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'Fear Strikes Out' Writer Ted Berkman


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'Fear Strikes Out' Writer Ted Berkman

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Ted Berkman

SANTA BARBARA, California -- Edward 'Ted' Oscar Berkman, a globe-trotting book and film author whose film credits include "Bedtime for Bonzo" and "Fear Strikes Out," died on Friday, May 12 from cancer. He was 92.

Berkman passed away at the Buena Vista Care Center in the Goleta Valley. A native New Yorker, he called Santa Barbara home after relocating from Manhattan in 1978 in search of a temperate climate and a nice place to work, according to his family.

"To me, he was kind of like a second father in many ways," reflected Joel Blau, Berkman's nephew, of Brooklyn. "He was very good in a wide variety of the arts."

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John Wayne and Kirk Douglas in 'Cast a Giant Shadow'

Berkman worked as a photo assignment editor at the New York Mirror, Middle East chief of the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service and as an ABC Radio correspondent in the Middle East. Later, Berkman served as information director at the United Nations Appeal for Children.

In 1962, he wrote "Cast a Giant Shadow: The Story of Mickey Marcus, Who Died to Save Jerusalem," a best-selling biography of the West Point graduate who was a military adviser to Israel during the 1948 War of Independence. Kirk Douglas, John Wayne and Yul Brenner starred in a 1966 film based on the book.

Berkman's screen credits included co-writing the story for the 1951 comedy, "Bedtime for Bonzo," starring Ronald Reagan. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1957 sports film, "Fear Strikes Out," which starred Anthony Perkins and was based on professional baseball player Jimmy Piersall's book about his mental illness.

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Anthony Perkins in 'Fear Strikes Out'

A fellow of the 100-year-old MacDowell Colony of artists in New Hampshire, Berkman was a volunteer tutor at Santa Barbara City College. As a biography and nonfiction guru at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for 16 years, he guided a record 13 student manuscripts to publication.

"He was a wonderful teacher, very urbane, and he always liked to travel," said Barnaby Conrad, Writers Conference founder. Describing Berkman as patient and encouraging, Conrad added, "We would always give him a bad time for having written 'Bedtime for Bonzo.' He was terrific with the students."

Born on January 9, 1914, in Brooklyn, Berkman got the nickname 'Ted' thanks to a close association an uncle had with former President Theodore Roosevelt. It wasn't the last association with a president for Berkman. Between books, he collaborated with Harry S. Truman on the ex-president's 1960s television series, "Decision."

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Ronald Reagan in 'Bedtime for Bonzo'

Divorced in 1958 after a two-year marriage to Anna Hrae White, Berkman had a series of relationships but never married again, his nephew said. "He was intensely committed to writing and to his art," Blau said. "And there was always, I think, a conflict between that and his intimate personal relationships."

In addition to his nephew, Berkman is survived by his niece, Deborah Blau, of New York. No public services are planned, though a private family gathering is anticipated. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the MacDowell Colony.

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