On November 30, 1927, Burton Anselm Boyar was born in New York City to Benjamin and Lillian Boyar. Since Ben Boyar was employed as the general manager of Max Gordon, who was one of Broadway’s most successful producers, Burt acquired an early appreciation for the theater and its mechanics. At the age of 12, Boyar was permitted to work as a radio actor and provided the vocals for characters on comedic dramas, comic book-based programs and commercials. Simultaneously, he was attending the renowned Professional Children’s School, an institution primarily geared towards those pursuing careers in the performing arts. Although Boyar did not graduate from high school or attend college, he was incredibly adept in English composition.
After his radio stint, Burt Boyar eventually found a niche to showcase his grammatical adroitness at a New York publicity firm where he wrote gossip news and other column features. Following months of successful commentarial work, he and a colleague soon began their own publicity business which would come to represent several restaurants around the city of Manhattan. It was during that time that Boyar met a drama student from Finch College, a local women’s baccalaureate school, and took her out on their first date on Halloween 1953. Eight months later, on June 26, 1954, he married Jane Feinstein and they would remain together for the next 44 years until her untimely death in 1997 at the age of 64 from heart failure. It is no exaggeration to say that Boyar and his late wife were best friends whose love did not permit them, by his own account, to spend even one night apart.
Beau Broadway was Burt Boyar’s solo journalism venture that became nationally syndicated via the Annenberg and Newhouse newspaper publishers. It was a daily column which presented interviews, criticisms and musings pertaining to the acclaimed New York theater. When he had contacted Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1957 in pursuit of a brief dialog session for another feature story, his inquiry was met with an invitation to dinner. That single evening meal multiplied into nightly discussions and the blossoming of a friendship that would last for the rest of the entertainer’s life. During one of their encounters, Burt Boyar agreed to write Sammy Davis, Jr.’s life story and, as a result, requested a year of absence from his Broadway column. Ultimately, however, he found that a year was not sufficient time to gather enough material for the autobiography so he chose to retire from his position. In the end, it would take six years to complete Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr., an immediate bestseller which, at one point, even became a contender for the internationally coveted Pulitzer Prize.
Over the following decades, the collaboration between Burt and Jane Boyar generated several notable publications, half of which pertained to the life of their close friend Sammy Davis, Jr.. Their 1989 work Why Me? was a formidable followup to the 1965 Yes I Can and eloquently expounded on the highlights and pitfalls of the entertainer’s career. Sammy: An Autobiography, which was published in 2000, continued the Davis saga in its presentation of additional thought-provoking material not found in the preceding two volumes. Finally, in 2007, Burt Boyar spearheaded the release of Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr, a compilation of striking black-and-white photographs taken by the legendary performer himself. Although the book includes artistic depictions of relatives and strangers, much of the content portrays his equally larger-than-life contemporaries, such as Robert Kennedy, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Marilyn Monroe.
There are four Boyar books which are not related to their iconic friend: World Class, H.L. and Lyda: Growing up in the H.L. Hunt and Lyda Bunker Hunt Family, as told by their eldest daughter, Hitler Stopped by Franco, and Invisible Scars. The 1975 fiction piece, World Class, whose plot is situated in the arena of competitive tennis, required Boyar and his wife to travel the world in order to follow the tours of Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, who are both legends of the sport. Their two years of meticulous observation would serve as the inspiration which enabled them to offer a realistic portrait of the athlete par excellence. H.L. and Lyda is the memoir of Margaret Hunt Hill, the daughter of oil tycoon H.L. Hunt and his wife Lyda. In this 1994 read, Hill documents the rise of H.L. Hunt’s oil empire and the unflinching support bestowed upon him by his wife Lyda in addition to chronicling such family unpleasantries as her father’s infidelity and her brother’s mental illness. Two world dictators are the central focus of Burt Boyar’s 2001 self-published historical account Hitler Stopped by Franco which takes on the guise of a compelling novel. Within its pages a captivating narrative unfolds which illustrates Francisco Franco’s safeguarding thousands of Jews from Nazi concentration camps, Adolf Hitler’s futile quest for Gibraltar and the martial chess match they engage in during the latter’s attempt to invade Spain. Finally, Invisible Scars is Burt Boyar’s unpublished novel chronicling the adulterous affair between a wealthy American woman and an affluent married Spaniard during the post Spanish Civil War era of the 1930s.
During the period that the Boyars were writing Hitler Stopped by Franco, they were living in the Andalusian city of Marbella. They initially came to the beach-laden Spanish paradise in 1969 to spend time with friends over the Christmas holiday. However, what began as a brief winsome visit turned into a 28-year residency. By happenstance, the small house which they were renting belonged to the daughter of General Francisco Franco and, after making her acquaintance, they eventually became trusted friends of the family. It was this chance encounter that served as the catalyst for the creation of Hitler Stopped by Franco. And it wasn’t until the year 1997, when Jane Boyar unexpectedly passed away, that Burt decided to leave Spain and return home to the United States. However, instead of going back to New York, the city of his youth, he decided to adopt Los Angeles, CA as his new domicile because of its climatic similarities to his beloved Marbella. To this day, the acclaimed author still resides in the winding two-mile strip of L.A.’s Wilshire Boulevard, locally referred to as the Wilshire Corridor, the Golden Mile and the Millionaire’s Mile.
Currently, Burt Boyar is advocating for the development of a feature length film based on his literary masterwork Yes I Can. The accomplished Storyline Entertainment production company, established by renowned producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, has enthusiastically agreed to collaborate with the author for the project’s execution. Unfortunately, for the past seven years the process has been, as Boyar put it, “mired in litigation.” In spite of this, all parties involved remain steadfast and optimistic that the movie will soon grace the silver screen.