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Marnye Oppenheim, 32; Wrote New Times Restaurant Column

May 19, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Marnye Oppenheim, who wrote the "Bite Me" restaurant column for the alternative weekly New Times in Los Angeles for two years and continued it in Phoenix after the L.A. edition folded, has died. She was 32.

Oppenheim suffered a seizure at her Phoenix home early Wednesday. Paramedics were called to her home but were unable to revive her. The cause of death was under investigation.

A month earlier she experienced a similar seizure in the New Times office in Phoenix and was rushed to a hospital. She underwent a battery of tests and appeared to be fine, colleagues said.

Born in Lansing, Mich., Oppenheim grew up in Lodi, Calif. and graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in political science.

She worked for the Santa Barbara Independent, an alternative newspaper, for three years as listings editor before joining the staff at New Times in Los Angeles as the office manager.

Her column started as an effort to improve the paper's restaurant coverage. She would go to restaurants around town and talk to patrons -- both celebrities and average folks -- about their dining experiences. She wrote the results of her conversations in a lively, compelling way.

"Her column was the most popular thing in the L.A. edition," said Rick Barrs, who edited New Times in Los Angeles and is now the editor of the Phoenix edition.

When the L.A. edition folded in October, Oppenheim moved to Phoenix where she resumed her column.

She is survived by her mother, Nancy Murrison of Alaska; her father, Paul Oppenheim of San Ramon, Calif.; and a brother, Chris Oppenheim of Portland, Ore.

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