Robert Fresco

Writer, pilot, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, and our dear friend died at 9:15 AM on Valentine's Day. Oh, and he was also a poet.

My first encounter with Robert was after my first New York performances of Five Bells for 9/11, 9/11/02. I got to my office at the Helen Hayes Theatre, and there was a note slipped under my door: "Five Bells. That was lovely. Robert." I asked around and someone said it must have been from the gentleman in the office around the corner. "He won an Oscar." It was from Robert, and we struck up a friendship that lasted almost a dozen years. We'd stop by each other's offices and chat. Seemed like 10-15 minutes, but we'd look at our clocks and see it had been 60-90 minutes. Since my dad is a pilot we talked a lot about flight. His youngest son, Dylan, performs his own one-man plays, so we talked a lot about the struggles and joys of this crazy career. Of course we talked about writing. And we talked a whole lot about God.

We trudged through the snow on Thursday to see him. We talked about waiting until the weather cleared up, but we're so glad we didn't. He wasn't talking by the time we got there, but we believe he heard us. He was still able to communicate with his unforgettable eyebrows, which he refused to trim.

Robert won the Oscar in 1970 for a documentary he did on Czechoslovakia, which you can watch below. Fred Astaire and Bob Hope handed him his golden statue, and you can watch Astaire's only dance at the Oscars leading up to the award below:

He was also the first person to get cameras into courtrooms. But when we got home from our visit we watched "Look to the Stars," an episode of Bonanza that he wrote.

Ralph Waite, the father on The Waltons died the day before Robert. The New York Times cited a 2004 TV Guide Poll that rated Mr. Walton as the number three TV dad behind Bill Cosby's Cliff Huxtable, number one, and Lorne Greene's Ben Cartwright, number two. So Robert filled the mouth of the second best dad that's ever been on TV. Robert seemed like a pretty great dad in real life, too. In all the countless hours we spent in the Helen Hayes hallway many of them were spent talking about our families. He never said a negative word about either of his sons or his wife, all of whom he loved very much along with the grandkids.

Here are the tributes printed in the The New York Times (Robert M. Fresco, Oscar-Winning Documentary Filmmaker, Dies at 83) and in Variety (Robert M. Fresco, Documentarian and Horror Pic Writer, Dies at 83).

Here's an interview I did with him on Friendship for a sermon series at our church:

Robert Fresco on Friendship from Rich Swingle on Vimeo.

I was honored that they included a clip from that at his funeral, along with clips from his work on television, film and his documentaries.

His Academy Award-winning "Czechoslovakia 1968" is now online:

Here are Robert's program notes on Czechoslovakia 1968.

Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Joyce preached on Romans 1:16-17. Bill H. opened and closed. Additional comments by Liz H. Pastor Randy Solomon tells about his creations for space and creation from space. Tamara W. shares how she calmed someone's fears about her travel, and she read Matthew 28:1-6.

This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

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Heading for Sochi / Actor Deadlines

As the Opening Ceremonies sweep across the time zones we’re making final plans to be in Sochi during the last week of the Olympics. We appreciate your prayers for us while we're there!

We’re in the process of having translations done for the people we meet from around the world. So far we’ve only completed Spanish, though Portuguese, German, Korean and Simplified Chinese are in the works. If you can contribute to any of those translations or if you’re interested in having an impact on people who speak your language shoot us a note.

We won't be posting from Russia, but watch your inboxes for a report when we return. 

February 15, the eve of our departure, happens to be the deadline for two events at which I’ll be directing and teaching later in the year:

The Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp is adding an acting component. I'm thrilled to inaugurate this program as the sole instructor! Many of you know me from my stage work, but I've been in 15 films since 2010: I’ll be teaching classes and directing the students in a film we’ll shoot in the glorious Colorado Rockies.

I learned much of what I know about screen acting from the fabulous faculty that we've had at the MasterWorks Festival over the years. We're bringing in some more performing arts veterans this year as well. 

I wrote about Torry Martin in a recent blog post that went out to those who receive our more frequent posts. Now I’m pleased to announce that we’ll have a second Adventures in Odyssey cast member, Katie Leigh. Katie will coach our students reading sides from… a show for which she’s been a cast member. Sign up for her MasterClass will be based on date of application, so act now. She got her start in Improv, so on July 2, she will join Torry Martin and our students to perform Improv! That night has the potential of being the funniest in the history of MasterWorks!

Our tickled funny bones will propel us into performances of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing in Winona Lake, Bethel Park, PA, and in an Off-Broadway theatre!

Again, the early bird deadline for MasterWorks and the The Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Acting Camp is February 15. So get the application process rolling now, or send this to young actors who might be interested. 

I play a quirky clerk in Christmas Grace.
Another place I’ll be teaching and performing is the inaugural Christian Worldview Film Festival and Guild. Five of the films in which I’ve performed will be featured there in full or represented by a short piece. The Guild will be March 11 and 12, and the Festival will be March 13-15 in beautiful San Antonio, TX. Though there’s no early bird special, you can get 25% off all tickets to the Festival or Guild using the code RICHSWINGLE.

Check out my touring schedule at and see if I’ll be in your area. I always love to add performances and workshops whenever I’m outside the NYC area.

I'm really hoping to set up performances in San Antonio, TX, Colorado, Tuscon, AZ, and Oregon. Hope to see you somewhere in the world this year!

Be Mutually Encouraged by Each Other's Faith

Joyce preached on Romans 1:8-15. Bill H. opened with prayer and scripture. Pastor Linda Warren prayed for the sermon and brought the announcements.

This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

WCCC Worship 2/2/14 by RichS on Grooveshark
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Now taking applications for the MasterWorks Festival theatre program: Training and performances in IN, PA and NYC, including an Off-Broadway theatre!