Stars who started out at Seward Park High School

I wonder why so many famous actors and entertainers attended the Lower East Side’s Seward Park High School?

Among its alumni: Walter Matthau, Jerry Stiller, Zero Mostel, Estelle Getty, Tony Curtis (then known as Bernard Schwartz), Sammy Cahn, Aida Turturro, Keenan Ivory Wayans, and former Black News host Bill McCreary.

Opened in 1905 as P.S. 62 and renamed Seward Park Junior High, it evolved into a senior high school in the 1920s.

In 1929, the current school building went up on the Lower East Side block bounded by Essex, Broome, Grand, and Ludlow Streets—a few blocks from the actual Seward Park.

The school and park were named for William H. Seward, the former New York senator who served as secretary of state in the Lincoln administration . . . and was almost assassinated along with his boss.)

Seward Park won’t be producing any more notable alumni. The school graduated its last class in 2006, and the building now houses several smaller schools and academies, none of which are named after any New York politicians or landmarks.

This Brooklyn high school has also enrolled its share of future celebs.

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24 Responses to “Stars who started out at Seward Park High School”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Two other famous Seward Park alumni: Julius & Ethel Rosenberg!

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Wow–infamous alumni!

  3. Peter Bennett Says:

    Graduated from Seward in 1972, I stayed away from the boys room and locker rooms and managed to not get too much crap kicked out of me. On a similar note, I also went to Elizabeth Irwin HS and my science teacher was Helen Sobel, who’s husband was Martin Sobel, convited along with the Rosenbergs, but wasn’t executed. Released in about 1970 if I recall

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Interesting. Later Sobell came clean about being a spy.

  5. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I attended Seward Park HS in the early 60s, the day I dropped out some black guys got me in the boy’s room and beat the shit out of me. That was one of the reasons I was dropping out, the threats of violence was pretty constant.

    Anyway I just survived Hurricane Sandy and was living on the Jersey Shore, about a half hour from Staten Island. We lost power for 7 days but nothing like Staten Island got, still what a mess that was.

  6. Emily Says:

    My mom says it was a decent place back in the late 1940s.

  7. Elizabeth Schott Says:

    I graduated in 1969 and it was an OK school then.I enjoyed my time.

  8. Alex Levy Says:

    Came to Seward in 1949 and graduated in 1953. It was more than OK. It was a great urban comprehensive high school with wonderful students and magnificent teachers. Even its administrators were a special breed. Not mentioned in your list of famous grads is Santa Berger (movie character actress) and David Gordon (choreographer) as well as Michael Sternberg who worked for the State Department as an ambassador. Yes, it was quite a school. I came to it without a word of English and went on to become an English teacher. Without Miss De Maria and Mrs. Pollock (my Basic English teachers) this would not have been possible…

  9. Frank DiCapua Says:

    Frank DiCapua attended Seward Park from 1939 to 1943.My memories are sacred for my time back then. I was on the swimming team coached by thor wralsten what a wonderful time period in my life, P.S. hope I spelled the coaches name correctly he was a great man and was a great inspiration to me

  10. Marvin feldman Says:

    My name is marvin feldman,and I graduated in 1951. I treasured the musical experience I received at Seward park. My mentor was mr. Joseph rosenthal the band instructor who enriched my musical life I will always treasure my years at Seward park

  11. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    I recall my musical teacher fondly at Seward Park in the early 1960s, don’t recall his name, it’s lost in the midst of time, but very much remember that he thought our class to sing the hit song, “The Autumn leaves, drift by my window…” An elderly gentleman, may even have been Marvin Feldman’s teacher.

  12. Francisco La Puerta Says:

    I remember my music Latin band teacher in Seaward Park 1974-75 , Mr.Stone, we had a great time performing at the auditorium twice and many good memories. Our principal was so grateful for all the tickets that we sold for the concert.I wish those days would come back.

