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Harvey Forrest Bellin

Died January 22, 2021

Harvey Bellin was born March 25, 1944 in New Haven to Milton and Ida Slutsky Bellin. He graduated from Hillhouse High School and entered Yale in September 1962. While at Yale, Harvey carried an intensive major in History of Art and was active in arts organizations including the Pierson Players, the Festival of Arts Committee at Pierson, the Yale Film Society, the Yale Dramatic Association, and Fencing, an art in itself. After graduation he earned his MFA in Directing at the Yale School of Drama, launching a career in film production that lasted the rest of his life, during which he served both as a producer and director of diverse films on a myriad of subjects – a documentary on dramatic Indonesian trance rituals (The Mask of Rangda), a dramatization of the life and thoughts of 18th century scientist Emanuel Swedenborg, a drug prevention sci-fi drama featuring Richard Kiley, and several film-based programs designed to aid in developing literacy for pre-schoolers and elementary school children. Remarkably, he also edited a comparison of the literary and spiritual works of Emanuel Swedenborg and the art of William Blake, Blake and Swedenborg, Opposition is True Friendship. He brought a deep sense of spirituality to everything he did for all of his life.

One can find a more complete list of his work in our 50th Reunion class book. His work touched on a dizzying variety of fascinating topics. One of the joys of film production is that the producer/director is required first to gain an in-depth knowledge of the subject of his films. Hence, Harvey spent his life keeping his brain fresh and alive, studying new subjects and then translating that knowledge into film. One can imagine him saying, as each project was completed, “and now for something completely different.” His work reveals a mind that saw things from a unique angle and that saw the humor in life.

An example of his approach to life and his work can be seen in his Emmy Award winning film The Outlivers – 200 Years in Weston (1787-1987) [www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Jkq4X_nL8o&t=18s] which he directed. From the opening speech by Christopher Plummer through the cheering crowds of Weston residents at the end, the film demonstrates his love for his community and the light-hearted skill he brought to his productions. It will make you smile.

Harvey created families in all that he did. Those lifelong groups of friends range from the students with whom he taught and practiced Pencak Silat (Indonesian kung fu), the actors and assistants working on his film productions, the citizens of Weston who acted in The Outlivers, friends at the Chabad Lubavitch of Westport, those he worked with as an environmental activist, and the neighbors with whom he worked in the Democratic Party as Chairman of the Weston Town Committee. Speaking of his work in the political sphere, one friend remembers, “When Harvey stood, even if one did not personally know him, you instinctively knew that there stood a man of principle, a man of consummate character, a man of common decency.” All remember him fondly as an inspirational, engaged and generous friend and colleague. He is survived by his wife and long-time partner in joy, April Howlett.

Memorial written by Terrence Young