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Writer Gordon Cotler dies at 89

New Yorker scribe penned novel that became 'Arabesque,' wrote for TV

Gordon Cotler, the author of novels that became the films “The Horizontal Lieutenant” and “Arabesque,” a writer for television and a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, died from Parkinson’s on Dec. 20 in New York City. He was 89.

Cotler’s six novels included “The Bottletop Affair,” which was adapted into the 1962 MGM movie “The Horizontal Lieutenant,” starring Paula Prentiss and Jim Hutton, and “The Cipher” (written as Alex Gordon), which became the 1966 Universal film “Arabesque,” directed by Stanley Donen and starring Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren.

He wrote for ventriloquist and radio performer Edgar Bergen and wrote and produced “The Mitch Miller Show.” From the 1970s to the early ’90s, he and partner Don Mankiewicz wrote extensively for television. Credits included episodes of “McMillan and Wife” and the pilot of “Rosetti and Ryan.” Cotler and Mankiewicz also wrote many TV movies including “I Want to Live” (based on the film version starring Susan Hayward).

His solo television credits included “Picking Up the Pieces,” starring Margot Kidder, and the adaptation of A.E. Hotchner’s “The Man Who Lived at the Ritz.”

At the New Yorker, Cotler contributed Talk of the Town items and humor pieces for four decades.

He was a Japanese translator during WWII.

Cotler is survived by his wife, Marta; three daughters; two granddaughters; and a sister.

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