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Anhalt, Oscar-Winning Writer, Dies

September 5, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Writer Edward Anhalt, who won Academy Awards for his work on the films ``Becket″ and ``Panic in the Streets,″ died of cancer Sunday, his family said. He was 86.

In addition to his Oscars for the 1964 and 1950 films, Anhalt was nominated for the 1952 film ``The Sniper,″ which he co-wrote with Edna Anhalt, the first of his five wives. She also collaborated with him on ``Panic in the Streets″ in 1950.

Edward Anhalt died at his Pacific Palisades home after fighting multiple myeloma for four years, said his nephew, Jonathan Barry of Los Angeles.

Anhalt was ``big-hearted″ and well-liked, but he always said he did his best writing during times of emotional turmoil, Barry said. Writing was his escape.

``As far as the actual craft of writing, he hated it,″ Barry said. ``He just did not enjoy the process ... but he loved the product, and he liked the money and he liked the notoriety.″

He began his career producing television documentaries but turned to film just as television was beginning to threaten the studios’ dominance.

Among his credits are 1957′s ``Pride and the Passion″ with Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, the 1962 Elvis Presley film ``Girls, Girls, Girls,″ 1968′s ``The Boston Strangler″ with Henry Fonda, and 1981′s ``Green Ice″ with Ryan O’Neal and Anne Archer.″

He also wrote the 1972 Robert Redford movie ``Jeremiah Johnson″ with ``Apocalypse Now″ co-writer John Milius.

In the mid- to late 1950s, Anhalt broke with the studios and began writing independently, Barry said.

He was critical of the ``blacklisting″ of that era, when many in Hollywood had to work under assumed names or had their names stripped from credits because of alleged communist leanings.

Barry said he once asked his uncle why he was never blacklisted. Anhalt’s response: ``Because I was just too good.″

That he used writing as an escape was evident in the differences between the themes he pursued and the type of person he was in life, said his daughter, Julie Anhalt Rice of Los Angeles.

``Jeremiah Johnson″ examined man pitted against nature. ``Becket″ dealt with issues of spirituality.

``Even though the issues he explored were mostly about men and men’s relationship with others and with God, in reality he was very earthy and all about good humor,″ Rice said. ``He lived for a great martini.″

Anhalt was born in 1914 in New York City and graduated from Columbia University.

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