Herman Raucher, Screenwriter of ‘Summer of ’42’, Dies at 95

Rexa Vella

Herman Raucher, Screenwriter of ‘Summer of ’42’, Dies at 95

Herman Raucher, a best-selling author and the Academy Award nominated screenwriter of “Summer of ’42,” died Dec. 28 of natural causes at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Conn. He was 95.

Raucher got his start in the industry working in live television. He wrote one hour dramas for anthology series including “Studio One,” “Good Year Playhouse” and “The Alcoa Hour.” In his screenwriting career, he wrote the scripts for two films starring Anthony Newley, “Sweet November” (1968) and “Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?” (1969), which Newley also directed.

Raucher was inspired by Bobbie Gentry’s popular song “Ode to Billie Joe” to write the screenplay for Max Baer Jr.’s 1976 romance film of the same name starring Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor. Raucher also co-wrote the script for the 1977 film “The Other Side of Midnight.”

Raucher is remembered for penning the script for the popular coming-of-age film “Summer of ’42,” which was directed by Robert Mulligan and released in 1971. The romantic comedy stars Gary Grimes as a teenage boy summering on Nantucket who meets an older newlywed woman (Jennifer O’Neill) whose husband is fighting in World War II.

Raucher also wrote a book to help promote “Summer of ’42,” which he completed in just three or four weeks for publication ahead of the film’s release; the novel quickly became a bestseller. Both the screenplay and book draw from Raucher’s personal experiences in Nantucket the summer he was 14. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay. Raucher penned a sequel to “Summer of ’42” called “Class of ’44,” with Grimes reprising his role as Hermie, now a freshman in college.

Some of Raucher’s other books include “A Glimpse of Tiger,” “There Should Have Been Castles,” “Maynard’s House” and a novelization of “Ode to Billie Joe.” He also wrote the 1962 Broadway comedy “Harold.”

Raucher is also known for writing the 1970 film “Watermelon Man,” directed by Melvin Van Peebles. The comedy stars Godfrey Cambridge as a bigoted white insurance salesman who one day wakes to find he is a Black man.

Raucher was born on April 13, 1928. He was raised in Brooklyn and attended Erasmus High School and New York University. He is survived by his daughters Jenny and Jacqueline and his granddaughters Samantha and Jamie. His wife of 42 years, Mary Kathryn, who was a dancer on Broadway and attended the School of American Ballet with George Balanchine, died in 2002.

Donations can be made in Raucher’s name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

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