Michael E. Berry '69

Michael E. Berry

Mike Berry, screenwriter and artist, entered the Chapter Eternal on September 29, 2008, at his home in Brewster, Massachusettes. He was 61 years old. The cause of death was brain cancer.

Berry and his regular collaborator, John Blumenthal, wrote the police comedy "Short Time," and followed it with the popular heist comedy "Blue Streak."

Born Jan. 7, 1947, Berry grew up in Silver Lake, Ohio. He was an avid reader as a child, and his limitless appetite for reading material set the stage for a life defined by curiosity, language, and creativity. He earned honors at Kent State University High School as an All-American swimmer, and earned a B.A. in English at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Berry moved to Chicago to pursue a career in photography. He became assistant photo editor at Playboy magazine. In 1978, Berry moved to Los Angeles to become photo editor for OUI magazine. Berry then shifted into the movie business, working first for producer Mace Neufeld, Interscope Pictures, and then for Armand Hammer Productions as a development executive. Although he was comfortable with the pop-culture demands of Hollywood output, Berry was known among his colleagues and friends for his shrewd intellect and a discerning, incisive wit. In the workplace and at home, he cultivated curiosity and creativity in himself and others, and extolled critical thinking as the greatest human asset.

In 1988, Berry tried his own hand at screenwriting for the first time, teaming up with Blumenthal to write a script in hopes of selling it to a Hollywood studio. Their first effort was "Short Time." His second major feature collaboration with Blumenthal, "Blue Streak," was produced in 1999. That same year, Berry and his wife made the decision to leave L.A. behind, and put themselves at the mercy of New England winters, moving with their two young children to Brewster. There Berry continued writing, shifting his attention to the kinds of stories that had mesmerized him as a child.

At the time of his death, he had completed "Recreation," a mystery novel about a television producer who becomes entangled in a murder she covers for her network program.

Besides his wife, Emily, Berry is survived by his two children, Chelsea and Patrick; his granddaughter, Shaelynne Abney; his brother, Timothy, Mu ’70, an artist and teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute; and his sister, Kelly Munoz, also an art teacher. A service will be held in the spring.

All honor to his name.

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