February 5, 1921 - January 16, 2021 Concluding a long and successful life of love and work, Ben Halpern died serenely on Saturday evening January 16, 2021 at his home surrounded by his loving family. Born in New York City in 1921, Ben Halpern was the youngest child of Jewish immigrants from Tarnopol, central Europe. He grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As a child he enjoyed on his own the many theaters in his neighborhood, collecting film scraps from projectionists to make slideshows for his brother and sisters. An Air Force sergeant in World War II Halpern trained soldiers in aerial reconnaissance photography. In 1945 he graduated from New York University Film School, a member of their first class. Halpern began a career in film, working from 1946-1949 as a journalist and Associate Editor for the daily Independent Film Journal. From 1949-1952 he was a publicist at Paramount where he created campaigns for feature films, including The Greatest Show on Earth, Sunset Boulevard, Samson And Delilah and A Place In The Sun, among others. In 1950 Halpern met and married Lois Jule Gordon, the love of his life. They traveled together through Europe. In 1952 he began to work for United Artists in New York as Director of Publicity and Advertising. In 1955 Halpern, his wife and young children relocated to Paris where he was United Artists' Director of Motion Picture Publicity and Advertising for Europe and the Middle East. The Halperns were hosts to the visiting American and international film community. In 1957 the family returned to New York City, where Halpern continued to work for United Artists. Following that he worked at Jim Mahoney & Associates, Filmways, and MCA Universal where he spent 18 years. The Halperns raised four children on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Halpern was a neighborhood iconoclast who rode his English postman's bicycle in all four seasons to his office in Midtown. Though passionate New Yorkers, the Halperns moved to Los Angeles in 1973 when Universal promoted Halpern to Vice President of Publicity and Advertising for Television, and Vice President of Special Projects. At Universal Halpern worked on movies-of-the-week and television shows, Duel, Murder She Wrote, Magnum P.I., the Rockford Files, Miami Vice, Ironside, Colombo, and many others. Halpern was a member of the board of Governors of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He also was a founding member of the Television Publicity Executives Committee (TPEC), as well as a founding board member of the Los Angeles County Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN Associates). He retired from Universal in 1988. Some of his proudest achievements involved issues of social justice. Halpern arranged for the film, Farewell To Manzanar, to be presented at a screening and panel discussion before the United States Congress in 1976. He was also instrumental in realizing "Blacklist," a monument on the campus of the University of Southern California in honor of those impacted by the Blacklist during the McCarthy Era. Renowned for his sense of humor and skills as a raconteur, Halpern had a prodigious memory of film history and production, and until the end of his life shared stories and anecdotes from his experience in the industry. His major abiding passions in life were love of family and love of film and theater. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Lois Jule Halpern; children Amy Halpern-Lebrun (David Lebrun), Nancy Halpern Ibrahim (Mahmood Ibrahim), Andrew James Halpern (Rebecca Lobl) and Nora Ruth Halpern (Kerry Brougher); six loving grandchildren Arwa Sara and Adnan Mandela Ibrahim, Emily Clara and Julia Gordon Brougher, and Cooper Jay and Grace Annabelle Halpern; and his nephew Alfred Tauber of New York City. Ben Halpern was widely admired and respected for his intelligence, wit, honesty, compassion and abiding commitment to human rights. His beautiful presence will be missed. The family will be toasting him and celebrating his memory on February 5, 2021, which would have been his 100th birthday.
Published in Los Angeles Times on Jan. 24, 2021.