About Mark Lenard



University Days

by photographer

George Olsen


Photographer George Olsen (left), with his brother Charles, (right), and Mark Lenard (center)
Contact Info.
Mark Lenard as Thomas Becket in the play "Murder in the Cathedral" by TS Elliot, (1940s).

Florida-based photographer George Olsen knew Mark Lenard while the two were studying at the University of Michigan in the 1940s. Here, he shares some recollections and unique photographs, and gives his impressions of a number of Mark's early performances, focusing in particular on his role as Thomas Becket in the play, "Murder in the Cathedral", by TS Eliot.

My brother, Chuck, and I went to the University of Michigan with Mark, (or Len Rosenson,as we knew him then), in the late 1940s, about 1948 and 1949. We were close friends and we did several plays with him there. The most memorable was T.S. Eliot's "Murder In the Cathedral".

A little story about our doing the show: it was not a UM (University of Michigan) play, but rather a splinter group, even though we all were UM students. Consequently the University gave us some static, and would not let us use campus facilities, etc. So we decided to do it in a church, which ended up being a much more favorable venue.

It was a tremendous success, and we were invited to perform at a number of other campuses, the most recognized one being Cranbrook School, where again a success was realized.

Len was outstading in this show. The scene where he was in a "cross" position before being lowered onto our swords was breathtaking. (see photo left)

Also, where he was tempted, (ala Jesus Christ), Len showed his outstanding ability to suffer. Both of these are caught in the photos.

By the way, I'm the blonde knight without a helmet, (see photo below right). Boy was I young in those days. In the scene where each knight rationalizes why we "have" to kill Thomas, I came up with the idea of tearing the petals off a rose as I spoke. What a ham!


Mark and George rehearsing "Murder in the Cathedral".
Mark Lenard as Becket in "Murder in the Cathedral" Mark Lenard as Thomas Becket, 1940s. George Olsen is the blonde knight without a helmet, front, right.
The church venue of "Murder in the Cathedral".

One humorous story is that when Len played Volpone, Ron Sobel (who went on to be a very successful Hollywood character actor) and I, as a lark, took roles as "spear carriers". In one scene, where Volpone is ranting and raving, he turns his back to the audience...and there were Ron and I, with our armor and spears, grinning at him with "blacked-out teeth.". Not very professional, but it was a joy to see him break-up, without the audience every seeing it, especially since we blacked out different teeth for each performance.

Len, my brother, Chuck,and I were very close friends,to the point of exchanging "civilian wardrobes" from time-to-time, since we all were about the same sizes. And there were various cold winter nights when, due to rehearsals running late, one or the other of us would bunk at the closest residence, whether it be at our apartment or Len's.

Mark Lenard as Becket in 1940s production of "Murder in the Cathedral".

Chuck is seen with me and Len in the photo taken in Tallahassee, FL many years later, (see top of page), when they had a big Star Trek show at the auditorium. Chuck, or Charles, became a very successful off-Broadway, and stock director, and started the Directing School in the Drama Department of Florida State University. It has been recognized as the finest School of Theatrical Directing in the country. He recently retired. © 2007 George Olsen

Mark Lenard as Thomas Becket in "Murder in the Cathedral", 1940s. Mark Lenard in "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Satre, 1940s. A newspaper photo of the "Murder at the Cathedral" play.


Visit the Gallery for more material from George Olsen and larger versions of the photos.



Home News Bio Articles Gallery Contact Back to top


This is a volunteer-run, educational site. Copyright for all material and images remains the property of the creators. Please note that the material freely offered here is copyright. Please respect the creators' copyright. If you want to copy material from this site, please email us so that we can contact the artist, photograher or writer concerned and pass on your request.