USC librarian Ned Comstock, beloved by film scholars, is no more 1

photo credit marilee bradford

The material would arrive unannounced—by email attachment. Lengthy, well-organized PDF documents of pages scanned from books, bundled, as complete packages with title pages, footnotes and relevant index pages. They were every researcher’s dream. They were culled from the depths of USC Cinematic Arts Library by a knowledgeable, passionate, and brilliant, really, librarian, Ned Comstock (1955-2024). Ned’s hand was present in scribbles—directional arrows, under-scorings and other emphases.

For several years, Ned had been assisting me in my first book—a now-completed, soon-published biography of the film choreographer Jack Cole. A topic for which Ned expressed such unreserved delight that I could not be faulted for thinking he cared more about Jack Cole than any subject in film history. For this is what Ned did. He laid out roadmaps for scholars. He did it in person, in his basement lair at USC; he did it, as above, via email — and, for the best reason to go to the mail box, he used the U.S. postal service, conveying Xeroxed hard-copy research as precious packages.

Rummaging recently through my storage locker, I spied a smallish white box atop the stack. The word “Open” was penciled on its lid with two downward arrows. On the flap itself, a second “Open.”  Inside, a pencil-scrawled note:

Hello Debra –
From Carol and me!

It had contained a surprise gift from dearest Ned Comstock. Inside I found an index-card-sized autograph of Carol Haney, the great Jack Cole dancer. Ned bought it for me on the Internet. He sent it as a surprise. Haney dated it in 1954, my birth year. Could l possibly love it more?

The autograph is propped in a display case in my living room cabinet.

But what, now, do I do with this empty box??

With love, appreciation, and missing of Ned, who, by the way, loved artsmeme

Debra Levine
founder/publisher/editor, artsmeme
dance historian

One comment on “USC librarian Ned Comstock, beloved by film scholars, is no more

  1. sandi kurtz Jun 28,2024 11:46 pm

    This is so sweet.

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