Jay Bennett, 96, two-time winner of the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, died at home in Cherry Hill on Saturday of complications related to Parkinson's disease.
During a career of more than 60 years, Mr. Bennett wrote scripts for radio and television shows featuring personalities such as Will Rogers Jr. and Alfred Hitchcock and wrote more than 25 novels.
Among his books were many for young adults, including Deathman and Do Not Follow Me, which his son Randy said have been widely translated. Mr. Bennett's first novel, Catacombs, was made into the 1965 movie The Woman Who Wouldn't Die, his son said.
Mr. Bennett won consecutive Edgar Awards for best juvenile novel for The Long Black Coat (1974) and The Dangling Witness (1975). A third book, The Skeleton Man, was nominated in 1987.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Mr. Bennett attended yeshiva through the eighth grade. Though he enrolled in college, he never graduated, his son said.
Mr. Bennett married Sally Stern in 1937. They moved to the Greens Ward development near Ellisburg Circle in Cherry Hill in the early 1980s, his son said.
"He was self-taught," Randy Bennett said. "He always wanted to be a writer. He loved Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and many other authors."
Mr. Bennett began his career writing radio scripts in the 1930s in New York. One of his early hits was the play Miracle for Christmas, which was broadcast annually on Christmas Eve in the 1940s and early 1950s. It was later included in the Walter Cronkite recording 60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Shows of the 20th Century.
He wrote television scripts for series such as I Spy, Good Morning Show (with Will Rogers Jr.), and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He also adapted Hamlet to the small screen, one of the first times the Shakespearean tragedy appeared on television.
In addition to his wife and son Randy, Mr. Bennett is survived by another son, Steven Bennett; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service will be held July 25 at 2 p.m. at Eichel Funeral Home, 8323 Maple Ave., Pennsauken.
Memorial donations may be made to the Children's Literature Research Collections, University of Minnesota, 113 Elmer L. Andersen Library, 222 21st Ave., South Minneapolis, Minn. 55455.