had the long hair. I just thought BB's impressions were too good not to try to post.  My first film memory of Arnold was that western where he was dressed Lone Ranger style and responded to the stuttering ticket booth guy with, "That's easy for you to say!"  For some reason that was excessively funny at the time.

A friend was a photo juggernaut in the art department there in the early 1970s,  pioneering new methods, then someone stole all his negatives out of his locker, took the wind out of his sails.  An unsolved mystery, so if anyone knows anything...


about 11 years ago

Terrible news. I am lucky to have met this gentleman, his fabulous wife, and many of his grandchildren. Shockly, I had no clue of his amazing contribution to the University and theater community. So many accomplishments and such a down to earth person. I guess he was a man of humility, which is rare. My deepest condolences to his wife (my son's fishing partner in Solon Springs) and family.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

Brian Matuszak wrote a wonderful tribute to Prof. Munsell in the Feb. 24 issue of the Budgeteer News.

"Brian says goodbye, and thank you, to a theater mentor"

When I think back and pull up all my personal John Munsell memories they tend to be stories best told orally and with physical gestures, which maybe makes sense since John was an actor and director. So I won't repeat here the anecdotes I was able to share with old friends at John's celebration of life event last week.

Instead, I'll just note what a treat it was to hear what others had to say about John and what an important person he was to so many people who never knew how important he was to so many other people.

And I'd like to repeat part of Brian's column and reshape it a bit, lest anyone miss the larger and more important life lesson buried in John Munsell's acting advice.

Every one of us has an invisible bucket of crap floating over our heads throughout life. Your job is to not let your partner's bucket get dumped.

William Newton

about 8 years ago

In order to obtain my BS degree from UWS in 1990, I was required to take an art course.  I had the pleasure of having Dr. Munsell as my professor - he really made a favorable impression on me and gave me an appreciation of the theatrical arts.  I never forgot the man and was saddened to find out he passed - RIP.

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