Andy Leader
May 15, 2015

Hi Onnie,

I'm sad to hear of Brett's passing.  He was a gifted and accomplished person.  I didn't know him well but I played a henchman to his king in the Amherst production of "Richard III", and he and the experience were so memorable I still remember my lines, which I think I recited to him at our 50th.  The recently discovered remains of the actual Richard and ceremonial reburial, again reminded me of Brett and of the Broughton production so many years ago.  Best wishes,


Ted Truman
May 15, 2015

Very sad.  He with others added a special performance dimension to our class.


Neale Adams
May 15, 2015

Brett was a dear friend.  He, Ed Griffiths, I, and often others, during sophomore year (I think) would walk to the home of the Rev. Roger Alling, one of the College's chaplains, to talk theology on a weekday night.  I think we were all Episcopalians (at least then).  We went for the lively discussion, but also because Roger had a pretty young wife who baked delicious goodies.

Brett was an active participant, a bit skeptical, always seeing the funny and ridiculous side of things, and passionate about what he believed. He worked hard as a drama student, particularly, playing Hamlet in (I think) senior year--quite a role for an undergraduate actor.  

We kept in touch over the years, exchanging Christmas cards and news.  Ros and I always hoped to visit him and Branca, his wife from Brazil, in Missouri, but never got around to it. They were a close and lovely couple. I will miss him. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife.

A short obituary was in the Columbia, Missouri Tribune (go here). The picture below I took of him the year he did Hamlet, maybe for a photography. So earnest the young actor!



Ralph Hanna
May 15, 2015

I'm so saddened to hear that Brett is no longer with us.  My memories, like Neale's, are of that creative sarkyness he cultivated.  And more strongly, of the Hamlet; even after seeing Olivier, Brett still remains the voice I hear and figure I see every time I read over the play again.  (As do some of his fellow cast-members like the gravedigger.)

I'm so sorry he is no longer with us.


Steve Grant
May 15, 2015

Brett 4.JPG
I attach a photo I took of Brett in my living room in Arlington, Va in early 2013 (clearly not an art photo like Neale's).  Brett left his dear Branca for a weekend and came to immerse himself in SHX at the Folger theatre with me. We also planned how our two presentations would dovetail at the 50th reunion, at which he spoke of the Masquers 1949 performance of Julius Caesar at the Folger and I followed by sharing images and stories from my biography of the Henry Folgers one year before COLLECTING SHAKESPEARE was published.  Brett could be terribly funny. I quote from the epilogue to my book:

"On November 28, 1965, a group from the Amherst Masquers performed extracts from Twelfth Night in a comic evening in the Folger Theatre entitled “The Gulling of Malvolio.”  Members of the government and diplomatic community were invited to the black-tie event, organized by the Library in connection with an Amherst trustees meeting.  Several minutes into the program, the actors wondered why they were getting few laughs.  Then they heard a tremendous guffaw from the Nigerian Ambassador, resplendent in his colorful robes, sitting in the first row.  The hall suddenly became alive with laughter for the rest of the evening.  Playing Malvolio, Brett Prentiss was in the wings, in his nightshirt and adjusting his nightcap.  He lit a candle and prepared to walk on stage. He felt a tap on his shoulder. “What are you doing with that candle?” asked the Fire Marshal.  “I’m expected on stage with it right now.”  “If you go on, I will ban any further performances of the play.”  “That’s all right, Sir, it’s a one-night stand.”

I will miss him dearly.


Steve Grant
May 15, 2015

Often said of Lincoln, a tree is best measured when it's down.

When I was going to introduce Brett to actors and Folger theatre staff two years ago, I asked him for his resume.

I'm guessing you all would like to read it (Editor's Note: it is posted separately as "Curriculum Vitae" on Brett's main In Memory page).


Hans Bergman
May 15, 2015

Thank you for the photographs, Steve and Neale.  I too can see him in my mind on the stage as Hamlet and on the stage at our reunion.  Very sad.


Steve Grant
May 16, 2015

You DID invite more Brett stories from us, so I send along this tidbit he sent me on March 30, 2014.

Folks will enjoy the Baird story.

Add Brett's email text to the class website, if you'd care to.


-------- Forwarded Message --------


collecting Shakespeare


Sun, 30 Mar 2014 11:41:19 -0500


Peter Prentiss <>


Just finished your amazing book.  It is really impressive!!  The writing is excellent and the detail is incredible.  You must have put in hundreds of hours analyzing letters, receipts. etc.  I had no idea about the enormous complexities of international book sales and the kinds of people involved (and the amount of money!).  And I learned a lot about the history of Amherst as well. For instance I had no idea that the Plimpton line extended way back or about some of the famous people who attended Amherst.

I loved the fact that Prof Theodore Baird was, naturally, the one with negative comments about the Folger dedication opening.  I took a Shakespeare class with him in ‘61.  He spent more time bitching about Henry & Clair Booth Luce and LIFE magazine than he did talking about Shakespeare...but he was an interesting teacher.  I remember the opening of one class:

Student with hand up

Prof. Baird “Yes?”

Student. “Sir, I read AS YOU LIKE IT and I did not think it was a very good play”

Prof Baird: “Mr Stender, who gives a damn what you think?!”

The Folgers must have been the most obsessive people on the planet.  But they certainly left an extraordinary you have documented so brilliantly.  I was proud to see my Malvolio stories in there, by the way.  Hope you and Abigail had a good time in NYC and that the book sells very well indeed.  It sure deserves to do so.  Here it is finally 72 degrees outside.  I don’t know whether we had a worse winter here or you did in DC?  I had four friends who ended up in the hospital treated for falls on black ice.  all the best..brett