If you haven’t seen the movie Young At Heart yet, please run, don’t walk, to your nearest Blockbuster store or Netflix queue and grab it. It is a heart warming story about a choir consisting of seniors, average age is over 80, who tour while singing songs from The Clash or Sonic Youth or Coldplay, etc. It is a moving story of how you can’t let age stop you from enjoying things and how sometimes the community of peers you surround yourself with is what makes you stronger.
That being said, one of the stars of the movie, Fred Knittle, passed away this week. He was such a comedian, and I will never think of the BeeGees again without remembering him toting his oxygen tank. A writeup on his passing was in USAToday and can be found here. I have also copied excerpted text from Anthony Breznican’s article after the jump. Once you see the movie, let me know what you think!
Fred Knittle, one of the old-timers from the recent documentary Young@Heart, about an senior citizen singing group that performs modern rock songs, died today at age 83 after a short battle with cancer.
Knittle, a World War II machine-gunner who spent most of his working life as an executive at The Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Mass., was a breakout figure in the film, released by Fox Searchlight last spring.
Though using an oxygen tube due to offset problems from his congestive heart failure, Knittle delivered a heartbreaking rendition of Coldplay’s Fix You in the film, displaying a deep, steady baritone that was unhampered by his other health troubles.
It was an especially touching moment because Knittle had rehearsed the song to perform as a duet with friend Bob Salvini, who is seen in the movie during rehearsals but died shortly before the concert finale.
“What do some of the words mean? I still don’t understand it,” Knittle said of his signature song in an interview before the film’s release. “We’ve got all these problems, but there’s still a ray of hope, and at the end of them, ‘I will try to fix you.’ “
. . . Before he started singing rock songs, Knittle wasn’t exactly a fan. His feeling was, “Turn it down and turn it off. The Clash? We wouldn’t have allowed that in our house. Sonic Youth? No way, shape or form. … Now we have the old and the young captured by this kind of music.”
. . . He is survived by his wife, their four children, 12 grandchildren, and a lifetime of corny jokes.
Just three weeks ago, after getting word that his cancer was inoperable, Knittle faced his fate with the resolve and humor of a life well lived: “Although I wish there was more pleasant news about my condition … Oh well, I don’t expect to get out of this world alive.”
Fred, I hope you find heaven just as humorous as you found earth, and you will be missed.