BiographyNew York City, New York, USA
Irving Berwick was a child prodigy, playing concert piano before the age of ten. Although he never gave up playing privately, his career was to be in films. His first job, in Hollywood, was as a dialogue coach, working under contract at Columbia Studios in the mid- to late 1940s and frequently with William Castle. Read more... not drink). During the same time period, he worked (uncredited) on the TV series Topper (1953). In 1958-59 Universal-International laid off many of its employees. Berwick then joined with make-up expert Jack Kevan to form a production company, Vanwick Productions. The company's first picture, The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959), was a deliberate attempt to emulate the success of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Universal supplied equipment and crew members in order to keep them working, even on an independent production. Shot entirely on location at Point Concepcion, California (the lighthouse scenes), and nearby Cayucos (the beach and town scenes), the film featured a monster suit that Kevan created primarily from odds and ends of other monsters used in other Universal Pictures films: The Mole People (1956) (the hands), This Island Earth (1955) (the feet), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) (basic body construction). Kevan gave an entirely original texture and head to the "Piedras Blancas" monster. Ironically, the film was not shot at the real Piedras Blancas (some 50 miles away), since that location was judged not to be as photogenic. The Vanwick team followed that film with The Street Is My Beat (1966), which turned out to be Berwick's favorite film. Like "Piedras Blancas", it featured character actor John Harmon, who appeared in nearly every film Berwick made. Harmon is also the godson of Berwick's son Wayne Berwick (who played the little boy in "Piedras Blancas"). Berwick worked variously as a producer, director and second-unit director on his own and other producers' films throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In the early 1970s he began teaching filmmaking through the UCLA Adult Extension, which he continued for nearly a decade.