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DOWNEY - Stanley Jerry Hoffman, who for stage purposes first called himself Stanley Hoffman, then Lee Hoffman, then Skip Stanley, and then Stan Hoffman yet again and on reaching age 78 six years ago began calling himself Kwayzar, has had a long and colorful career in the entertainment industry as a comedian, musician, and actor, and if one were to really mine his memory he/she might just find more stories of gold than he has cared to recount about old Hollywood and other locales.
For instance, he was a contemporary of Buckwheat and Alfalfa and the rest of the gang in the old "Our Gang" TV series (in fact, he almost got a part in the series, which would have by all reckoning catapulted him to fame and fortune; "20th Century Fox needed a little redheaded boy and I was perfect for the part, with the perfect height and everything," he says, "just carrot red, and I had a mass of freckles. I was five at the time, and had already been taking diction lessons, but something unforeseen happened"); as a student at Hollywood High, his classmates included Richard Long, Richard Jaeckel, Vanessa Brown, and James Garner (Kwayzar played the violin in high school); he had encounters and/or brushes, professionally and otherwise, with the likes of Regis Philbin, Dick Van Dyke, the brother of Louis Prima, Steve Allen, the mother of Lenny Bruce, and, in-between, a shadowy Mafia figure.
He had enlisted in the Navy during WWII, and during the time Mao Tse Tung was driving Chiang Kai-shek out of mainland China, Hoffman was stationed in Shanghai and saw dead bodies of G.I.s floating in the Whangpoo River, which was a tributary of the Yangtze.
Upon his discharge from the Navy, Hoffman continued to pursue his dream of "making it big" in showbiz. "I wanted to be a comedian in the movies," he says.
Much later, in New York in 1956, an unknown singer by the name of Bobby Darin wanted to record his song, "Satellite Baby," which he had written because of the space race between Russia and the U.S., but he was by then so embittered by broken promises of celebrity and wealth that he turned Darin's offer down, to his eternal regret.
At one precarious period in his life, he had to turn to selling real estate to make a living. Fortunately, he was good at it.
Thus Hoffman's life went, even as he early on spent two-and-a-half years in drama school on the G.I. bill, and even as he proceeded to hone his comedy routine, still aiming for that big break.
He was not a dull boy, he says. In fact, he has always considered himself smart. He says he at one time was given the Stanford-Binet IQ test, and he scored 156. He is familiar with Plato and Aristotle, and thus Socrates. He remembers some Latin from his Hollywood High days, and makes a good impersonation of Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca."
In his rap videos, his voice is strong and he has perfect diction. So why, with the exception of his marrying his wife Delores, he says, hasn't real, material success paid him a visit?
Many people brush off the notion of luck as playing a part in one's success or failure, but recent research indicates that it plays a significant, often pivotal, role in life, along with integrity, industry, a keen intelligence, purpose, etc. Many people would rather add timing (as in "Timing is everything") to the list than luck.
The name change to Kwayzar was prompted by his discovery of rap, which nudged Hoffman in a new direction. He says he was influenced by Ice Cube and Eminem.
He has gone into writing and producing rap videos fulltime now, which he uploads on YouTube (YouTube.com/kwayzar11). His cybermusic (also available in CD) bears such titles as the afore-mentioned "Satellite Baby," "Brave New World "(a nod to Aldous Huxley), "Cyberspace," "Chat Room," "Tech Support," and "Clone."
Latin and scientific phrases that alternate with salty language learned during naval days can be heard in his uptempo music videos. Two of his latest are "The Vote of a Lifetime," a rap in support of Obama, and "I Can Still Do It," which is a metaphor, he says, for young as well as old people not giving up, not quitting on that dream.
At this point, he says, "Writing and producing rap videos keeps me busy, keeps me active, and keeps me well, while I hope to be an inspiration especially to older people that they, too, can and should still lead productive, and thus meaningful, lives. The whole thing has become a labor of love."
Still practicing a bit of self-promotion, Kwayzar wants his sobriquet henceforth to be "The world's only senior cyber-rapper Caucasian."
Published: May 10, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 04