Herman Raucher, screenwriter best known for ‘Summer of ’42’, dies at 95 | ET REALITY


Herman Raucher, who turned his memories of a teenage summer in a Massachusetts seaside town, which included a sexual encounter with a young war widow, into the script for the nostalgic 1971 film. “Summer of 42” He died on December 28 in Stamford, Connecticut. He was 95 years old.

His daughter Jenny Raucher confirmed death at a hospital.

Raucher spent the 1950s and 1960s writing scripts for anthology television series and advertising copy for the Walt Disney Company and various agencies.

But memories of his own summer of ’42 persisted. He also did the memory of one of his close friends, Oscar Seltzer, a doctor who died on Mr. Raucher’s 24th birthday, in 1952, while caring for a wounded soldier during the Korean War.

“Summer of ’42” tells the story of three 15-year-old friends, Hermie, Oscy and Benjie, and their early exploration of girls and, tentatively, sex, during a summer vacation on a Nantucket-like island in early 2000. the World War. II.

Hermie (played by Gary Grimes) falls in love with Dorothy (Jennifer O’Neill), a woman in her 20s. In one scene, he visibly shakes on a staircase as she hands him boxes to place in her dusty attic. Her tender lovemaking occurs after she receives a telegram telling her that her husband died in the war.

The scene parallels Mr. Rauch’s real-life experience at age 14 with a woman in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

“I was in love with her before the incident occurred,” Raucher told Florida’s The Stuart News in 2002.

“Summer of ’42” won an Oscar for Michel Legrand’s original score and received four other nominations, including one for Mr. Raucher’s screenplay. It was the fifth highest-grossing film of 1971, grossing $32 million (or about $245 million today) at the box office.

Herman Raucher was born on April 13, 1928 in Brooklyn. His father, Benjamín, born in Austria, was a traveling salesman who had been a soldier, boxer, janitor and, Raucher said in an interview, possibly an arms dealer in Cuba. His mother, Sophie (Weinshank) Raucher, was a housewife.

Raucher graduated in 1949 from New York University, where he majored in marketing and created cartoons for a campus newspaper and magazine. He was soon hired by 20th Century Fox as a clerk for $38 a week. He was drafted into the Army in 1950 and served two years in the United States during the Korean War.

After being discharged, he received a call from Disney (he didn’t know how the company found out) and worked in the company’s advertising department. He also wrote for advertising agencies in the 1950s and 1960s, and was hired by Gardner Advertising as vice president in 1964.

He had begun writing for television and theater in those years, including scripts for the anthology shows “Studio One,” “The Alcoa Hour” and “Goodyear Playhouse,” as well as a play, “Harold,” starring Anthony Perkins. and Don Adams, which opened on Broadway in 1962 but closed after 20 performances.

Mr. Raucher adapted his unproduced work, “Sweet November,” in a romantic melodrama starring Anthony Newley and Sandy Dennis in 1968. He then collaborated with Mr. Newley on the screenplay for “Can Heironymus Merkin Have you ever forgotten Mercy Humppe and found true happiness? (1968), which was a notorious failure. Newley, who was also a star and director, plays a singing star who simultaneously makes and screens a film about her self-indulgent life.

Mr. Raucher’s next film, “The Watermelon Man” (1970), starring comedian Godfrey Cambridge as a bigoted white insurance salesman who turns black overnight. The critics were not kind; In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Kevin Thomas said that “the script is so dull and the direction so inept that ‘Watermelon Man’ runs out of gas long before the end is in sight.”

Mr. Raucher he told movie website Cinedump in 2016 that director Melvin Van Peebles turned “Watermelon Man” into “more of a black power movie than I would have liked.”

Then came “Summer of ’42,” his biggest film success. He had written the script in 1958, but film companies had rejected it, by his estimate, 49 times when Warner Bros. acquired it in 1970 and put it in the hands of Robert Mulligan, who had been nominated for an Oscar for directing. of the. “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962).

“Bob fell in love with the script,” Raucher told Cinedump. “They asked him how much his budget was, he said a million dollars,” he added, referring to Warner Bros. executives. “They said do it; “They never read the script, they left us alone.”

However, the studio called for Hermie to be 15, not 14 as Mr. Raucher had been.

During filming, on the Mendocino coast in Northern California, Mr. Mulligan told The San Francisco Examiner: “The story is simply about the process of growing up, not unlike Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye.’ , which has some of the same comic spirit.”

In the film, Dorothy leaves the island after her romantic interlude with Hermie and writes him a farewell note. The same thing happened to Mr. Raucher.

Some time after the film’s release, Raucher said, he received a letter, with no return address, from a woman in Ohio who he believed was the widow.

“She wrote that the ghosts of that era were best left alone,” he told The New York Times in 2001, when a musical version of “Summer of ’42” was being performed in Connecticut.

Mr. Raucher wrote several more screenplays, including “The Class of ’44” (1973), a sequel to “Summer of ’42”; “Ode to Billie Joe” (1976), which was inspired by The song of the same name by Bobbie Gentry. and directed by Max Baer Jr.; and “The Other Side of Midnight” (1977), based on Sidney Sheldon’s novel about love and revenge set in Washington, Paris, Athens and Hollywood.

He also wrote the novels “A Glimpse of Tiger” (1971), about two con artists; “There Should Have Been Castles” (1978), about a playwright and a dancer in the 1950s; and “Maynard’s House” (1980), about a troubled Vietnam veteran who is bequeathed a house in Maine by a murdered comrade.

In addition to his daughter Jenny, Mr. Raucher is survived by another daughter, Jacqueline Raucher-Salkin, and two granddaughters. His wife, Mary Kathryn Martinet-Raucher, a dancer, died in 2002.

Once the filming of “Summer of 42” was completed, it was in post-production for a year. During that time, Mr. Raucher wrote a novel based on his screenplay.

“As fate would have it, the book came out and became a bestseller,” he told Cinedump. “So when the movie finally comes out, the advertising line is ‘Based on the national best seller.’ Which is absurd, because the book was written after the movie!

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