DR. FRANK LENORD CLAYMAN-COOK
1942 to 2021
A Rock Star and Three Ph.D.’s
Frank Lenord Clayman-Cook, Ph.D., aka Frank Cook–a jazz, blues, and rock-and-roll drummer, manager, record producer, psychoanalyst/psychologist, and professor–passed away peacefully at home in Marina del Rey, CA, on July 9, 2021, close to his beloved wife, Dorothy Clayman-Cook. He was 79.
Having trained with Murray Spivack, Frank became a professional drummer in his mid-teens. He played drums with Canned Heat, Pacific Gas & Electric, Sam Cooke, and Les Brown, the latter touring Vietnam during the war. He also performed with Chet Baker, Charlie Haden, Frank Sinatra, Linda Ronstadt, and many more great artists. A producer at Columbia Records before going out on his own, he collaborated in that capacity with many greats, including Sly Stone, Percy Heath, and Solomon Burke. He also produced in England for several years. Then, at age 37, he left the music business to become a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. His passion for music, however, never waned.
Los Angeles Character
The second of two sons, Frank was born January 6, 1942, in Boyle Heights, CA to Eva Cook and Joseph Clayman, who both worked at the family business in downtown Los Angeles. Owned by Eva’s father, Cook’s Uniforms sold to policemen, firemen, and anyone else who required a uniform. Raised in Brentwood, he attended University High School, where he played in the school band, as well as professionally. At UCLA, he was an Honors student, and eventually graduated Cum Laude, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
Frank’s business sense evolved around his family’s uniform store. His math skills developed early, a result of his mother’s love… of gambling. As a toddler, whenever the horses were running, she took him to the racetrack on a daily basis. His artistic side was developed through his love of music, particularly jazz and blues. His political instincts were formed by the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s. He was an early and active member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). While with Canned Heat and Pacific Gas & Electric, along with those bands’ regular working gigs, they often performed at political rallies.
At one point, Frank’s teacher grabbed his hands while he was playing and said, “Baile!” Frank responded, “No, I’m a drummer. I don’t dance.” The teacher replied: “Baile… por su alma.” Translation: Dance… for your soul.
He understood this to mean that learning to dance to the correct rhythm would help him become a solid Cuban-style drummer.
When Frank returned to Los Angeles, his search for a dance teacher led to Dotti Karlstein, an artist’s manager, producer, interior designer, and teacher/performer of authentic Cuban dance, the latter since she was a teenager in New York. It was the beginning of a grand love story. Although Frank had been married before, he had finally met his soul mate.
Frank and Dotti married twice. First, on January 1, 1997, in a small, colorful wedding back in Mantanzas, Cuba. Frank had brought Dotti there because he wanted to share it with her. They married again on August 16, 1997, in a traditional Jewish ceremony at their home on the canals in Venice, CA, the ceremony presided over by Rabbi Hillel Silverman.
In Venice, the radiant pair were surrounded by friends, family, clergy, and canal ducks. At one point, when Rabbi Silverman had everyone on the verge of tears when talking poignantly about a difficult time in both his and Dotti’s lives, a duck quacked loudly, and the crowd burst into laughter.
Deeply in love, the two were perfectly matched—Dotti, a head-turner with salt-and-pepper hair and a dancer’s body; and Frank, a great looking guy with a rock star’s presence, green-hazel eyes, and always beautifully dressed. A man who never let negativity dim his spirit, Frank was brilliant, loving, and a great storyteller. He also accepted Dotti’s son, Laurence Karlstein, as his own.
The Clayman-Cooks loved to travel internationally and throughout the US. They continued to dance, sharing their love of Classic Cuban dance as often as possible.
Along with being an accomplished blues, jazz, and rock musician, Frank was also classically trained. The first time Dotti invited him to the opera, she was worried he might not enjoy it. It turned out Frank knew several LA Opera Orchestra percussionists. Like Frank, they were all trained by Spivack.
