San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Jack Kaufman

July 14, 1931 - April 10, 2021


A pioneer of early television, Jack died peacefully at home in San Francisco on April 10th at age 89. A New Yorker by heart, Jack spent most of his adult life in California. Bronx-born to Max and Clara (Soberman) he graduated from CCNY’s Institute of Film Techniques, guided by renowned avant-garde filmmaker/artist, Hans Richter. He and his young family moved to LA in the early 1960s, where he began his illustriou­s and prolific career in the burgeoning field of documentar­y TV. Traveling the world for National Geographic Society, David Wolper, and others, he created unique films about nature, science, history and world politics. Among his memorable documentar­ies: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich-the first topical mini-series on TV-which he wrote, produced and directed, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, Untamed World, The Truman Years, The Homefront, Primal Man, The Churchill Years, numerous National Geographic Specials and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. He was meticulous in his work, a voracious reader, a truly gifted writer, quick-witted and extremely intelligen­t. To know him was to appreciate his sense of humor and indulge a rough-edged cynicism he employed to get a rise out of you. At his core he was a loving and gentle soul.

Jack will be missed by his wife Leslie Abrahams Barham, children Stephen (Samantha), Diana (Paul Marszalek) Amy (Andy Bednarek), Alex (Amy MersolBarg), grandchild­ren Ray and Trudy Marszalek, Sydni and Eli Bednarek and Madeleine Kaufman, brother Harold (Gigi), nephews Michael (Melissa) and Ben (Susan), grandniece­s Annie, Julia, Rebekah, Sarah, grandnephe­w William.

Private services and burial were held at Salem Memorial Park in Colma, CA. For those wishing to honor his memory, please consider donations in his name to: Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, ACLU, or charity of your choice.

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