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Subject: TV Writer Hesper Anderson Levenstein dies at 84

Daughter of playwright Maxwell Anderson (died 1959), Mother of producer John Levenstein
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Date Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 10:43:57am


Ms. Hesper "Hep" Anderson Levenstein, of Rockland County, New York, born on August 12, 1934 in New York City, New York, to Gertrude and the late Maxwell Anderson, passed away peacefully at home at age 84 on October 17, 2018 in Sherman Oaks, California due to complications from a stroke. She is survived by her children Ken, John, and Cathy and her grand daughters, Isa and Olivia. The family invites donations in Hesper's name to Best Friends Animal Society. A celebration of life will be private. The funeral home will be Mark B. Allen Mortuary & Cremation Services, 8101 San Fernando Rd., Sun Valley, California, 91352. Hesper was a beloved, mother, grandmother, friend, mentor and talented writer.

Hesper was born in New York City on August 12,1934, the only child of playwright, screenwriter, and author, Maxwell Anderson, and actress/socialite, Gertrude "Mab" Maynard. Maxwell Anderson was perhaps best known for the musicals, "Lost in the Stars" and "Knickerbocker Holiday," which he wrote with his closest friend and collaborator, Kurt Weill, Anderson writing the lyrics and Weill, the music. "Knickerbocker Holiday" featured the classic American standard, "September Song." Maxwell Anderson's plays included such works as, Winterset, Key Largo, Anne of the Thousand Days, The Bad Seed, and the Pulitzer Prize winning drama, "Both Your Houses." Many of his plays were turned into movies and Hesper's childhood was filled with artists, authors, and actors, including neighbors Helen Hayes, Burgess Meredith, John Houseman, and Alan J. Lerner. Her godparents were Kurt Weill and singer Lotte Lenya.

Hesper's idyllic childhood, spent in the artist's community that developed around South Mountain Road in Rockland County, outside of New York City, abruptly came to an end when her mother committed suicide in 1953. Hesper was 18 at the time. This experience had a profound effect on her and led her, many years later, to write her memoir, "South Mountain Road," which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2002"

Hesper married cartoonist, and later advertising executive, Earle Levenstein in 1955. That union produced her three children, Ken Levenstein, Cathy Levenstein, and John Levenstein, who has carried on the family writing tradition and won an Emmy for his work on the TV show Arrested Development.

Following her divorce in 1968, Hesper found herself needing to support herself and her children. While married, she had published a short story in McCall's Magazine and this led her to pursue a career in Hollywood. She quickly found herself busy writing for television and later, several movies. Her TV include Marcus Welby, M.D., Medical Center, The Streets of San Francisco, and the Waltons. Her TV movies include "The Deliberate Stranger" starring Mark Harmon, "Rape and Marriage: The Rideout Case" with young future stars, Linda Hamilton and Mickey Rourke, and "The UFO Incident" starring James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons. Hesper was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium for her adaptation of the play, "Children of a Lesser God." Her longtime agent, Bill Block, now CEO of Miramax, said of Hesper, "She was a great talent, friend and inspiration."

In the early 1990's, having grown somewhat tired of writing in Hollywood, Hesper began to teach writing, first at USC and UCLA, and later, in a private seminar held in her home, to small groups of talented students, by invitation only. Hesper taught writing until shortly before her death. She was dearly loved by her students and found great joy in mentoring them, forming lasting friendships with many.

Above all else, Hesper was a loving mother and grand mother. She was quick witted, an avid reader, and passionate about animals. Along with her three children, Hesper is survived by her cherished granddaughters, Isa and Olivia.

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IMDb linkR.I.P.Wednesday, October 24, 10:45:08am

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