Charles Einstein

Born - Aug 2, 1926   |   Died - Mar 7, 2007   |   Genres - Drama, Thriller

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Charles Einstein is best known for his books on sports (particularly baseball) and gambling (especially blackjack), but he has also written a handful of fictional works, including one novel that was made into a movie by Fritz Lang. Born in 1926, Charles Einstein was the son of comedian Harry Einstein, a performer who was best known to radio audiences as Parkyarkarkus, the name of a character that he portrayed on the air and in a handful of early '40s movies; Charles Einstein is also the older half-brother of comedian, actor, and director Albert Brooks (born Albert Einstein) and actor/comedian Bob Einstein (aka Super Dave Osborne). Charles graduated from the University of Chicago and became a reporter based out of the Windy City, spending the years 1945 through 1953 working for the International News Service (later part of United Press International). He also later wrote for newspapers in San Francisco and various sports magazines. In 1952, he wrote a script entitled Go Ahead and Jump for Four Star Playhouse, but his major contribution to popular culture and entertainment would come that same year in the form of The Bloody Spur. The novel was based on the crimes of William Heirens, the "Lipstick Killer" who had terrorized Chicago with a series of burglaries, the kidnapping of a child, and two murders in the mid-'40s. The book -- one of the more graphic portrayals of a serial murderer (and sexual deviant) of its era -- was published as a pulp paperback by Dell and was an immediate success; the film rights were then bought by Bert E. Friedlob, a Chicago-based businessman-turned-movie producer. Einstein later signed a two-picture production deal with director Fritz Lang and offered him the property as the basis for one of the movies. Lang and screenwriter Casey Robinson moved the book's setting from Chicago to New York and emphasized certain elements of their own choosing in the screenplay, as The Bloody Spur evolved into While the City Sleeps (1956), one of Lang's last important American movies, and one of the great crime thrillers of the second half of the 1950s. It was Einstein's last major screen credit for the next 20 years, until he began writing for the series Lou Grant in 1977 -- the latter program, set at a major West Coast newspaper, was right up Einstein's street as a veteran of newspapers, wire services, and other parts of the journalism industry. A year later, his novel The Blackjack Hijack was transformed into the made-for-television thriller Nowhere to Run.