Charles Silver, MoMA Film Study Center

The photo below was from a lovely and wonderful evening at MoMA to promote Scott Eyman's DeMille book back in 2010. What made it special -- as most all great nights Amy and I have had at MoMA -- was our host, Charles Silver, standing on the right. He was in charge of MoMA's Film Study Center for, well, it seemed like forever. When I first came to NYC and worked for Kino back in 1984, nobody in the film world knew who I was -- I was just a lackey when it comes down to it. But that didn't matter to Charles. On my first visit to MoMA's library, he took a lot of time to help me find what I needed and I had to make a large number of photocopies. I can't remember what the price was going to be, but it was going to be considerable based on my $13,000 a year salary. And I can't say I made an enormous impression on him as I was notably shy and nervous. Whatever the reason, when I went to pay, Charles simply smiled and said there was no charge. A very humble, kind person, Charles treated everybody with a wonderful generosity, never expected anything in return. He did it all for his love for film and his joy in helping others. Charles just died and it's the end of a very gracious and noble life. There'll be dozens more tributes to him because everybody who met him felt the same way I do. It's a shame that Rodin's not around to sculpt a statue of Charles to be put in MoMA's courtyard, but I do hope that MoMA's Film Study Center is named after him one day. It would be a very fitting tribute.

Oh, by the way, the evening this photo was taken, we discovered after 26 years of friendship that Charles and I had the same family doctor growing up -- Dr. Finkelstein from Newark -- who we were both very fond of. I don't know why, but that, along with a shared love of the Rangers, was important to us. Farewell, Charles.

Dave Kehr, Scott Eyman and Charles Silver at MoMA in 2010


I couldn’t agree more. Charles Silver was one of the most caring and helpful and knowledgeable people that I’ve ever met.

Joseph Angier July 24, 2016

I never met him in person, but had email and telephone and snailmail correspondence with Charles during the last three years of his amazing life. I can attest to the generous spirit of the man. He wrangled an invitation with expenses paid in NYC for me to introduce four films at the Great War retrospective in 2014 but a death in my family hindered my attendance. Charles was kind enough to sign my ratty copy of his tiny masterpiece, THE WESTERN FILM. He appreciated and validated my perspectives as a Vietnam combat veteran on the war film generally and THE STEEL HELMET and ATTACK! in particular. May his name live on at MoMA!

William Gruendler April 26, 2016

Finkelstein was my doc too. Charles and I were cousins. We actually did the baseball retrospective together.

Carl Prince April 14, 2016

Didn’t even know that Charles died in Jan. As a MoMA
filmgoer, knew Charles well
and spoke to him often about
old Hollywood movies. Charles’s
noir series in 2014 was the best
ever, including films I’d never seen or heard of. Last spoke to
Charles last summer sometime,
and he did not look well but am
still disturbed to hear now, in
April, about his passing. He will
be missed by all of us who go
to MoMA to see movies.

barrylenner April 12, 2016

Charles WAS the Film Study Center. Having interned with him during my undergrad senior year, then working alongside him as MOMA’s film shipper, I grew to love and respect him as the uniquely gracious man he was. I share the hope that the FSC will soon be renamed after him. RIP, Charles.

Aaron Braun January 24, 2016

Leave a comment