Abraham Polonsky,88, a director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter...


Abraham Polonsky,88, a director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter who worked under pseudonyms and used other writers as fronts after being blacklisted in McCarthy-era Hollywood, was found dead Tuesday by his housekeeper after suffering a heart attack at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Mr. Polonsky was blacklisted for nearly two decades and had only nine films to his credit. But he earned an Oscar nomination for writing the 1947 John Garfield boxing film "Body and Soul." And critic Andrew Sarris once said the 1948 movie "Force of Evil," Mr. Polonsky's first as a director, is "one of the great films of the modern American cinema."

In the early 1950s, Mr. Polonsky's career was disrupted after he refused to testify about his Communist Party affiliations or name party members. His refusal led 20th Century Fox to fire him.

Though blacklisted, he never completely abandoned Hollywood. His best-known work as an outcast scribe was the 1959 crime melodrama "Odds Against Tomorrow," which he co-wrote under the name John O. Killens. In 1996, the Writers Guild of America restored his real name to the credits. He also used other writers as fronts, which is how he kept steady work on the TV show "You Are There." With such jobs, he said, his pay under the blacklist was actually higher than it had been before.

It wasn't until 1969 that he would direct his second film, "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here," starring Robert Redford.

Theodore H. Benzinger,94, inventor of the ear thermometer and a pioneer in the field of biothermodynamics, died Tuesday at Maple- wood retirement community in Bethesda.

Thelma Gaylord,81, who helped her husband build a media and entertainment empire, died Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

Mrs. Gaylord, wife of The Oklahoman editor and publisher Edward L. Gaylord, took an active role in The Oklahoma Publishing Co. She was an officer and director for many years of the company that includes the newspaper, Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., and numerous broadcasting and cable outlets in several states.

Xie Fei,66, a leading member of China's ruling Communist Party who pushed for economic growth in the booming southern province of Guangdong, died Wednesday of an unspecified illness in Guangzhou.


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