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Journalist and editor David Lewin dies at age 89

Veteran of Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Mail.

David Lewin, a groundbreaking entertainment journalist and former editor of the magazine that would become Screen International, died in his sleep at the age of 89 on Sunday [Feb 19].

Lewin became a journalist straight from school, joining Hampstead and Highgate Express then The Daily Mirror as a news reporter before joining The Daily Express shortly after the war. He took over the show business reporting of the paper, covering theatre, night clubs and film. Long before the days of set visits and junkets, he spent six weeks in the jungle with Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and John Huston to cover the making of The African Queen. 

He was also one of the first British journalists to regularly travel to Los Angeles and report from Hollywood; he did so for the next 40 years.

In the early 1960s he joined The Daily Mail and then became editor of Cinema & TV Today (which later became Screen International) in the early 70s, where he also started market dailies during Cannes. He went freelance in the mid 1970s.

Quentin Falk, a journalist and fromer editor of Screen, started working with Lewin at Cinema & TV Today. He remembered his former boss today. “He was a terrific mentor and taught me so much about film journalism, especially the requirement for accuracy in trade paper coverage,” Falk said. “Once I wrote a piece about some annual box office figures and if I recall used a dollar rather than pound sign before the total figure. I was dragged into his office and told angrily, ‘This magazine used to be a mine of information; you have just turned it into a mine of MISinformation!’ His fury was, however, always short-lived.

“Years later, I recall talking to him about the possibility of his jotting down his memoirs because he had met anybody who was anybody. He said he had written something but that publishers weren’t interested because he didn’t diss people enough. He was a tough interrogator as I recall but always fair and generally sought the positives, as they say. He may be almost the last of that Fleet Street breed.”

Sue Summers, journalist and producer, also worked with Lewin. She recalled: “I worked under him and learned a lot. He told me that when you interview someone, you must tell your reader everything about them including the colour of their socks – good advice!”

Lewin is survived by two sons, Nicholas and Guy.

 

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