Walter Charles Dallenbach
by Michael MacRae,
Walter C. Dallenbach died peacefully in his sleep in the early morning hours of February 28, 2014, in Santa Barbara, California with his loving wife Amelia at his side. Having arrived on this planet on August 21, 1937, he was 76 years young.
A native of New Rochelle N.Y., Walter was the third of four children born to loving parents Gaston T. and Margaret E. Dallenbach. After spending summers saving lives and breaking hearts as the tall, handsome local lifeguard, he graduated from Iona Preparatory School in New Rochelle in 1955. From there he wandered to Niagara University where he studied and wondered for three years. In 1958 he wandered into the United States Army for two years where he continued to wonder, although not out loud. In 1960 he wandered to Denison University in Granville where he received his Bachelor Of Arts Degree in 1961. It was at Denison where Walter had the immense good fortune to meet the wonder of his life, his beautiful wife of 52 years, Amelia Laurenson Dallenbach, of whom he wrote, “Without her, I would have been a waste.”
Wandering and wondering would become, in the years ahead, two of the many fine characteristics that would mark Walter’s wonderfully warm and confident personality. And thus began an adventure that would take him and Amelia to New York City where he burst into the World Of Show Business as an NBC Guide at 30 Rockefeller Center. 1961 would be a busy year for Walter as he moved from NBC Television to Proctor and Gamble’s Marketing Department, before wandering off to Erie, Pennsylvania where he was hired as News Director at Radio Station WLEU. In 1962, after a year of excellent work and ratings, the lure and wonder of the West and the vast Pacific stirred the Cowboy in Walter…and oh, was there ever a Cowboy in Walter!…to wander out to the Graduate School Of Economics at The University Of California. But first came the marriage of Walter and Amelia on February 17, 1962 in Cleveland, Ohio, and then the trip west in their trusty old Volvo station wagon. Once there, Amelia would join the Theatre Department and Walter would wander around the Economics Department, in his words… “stumbling in with the wrong crowd and deciding that screenwriting was bound to be my career choice.” But there was still some more wandering to do. From 1963 to 1965 he was Assistant Director of Public Relations for Century City Real Estate Development in Los Angeles, and thinking modestly, as he always did, he decided to open his own Real Estate public relations firm, “Walter C. Dallenbach Public Relations” which he successfully ran from 1965 to 1972. In 1968 he was asked to be Southern California Press Secretary for Senator Eugene McCarthy in his ’68 Presidential Campaign, and always open to new challenges, he accepted. That same year he was sought out to be Press Secretary for the “Stanley K. Sheinbaum For Congress” campaign in Santa Barbara, County, a post he also accepted. But the magical wonder of writing for movies and television was getting more and more vivid, and in a clever and succinct move, he accepted an offer at Paragon Films in Hollywood where, from 1970 to 1973 he would condense and write the movie trailers for over 30 feature motion pictures. Finally, in 1973, all Walter’s wonderful wondering and wandering manifested itself in the selling of his first Network Television script for the hit show “Adam 12” and he was on his way. From 1974 to 1988, as well as writing five Independent Feature Films and several Films made for Television, he wrote over 30 Crime/Drama Television shows for Network T.V., “Law & Order”, “The Rockford Files”, “Hart To Hart”, “Serpico” and “The Blue Knight” among them. Walter was honored with a Certificate Of Excellence from the Writers Guild Of America for having written for two of the 100 Best Written TV Series of all time. In 1989 Walter and Amelia moved to their beautiful mountain top home in Santa Barbara, California where a new life of adventure and wondering began. From 1990 to 2010 Walter taught Screenwriting at Santa Barbara City College and at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.
A man of constant grace and poise, Walter possessed a wild and wonderful sense of the absurd…stirred, not shaken….with a dry Irish wit and a droll sarcasm delivered with the gentle swiftness and sureness of a Swedish surgeon’s knife. A lover of good music, good books, good conversation, good basketball and a good round of golf with close friends, he was a teacher, a true gentleman, and a loyal friend and confidant of the highest order. Tall and Regal with warm, sensitive smiling eyes, he loved to laugh and loved to live. In his last days he said, “You know, when good times and good work are surrounding you, it all seems like a merry-go-round. A movie in Colorado, a strange adventure in Nebraska, New York City on Universal’s back lot, new friends made and gone…relationships intense, then broken. It is not real life—but it IS life.” Walter will join the spirits of his loyal four legged friends: Patches, Ilya, Sophie and the last and best of them all, the beautiful hiker of the hills, a friend to all, the great lion, Byron….who got all the jokes.
Walter Charles Dallenbach… “His was a life well lived”
He was preceded in death by an older brother Robert Dallenbach and survived by his eldest brother Martin Dallenbach of Evansville, Indiana and a younger sister Marie Demir of Santa Monica, California as well as seven nephews and nieces, all of whom he loved dearly: Daniel Dallenbach, Anne Marie Bula, Louise Ablin, Diane Thompson, Lisa Burkett, Alison Carey and Robert H. Dallenbach II.
In lieu of flowers, Amelia has asked that donations be made to: “The Santa Barbara Foundation”, 1111 Chapala Street. # 200 Santa Barbara, California 93101 … with a notation that it be directed to the “Walter C. Dallenbach Writers Scholarship Fund”.
A celebration of Walter’s Life will be held at Birnam Wood Country Club in Montecito, on Sunday, April 27, 2014.