Walter Bernstein, respected blacklisted screenwriter, dies at 101

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Walter Bernstein, respected blacklisted screenwriter, dies at 101

Born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, he called himself a 'secular, self-loving Jew of a leftist persuasion'

Walter Bernstein ( © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)) /
Walter Bernstein ( © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)) /

Walter Bernstein, a proudly “secular” Jewish screenwriter best known for his 1960s and ’70s dramas and for being blacklisted during the McCarthy era, has died at 101.

The cause of death on Saturday was pneumonia, his wife Gloria Loomis told The New York Times.

Bernstein, born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, called himself a “secular, self-loving Jew of a leftist persuasion,” according to the Times.

That persuasion got him labeled as a communist sympathiser in the 1950s, when the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee cracked down on leftist attitudes in Hollywood.

Bernstein’s career rebounded in the late ’50s, and he went on to collaborate multiple times with fellow New York Jew Sidney Lumet. His most famous films include “Paris Blues,” a drama about jazz musicians starring Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman; “Fail-Safe,” a Cold War thriller with Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau; and “The Front,” a comedy about the blacklist experience starring Woody Allen and Zero Mostel.

The Times reported that Bernstein was involved in several projects into his 90s and was an adjunct professor at New York University until 2017.

“They’ll carry me off writing,” he once told Variety.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: