From roles in government to roles in film
Nov 24, 2020 | 6105 views | 0 0 comments | 888 888 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We ran this photo from our archives last week with some information that readers sent in to us about the people in the photo. To recap, pictured from left to right is the late Emanuel Gold, a former assemblyman and state senator from Forest Hills, Melinda Katz, who at the time was in the Assembly and now serves as district attorney of Queens, and former Queens borough president Claire Shulman.

Gold passed away in 2013, while Shulman died just a couple of months ago.

The woman partially obscured with her hand on Gold’s shoulder is Karen Koslowitz, who was in the City Council at the time, was forced out of office in 2001 because of term limits, but eventually won the same seat again and is currently in office.

She will be term-limited out of office again in 2021.

Which brings us to the man at the center of the photo. He is Charles Gargano, and at the time the photo was taken he was head of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) under then-governor George Pataki, a post he held from 1995 until 2007.

Gargano was born in Avellino, Italy, and moved to the United States with his family when he was four. He grew up in Park Slope.

Gargano founded his own construction firm, but in 1981 he began his career in government, serving as deputy administrator of the United States Urban Mass Transit Administration. From 1988 until 1991 he was ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.

Under Pataki, he not only served as head of ESDC (he was often referred to as the New York State “Economic Czar”), but he was also vice chairman of the Port Authority.

But Gargano also had a career in film playing minor roles in several well-known movies. In 1997, he and Senator Alfonse D’Amato played themselves in The Devil’s Advocate starring Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino.

In 2002, he played a Maitre D’ in the Robert De Niro/Billy Crystal vehicle Analyze That. The year before, he played the announcer at a golf range in Serendipity, a movie starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.

Finally, in 2006 he played a Port Authority Police commander in the Oliver Stone-directed World Trade Center.

But in our photo he wasn’t a famous movie star yet, just head of the ESDC.

One eagle-eyed reader noted the spade Gold is holding says “Forest Hills Restoration Project Ground Breaking Ceremony May 1, 1997.” The project was likely funded all or in part by the ESDC, which is why Gargano would have been there.

If any of our readers knows exactly what that project might have been, get in touch with us at polposition@queensledger.com.
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