September 28th 2011
There’s not much I can tell you about it. Mel fell ill a some weeks ago and was taken into hospital. The doctors seemed to think it was severe anemia but didn’t know for sure. All the tests were inconclusive. He was apparently unable to make his own blood, so they kept giving him transfusions. Eventually his body stopped accepting the transfusions. There was nothing more they could do. He was discharged and transferred to a hospice. He passed away peacefully at 2:30 a.m. (San Francisco time) on Monday, September 26th. Mel Clay was 79 years old.
I heard the sad news from Mel’s son Gino. Gino had only just gotten back from SF, where he’d spent a week visiting with his father. Mel didn’t want other visitors and was taking very few phone calls. He knew he was dying and preferred to do it in private. He wrote out his final message to the world a little over a week ago. I’ve held onto it until now. It went: “Mel Clay wants to send all his friends a lot of love and good wishes. For everyone who has given him their love, he thanks them.”
Mel Clay was an actor, writer, playwright and poet. He was formerly a member of The Living Theatre. I’d known him since 1978. He appeared in every issue of Ins & Outs magazine. Although Mel and I had not been in touch for ages, we got to meet up again this past April when he came to Amsterdam for his teenage granddaughter’s birthday. He gave two poetry readings during his brief stay. They were good readings. Mel was an excellent performer. He donated his body for medical research.
Mel Clay was in The Living Theatre’s legendary 1968 production Paradise Now.