March 4, 2013

TED GOTTFRIED: MAN FROM O.R.G.Y.


Spy Vibe pays tribute to a number of espionage writers this week with a set of obituaries and memorials. Fans of naughty spy novels from the 1960s will be familiar with the work of Ted Gottfried, alias Ted Mark, and the Man From O.R.G.Y. series. Spy Vibers might not be aware that the writer passed away in 2004. To learn more about him, here is his obituary by Stephen Miller for the New York Sun.


Ted Gottfried, 75, Prolific Author of Nonfiction and
 Salacious Stories
By STEPHEN MILLER Staff Reporter of the Sun


Ted Gottfried, who died March 7, was the author of more 
than 100 books, many of them nonfiction volumes for younger 
readers on topics as diverse as Holocaust denial, famed 
inventors, and "Libya: Desert Land in Conflict."Yet it was 
as the pseudonymous author of dozens of so-called pulps,
cheap paperbacks with racy and exploitative plots, that he 
had his greatest success.
   

Beginning in the 1960s, and writing under the name of Ted 
Mark, he churned out such turgid titles as "The Nude Wore 
Black," "The Square Root of Sex," and "I Was a Teeny Bopper
 for the CIA." His books often featured the then 
ultra-fashionable demimonde of spies and beautiful women,
 and it was with a series of books titled "The Man From 
O.R.G.Y." that he made his mark on the best-seller list.
   


The O.R.G.Y. books were so satirical - the immediate
 reference was to the series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." - that 
not even their hero, the gamely named Steve Victor, took his 
missions seriously. "O.R.G.Y. is the Organization for the 
Rational Guidance of Youth," Gottfried wrote by way of
introduction to "Here's Your Orgy" (1969). "It's a one-man
 operation devoted to sex research with 'guidance' actually a 
secondary function - which I admit, hasn't ever really been 
exercised. I see myself as carrying on the traditions of 
Dr. Kinsey. The difference is that I've cut out the 
paperwork and substituted a personalized methodology."
   

Always topical, the action in the O.R.G.Y. books traipses 
lightly across the world stage, with a stop at the 1968 
Democratic National Convention in Chicago and even touching 
on the Tet offensive, which takes on a new shade of meaning
 for "offensive": "I was personally attacked by a Cong 
guerilla complete with bayonet, black pajamas, and breasts
 shaped like hand grenades, only bigger and better."
   In later years, when his writing had taken up more
 serious topics, Gottfried would say that he felt an uneasy 
combination of chagrin and pride in his pulp productions. 
Having become an ardent supporter of feminist causes, he 
felt he had portrayed women in too stereotypical a 
light. Yet, he was gratified that the books remained popular
 with pulp enthusiasts - they are a staple on eBay.
   The books were part of a minor brouhaha in 1969, when it
 was found that the Job Corps had been purchasing them for
 use in remedial reading classes.
   


"The Man From O.R.G.Y.," the first of the series, was 
made into a film of the same name in 1970. It opened to
 distinctly muted reviews, nipping what might otherwise have 
been a promising film-writing career in the bud. The New
York Times film critic wrote,"A certain charming innocence 
pertains to all the low-level vulgarity, as it does to the 
plump, often pretty girls themselves, with their piled-up
 hairdo's, their freighted eyelids, and their brave little
 attempts to say their lines."
  Yet the film was somehow inspirational; it "resembles not
 so much a movie as a last bastion of individualist free
enterprise against the encroaching collectivism of our
 society."
   


Ted Gottfried was born in the Bronx, the only son of 
Russian immigrants who eventually settled in Far Rockaway.
 His father was a World War I veteran and a tool maker whose 
business suffered greatly during the Depression. Young Ted 
harbored from an early age the ambition of becoming a
 writer, and after just a year of college went to work as an
 office boy in the publicity department at Warner Brothers.
 In the 1950s, he began working as a writer for the men's 
magazine Scamp. His first book, "The Midway at Midnight,"
was published under the pseudonym Leslie Behan in 1964.
 Thereafter, writing on his favorite Underwood typewriter for
 10-12 hours daily, he seldom produced less than four or five
 books a year, and business boomed. He moved his growing 
family to Cedarhurst, and was enough of a local celebrity 
that Newsday ran a two-page spread on the best-selling 
author who'd moved to town.
   

His relationship with his initial publisher, Walter
 Zacharius of Lancer Press, soured, but he soon had a
multibook deal with Dell, and later, writing as Blakely
 Saint James, with Playboy Paperbacks.
  In the late 1970s, his output slowed somewhat as he took 
over as editor of Drake Publications, and also for a time of 
the skin magazine High Society. In 1980, he was among the
 authors who gathered to found the National Writers Union, a
 group that advocates for authors.
   


He continued to produce mainly pseudonymous, literate
 smut until the late 1980s, when he started writing under his 
own name. Writing mostly for younger readers, he penned
 biographies of Georges Clemenceau and Enrico Fermi.
 Issue-oriented titles followed, including "Public Safety and 
the Right to Bear Arms" and "Individual Right V. Social
 Needs." He was particularly proud of a series of books about
 the Holocaust, with separate volumes treating child
 victims, Nazi perpetrators, and those who deny it ever
happened.
   

When he was a young man he had driven to Mississippi to
 march for civil rights. When he was older, he marched for 
women's rights. Slated to be published in August is "The
 Quest For Peace: A History of the Anti-War Movements in
 America." A passionate liberalism continued to pour from his 
pen virtually to the end of his life.
 Theodore Mark Gottfried
 Born October 19, 1928, in the Bronx; died March 7 in
Manhattan of complications of cancer of the neck; survived
 by his wife, Harriet, five children, Julie, Daniel,
 Katherine, Toby, and Valerie; two step-daughters, Melanie
and Lisa, and 12 grandchildren.

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