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Andrew K. Lewis

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Andrew K. Lewis Obituary
Andrew Kittredge Lewis died at his Walpole NH home on Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 at the age of 92. He had a long career writing for television and the movies, and is perhaps best known for the screenplay Klute, a 1971 classic thriller directed by Alan J. Pakula. Andy Lewis was born in Cambridge, MA, the son of Mabel Maxwell (Graves) and Harvard philosopher Clarence Irving Lewis. He was educated in the public schools in Lexington and later attended the Phillips Exeter Academy. He was called to action in the Fall of 1943, the year he turned eighteen. He served in the Army with the 86th Blackhawk Division as a machine gunner. After the war he graduated Harvard in 1949, and moved into the new Conantum development in Concord MA with his first wife, Sally (Cushman). Lewis writing career was closely tied to the origins and rise of television entertainment. For a few years after graduating from Harvard, Lewis cobbled together jobs that gave him spare time to pursue writing projects. He delivered milk for local farms such as Verrills, took a part-time stint at WGBH and worked in the Harvard Financial Aid Office while composing short stories for periodicals like The Atlantic Monthly and The Saturday Evening Post. Things took a different turn when in 1953 he was offered a job writing for a television program called Omnibus, and thereby joined the first cohort of writers creating content for the brand new TV industry. Omnibus was a pioneering exploration of televisions educational potential. Its varied format suited Lewis temperament because he could shift between pieces, for example, on dance, Greek theater or education. While working on a segment about Harvard University, Lewis met then- Senator John F. Kennedy. This led to occasional work speech writing and editing for JFK, Leverett Saltonstall and Henry Cabot Lodge. After Omnibus, Lewis wrote for anthology drama series such as Encounter, The DuPont show with June Allyson, The Kraft Suspense Theater and Profiles in Courage. As the commercial appeal of westerns, crime dramas and medical shows grew, his contributions shifted to serials like The Virginian, The FBI and Dr. Kildare. Andy Lewis half-seriously referred to his job in television as that of a "worditute", and was only lightly invested in the final product. His professional choices were always steered by what he considered best for his children. Play writing was an outlet that allowed him control over a fully realized creation, but one that he couldnt often indulge. He valued his ties with The Theatre Company of Boston, which, during the '60s, was a crucible for young talent. At a 1964 reading of Lewis play The Triumph of Lincoln Clum, the lead character was read by an actor just on the cusp of his big breakout, Dustin Hoffman. Another play, The Infantry, was staged at the Theatre Company of Boston, and included a young Blythe Danner and Paul Benedict in the cast. The Infantry also had an off-Broadway run in which the creator of Hair, James Rado, performed. By the 1970s Andy Lewis moved from TV work to feature-length film writing. He and his brother Dave wrote the script for Klute on speculation and it was quickly purchased by Warner Brothers. For the next fifteen years, Lewis continued to live in Concord writing screenplays. He was perhaps exceptional in that he enjoyed success in the film industry without having to reside in either L.A. or New York City. In 1985 Andy Lewis stopped writing and revisited a longtime interest in architecture. Back in 1959, he had co-authored a book At Home With Tomorrow with the architect Carl Koch, about Kochs approach to the challenges of adaptable design and inexpensive fabrication. Kochs distinctive Mid-century Modernist homes, called Techbuits are now found throughout the country, but the Conantum community in Concord was among the earlier established developments. Andy Lewis admired the style and owned three different Conantum houses at various times. In pursuit of his own ideas Lewis temporarily moved to Sacramento CA and began to learn how to make and manipulate molded concrete forms. He devised a building system that used curved concrete modules or Quadrans that could be combined into a variety of open, cathedral-like structures. The main component was a self-supporting canopy, so his invention greatly reduced framing costs and the requirement interior weight-bearing walls. Lewis patent application was itself notable for including a novel type of stress test, in which a prototypes concrete roof was demonstrated not to collapse under the weight of Lewis Dodge Dart. Eventually satisfied with the trial run, at the vigorous age of 65-plus, Andy Lewis moved to New Hampshire, bought a plot of land and a crane and built a beautiful, fully-appointed house in Walpole. It took seven years and a fair bit of experimentation to complete, but the result was a graceful home that sheltered Lewis until his death. Andrew K. Lewis is remembered with love by his six children, their spouses, their children and their grandchildren, by his partner France Menk, and by their cat, Anteros. Donations may be made to the New Hampshire Food Bank, 700 East Industrial Park Drive, Manchester, NH 03109. www.nhfoodbank.org.
Published in The Concord Journal from Mar. 13 to Mar. 22, 2018
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