Melissa Berry

Penmanship count.

Melissa Berry

"...and then she said..." painting by Wm. Stanton

Melissa Miller Berry

It's hard work working hard.


Melissa Berry is a third-generation Los Angelino who graduated from Immaculate Heart College with a major in English and Theatre, and minors in Music, Art, History, Fear, and Intimidation. Her career as a writer began in New York while also working as an actress, and doing postgraduate work at NYU’s School of Education in "Interdisciplinary Studies in the Creative Arts". It was during this time that she realized she was much better expressing herself on paper than expressing herself onstage. She immediately got work as a freelance copywriter and proofreader and eventually as editor and assistant to the President of Media Projects, a children’s book publishing company. Little did she realize where these writing jobs were going to lead her.

Following this, Melissa returned to California, received a California State Lifetime Teaching Credential in English. Next was working as a substitute teacher in Watts, where she taught everything but English. This provided some excellent material when she decided to return to writing and snagged a job as a staff writer for longtime mentor and friend, entertainer George Burns. Her first assignment was to contribute to his first books, Living It Up or They Still Love Me in Altoona (Putnam '77) and The Third Time Around (Putnam '78). Other work that followed included his CBS TV Special George Burns 100th Birthday Party, copy for his many TV and print commercials, and cowriting many of his films including coauthor credit on the feature film, Oh God, Book II.

While working with Mr. Burns, she continued writing ad copy for such agencies and publications as Artworks, LA 411, Ad Weekly and Art Directors Index. During this time, Simon and Schuster hired her to create Body by Jake (Simon and Schuster '85) for Jake Steinfeld’s first celebrity exercise book. She continued working for Simon and Schuster and wrote Peak Performance with Scott Madsen, and Cyd Charisse: Fit and Fabulous.

A book of hers actually in the bookstores is a entitled Close But No Cigar! (A look back at 30 wonderful years with George Burns) -- Dove Books. This is a book of personal stories, album of anecdotes, photos and memorabilia that she put together for George Burns shortly before his death in 1996 and subsequently completed.

From '08 to '11, she was a contributing writer to the on-line magazine, which covers the Performing and Cultural Arts where her over 60 articles during this time can still be found. Continuing with the Examiner LA and National and Smooth Jazz magazine, her pieces now include everything from a hyperopera world premiere, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Poncho Sanchez and Terence Blanchard, Dave Brubeck, and John Legend and the Roots and Dwight Yoakum. There are also additional events such as photographic exhibit at UCLA on The Iraqi Marshlands, visiting and writing about the exhibit SPAIN at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, and most recently the Brazilian Hip Hop performance ensemble Grupa de Rua at REDCAT at the Disney Concert Hall, and a Q&A with Herbie Hancock at the GRAMMY Museum.

She recently completed a MA in Humanities from Mount St. Mary's College. The initial proposal for the thesis was "Fin de Siècle Decadence -- Divine Decadence or Evolutionary Ethics?" That is not what it ended up being — wasn't enough time for all the required field study in the subject.

Selected Works

A photographic essay of the little known Marshlands of Iraq,, Smooth Jazz, musicla411

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