It wasn’t a family legacy or even a friend that led Al Schwartz, Alpha Kappa (University of Wisconsin) 1954 and 2018 ZBT Hall of Fame inductee, to Zeta Beta Tau at University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was simply an offer to have a free dinner and hang out during rush week as he was starting school in a new city where he didn’t know anyone.
Schwartz recalls his introduction to ZBT as a lucky coincidence that ultimately led to a 40-year career as an Emmy-award winning producer with Dick Clark Productions.
Schwartz had no intentions of joining a fraternity because he thought it was only for wealthy people, which he was not. After explaining to the brothers that he had led them on with his intentions, they assured him they hadn’t been fooled. Nevertheless, they were committed to figuring out a way to make Brotherhood a possibility for him.
“The guys I met at ZBT were different than the other fraternities I visited,” Schwartz recalled. “I had a real connection with them and we had interests in common.”
Those interests, which included participating in theater, opened doors Schwartz never knew were possible. “I grew up in an era where the television was so new, no one knew that there were career possibilities in the field,” said Schwartz.
However, some encouragement from his brothers led him to audition for a musical, which again turned into a path he never expected.
After many theater and broadcasting stops, Schwartz found his way to Hollywood where he spent more than four decades working with Dick Clark on the production of the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Soap Opera Digest Awards among many other shows.
While UW-Madison and ZBT were never on Schwartz’ radar, he says they opened up a new universe of possibilities for him. And for that, he is eternally grateful.