LEIGHTON--Hallie Leland, 42, who fought successfully for passage of New York State's Breast Density Inform Bill, while fighting her own losing battle with metastatic breast cancer died on April 30, 2013. She gave media interviews telling her own story, urging women to find out if they have dense tissue, not itself abnormal but sometimes masking tumors in mammograms, and to inquire about further testing. She supported the organization, "Are You Dense?," lobbied for the bill in Albany, and started an advocacy blog. The bill became NYS law in January, 2013. Hallie brought the same passion, intellect, and devotion to this cause as to her other interests and many friendships. Born and raised in NYC, Hallie went to the High School of Performing Arts, attended St. John's College in Annapolis, and graduated from the Santa Fe campus where she was editor of the college newspaper. Her career was varied, but never strayed far from her love of language and writing. She started collecting words at age 13 when she encountered hussar and bivouac in Tolstoy's War and Peace. "I treat words I have just learned like new acquaintances; no matter how well we hit it off on a first meeting, I don't assume intimacy." With her late father, the actor/impersonator Jan Leighton, she co-authored two books, Rare Words I and II (Levenger Press, 2003, 2008), which used humor to help master meanings. After college, Hallie worked at Random House and Knopf, was a writer's assistant on As the World Turns at CBS, and wrote columns for Cotton, Inc. that appeared regularly in Women's Wear Daily. She went to Israel in an arts program in the Negev, where she wrote about the Bedouin and stayed two more years because "the adventure wasn't over," working with organizations that promoted peace between Arabs and Israelis. Back in the U.S. she became Director of Communications for Charity Brands, a firm that connected corporations with good causes. At the time of her death, she was working on a documentary on her father's unusual career - he had played more roles than any other actor (2407) according to the 1985 Guinness Book of World Records. Hallie is survived by her mother, Lynda Myles, her Aunt Wendie Myles, her brother Ross Leighton, and a large, loving extended family. There will be a memorial service to celebrate her life and share memories at The Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street, NYC, Thursday, June 13, 5:30pm. Gifts to support Hallie's favored charities can be made to the Jewish Communal Fund (att: Hallie Leighton Tikkun Olam Fund), 575 Madison Ave. #703, NY, NY 10022 or jcfny.org/donate.
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Published in The New York Times on May 19, 2013