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Stephen Schneck; Prize-Winning Author

December 08, 1996

Stephen Schneck, unconventional author and screenwriter whose first novel earned the international Formentor Prize, has died. He was 63.

Schneck died of lymphoma in Palm Springs on Nov. 26.

That offbeat novel was "The Night Clerk," published in 1965. Although it had little sales or critical praise in the United States, the book earned $10,000 from the prize and was translated into more than a dozen languages. The novel about a 600-pound hotel night clerk became an international cult classic, and Orson Welles seriously considered making it into a film.

Schneck followed that success with a second novel, "Nocturnal Vaudeville," and pragmatic books on cat and dog care. He also wrote material for San Francisco's improvisational theater troupe known as the Committee and articles for the counterculture publications Ramparts and Mother Jones.

When Schneck turned to screenwriting, he enjoyed another kind of success. Among his feature films was "Welcome to Blood City," which won first prize in the 1976 Paris Science Fiction Film Festival. Others were "High-Ballin' " starring Peter Fonda, "Inside Out" and "Across the Moon."

Schneck also wrote many segments for mainstream television series including "All in the Family," "Archie Bunker's Place," "Cheers" and "In the Heat of the Night."

A native of New York, Schneck studied briefly at what is now Carnegie-Mellon University.

He is survived by his wife, Hadwig; a daughter, June Edelstein of New York City; a son, Matthew of London, and a brother and a sister.

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