CITIZEN STAN, the story of Stanley Sheinbaum (1920-2016) from john sharaf on Vimeo.

An hour-long documentary profiles the life of the recently deceased Stanley Sheinbaum, a Los Angeleno who was involved with prime ministers, presidents and kings and who played a major role in some of the most significant political events of the latter half of the 20th century.

“Citizen Stan,” made in 2004 by Patty Sharaf, is told through interviews with Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Sheinbaum’s wife, Betty, and other members of the Sheinbaum family, and others. Richard Dreyfuss narrates. Scheer was a co-producer.

Sheinbaum died earlier this month. In an obituary, The Los Angeles Times wrote:

For more than four decades, Stanley Sheinbaum regularly gathered moguls, presidents, celebrities and activists in his Brentwood living room to sip wine and debate the issues of the day. King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Norman Lear, Barbra Streisand and Warren Beatty were among the many famous faces who participated in the vibrant salons Sheinbaum and his wife, Betty, held at their art-filled home on exclusive Rockingham Avenue.

But more than a high-powered host, Sheinbaum often was a change agent, whose fingerprints can be found on a remarkable array of notable events.

In the 1960s he engineered the release of Andreas Papandreou, the Greek leader who had been imprisoned by a military junta. In the 1970s he was the chief fundraiser for Daniel Ellsberg’s defense in the Pentagon Papers trial. In the 1980s he led a delegation of American Jewish leaders who persuaded Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat to renounce terrorism and accept Israel as a state. And in the 1990s he headed the Los Angeles Police Commission after the beating of motorist Rodney King and helped drive controversial police Chief Daryl Gates from office.

“He’s a pot boiler,” Lear once said of his longtime friend and ally. “Something is always brewing in Stanley.”

John Sharaf, one of the film’s producers, introduces the film as follows:

As co-director of the Vietnam Project at Michigan State University in the early 1950s, Sheinbaum was hiring men who set up the police force of South Vietnam. His academic project wrote the constitution for South Vietnam. Later Stanley spoke out against the Vietnam War, holding teach-ins. He became the defense strategist for Daniel Ellsberg during the Pentagon Papers Trial. And when a coup in Greece imprisoned his friend, Andreas Papandreou, Sheinbaum took great personal risks to save his life. During the Los Angeles “Rodney King” riots, as President of the Police Commission, Sheinbaum sparred with Police Chief Daryl Gates, ultimately persuading him to resign. In a bold move to promote peace, Sheinbaum met with Yasser Arafat and persuaded him to denounce terrorism against Israel. At the request of President Clinton, Sheinbaum traveled to Damascus to set up a summit with Syria.

Stanley Sheinbaum’s life story holds lessons for all who promote peace and understanding among the world’s citizens.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly


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