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Ernest Kinoy

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Ernest Kinoy Obituary
Ernest Kinoy

AWARD-WINNING SCREENWRITER AND PLAYWRIGHT TOWNSHEND, VT Award-winning screenwriter and playwright (Blacklist and Roots), Ernest Kinoy has died of complications of pneumonia at age 89. New York native, Ernest Kinoy passed away Monday, Nov 10, 2014 at Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend Vt., nearby his retirement home in Williamsville, Vt., surrounded by family and caregivers. Mr. Kinoy was the loving husband of Barbara Nettie Powers of Athens and Brattleboro, Vt. He attended the Ethical Culture schools in NYC and went on to Columbia University. Mr. Kinoy's college years were interrupted by World War II when he was drafted into the 106th Combat Division and was sent to Germany just in time to be captured in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany's last ditch offensive on the western front. Kinoy was first sent to Stalag IXB prison camp in Germany and then, in an event he later dramatised in the NBC Drama A Walk Down the Hill, he was separated from the other soldiers in his unit, and along with other Jewish soldiers from the 106th, he was sent to Berga, a slave labor camp and offshoot of the Buchenwald concentration camp. The Germans were attempting to build an artificial fuel manufacturing plant and set the prisoners, American GI's and european camp survivors, to tunneling into a nearby mountain. According to Mr. Kinoy, while drilling into tunnel wall, he fell from the high scaffolding and was unable to walk. Kinoy was therefore left behind when the Commandant decided to march the prisoners deeper into Germany to prevent them from being liberated by the approaching American forces. Many of the GI's perished on this brutal and unnecessary march. Mr. Kinoy was married to the love of his life, Barbara Nettie Powers, on June 19th, 1948, at the Chestnut Street home of Mr. and Mrs. Guy W. Powers of Brattleboro. Mr. Kinoy began his career at NBC where he wrote radio shows including the science fiction series X-1 and Dimension X. He was among the group of television pioneers writing original drama for live television in the premier showcases, Studio One and Playhouse 90. Mr Kinoy subsequently had a long and fruitful relationship with Producer Herbert Brodkin, writing many episodes for the dramatic series, The Defenders, including the breakthrough episode Blacklist, the first network television drama to deal with the suffering of blacklisted artists during the McCarthy era. Ernest Kinoy was president of the Writer's Guild of America, East from 1967 to 1969. Mr. Kinoy's fondest experiences were on the Broadway stage, breaking in with the Reginald Rose produced, Something about a Soldier, based on the novel by Mark Harris. He next teamed with composer and lyricist Walter Marks on the musical Bajour, a show about Gypsies in New York, based on stories in the New Yorker by Joseph Mitchell. His third show was a successful vehicle for Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme based on Budd Shulberg's A Hole in the Head, which featured the hit song "I Gotta be Me." The song has had a long life most recently appearing in an upbeat Dr. Pepper Commercial an exercise in irony for those knowing the song's origin as a compulsive gambler's justification for betting and losing the rent money. Mr. Kinoy also wrote for the big screen. He had a professional relationship with Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, resulting in a film set in the reconstruction era, Buck and the Preacher, Starring Poitier as a straight arrow ex-military man and Harry Belafonte as a con-man in preacher's clothing. Poitier and Kinoy also collaborated on the metaphysical drama, Brother John, featuring Poitier as a mysterious figure, perhaps a man, but just maybe the angel Gabriel, returned to judge humanity. Ernest Kinoy also scripted the well-received musical Bio-drama, Leadbelly, starring Roger Mosely as the legendary folk singer. Kinoy is probably best known for his role in the creation of Roots and Roots, the Next Generations. Working with head writer William Blinn, he wrote several of the episodes for the first series and then served as head writer for the second part of the series that told the story of Roots, the next generations. His work on Roots was a natural expression of his commitment to the civil rights movement, a commitment he shared with his brother, Arthur Kinoy, the prominent constitutional lawyer and civil rights activist. Ernest Kinoy loved Vermont and spent as much time as possible at his home in Williamsville with his many grandchildren, growing vegetables, grapes, and pickles for the best garlic dill pickles in New England. He and wife Barbara moved to Vermont full-time in 1984. Mr. Kinoy's affection for this area can be seen in the Route 66 episode he wrote, filmed on location in Newfane, and entitled You Can't get There from Here. He couldn't resist having the city slickers ask the Vermonter, "Have you lived here all your life,?" The farmer, of course, replies, "not yet" Mr. Kinoy is survived by his son Daniel Kinoy and wife Sallyanne, and daughter Judith Kinoy and husband Rick, as well as by grandchildren Brenda, Tommy and wife Sarah, Robert, Carter, Zach, Cara, Sarah, and great grandchildren Kaya, Ajna, Ava, Mira, Jack, Audrey, Rylan, Max, and Emmaline. Mr Kinoy was predeceased by wife Barbara Nettie Powers and grandchild Johnathon Guy Siegel. A memorial service will be held at the West Village Meeting House in Brattleboro at 3pm, Saturday, November 29th. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, any contributions go to the Ernest & Barbara Powers Kinoy Memorial Williamsville Hall Fund, care of People's Bank, Newfane, VT.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Nov. 15, 2014
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