Joseph Stein also wrote 'Zorba' tuner

Joseph Stein, who wrote the book for tuner “Fiddler on the Roof,” died Sunday in Manhattan from a fall. He was 98 and had been ailing from prostate cancer.

Pioneering TV cartoon artist Alexander Anderson Jr., who created the Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose, among others, died Friday in Carmel, Calif., of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 90.

Alto saxophonist Marion Brown, a leading jazz avant gardist and music educator, died Oct. 18 in Hollywood, Fla. He was believed to be 79, though some sources list his age as 75.

Fabian Berke, former administrator and treasurer of the Motion Picture and Television Credit Assn., died Oct. 13 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., of natural causes. He was 90.

Richard Kallet, a veteran motion picture advertising exec for 24 years at Warner Bros., died Oct. 9 in Los Angeles from lung cancer. He was 72.

Documaker Gail Dolgin died Oct. 7 in Berkeley, Calif., of cancer. She was 65.

Documentary pioneer Marshall Flaum, who was Oscar-nommed for “The Yanks Are Coming” and “Let My People Go,” died Oct. 1 in Los Angeles of complications from hip surgery. He was 85.

Comedian Joey “Papa Joe” Russell died Sept. 25 in Milford, Conn. He was 90.

Stein wrote “Fiddler on the Roof” based on the short stories by Sholem Aleichem. The 1964 Broadway tuner won nine Tonys including one for Stein’s writing (lyricist Sheldon Harnick and composer Jerry Bock also took home awards). Stein also adapted the work for the bigscreen.

Initially Stein could find few takers for the musical about a Russian Jew at the turn of the 20th century; the tuner was dismissed as “too ethnic.” However when choreographer Jerome Robbins, fresh off the hit “West Side Story,” took an interest, the tuner soon went to Broadway, where it settled in from 1964-74. Stein’s pal Zero Mostel played the lead in the Rialto staging; Chaim Topol played the dairyman in the West End version and the film.

Stein also wrote the book for Kander and Ebb tuner “Zorba,” based on the book “Zorba the Greek.”

Stein was a social worker writing comedy on the side when he met Mostel, who got Stein writing sketches for radio personalities including Phil Silvers and Jackie Gleason in 1942. He segued to the writing team of Sid Caesar’s smallscreen “Show of Shows” alongside Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart and Carl Reiner.

Stein made his Rialto debut writing for the 1948 revue “Lend an Ear.” This was followed by “Plain and Fancy,” with writing partner Will Glickman, set in Pennsylvania’s Amish country.

For the next three decades, Stein was busy with such Broadway shows as “Mr. Wonderful,” “Take Me Along,” “Juno,” “Enter Laughing” (which he also adapted for the bigscreen with Reiner) and “The King of Hearts.”

Many of his tuners have been revived on Broadway, in regional theaters and abroad, including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Zorba” and “Juno.”

He continued to write such musicals as “Jerome Robbins Broadway” and “Rags” in the 1980s, although the latter was a disappointment and closed after four performances in 1986.

A member of Gotham’s Dramatists Guild Council to the end, Stein received a lifetime award from the org in 2008, as well as from York Theater. He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame.

He earned Tony noms for “Zorba,” “Take Me Along,” and “Rags,” and an Olivier award for “The Baker’s Wife.”

Survivors include his wife of 35 years, the actress Elisa Loti; three sons; a stepson and a stepdaughter; plus six grandchildren.

Anderson teamed up with his childhood friend and former UC Berkeley fraternity brother Jay Ward to make low-budget TV cartoons. Their creations also included Crusader Rabbit and his pal Rags the Tiger and Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties.

The syndicated “Crusader Rabbit” became the first animated TV series in the 1950s. “Rocky and His Friends” debuted in 1959 on ABC.

Survivors include a son.

Brown had been in ill health for many years after multiple surgeries and the partial amputation of a leg, and was in an assisted living facility at his death, according to the website of instrument maker Gibson.

Brown had considered a law career before he moved to New York in 1962 and began playing professionally. He was befriended by playwright and jazz observer LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), who wrote about him favorably, and became a key player of the new jazz. In 1965, he made key appearances as a sideman on John Coltrane’s “Ascension” and Archie Shepp’s “Fire Music,” both acknowledged free jazz landmarks.

Beginning with LPs for the experimental ESP-Jazz label in the late ’60s, Brown worked as a leader through the early ’90s. His best-known albums included “Afternoon of a Georgia Faun” (ECM, 1970) and “Geechee Recollections” (Impulse, 1973).

