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Oct 2, 2018 10:58 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Myron 'Mike' Oppenheimer Dies September 28

Myron Oppenheimer
Oct 2, 2018 10:58 AM

Longtime Westhampton Beach and New York City resident Myron Oppenheimer, 98, died on September 28, 2018, at his home in New York. Known almost universally as Mike, he was in remarkably good health.

Born April 13, 1920, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Mr. Oppenheimer was a second grade spelling champ in elementary school and a Boy Scout who enjoyed summers at Camp Acahela in the Poconos. He graduated from Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre, class of 1938, and Harvard University in 1942, just prior to being drafted for service in World War II.

During the war he served in the Army Air Corps and worked as a cryptographer in Casablanca, Morocco, and in Tunisia while stationed in Oran, Algeria. During his two years in Naples, Italy, he was the head of the cryptography division and invented a special device that prevented decoding errors, later replicated for use by all cryptography units in the U.S. military.

Despite the dire circumstances of the war, he made the most of his time overseas, fascinated by the geography and culture of Algeria and Tunisia and travelling to Sorrento, Amalfi, and Ravello in Italy when he was able to get leave for R and R.

After the war, he moved to Manhattan in 1946, sharing a fifth-floor walkup at the Chelsea Arms with two friends. He was fond of recalling that their rent was $72 a month, including maid service and clean sheets, and he and his friends were traditionally three months behind.

In New York, his first job was ghostwriting sports books such as “The Great Big Illustrated Book of Sports.” A squash and racquetball fanatic, he also enjoyed sneaking into the back of the Metropolitan Opera House, as he couldn’t afford tickets.

Mr. Oppenheimer moved on to start working in radio and, after its invention, television, as a talent executive, producer, writer and editor. Some of the shows he worked on included “Juvenile Jury,” “The Joe DiMaggio Show,” “The Guy Lombardo Show,” “The Joey Adams Show” and his most successful show, “Life Begins at 80.” The success of that show enabled him to move into his own studio apartment with a rent of $100 a month, again including maid service.

He worked with a range of fascinating people, including, among others: Herbert Hoover; Gloria Swanson; a variety of dog and animal acts; Lawrence Luellen, the inventor and developer of the Dixie Cup; and Cordon Nifty Garrett, who claimed, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to have invented the word “nifty.”

He researched and produced a Peabody Award-winning documentary, “MD International,” that told the stories of American doctors who were donating their time all over the world. His work on the documentary took him around the globe, including stops in India, Nepal, Ethiopia, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, and Hong Kong.

In 1958, he met Marion Levine of Brooklyn; they married in 1960 and lived in Manhattan and Westhampton Beach, where Mr. Oppenheimer had been spending time since the late 1940s.

Also in 1960, according to his family, Mr. Oppenheimer “got serious” and decided to go to work in the stock market. He started at Bear Stearns and would go on to work in the financial industry for 56 years.

He was an enthusiastic supporter of his family and friends, and was continually stimulated by the excitement of the stock market. Mr. Oppenheimer was also a devotee of such leisure activities as theater, opera, the arts, enjoying seafood (especially bivalves), discovering and reading all manner of maps. A friend to all, and well known for his kindness, generous spirit and wonderful sense of humor, he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Predeceased by his wife, Marion, in 1989; and his brother, Gerald, Mr. Oppenheimer is survived by his daughters, Toni and husband Peter Botsford; and Jane and husband Dan McCarroll; and his longtime dear friend, Lee Calicchio.

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