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'Cat People,' 'Billy Budd' : DeWitt Bodeen, 79; Screenwriter and Author

March 18, 1988

DeWitt Bodeen, who was a principal screenwriter in the film versions of "Cat People" and "Billy Budd" and later wrote movie-related books, died Saturday of bronchial pneumonia at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 79.

Once a stage actor, Bodeen began his script-writing career as a research assistant to British novelist Aldous Huxley, one of the writers on the Hollywood version of "Jane Eyre."

Born in Fresno, Bodeen acted briefly at the Pasadena Playhouse and wrote plays both there and in a brief stint in New York. In all, he wrote 21 plays before returning to Hollywood in the late 1930s.

After working as a script reader, Bodeen became a staff writer with RKO Pictures. In the 1940s, he wrote "Cat People," "Curse of the Cat People," "Night Song" and "I Remember Mama." He also collaborated with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz on "The Enchanted Cottage," and in 1962, with actor-writer Peter Ustinov, on "Billy Budd."

In the 1950s, he turned to television, writing for such shows as "Climax," "Lux Video Theater," "Four Star Theater" and "Celebrity Playhouse."

A former board member of the Writers Guild of America, Bodeen was commissioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to help edit "Who Wrote the Film." He also wrote "The Films of Cecil B. DeMille" and "The Films and Career of Maurice Chevalier."

Bodeen is survived by a brother, George, and a sister, Karen. Both live in California.

No funeral services are planned.

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