Al Ramrus, age 90, an award-winning screenwriter, documentarian and novelist, passed away peacefully on December 27, 2020.
Ever the screenwriter, he scripted every last scene of his life. Cue the decades-long ritual of watching “60 Minutes” every Sunday, followed by dinner with his wife while watching a movie.
Within moments of his last breath, lightning and thunder crackled the atmosphere, torrential downpours flooded the streets, and an icy slush blanketed the beaches of Southern California.
Born in New York City, New York, on November 19, 1930, to Max Ramrus and Miriam Cooper, he spent his childhood in Brooklyn and The Bronx. He studied at The Bronx High School of Science and graduated from New York City College.
His career began as a news reporter in Canada. He quickly learned French by watching television shows with subtitles and practiced typing by making a keyboard from cardboard.
In 1959, he moved back to New York City to write for the TV Series “The Mike Wallace Interview,” the precursor for “60 Minutes,” earning a Peabody Award. In 1962, he relocated to Los Angeles, writing and producing over 80 documentaries with David Wolper Productions.
So began a lifetime of friendship and collaboration with his pragmatic mentors. Ayn Rand became a close friend, trailblazing a forward-thinking and objective idealism that Al held true to his moral compass throughout life.
Early credits include Academy Award-winning Jacques Cousteau’s “A World Without Sun,” “Hollywood and The Stars” and “Biography.” Al went on to write “Halls of Anger” in 1970, about the racially contentious integration of an all-black inner-city school.
The film’s success earned Ramrus recognition as a solid storyteller, providing more writing opportunities in the years that followed. Feature films include “Goin’ South” starring Jack Nicholson and “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”
Al met his wife in 1972 while living in West Hollywood; it was love at first sight. They married at Hotel Bel-Air in 1973 and welcomed their daughter, Tracey, 12 months later. Al was known for taking his daily runs throughout the neighborhood, his workouts were his religion.
A voracious reader and lover of classical music, he joyfully looked forward to Sunday night family dinners where his favorite cuisine of Asian food was most likely on the menu.
He is survived by his wife, Alleen, daughter Tracey, beloved son-in-law David, and adored grandchildren David, Bennett and Audrey. Al resided in Pacific Palisades for over 45 years.
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