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Dr. Edgar Berman at 72; Author, Aide, Chauvinist

November 28, 1987|From Times Wire Services

BALTIMORE — Dr. Edgar Berman, physician, confidant to former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and, admittedly, one of the nation's premier male chauvinists, died of a heart attack Wednesday at Sinai Hospital here. He was 72.

Berman was a soldier, author, surgeon, newspaper columnist and medical consultant for several federal agencies. He gained notoriety when he said in 1970 that women could not be leaders because of their "raging hormonal imbalances."

The former gynecologist was forced to resign from the Democratic National Committee's Planning Council after his comment enraged women, but later gained some revenge in one of his several books, titled "The Compleat Chauvinist," published in 1982. One chapter is headed "The Brain That's Tame Lies Mainly in the Dame."

His other books include "The Solid Gold Stethoscope," published in 1976, and "In Africa With Schweitzer," a reflection on the work of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, published last year.

A World War II veteran, Berman served as medical consultant to the State Department and White House and to former Vice President Humphrey.

His involvement in the early 1960s with Medico, a medical organization concerned with modern health care in Third World countries, led to a deep friendship with then-Minnesota Sen. Humphrey, who introduced him to President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy appointed Berman to a series of consultancies in federal agencies.

Berman was on the Public Welfare Foundation's Board of Directors for 20 years.

As a surgeon, he implanted the first plastic esophagus in a human in 1950, a technique now commonly used on cancer patients. Seven years later, he performed the first successful heart transplant, on a dog.

Berman was a regular columnist for USA Today and wrote books at his horse farm in Lutherville, Md., until his death. He is survived by his wife, Phoebe, and three sisters.

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