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Marvin Schlenker

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Emmy winner had lived in Old Tappan

Marvin Schlenker, an Emmy Award-winning television news and sports director and a former Old Tappan resident, has died. He was 85.

Mr. Schlenker, a 1950 graduate of Mansfield (Pa.) University, began in radio in Reading, Pa. He moved on to ABC Television to work as a director for Johnny Carson's game show, "Who Do You Trust?"

That began a 42-year ABC career in which he helped develop "Wide World of Sports" and was director of the late-night news show "Nightline" from its inception in the opening days of the Iranian hostage crisis.

After winning an Emmy for ABC's coverage of the 1968 Olympics, Mr. Schlenker shifted to the news division. He covered national political conventions, space launches and President Gerald Ford's 1975 visit to China, in which he was the lead director for the three networks. He was in China for several weeks in advance of Ford's meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong.

"He had amazing stories to tell about the wonderful people he met in China and how the media were welcomed with open arms," said Mr. Schlenker's daughter, Sally Schlenker Pfabe.

Mr. Schlenker spent his final 12 years at ABC with "Nightline," hosted by Ted Koppel on weeknights at 11:35 p.m.

Pfabe said that for a good part of her growing up, she saw her father only on Saturdays and Sundays because of his "Nightline" schedule.

"He'd leave for the office at |2 p.m., I came home from school at 3 p.m., and he'd come home from work at 2 in the morning or later, because he often stayed around to play 'Nightline' for the West Coast," Pfabe said.

"But we became exceptionally close after he retired. That's when we got to know each other."

Mr. Schlenker, a resident of Chestertown, Md., died Jan. 16 while on vacation in Florida.

In addition to his daughter, of Annapolis, Md., he is survived by a granddaughter. His wife, LaRue, died in 1998, and another daughter, Amy Schlenker, died in 2011.

A memorial service will be held Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Chestertown. Arrangements are by Fellows, Helfenbein & Newnam cqFuneral Home, Chestertown.

Published in The Record on Feb. 15, 2013
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