When I think about New York, I always think about the city that I knew as a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the ’60s and ’70s: the dangerous New York. Now the only reminder that it even existed is the record left in movies, films like “Taxi Driver,” “Death Wish” and “Midnight Cowboy.” They’re all movies set in New York, all movies where even the good guy is a pretty bad guy. But I think there was a message in that: you had to be bad to get by.
WATCH VIDEO:A scene from the 1974 film “Death Wish,” in which Charles Bronson takes out two men who try to mug him.
They’re sure weird to watch now. There’s this scene in “Death Wish” where Charles Bronson is in a coffee shop in Times Square that’s supposed to be full of hookers. These guys follow him from there and try to mug him. You couldn’t find those people in Times Square now — I don’t think you could even find a coffee shop. But that’s what New York was like when I was a kid.
Gilbert Gottfried is an actor and comedian. He has appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Howard Stern Show,” as well as various films. He is known for his voiceover work as Iago in Disney’s “Aladdin” and as Digit on the PBS children’s show “Cyberchase.”