Bonnie Aikman; feature writer and columnist, June 20, 2011

Bonnie E. Aikman, a feature writer and columnist in the Washington Evening Star's entertainment section, died June 20. She was 77.

Bonnie interviewed many Broadway and Hollywood stars for the newspaper, and innocently "fell in love with several," she often said. Through her column "DC Studios" she got to know such local radio and TV pioneers as "The Joy Boys" and "Cousin Cupcake."

After graduating from American University in 1955, she began her newspaper career as an assistant to famed theater critic Jay Carmody and pioneering TV critic Bernie Harrison.

She initially worked in the old Star building downtown on Pennsylvania Ave. -- now designated an historic structure. The nearby National Theatre was the center for plays going on tour after Broadway runs or, quite often, being prepared for Broadway. Actors in these plays stayed in such downtown hotels as the Carlton, Mayflower and the Willard and could be spotted in nearby restaurants or even walking their dogs along Pennsylvania and Connecticut Avenues.

Bonnie and the others moved to The Star's large new building in Southeast but for her it was never quite the same, she said.

After The Star's demise, Bonnie wrote for the Food and Drug Administration, which had a popular magazine, "FDA Consumer." She was then hired for the US Public Health Service's communications office, where she initiated, on a shoe-string, a newsletter to health reporters and columnists providing feature news and story ideas -- a "news-multiplier" concept that was later carried on by the National Institutes of Health and others. She particularly promoted the then-new advice to keep babies on their backs, a change that has prevented thousands of crib deaths. She retired in the mid-90's.

She continued to write and conducted a small writer's group from her condominium at The Elizabeth, 4601 North Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD. Recently, she fell and was in a nearby assisted living facility when she died.

Bonnie was cremated and her ashes placed at Gate of Health cemetery. She told friends she wanted no funeral but "a party instead." Thus, a reception will be held in the party room of he Elizabeth, 4601 North Park Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD., at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 16.

-- from Bill Grigg, a fellow Star alumnus who knew Bonnie at the Star and FDA and hired her for the Communications Office of the Public Health Service. If you have additional recollections of Bonnie that might be shared at the reception, please let me know at or call me at (301) 652-1864. All Star alumni are invited to the reception but let me know, if you can, so there'll be adequate of provisions!

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