Lou Goldstein was the consummate tummler, one of a zany species of entertainer who kept them laughing, or tried to, long ago in the borscht belt hotels of the Catskills.
A tummler (pronounced TOOM-ler) — the job title comes from a Yiddish word for someone who stirs up tumult or excitement — was a jack-of-all-trades social director who was supposed to amuse the hotel guests with jokes, songs and shtick that might be better described as slapshtick, as they sat by the pool, emerged from lunch or headed for bingo.
Perhaps the classic illustration was given by Mel Brooks, himself a former tummler.
“A tummler wakes up the Jews when they fall asleep around the pool after lunch,” Mr. Brooks said. “One of the things I had to do as the pool tummler was, I used to do an act. I wore a derby and an alpaca coat, and I would carry two rock-laden cardboard suitcases and go to the edge of the diving board and say, ‘Business is no good!’ and jump off.”
But Mr. Goldstein was more than a tummler. He was also probably the most famous impresario of Simon Says, a commanding figure (in a manner of speaking) in a game beloved by children as well as adults when they’re in a playful mood; his act appeared on national television and in sports arenas (at halftime).
He died on April 2 at the age of 90 and had lived in Liberty, N.Y., at the southern edge of his beloved Catskill Mountains. His wife, Jackie Horner, said the cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease.