Eric F. Malzkuhn

Sign wizard, teacher, and mentor

“Malz,” as he was known, is a legendary character in Gallaudet University lore and Deaf history. He was responsible for naming Gallaudet University’s varsity teams the Bisons (thus indirectly appointing the bison as the college mascot). In 1941, he enlisted in the Army, then, after he was found out, unsuccessfully proposed that the Pentagon establish a division of Deaf soldiers. He brought the 1942 campus production of Arsenic and Old Lace to Broadway for a ground-breaking performance, predating the founding of the National Theatre of the Deaf by 25 years. As a VR counselor, he encouraged Andrew J. Foster to apply to Gallaudet—and Foster became its first black alumnus. After the NTD became a reality, Malz worked as adaptor and signmaster; his “Jabberwocky” gave Lewis Carroll’s classic nonsense poem a new dimension. From 1973 to 1986, he co-directed MSSD’s theater program, mentoring young performers such as Terrylene Sacchetti. In 1994, its theater was dedicated “Theatre Malz” in his honor.

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