Charlotte Beyers, 73; Made Documentaries

From a Times Staff Writer

Charlotte Kempner Beyers, an educational filmmaker whose first effort, “AIDS in Your School,” was used in elementary and high schools to educate children about the disease, has died. She was 73.

Beyers died March 10 at her home in Palo Alto of complications from lymphoma.

A native of New York, Beyers moved with her family to San Francisco in 1942. She attended Stanford University, where she studied journalism and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She freelanced for many newspapers and magazines, including Nature.

After the death in 1985 of her second husband’s brother from AIDS, Beyers made “AIDS in Your School” and two other educational films about the disease.


In “ ‘A’ Is for AIDS” (1989), Andy Answer, a cartoon dog in a medical lab coat, tells children it is OK to touch people with AIDS and be around them. Andy also takes children inside the human body to explain how the disease works and explains that the virus “destroys the immune system, leaving the body with no protection against disease.”

Beyers also made a documentary about women and AIDS.

“As a journalist, I felt compelled to tell people how not to get the virus,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1993, speaking of “AIDS and Women: The Greatest Gamble.”

Beyers made documentaries on many other topics, including teenage homelessness, drug abuse, arthritis, back pain, tuberculosis, disability employment and paraplegic youths in a rural Mexican clinic.


Of her documentary on teenage homelessness, Beyers said she wanted to upend the misconception that the youths she interviewed were on the street because they wanted to be.

“They hated their existence,” she told the Chronicle. “They were scared of where they had ended up. They all wanted to continue their education and find jobs. They all still had dreams.”

Beyers’ husband, Robert W. Beyers, who was director of the Stanford University News Service for 30 years, died in 2002. She is survived by three daughters, Pamela Davis Kivelson of Menlo Park; Nancy Stewart of Oxfordshire, England; and Cynthia Kanner of Los Angeles; a son, Alan Davis of Berkeley; stepchildren Bill Beyers of Los Angeles, Robbie Beyers of Menlo Park, and Amy Theorin of greater Philadelphia; a sister, and 13 grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

Private services will be held May 7. Instead of flowers, donations may be made to HealthWrights Foundation/Projecto Projimo, c/o David Werner, 964 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301; or Amnesty International.