He taught at such universities as Brandeis and Amherst during the ’70s, and earned a master’s degree in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan. In later years, he developed a parallel career as a graphic artist.

Berke worked at the association, an interchange for credit information in the motion picture and television industry, from its inception in 1965 until his retirement in 1995.

Survivors include his sons Rand, a line producer on “Wheel of Fortune,” and Bruce, motion picture account manager at Kodak.

Donations may be made to the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital, c/o Motion Picture Television Fund, P.O. Box 51150, Los Angeles, CA 90051.

Kallet, who would become vice president of co-op advertising, arrived at the studio in 1975 and worked on hundreds of the studio’s major theatrical releases, including such iconic films as “Superman,” “Purple Rain,” “Batman,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Chariots of Fire” and “The Unforgiven.”

Responsiblities included originating and implementing campaigns for Warner Bros. pics, and determining the size of newspaper ads in hundreds of publications across the country. He dealt in all types of print media and often changed campaigns on the fly, depending upon the box office success or failure of a particular release.

“He taught me everything I learned about the busineess” said Jo Ann Lichstein, the current manager of co-op advertising at Warner Bros., and who called Kallet a great friend and mentor. “He could remember all kinds of deadlines and say, ‘That’s what we did on a film 20 years ago.’ He was a mensch.”

Survivors include a wife, Joan; a daughter, Lesley Kallet Rose, an exec with AOL; a brother, Steve; and a granddaughter.

Donations may be made to the National Lung Cancer Partnership at nationallungcancerpartnership.org.

Dolgin, along with Vicente Franco, produced and directed “Daughter From Danang,” which earned an Oscar nomination in 2002. The duo reunited in 2007 for “Summer of Love.” Both aired on PBS’ “American Experience” program.

The New York native studied photography before joining film collective Newsreel, which sparked her interest in documentaries. Her first doc credit was for 1993’s “Cuba Va: The Challenge of the Next Generation.”

On its website, Independent TV Service, which funded “Daughter From Danang,” called Dolgin “a complete professional who not only created powerful documentaries but also contributed to ITVS as a skillful and insightful panelist and reader for Open Call.”

She worked at the Saul Zaentz Media Center in Berkeley and was busy with a docu about the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement when she died.

Survivors include a daughter, her mother, and two brothers.

In the “The Yanks Are Coming” he integrated popular music of the time with stock footage of WWI, one of the first documakers to do so. The Wolper production earned a doc nomination in 1963. “Let My People Go: The Story of Israel,” about the plight of the Jews, earned an Oscar nom in 1965 and won the Peabody.

Flaum, a writer-director-producer, collaborated with Jacques Cousteau, David Wolper, Jane Goodall and Jack Haley Jr. on such subjects as Lyndon Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and the duke and duchess of Windsor.

After serving in the Army in WWII, Marshall studied acting at the U. of Iow
a. He headed to Broadway and appeared in 1950’s “Julius Caesar,” with Basil Rathbone, and with Olivia de Havilland in a 1951 staging of “Romeo and Juliet” while studying acting with Lee Strasberg.

In 1957 he segued to CBS where he worked for the next six years as writer, story editor and associate producer on the Walter Cronkite doc series, “The Twentieth Century.” From there, like many other young filmmakers he went to work for David L. Wolper Prods.

His love of classic films was evident in such projects as “Hollywood: The Great Stars,” in which he collaborated with Haley, along with “Hollywood: The Selznick Years,” “Bogart” and “Bing Crosby: His Life and Legend.” His teaming with Cousteau led to the Emmy-winning spesh “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.”

Through a 55-year career in showbiz Flaum’s work was entertaining whether the subject was nature like “Natural History of Our World: The Time of Man” or toons as in “A Yabba-Dabba-Doo Celebration: 50 Years of Hanna-Barbera.”

Flaum won five Emmys, two Peabodys and a Venice Silver Lion. He was nominated for was nommed for two Oscars and 16 Emmys as producer, writer or director.

He was a member of the Acad’s documentary branch, the Writers Guild and the Directors Guild.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Gita; a daughter Erica and son Seth, both film editors; two grandchildren; and a sister.

Russell, a Friars Club member, worked the nightclub circuit with Milton Berle and Norm Crosby. He parlayed his comic act to TV playing Happy the Clown, whose moniker was changed to Colonel Clown in New Haven, Conn., in the 1950s.

Russell served in WWII and later made giving back an integral part of his life; he established a local chapter of American Red Magen David for Israel and led 51 tours to Israel.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Josi, four sons and a daughter.

Donations may be sent in his name to American Friends of Magen David Odom at afmda.org.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more