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May 31, 1930
September 22, 2013
Gary Brandner, 83, died at his home in Reno, NV of esophageal cancer.
Prolific writer of at least 30 published books, over 150 short stories, and several screenplays, his best known novel, "The Howling", published in 1977, established him as a horror writer. In 1980 it was made into a movie, a favorite among the genre's fans. His novel inspired seven "Howling" film sequels.
Born in Saulte Ste. Marie, Michigan, Gary Brandner was the first child of Phil (a forest ranger) and Beda Gehrman Brandner. Brother Crosby was born in 1937. During the children's formative years, the family moved around to cities in Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York State. Towns in Wisconsin, under various guises, became locations in some of Gary's stories.
When Gary Brandner graduated from the University of Washington in 1955 with a B.A. in journalism, he had ambitions of becoming a sports writer. Instead, he wrote scripts for live TV and comedy for nightclub acts in Portland, Oregon. Once in California, after his first marriage failed, he wrote tech manuals for the aerospace industry. However, Gary would tell you the real reason he moved to CA in 1958 was to learn to play the guitar so he could complete his quasi-Beatnik persona.
Having been encouraged by a high school English teacher, Gary decided to write fiction. He sold his first story, "A Lesson in Larceny," to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in 1969. Often a contributor to other periodicals, like Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Brandner created several detectives, who were either hard-boiled, soft-boiled, police or adventure-seeking.
During his more than 50 years residency in southern California, he wrote every day, (except during football season), got married again, divorced again and then married his present wife for 25 years. He was a member on several literary and film panels, taught writing classes and even tried his hand at acting in a video as a suicidal clown. His friends still reminisce about the legendary parties he and his wife threw at least once a year until the 1994 Northridge earthquake, when many people moved out of state.
Gary Brandner was an avid old-time radio fan, loved going to the track, liked jazz, talk radio, juggling, coin tricks and playing tennis. He was also a great baseball and boxing enthusiast. He kept a round-by-round scoring of every fight he ever saw. Because Gary thought the life of a writer is dull, he would include in his bios his adventures as a shark fighter in the Great Coral Reef and his oil-fire fighting in Saudi Arabia.
Since Gary had an immense affection for cats, he always had at least one sharing his home. He, his wife and two cats moved from Los Angeles, CA in 2011.
His brother preceded him in death. Childless, he is survived by his wife, Martine, and felines, Marlowe and Jolson, who will miss him beyond words.
At Gary's request he will be cremated.
Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on Sept. 29, 2013