Long before Dotti entered his life, Frank had swapped his music career for sobriety. He acquired the last few credits he needed to graduate Cum Laude from UCLA with a BA in Philosophy, and then went on to obtain three Ph.D.’s, including a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology from California School of Professional Psychology, in 1987; a Doctorate of Psychology, Psychoanalysis from Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute, in 1997, and a Doctorate of Philosophy, Psychoanalysis from the Institute of Contemporary Psychanalysis, in 1998.
A loved and respected psychologist/psychoanalyst, he also taught at The New Center for Psychoanalysis, The Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute, The Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and The Wright Institute. He also served as president of The Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute. Along with speaking engagements at various hospitals and universities, he received many honors and belonged to numerous professional organizations.
Since Frank’s passing, Dotti has received dozens of calls from patients, past and present, stating that they wouldn’t be alive if not for Frank. He saved many lives. As an AA Member, he was also a formidable sponsor, again, saving many lives. For the sake of confidentiality, the family is refraining from telling any of these stories.
A talented chef, Frank put together masterful dishes ranging from the Greek-style whole salmon in puff pastry he made for annual AA birthday parties to his elegant sushi platters. Great food was a lifelong obsession, and there were easily 100 cookbooks in the kitchen. However, his passion for cooking did lead to various ingredients being splattered on the walls, and sometimes on the ceiling.
Frank became a serious football fan when the Raiders came to Los Angeles in 1982. When the Raiders went back to Oakland in 1994, and the Rams left LA for St. Louis the following year, the only team left, in Southern California, was the San Diego Chargers, so he became a Chargers fan. He loved watching football on TV with friends. Though he did follow politics on TV, he preferred reading, especially political non-fiction.
Before meeting Dotti, Frank had lost two Shar Pei dogs that he adored. The couple lost their beloved White Shepherd, Lev, last fall. Mitzi (pictured with Frank), Lev’s sister, is still around. Everyone thought Frank and Dotti were crazy to get a puppy at their stage of life but, this past May, they brought home Bongo anyway, another White Shepherd. Frank felt that if he was not able to give Dotti all the love she needed, Bongo would.
Frank was proud of what turned out to be his 43 years of sobriety. He truly believed he was kept alive because God made him of service to others. Early in his relationship with Dotti, for example, after making love, Frank suddenly said, “Call 911! I’m having a heart attack.” Dotti laughed, thinking it was a compliment. Frank said, “No, Dotti, I’m really having a heart attack!”
Frank was taken by ambulance to the emergency hospital in Marina del Rey. Once there, Frank said to the nurse, “Call the doctor, you’re losing me.” With that, he flatlined. A priest came in and asked Dotti if she would like him to administer the last rites. Dotti screamed, “No, he’s not going!” To her motionless husband, she said “Frank, I just found you, I love you, and you’re not going!”
The priest asked Dotti if she was refusing last rites because she and Frank were not Catholics. Dotti said, “No, I love the Catholic religion. It’s because he’s not going!” The priest then put his hands on Dotti’s head, and said, “Then, I bless you, my child.” Dotti felt an intense heat and energy passing from the priest’s hands while the ER staff defibrillated her husband.
Frank suddenly came back to life.
Once lucid, he told Dotti, “I didn’t see my mother, I didn’t see my dogs running to me over a green pasture, so I came back.” He was referring to his late mother and dogs that had passed.
Frank and Dotti were members of the Malibu Chabad for a good many years, then became members of Chabad of Marina del Rey. Due to his decidedly left-wing background, Frank despised racism, oppression, and greed, and was not shy about it.
Frank is survived by his wife, Dorothy Clayman-Cook of Marina Del Rey, his stepson, Laurence Karlstein of Venice, and his brother, Louis Cook of Palm Desert.
Funeral services were held at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, CA on July 14, 2021. There will be one or two memorial events and/or celebrations of Frank’s life on dates still to be determined.