David I. Arkin

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David I. Arkin (December 19, 1906 – October 8, 1980)[1] was an American teacher, painter, writer, and lyricist, and is the father of actor Alan Arkin.

Life and career[edit]

Arkin was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants.[2] In 1945, Arkin moved his family to Los Angeles, California to take a teaching job. Arkin attempted to obtain work in the entertainment industry, but was unsuccessful. An eight-month Hollywood strike cost Arkin a set designer job, but the greater blow was as a result of the McCarthy "witch hunt". Arkin, a leftist, was accused of being a communist but Arkin refused to answer questions regarding his political affiliation. As a result, he was fired from his teaching job and was unable to gain work in Hollywood. Arkin challenged his dismissal, but did not achieve exoneration until after his death. He died of cancer in October, 1980, at the age of 73 at his home in Silverlake, California.[3]

Arkin's most memorable song-writing contribution was in creating the lyrics to the song "Black and White", with music by Earl Robinson in 1954.[4] The song was written to celebrate the United States Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education striking down racial segregation in public schools.

"Black and White" has been recorded by artists as diverse as Pete Seeger, Sammy Davis Jr, Greyhound, The Maytones and Three Dog Night. The lyric has been the basis of an illustrated book [5] by Arkin, which was first published in 1966. More recent editions feature a new introduction by Pete Seeger.


  1. ^ Oliver, Myrna. "Teachers Fired in McCarthy Era Win Their Case". The Los Angeles Times, June 6, 1981.
  2. ^ Sierchio, Pat. "Alan Arkin—not just another kid From Brooklyn". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Feb. 15, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-02-23. Retrieved 2007-02-16.
  3. ^ "Obituary". Variety, Oct 22, 1980, p.115.
  4. ^ Louise Hanson-Dyer Music Library, Popular Songs List
  5. ^ David Arkin - Black and White - Ward Ritchie Press, Los Angeles, 1966

External links[edit]