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OBITUARIES : Sanford Barnett, 79; Writer Won Oscar

Times Staff Writer

Sanford (Sandy) Barnett, whose writing talents ranged from adapting films and plays for “The Lux Radio Theatre” to composing stories that won Academy Awards and lastly to speeches and press releases for the Los Angeles Police Department, is dead, the department announced Friday.

He died Thursday at his daughter’s home in Oxnard and at 79 was the department’s oldest non-sworn employee. Police Chief Daryl F. Gates ordered flags outside Parker Center lowered to half staff.

Suffered Stroke

Barnett, who won an Oscar for his original story “Father Goose,” the 1964 comedy starring Cary Grant, had been in a coma for several weeks as a result of a stroke.

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In an obituary he prepared himself, Barnett noted that he had been born in East Orange, N.J., and was--over the years--an errand boy at radio stations, a newspaper reporter who contributed sketches to the Rudy Vallee radio show and a writer for the old “Believe It or Not” radio series.

He was one of the pioneer writers on the old Lux show, in which films and Broadway plays were adapted to radio and which was heard from 1936 to 1955, originally with the legendary Cecil B. DeMille as host.

In all, he said in his obituary, he accumulated 600 radio and TV script credits and left behind a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.

Barnett ventured into films only once, and that produced an immediate success with “Father Goose,” a tale of a South Seas nomad who finds himself in charge of a band of refugee children and their teacher, portrayed by Leslie Caron.

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In 1970, when he was 50, he went to work as a public relations specialist for the Police Department, writing the news releases the department sends to the media, the narrations that are heard at awards ceremonies and the inscriptions on Medals of Valor.

Never Tempted

Despite the environment, he said he was never tempted to take advantage of the insight into criminology his job offered, as had such one-time department employees as Gene Roddenberry, the father of “Star Trek,” and Joseph Wambaugh, the novelist.

“I never liked TV,” he said in a 1984 interview, “and still don’t. And I wouldn’t want to write for any of the cop shows. I think most of them are trash.”

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