Berkman, author, drama coach, TV personality dies


Eleanor Berkman, an author, drama coach and TV personality in St. Louis, died Tuesday, April 29, 2008, at her home in Clayton. She was 85.

Mrs. Berkman was known locally for her 1986 book The Rise and Fall of Women’s Faces, which was a factor in launching her TV career, which included a series for KETC-TV, Channel 9 called Face Watchers. She revised and updated the book in 2003, with her daughter, Joan Lee Berkman of Clayton. The mother and daughter writing team were featured in the “Missouri’s Own” Authors Panel that year at the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival.

Describing herself as a “face guru,” Mrs. Berkman taught “face aerobics” to career-minded women and advocated keeping a positive attitude.

“I wanted to help women focus on learning to act, look and sound better than they feel in order to succeed in a competitive world,” Mrs. Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2003.

Mrs. Berkman was born in Mamaroneck, N.Y. She studied voice at the Metropolitan Opera School before beginning her career on the East and West coasts. She then was a supper club and light opera singer in Hollywood before meeting her husband, the late St. Louis attorney Walter S. Berkman, and moving to Clayton in 1980.

Mrs. Berkman headed a children’s drama school called Impromptu Theatre that entertained children in hospitals and schools in the area, and coached local actors on the importance of showmanship in performing. In addition to her daughter Joan Lee Berkman, the survivors include two sons, Walter S. Berkman, Jr. of Denver and Robert Martin Berkman of Clayton, and one grandchild. A private service was held at Jefferson Barrracks National Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the March of Dimes of Greater St. Louis, 2001 Hanley Road, St. Louis, MO 63144; the Animal Protective Association, 1705 South Hanley Road, St. Louis, MO 63144.