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David Kaplan Westheimer Edit Profile

novelist , writer

David Westheimer was an American novelist best known for writing the 1964 novel Von Ryan's Express which was adapted as a 1965 film starring Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard.


Westheimer, David Kaplan was born on April 11, 1917 in Houston, Texas, United States. Son of Adolf and Esther (Kaplan) Westheimer.


Bachelor of Arts, Rice Institute, Houston, 1937.


But the book proved hugely popular and the story had become so iconic that its publisher Bantam Books (and one supposes the authors, by mutual arrangement) took Westheimer's name off the book to move it into the "literature" category and keep it in print (which they did, for decades). Subsequent printings were branded only J.P. Miller's Days of Wine and Roses without an explicit by-line for the novel. Westheimer, a Rice University graduate, worked as an assistant editor for the Houston Post from 1939 to 1946 except for those years spent with the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. As a navigator in a B-24 he was shot down over Italy on December 11, 1942 and spent time as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III. His first novel, Summer on the Water, was published in 1948.

In addition to Von Ryan's Express, Westheimer also wrote a television pilot set in an Italian prisoner of war camp called Campo 44. Sitting it Out: A World War II POW Memoir, Rice University Press, 1992.



Served to captain United States Army Air Force, 1941-1945, European Theatre of Operations. Served to captain United States Air Force, 1950-1953. Lieutenant colonel United States Air Force.

Retired; Member American Civil Liberties Union, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Writer's Guild American West. Author's Guild, Retired Officer Association, California Writers Club.


  • Other Interests

    Avocation: reading.


Married Doris Gertrude Rothstein, October 9, 1945. Children: Fred, Eric.

Adolf Westheimer

Esther (Kaplan) Westheimer

Doris Gertrude Rothstein

Fred Westheimer

Eric Westheimer