Veteran screenwriter wrote for 'Perry Mason'

Robert Warnes Leach, a journalist and screenwriter who wrote for “Perry Mason,” and other 1950s and 1960s TV series, died in Laguna Beach, Calif. on March 30 after a long illness. He was 93.

Leach, whose stepson, Henry T. Nicholas III, was the co-founder of Broadcom Corp., was also known for his work in behalf of homicide victims in recent years.

Born in Dupree, S.D., he attended the U. of Missouri and began working for UPI where he became an assistant editor. He served in the Navy during WWII, and returning to Los Angeles, met a young sailor who asked if he knew any war stories that might make good screenplays. The sailor turned out to be agent Ray Stark, who then helped Leach get a job as junior writer at 20th Century Fox.

Leach spent the next 17 years in Hollywood, first as a production assistant at MGM and later as a TV story editor and screenwriter. At MGM, he worked as an assistant to producer Lawrence Weingarten; where he was involved with films including “Pat and Mike,” “Adam’s Rib” and “Rhapsody” before moving to CBS, where he helped develop story ideas into scripts for TV producer Jack Chertok and wrote freelance teleplays. His TV writing credits include “The Adventures of Jim Bowie,” “Perry Mason,” “The Case of the Dangerous Robin,” “Ripcord,” “Everglades” and “The Littlest Hobo.” In 1959 and 1960, he also worked as a story editor and writer for the series “Men Into Space.”

During the 1960s he switched to teaching, becoming an instructor in screenwriting and journalism at Cal State Northridge, Santa Monica College and UCLA.

In 1983, his stepdaughter Marsalee Nicholas, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. After that, Leach and his wife dedicated themselves to the cause of victims’ rights, helping to build the non-profit organization, Justice for Homicide Victims.

Leach is survived by his wife, Marcella; his stepson Henry and three grandchildren.

Donations may be sent to Justice for Homicide Victims, P.O. Box 2845, Malibu, CA 90265.

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