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Ernest Kinoy, ‘Roots’ Writer and Former WGA East President, Dies at 89

Emmy-winning writer Ernest Kinoy, who served as president of the Writers Guild of America East from 1969 to 1971, died Monday in Townshend, Vermont from complications from pneumonia. He was 89.

The New York native won Emmys for writing the 1964 “Blacklist” episode of the controversial CBS drama series “The Defenders,” which starred George C. Scott, and for the second segment of the ABC miniseries “Roots” in 1977.

His many other TV credits include the prestigious anthology skeins “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One” as well as “Dr. Kildare,” “Naked City,” “Route 66” and “The Untouchables.” In the 1970s and ’80s he wrote more than a dozen telepics, including episodes of 1978’s “Roots: The Next Generations.”

He was nominated for three other Emmys, notably for the 1981 TV movie “Skokie,” based on a march of neo-Nazis in the Illinois city. Kinoy had been taken as a POW during World War II and survived the Nazi concentration camp at Berga.

“We mourn his loss but celebrate his life,” said Michael Winship, WGA East president. “My most vivid memory of Ernie Kinoy is the phone calls he made to me during the 2007-08 Writers Guild strike in which he offered greatly valued advice, support and encouragement. This Emmy Award winner was an important member of the Guild East, a past president who received two of our highest awards: the Hunter Award for career achievement and the Jablow Award for devoted service to the union.

Winship continued: “It speaks to Ernie’s ardent belief in justice and civil liberty that this man, who as a Jewish World War II POW was sent to the brutal German concentration camp at Berga, would 35 years later find within himself the ability to write the moving teleplay ‘Skokie,’ the story of free speech and a neo-Nazi march through a Jewish community.”

Kinoy was married to Barbara Powers from 1948 until her death in 2007. They had two children.

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