  13. KC Says:

    Attended Seward Park as Iived in the hood there in the mid to late 80’s. Great time on the LES wit the hookers, drug dealers, and various low lifes before all this gentrification. SPHS had an extention bulding further away down past Henry Street. Had great teachers. Also had freinds that I still kept in contact today.

  14. Angela Boine Says:

    I graduated Seward Park H.S. in 1966. The principal at the time was Mr. Sidney Nanes. I loved the school and the way it was run. We had so much fun. I was sad to see that it was not a regular school any longer. Those were the good old days.

    • Amy Roiz Says:

      My brother Robert grafuated the same year as you. I did in 1974. I graduated withe the actof Luis Victor Guzman, known as Luis Guzman now (too many movies to name but one was Anger Management).

      • Amy Roiz Says:

        Sorry about all those typos! I didnt see wha I was typing obviously. I’ll blame it on my cat who likes to climb on the laptop.

  15. Bert Zackim Says:

    I graduated in ’59….a lousy dump…..once some kid sat next to me
    and wanted to sell me a switch blade for fifteen bucks,
    ought to have bought…no bucks. Extortionist bastards hustled
    money in the cafeteria, intimidating the white kids. Sounds racist, but, true. So many teachers were morons….good riddance.

  16. Lisa Roman Says:

    So sorry a lot of you had bad experiences. I was there from 1979 (the annex) and graduated in1982. I remember the Asian lady doing her exercises on the fire escape when we were in homeroom. I loved my years there. I hate that I lost contact with my classmates.

  17. Marshall B. Wilkins Says:

    I am surprised upon hearing about bad experiences at Seward Park High School. Maybe I was just very fortunate. I went there for three years and I graduated in 1969. I never saw a fight, was never threatened, not anything violent at all. I enjoyed running on the track team which was coached by Mr. Joseph Sudberg. I wanted to add the name of Thomas Ernest “Satch” Sanders to the names of stars who started at Seward Park High School. He played baseball and basketball at the school. He went on to play 13 years in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. They won several NBA championships during those years with Sanders and his teammate Bill Russell.

  18. Sebastian Bonner Says:

    I graduated in 1970. Loved it. Began studying Chinese there and ended up majoring in Chinese at Hunter. Then spent 6 years living in Taiwan, HK & Beijing. (I’m not Chinese.) I still regularly see my best friend from those years, even though I live in western Massachusetts and she lives in San Francisco.

  19. Herman Rotenberg Says:

    Graduated in 1964. Great experience. Great academic program. Have very good memories of the History,English and music teachers. I blossomed in my junior year. Helped me with my confidence. Will be married for 43 years this june. Live in the Berkshires in western Ma. The 60’were great. Any other Berkshire people?

  20. Carole. Isak Katz Says:

    Great school I went there and graduated in 1958……saw Tony Curtis when he visited
    Also saw Bill Mcreary…..It was a great school.
    Carole. isak

  21. Susan Schloss Says:

    My parents both went to Seward Park high school, and graduated in 1939. Luckily my mother decided to go there, as it was new and beautiful, as opposed to going to one a hundred years old in Brooklyn, where she lived. She and dad met on a boat ride from school in 1935, when they were both 14. They married in 1946, six weeks after dad got home from the army, and were married for 54 years until his death.

  22. Amy Roiz Says:

    I am also fortunate not to have had any bad experiences while at Seward. I graduated in 1974, and with the actor Luis Guzman. I’m sure many of you have heard of him. On a recent flight, my sister saw him on a plane. Also, was lucky enough to see some of the filming of The Godfather, II near the school right before graduating. It was surreal, to say the least, the way they had prepared the streets with dirt and old stores, to make it look like the 1940’s. The only negative I can say is that I didn’t like some of the teachers–but I liked most. The kids were ok, at least the ones in classes with me. If you can imagine the goofy kids in “Animal House”, that’s almost the way it was.

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