Abram S. Ginnes, a writer for television, radio, theater, and film whose career was marked by the McCarthy-era blacklist, died May 20 in Los Angeles. He was 91.
Ginnes was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for his only credited screenplay, 1969’s “Gaily, Gaily,” an adaptation of Ben Hecht’s memoirs, directed by Norman Jewison and starring Beau Bridges.
He had two plays on Broadway, the 1958 comedy “Drink to Me Only,” written with Ira Wallach and the book for “Let It Ride,” a 1961 musical adaptation of the play “Three Men on a Horse.”
Most of his career was in television, starting with early shows for the Philco Television Playhouse, “Treasury Men in Action” and “Big Story.” During this period, he was targeted by the McCarthy blacklist, and wrote using fronts and assumed names.
He made his comeback writing award-winning scripts for the classic New York series “Naked City.”
A specialist in crime dramas, Ginnes wrote scripts for gritty police shows such as “The Untouchables,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Asphalt Jungle,” and “Decoy,” an early feminist piece featuring Beverly Garland as an undercover policewoman.
Born Abram Ginsberg, he and his family fled the 1919 pogrom in Proskurov, Russia. He grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City and Brooklyn and attended the U. of Chicago. In the 1930s, Ginnes operated a jazz nightclub in Chicago. After the mob forced him out of the music business, Ginnes moved back to New York, where he worked for labor rights and for WWII Russian War Relief.
He is survived by his wife Dione; sons John Ginnes and David Ginsberg, a sister, a brother, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.