Friend a Day – George Herman
George had played King Henry for many years before I began working at the Renaissance festival. I’ve always played lower class characters so our opportunities to interact were limited.
With George, you needed to impress him and that wasn’t easy. He was a professional and he expected the people sharing the stage with him to be professionals as well. He raised the bar as far as what you as a performer were expected to do.
Years later, I became Assistant Artistic Director (AAD) at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, where George was also playing the king. He and his court had not had a pleasant relationship with their AAD from the previous year and when they heard another Minnesota person was coming to fill the job, they were concerned.
George, however, stepped in and said to them “don’t worry about it. I know this guy and he’ll do a good job for us.”
That statement made my job so much easier.
During my time in Arizona, I got to know George a lot better. When I was trying to take an unscheduled break, I’d drop by his trailer for a Coke.
George loves to tell stories. He has a lot of them and they are all interesting. When you are sitting in his trailer drinking a Coke, you get the chance to listen to a lot of them. It really helped me understand him a lot better. I don’t think I’d really understood him all that well prior to that winter.
He’s been retired for a while now and I don’t see him all that often. When I do, there’s always a smile and a handshake that reminds me I managed to impress him. That means something to me because he was never an easy man to impress.
One thing a lot of people don’t know about George is that he is a great painter as well as an actor. His portrait work is remarkable.
I think most people only knew George as the king and certainly that was a personality he cultivated. George is more than just King Henry, though, and I’m glad I got to know a little bit of the man beneath the crown.