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Raymond Malvani; USC Professor, Playwright

Obituaries

October 09, 1998|BRETT ANTHONY COLLINS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GRANADA HILLS — Raymond Maryn Steinberg Malvani--a USC professor, author, social activist and playwright whose "Broadway Sings Out" enjoyed a history-making Valley run in the early '90s--has died. He was 72.

Malvani died Sunday of heart failure at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Woodland Hills, according to his son David Steinberg of Los Angeles.

Born March 13, 1926 in Pittsburgh to Polish immigrants, Malvani served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946, the same year he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his master's in social work from Bryn Mawr in 1957, then moved to Los Angeles three years later. He and his wife, Lucille, whom he met in 1953, raised their family in Granada Hills, where he was living at the time of his death.

Malvani spent the 1960s working for various social agencies, doing field work in Mexico and Panama. He joined USC in 1972 as a research associate and received his doctorate in social work from UCLA in 1976.

He became active in issues that concern the elderly, serving on various task forces and committees that dealt with such problems as elder abuse. He was associate editor of the "Encyclopedia on Aging" and co-wrote "Case Management and the Elderly: A Handbook for Planning and Administering Programs," among others. That book became the standard text on administering programs for the elderly for much of the 1980s. Malvani retired from USC in 1985.

Upon retirement, Malvani merged his artistic nature with the devotion to social policy concerns that drove his earlier career and set out to write a meaningful play.

"He was always interested in theater that dealt with social issues," said Steinberg. "He valued the arts very highly and it was a very important part of his life."

Malvani spent hours at a New York library researching obscure Broadway songs that dealt with social issues. He teamed those songs with better-known material and wrote a text that tied all 60 songs together. The result, "Broadway Sings Out," became the longest-running show in San Fernando Valley history, according to Steinberg.

The show, which was first produced by the Onion Community Theater--sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Society, to which Malvani had belonged since 1965--sought to illustrate Broadway's tendency through the decades to address social issues. It featured such songs as "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" and "Sing Me a Song of Social Significance."

The 1990 show ran for more than two years at the West End Playhouse, so long that it was forced into an Equity theater contract, a Valley first.

According to his son, Malvani saw the show as a continuation of his work as a historian, social worker and academic.

"Ray was both delightful and intense, an unreconstructed Sixties kind of guy who mixed applied scholarship with human concerns and decency," said Neal Cutler, a longtime friend and colleague.

In addition to his wife and son David, Malvani is survived by two daughters, Lora Malvani of North Hills and film and performance artist Annie Sprinkle of Sausalito, son Adam Steinberg of Hermosa Beach, and a grandson.

Funeral services will be private, but a memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Nov. 14 at Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society, 9550 Haskell Ave., North Hills.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Malvani's name to the church or to the Society of Americans for the Separation of Church and State, 1816 Jefferson Place NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.

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