Dick Kleiner, author and longtime entertainment columnist who covered Hollywood from the mid-1950s to the ’80s, died Feb. 13 of natural causes in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. He was 80.
Born and reared in New York, he was the son of the biochemist who discovered the cause for diabetes in 1918. He graduated from Rutgers in 1942 with a degree in journalism and then served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps for the duration of World War II.
In 1946, he joined the Newspaper Enterprise Assn., first working in the Cleveland bureau as a general assignment reporter before transferring to New York, where he eventually covered the Broadway scene. He relocated to the West Coast in 1961 and served as the Hollywood correspondent for NEA until his retirement in 1986. During his career, he interviewed hundreds of celebrities, including the Beatles, Charlie Chaplin, Harrison Ford, Johnny Carson and Meryl Streep.
He penned 20 books, including “The Ghost Who Danced With Kim Novak,” “The Two of Us” with Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse, and shares credits with Mervyn LeRoy and Jackie Cooper on their autobios. Kleiner also wrote the lyrics to numerous songs including “Say Hey — The Willie Mays Song” and Pearl Bailey’s “It’ll Get Worse.”
Kleiner is survived by wife Hortensia, three children and five grandchildren.