Larry Selman, disabled star of Oscar-nominated documentary, dies

Selman was a neighborhood fixture in Greenwich Village, collecting more than $300,000 in donations for charitable causes since 1970.

Larry Selman, the subject of Alice Elliott's 2002 Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Collector of Bedford Street,” died Jan. 20 from heart failure in a Manhattan hospital.

Elliott's documentary is a vivid portrayal of how the developmentally-disabled Selman collected donations for charitable causes and organizations in his Greenwich Village neighborhood. The 34-minute documentary shows Selman on the steps of his apartment, smiling and talking to passers-by about donating. His apartment became the refuge for many homeless people and stray animals.

Those who knew Selman sat shiva for him on Jan. 21 on Bedford Street, reported. In Judaism, shiva is the week-long period of grief and morning immediately following a death in the family.

When Selman's uncle, Murray Schaul, who was his primary caregiver, passed away, Elliott and her neighbors rallied to protect his independent lifestyle by setting up an adult trust fund for him.

“I think he may be one of the only individuals who really had a community come [together] in this type of situation and support him. Usually it’s a family member or a close friend of the family,” Stacy Ferber, community trust administrator at UJA Federation of New York, told

Selman collected donations for everyone from cancer victims to disabled firefighters to families of Sept. 11 victims. He had been collecting donations for a Jewish Association Serving the Aging project that provides pets for seniors right before he was hospitalized.

"The Collector of Bedford Street' was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002. In 2003, Selman traveled to Los Angeles for the Academy Awards with Elliott (Elliott's film did not win best short-documentary, Twin Towers did). Elliott's documentary was screened at over 70 film festivals and won 18 awards.

Related:"The Collector of Bedford"

Selman received The Caring Award in 2009 along with Colin Powell for his outstanding contributions as a volunteer. 

He shared his small Bedford Street studio with his dog Penny. Selman's neighbors are currently looking for someone to adopt his dog.


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