David Westheimer

David Westheimer (April 11, 1917 in Houston, Texas – November 8, 2005) was an American novelist best known for writing the 1964 novel Von Ryan's Express which was adapted as a 1965 film starring Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard.

Ironically, one of his most popular novels, and perhaps his most enduring, was not credited to him for much of its shelf life: In its original printing, he was by-lined as the author of the novelization of Days of Wine and Roses based on the screenplay by his friend J.P. Miller. But the book proved hugely popular and the story had become so iconic that its publisher Bantam Books (and one supposes the authors, by mutual arrangement) took Westheimer's name off the book to move it into the "literature" category and keep it in print (which they did, for decades). Subsequent printings were branded only J.P. Miller's Days of Wine and Roses without an explicit by-line for the novel.

Westheimer, a Rice University graduate, worked as an assistant editor for the Houston Post from 1939 to 1946 except for those years spent with the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. As a navigator in a B-24 he was shot down over Italy on December 11, 1942 and spent time as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III.

His first novel, Summer on the Water, was published in 1948.

In addition to Von Ryan's Express, Westheimer also wrote a television pilot set in an Italian prisoner of war camp called Campo 44.


  • Summer on the Water, Macmillan, 1948
  • The Magic Fallacy, Macmillan, 1950.
  • Watching Out for Dulie, Dodd, 1960.
  • Days of Wine and Roses, Bantam, 1963 (novelization of the screenplay by J.P. Miller)
  • Von Ryan's Express, Doubleday, 1964.
  • My Sweet Charlie, Doubleday, 1965. (Adapted into a 1970 television movie.)
  • Song of the Young Sentry, Little, Brown, 1968.
  • Lighter than a Feather, Little, Brown, 1971.
  • Over the Edge, Little, Brown, 1972.
  • Going Public, Mason & Lipscomb, 1973.
  • The Olmec Head, Little, Brown, 1974.
  • The Avila Gold, Putnam, 1974.
  • Rider on the Wind, London: Michael Joseph, 1979.
  • Von Ryan's Return, Coward, 1980.
  • Delay en Route, 2004.


  • Sitting it Out: A World War II POW Memoir, Rice University Press, 1992.

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