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Charles Lee

1955 Ph.D. Graduate
Dissertation Advisor(s): Edward Sculley Bradley
"The Book-of-the-Month Club: The Story of a Publishing Institution "

Dr. Charles Lee, arts critic, commentator, author, poet, and emeritus professor of English, died on November 20 at the age of 89.

Born Charles Levy, in Philadelphia, Dr. Lee took all his degrees at Penn: his B.A. in 1933, his M.A. in 1936 and his Ph.D. in 1955, all in English.

He was an assistant instructor in English, 1933-36, until he resigned to become book editor of the Boston Herald-Traveler, 1936-40, and the Philadelphia Record, 1940-47. He was a contributing editor to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 1947-49. In the early 1960s he wrote a regularly syndicated book review column for several newspapers. For 16 years he contributed reviews regularly to The New York Times, and occasionally published verse and poems in national magazines.

In 1946, he returned to Penn as a part-time lecturer in journalism and became full-time in 1949. He was promoted to associate professor of English in 1956 and subsequently full professor. He taught creative writing, writing non-fiction and review and criticism. In the early 1980s Dr. Lee taught writing of non-fiction and review and criticism. Dr. Lee became emeritus professor in 1983.

Dr. Lee was professor of communications and the first vice dean of the Annenberg School of Communications, 1959-65, under Dean Gilbert Seldes.

He was also one of Almanac's earliest editors, serving from December 1955 until May 1959, with Bruce Montgomery as managing editor. They jointly exhibited their paintings at the Faculty Club six times, 1985-1998.

Dr. Lee wrote 11 books including Love, Life & Laughter (1990), The Hidden Public (1958), Snow, Ice and Penguins (1950), and Weekend at the Waldorf (1945). His verse was described as "wise, witty and richly imaginative."

Dr. Lee appeared on radio beginning in 1938 and had been connected with television since 1953. In the 1960s he had a radio show of cultural commentary on WCAU, and then became the arts and entertainment critic, reviewing books, movies and art at WFLN-FM, 1979-97. He was the cultural arts critic on WCAU-TV 10, 1965-73.

Dr. Lee was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, AAUP, the International Radio and Television Society, the Association for Professional Broadcasting Education, and the Association for Education in Journalism.

In 1944, he won Penn's first Annual Award for Meritorious Achievement in Journalism. For the Annenberg Center's 25th anniversary gala on April 29, 1996, he presented A Reminiscence which was published in Almanac October 1, 1996.

Dr. Lee is survived by his wife, Ruth Sarah Micali Lee; his son, Dr. Myles Lee, and four grandchildren, Jonathan David Snyder, Rachael Snyder, Allison Lee and Evan P. Lee.

A memorial service will be held at the Annenberg Center on December 13, 3-5 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, Office of the Secretary, 211 College Hall (please designate that the donation is in his memory).