This article was corrected on Aug. 6, 2002.
Louis “Deke” Heyward, prolific writer and producer in radio and early television who later was the first writer for “Winky Dink,” the first interactive TV show, died Wednesday April 3 of complications from pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. He was 81.
Native New Yorker began writing while editing various student publications at NYU. In March 1941, he interrupted his studies at Brooklyn Law School to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Heyward went on to pilot numerous bombing missions in North Africa and Europe, and received two Presidential Unit Citations and a Purple Heart.
In 1947, he worked as a senior editor for the Associated Press’ radio transcription division. Heyward’s radio scripts for various shows eventually caught the attention of comedian Gary Moore, radio personality who was launching his first television show.
Heyward forayed into TV as a staff writer for Moore’s burgeoning program. He later wrote for the “Ernie Kovacs Show,” won the coveted Sylvania Award in 1956 for television comedy writing and was the first writer for Harry W. Prichett and Edwin Wyckoff’s “Winky Dink,” during which millions of baby boomers tuned in and drew on their “magic screens” that covered the TV screen.
Following a brief stint with Dick Clark Prods., where he helped develop “The Dick Clark Show,” Heyward was tapped as director of development for 20th Century Fox in 1961. Two years later he became VP of production for American Intl. Pictures. During his 10-year tenure at AIP he produced 25 movies including “Wuthering Heights” and “Murder in the Rue Morgue.” Heyward also wrote “Pajama Party” and “Spy in Your Eye” plus others.
His career also included stints at Four Star Films as development VP; Hanna-Barbera as senior VP; and DIC Entertainment.
In all, Heyward produced and wrote 50 films, 3,000 radio shows, a multitude of TV programs and several novels. He earned an Emmy for “The Gathering” and launched gamers “Twenty-One” and :Tic Tac Dough.”
He spent his later years teaching writing and working with underprivileged children at Camp Kilpatrick.
He is survived by wife Sandra; a son, Andrew, who now heads DIC Entertainment; a daughter; and five grandchildren.