Frank Joseph Supak, Jr.
Click here for more about the Hollywood Bowl during Dad's tenure.
Frank Supak was the Master Audio-Video manager (Head Soundman) at the Hollywood Bowl from 1970 to 1993. He will always be the world's coolest Dad to me. If you have stories, pictures, articles, or anything else that mentions him, we'd appreciate an e-mail so we can post it here.
We request that in lieu of flowers, send a donation in memory of Frank Supak to:
Eulogy from Stacy Supak:
Frank J. Supak, 62, died Friday, March 3, 2000, in Boulder City.
Born Jan. 29, 1938 in Houston, Texas, he was a seven year resident of Boulder City. He was a US Navy veteran and a retired audio engineer. He was also a member of the IATSE Local #33 and #720 and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
He was survived by his wife, Susan Supak of Boulder City; three daughters, Yvette Mazboudi of Pacific Palisades, California, Charlene Brewer of Los Angeles, California, and Stacy Supak of Boulder City; a son, Scott Supak, of Canyon Country, California; and two grandchildren [Jasmine and Spencer Supak].
One of Dad's favorite recordings was Jazz at Oberlin (Dave Brubeck). He said it changed the way the world thought of live Jazz. We'll be posting more of Dad's favorite music, books, and movies here soon.
Check out what happened on the days of Dad's birth and death (1/29 & 3/3, respectively) at "This Day in History." I was surprised to learn that Danny Kaye, who often stopped by the booth to thank Dad for his work, died on 3/3/1987.
Today we honor a man who did his job so well that crowds of people never even knew he was there.
Did you attend a show, any show, at the Hollywood Bowl between 1970 and 1993? Frank Supak was there, too, and though you may not have seen him (unless you were working), you probably walked right by him. He was in the sound booth in the middle of the second promenade, and he's the reason the music sounded so good. "Frank was a sound artist," says Ernest Fleischman, the Creative Director and a close collaborator of Frank's at the Hollywood Bowl for many years.
From Barishnikov ballet to the Moody Blues, from Itzhak Perlman to Ravi Shankar, Frank had the coolest audio gig in the world, and one of the most challenging. His history with the Hollywood Bowl, which spanned four decades, began in 1965, the second year the Beatles played there. In 1970 he became Master Soundman, and from then until he retired in 1993, the Bowl consumed his summers. He dedicated himself completely, never missing a performance. In exchange, Frank had the opportunity to work with an amazing array of history's greatest musicians.
He was, foremost, responsible for delivering the full audio potential of L.A. Philharmonic concerts each season, working with an incredible roster of conductors such as Igor Stravinsky, Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Williams, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein, Henry Mancini, Lukas Foss, John Mauceri, pioneering females Antonia Brico and Margaret R. Harris, and many more. Zubin Mehta, L.A. Philharmonic Musical Director from 1962 to 1978, wrote this of Frank, in a letter dated April 7, 2000: "With his keen ear for beautiful sound and expert technological training he gave so much listening pleasure to so many listeners at the Hollywood Bowl, where night after night he reproduced the magnificent sounds emanating from our Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra."
An innovator in the field of live outdoor music amplification, Frank designed a system for measuring sound levels at the property line, a result of combining his lifelong passion for music with a newfound passion for computers. His deck microphone (PZM) techniques are famous in the audio field. He also contributed to the design of the delay speaker system (located throughout the amphitheater), which creates a synergistic effect to preserve the natural quality of the sound. "You might not notice they were on, but you would notice if they were not. The goal," he said,"is to amplify sound without it sounding amplified." Frank summed up the improvements to the Bowl's sound system during his tenure when he told the Los Angeles Times, "We are evolving toward simplicity."
Wedged between Philharmonic engagements were special event shows. In addition to classical programs, there were soloists such as Andre Previn and Yo-yo Ma. There were operatic performances, movies, television specials, and children's programs. Performers over the years included Beverly Sills and Placido Domingo, as well as Big Bird, Bugs Bunny, and the Brady Bunch.
The play list of jazz and rock and roll artists from Frank's years at the Bowl reads like a veritable who's who, from Alpert to Zappa:
Frank was fortunate to have worked with these classic acts, but it went both ways. A consummate professional, he inspired trust, respect, and confidence among artists and colleagues alike, regardless of musical genre. Quiet and unassuming, he approached sound mixing with a mathematician's precision and a magician's cunning.
He remained not only level-headed and steady-handed, but also acutely sensitive to the needs of the music, audience, and performers . Perhaps the late conductor and pianist Johnny Green put it best in 1980, in a letter thanking Frank for his "above-and-beyond conscientiousness" as well as his "kindness, cooperation, and, as always, first class job."
In nearly thirty unique years at the Hollywood Bowl, artists of all types, many of whom became personal friends,
benefited from Frank Supak's talent, skills, and gentle nature. He, in return, delivered a consistently enjoyable experience for all involved. The depth of his legacy resonates most clearly, though, in the legions of people fortunate enough to have heard it.