Westport resident Max Wilk, an author, film and television writer, music impresario and playwright who authored three Broadway shows, died Feb. 19. He was 90.
Stage struck at an early age, Wilk studied drama at Yale and graduated in 1941. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces Motion Picture Unit, whose captain was Ronald Reagan. Wilk wrote and appeared in Army training films. He also worked on Irving Berlin's "This is the Army" show.
Wilk continued his career as a playwright and scriptwriter for television and film after the war by writing for all types of media. He authored three Broadway shows: "Small Wonder" in 1948-49, "Cloud 7" in 1958 and "A Musical Jubilee" in 1975-76.
His plays also include "Mr. Williams and Ms. Wood," a story about Tennessee Williams adapted from adapted from his book "Represented by Audrey Wood," which he co-wrote with Audrey Wood.
He won a Peabody Award and an Emmy for his two-hour television special, "The Fabulous Fifties." Other TV and film credits include screenplays for "Raggedy Ann and Andy" and "They Said it With Music."
By 1960, Wilk began publishing novels. Some of his best-selling titles include "The Yellow Submarine," which featured The Beatles; "They're Playing Our Song: The Truth Behind the Words and Music of Three Generations;" "OK! The Story Of Oklahoma!: A Celebration of America's Most Beloved Musical;" and "The Golden Age of Television: Notes from the Survivors."
Throughout his career, Wilk was the author of 19 books, four films, three produced plays and many television shows and magazine articles.
Locally, Wilk was known as a music impresario. He produced jazz and live music shows for nearly 20 years at the Westport Arts Center. For more than 20 years, Wilk served as dramaturge at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwright's Conference, where he worked closely with many playwrights, including Pulitzer Prize winners August Wilson and David Lindsay-Abaire.
Predeceased by his wife, artist Barbara Wilk, he is survived by three children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A memorial service is planned by the family for April in Westport. The O'Neill Theater is planning a celebration of Wilk's life during its 2011 summer season.
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