Orkin, Harvey, 1918-1975

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Orkin, Harvey, 1918-1975

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1918 -01-12/1975-11-03

History

Television writer, theatrical agent, and humorist, Harvey Orkin accomplished a great deal in what turned out to be a short career. Born January 12, 1918 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Orkin’s childhood home found itself buried in debt and sorrow when his father, Jacob, killed himself when he was only 16. His uncle Charlie took him in and introduced him to a life of gambling and cheating tourists on ocean liners. Charlie’s influence is thought by his family to have be a significant factor in Orkin’s journey to becoming a comedy writer. In his twenties he served in the Army as a hospital administrator in the Midwestern area of the United States, which possibly served as a source for his later writing for the Sergeant Bilko show during the 1950s.
At age 34 Orkin married Gisella Svetlik who had worked on Broadway as a dancer and singer. They had two children together who survive them today, Anthony and Jenna Orkin.
As a talent agent during his time working with Creative Management Associates Orkin represented several well-known actors including Peter Sellers and Richard Burton. His many efforts during his career as a writer in television included writing for the Sergeant Bilko show that went on to win an Emmy award. While working as a vice-president for Columbia Pictures in London, Orkin also wrote and performed for the show BBC-3 and wrote a few articles for the London Telegraph. His final work would be the renowned novel, Scuffler, that was published in the last years of his life. In 1974 he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and died a year later on November 3, 1975. Known for his ability as a raconteur, Orkin left behind fond memories for his friends and fans after his death.

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