Tap Preservation Awards

The annual Tap Preservation Award is given to an outstanding individual or organization in the field,

for the superior advancement of tap dance through presentation and preservation.

2015 - Carl Tobias Schlesinger was born on Oct. 12, 1926, in the Bronx. A former typesetter at The New York Times, Carl died at the age of 88, on November 9, 2014.

Mr. Schlesinger spent 35 years at The Times, much of it working the graveyard shift in the composing room at the paper’s former building on West 43rd Street. He was in his early 50s when The Times switched from using Linotype, a hot-metal printing technique invented in the 1880s, to cold type, generated by computers.

Mr. Schlesinger became one of the “stars” of “Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu,” a 29-minute documentary film with a title that Linotype operators would instantly recognize. Mr. Schlesinger also narrated the film, which was directed by David Loeb Weiss.

Mr. Schlesinger became an expert on the Linotype as well as on Mergenthaler. He became an apprentice printer with Fairchild Publications in 1946 and first joined The Times in 1952. Mr. Schlesinger, who was active in education programs run by the typographical union, left the paper to work elsewhere for periods, including in 1967, when he moved to Africa to help develop a printing training program in Nairobi. By 1975, he was back at The Times.

Besides his daughter Laura, his survivors include his wife of 61 years, the former Renée Blankfield; two other daughters, Tia Amdurer and Jeanne Buesser; five grandchildren; and a great-grandson. David Weiss died in 2005.
As a boy, Mr. Schlesinger sang and danced on the sidewalk outside Broadway theaters. Decades later, in the 1980s, he took up tap-dancing and became a prominent organizer of tap-dancing performances in New York and elsewhere, including “Tap Extravaganza,” which celebrates National Tap Dance Day, on May 25. He was featured in two other documentaries, “Heart and Sole: Twenty Years of Tap Extravaganza,” and the 2012 documentary “Linotype: The Film.”

His interest in printing was not limited to its past. After the Linotypes were retired, he learned computerized typesetting and continued to work at The Times until 1990. He composed a march, “The New York Times Color March,” which was given its premier by the Goldman Memorial Band at Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center in 2000.

American Tap Dance Foundation

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