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Mount Sinai Obituaries and Services » Brian Garfield

Brian Garfield

January 26, 1939 - January 2, 2019

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Brian Francis Wynne Garfield, award-winning author, screenwriter and film producer, whose credits include the classic DEATH WISH, passed away peacefully on December 29, 2018, just short of his 80th birthday, in the company of his beloved wife, Bina.

Born on January 26, 1939 in New York City, he was the son of Frances O’Brien, a protégé of Georgia O’Keeffe, who introduced her to her future husband, George Garfield.  Brian was accustomed to having writers around the house because Frances painted the covers for the “Saturday Review of Books”. He was also a distant cousin of Mark Twain.

Brian was a prolific author, including more than 70 books – a mix of Westerns, novels, and non-fiction. His first book, a Western titled RANGE JUSTICE, was published at the precocious age of 18. Over 20 million copies of his books have been printed world-wide and translated into many foreign languages. 19 films are based on his writings. He has the unique distinction of being the only person honored to be President of both The Western Writers of America and The Mystery Writers of America.

Brian was largely motivated by curiosity.  “Each book”, he said, “is like a different course in school. I really don’t want to take the same course again and again.  If the writer gets bored, heaven help the reader.”  He wrote HOPSCOTCH, a violence-free book and winner of the coveted Edgar award, in response to the vigilantism of DEATH WISH.

Garfield’s book “THE THOUSAND-MILE WAR: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction and to this day remains the most important record of this brutal struggle. John Grisham credits Garfield’s article, “Ten Rules for Suspense Fiction” with giving him the tools to create his book  “The Firm.”

In the late 1950s, Brian toured the United States as a musician with the band “The Palisades,” a group that had a Top 40 hit single titled “I Can’t Quit.” He served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves from 1957-1965.

Brian was a famous raconteur, known for his warm humor and sharp wit. He was loved by his many fans, admirers, friends, fellow writers and the members of his monthly Writer’s Luncheon Club.

Brian was a loving and generous person who donated to many worthy environmental causes through the Garfield Foundation.

Funeral arrangements are underway and a memorial service will be announced in the future. He is survived by his wife, Bina, his cousins Gywnne Glenn, Rebecca and Elizabeth Allen, and numerous Garfield cousins.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to be sent to The Wildlife Waystation in Sylmar, California to benefit one of Brian’s favorite charities.