Steve Silver’s magical contributions to the world of theater were his creativity, imagination and whimsy. Born in 1944, his first theater job was tearing tickets at North Beach’s hungry i in 1969. While getting his Master of Fine Arts degree at San Jose State University, Steve produced street performances.
His Rent-A-Freak productions attracted the attention of American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) and the public. He became an associate director at A.C.T., and in 1971 he was art director for the cult classic movie Harold and Maude. His street performances started to draw crowds in the hundreds. When the police arrived after a performance, Steve moved the revue indoors to Savoy Tivoli in North Beach and renamed the hit show Beach Blanket Babylon on June 7, 1974.
His boyish exuberance, creative incongruity, outlandish visual sensibility and zany sense of delight pushed him to constantly update, and mold the show. Steve entertained distinguished visitors and San Franciscans at charitable and public events including honoring Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 and the de Young Museum’s exhibit Beach Blanket Babylon–15 Years of Hats and Costumes in 1988. His longtime dream of recreating and restaging Beach Blanket Babylon’s history came true on May 24, 1994, with the 20th Anniversary Show and Beach Party at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House.
A philanthropist, as well as a showman, Steve gave generously to health organizations, education and the arts. Steve passed away in 1995 but his Beach Blanket Babylon legacy lives on nightly in North Beach and throughout the city he loved.