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Beverly Karp, 72; Co-Produced 'My Dinner With Andre'

June 13, 2003|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Beverly Bailis Karp, who co-produced the film "My Dinner With Andre" (1981), a surprise success about two old acquaintances who meet and talk over dinner, died Tuesday of emphysema at her home in New York City. She was 72.

The movie starred Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, who also co-wrote the script.

"Beverly was one of the few who read it and believed that anybody but our relatives would come to see it," Gregory told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. "She had faith in the script, maybe more faith than Wally and I had."

The low-budget production directed by Louis Malle is an offbeat comedy with Shawn as an out-of-work actor and Gregory as a theater director. They eventually get down to a serious conversation about life and how best to live it.

Co-produced by George W. George, the film was shot in an abandoned hotel in Virginia in the month of December. To keep warm, the crew worked in ski clothes and Gregory wore long underwear.

"Beverly was very helpful in solving everyday problems on the set," he recalled. "Since we didn't have the money to heat the hotel, she brought me a bit of cognac from time to time."

Throughout her career, Karp produced movies and plays. She was the associate producer of "Vanya on 42nd Street" (1994), a movie based on an Anton Chekhov play, that also starred Gregory and Shawn. She also produced a number off-Broadway plays, including several classics of Irish theater.

She took a personal interest in the writings of William Butler Yeats, and was a major supporter of a Yeats festival at the Abbey Theater in Dublin from 1989 to 1993.

"Beverly had a deep feeling for the humanity of Irish writing," James Flannery, director of the Yeats festival, told The Times on Thursday.

Karp was born in New York City in 1930, and grew up there and in New England. In 1949 she moved with her family to California and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA. Her first job in Hollywood was as a script reader for producer David Brown at 20th Century Fox.

In 1955 she married Harvey L. Karp, a lawyer. The couple moved to New York City in 1968.

In 1987, the Karps' divorce proceedings made news after she turned down a $2-million settlement offer and was awarded $7 million by the court. At the time, she and her husband had a joint net worth of $20 million.

Karp is survived by two sons, Nicholas of Princeton, N.J., and David of Venice, who is a food writer; a sister, Eleanor Sheldon of Studio City; and two grandchildren.

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