The Ghastly Impermanence: In Memoriam Pat French

Pat French, script in hand, at the 2007 Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound soirée.

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for Seattle radio drama. After the January show for Imagination Theater, I got the message that Imagination Theater’s parent, Jim French Productions, would be closing down at the end of March.

When it comes to radio, Seattleites have no idea how well we have had it for the past fifty years. While radio programming around the country was turning AM into a cheap jukebox, Seattle held firm with high quality radio drama. And Jim French was at the heart of it all. Mr. French has brought us 42 years of Harry Nile, and 21 years of Imagination Theater, remaining the only professional, union shop radio drama in the area, and indeed the best in the country. To lose Jim French Productions is a heavy blow to the audio drama community, and to the city of Seattle in particular.

Yet this pales to the news I received last Tuesday about the passing of Pat French.

I am not the person to write an obituary for Pat. I can only offer this humble appreciation.

Pat was a lovely woman. Most people probably know her as the voice of Murphy in Jim’s long-running series, The Adventures of Harry Nile. Pat wasn’t just a voice, however, but the glue of the series, directing a prodigious number of its episodes as well as much of the later series Kincaid the Strangeseeker.

She was an excellent actress and fabulous director. Outside of Jim French Productions, Pat was even more. She was a fantastic teacher who kickstarted many careers in radio and voice-over at Bellevue College, where I myself took classes from her during my time at KBCS. She taught me to be confident on the air, sure of my personality and my words, and that broadcast more than anything else was about sharing oneself as completely as possible. I have never forgotten.

I never saw Pat enough. She kept very busy. I have met very few people so kind and generous with themselves and their time as Pat. Even well into her 70s she continued to teach at multiple locations. I could hardly keep up. Fortunately I knew I would see her every couple months at the live recordings of Imagination Theater.

Now I won’t.

Thank you, Pat. For everything.

****

Filed under Radio

Omar Willey was born at St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Seattle and grew up near Lucky Market on Beacon Avenue. He believes Seattle is the greatest city on Earth and came to this conclusion by travelling much of the Earth. He is a junior member of Lesser Seattle and, as an oboist, does not blow his own trumpet. Contact him at omar [at] seattlestar [dot] net