Travel Writer Suzy Gershman, Ex-Westporter, Dies at 64

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Travel Writer Suzy Gershman, Ex-Westporter, Dies at 64







Suzy Kalter Gershman, a former Westport resident best known for her “Born to Shop” travel series, died July 25 in her native San Antonio, Texas, after a year-long battle with brain cancer. She was 64.

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Suzy Gershman: known for her “Born to Shop” series. Contributed photo

An author, journalist and television personality, she brought her international expertise to readers, television viewers, travelers and shoppers the world over with her magazine articles, shopping tours, and the “Born to Shop” travel guides.

Gershman was also the author of “C’est la Vie,” (Penguin paperback), a bestselling memoir about her first year of widowhood during which time she moved from her Compo Road South home in Westport to Paris and began a new life. On the book’s cover was a dog rescued from the Westport animal shelter.

In an effort to learn more about the dog’s Westport background, she penned a plea for information in the dog’s name that appeared on WestportNow on Jan. 15, 2004.

The Born to Shop series, more than 25 years old, has been translated into a half dozen languages and has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.

American Express Cardmember Services dubbed her “the most famous shopper in the world.” Oprah called her “Super Shopper Suzy”.

Born April 13, 1948, Suzy Kalter grew in up San Antonio and graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1969. During college she worked for the San Antonio Express-News and served with the Texas corps of the White House press when Lyndon Johnson was president. She was a Mademoiselle guest editor and a runner-up in the Vogue Prix de Paris.

She moved to New York in 1970, where she worked first in advertising as a copywriter at Macy’s, then moved on to a PR agency, The Rowland Company. She was creative director of The Wool Bureau and began her magazine career as a freelance journalist after she married sports author Michael Gershman.

In 1975, Gershman and her late husband moved to Los Angeles where, as Suzy Kalter, she worked first for Time and then People. She became the West Coast style editor in People’s Beverly Hills offices in 1976 after the start-up of the magazine, interviewing designers such as James Galanos and Bob Mackie.

The family moved to Westport in 1990. Son Aaron is a 1998 Staples graduate.

Her lifestyle reporting led to her first television job, an extended stint on PM Magazine, one of the first magazine-style daily television shows. She continued to appear on countless local and network television productions.

She traveled to Hong Kong with the cast and crew of “Good Morning America” in 1994 to create daily reports on the shopping scene there and for many years, did in-studio segments with Joan and Charlie, especially on holiday gift-giving.

She was a regular guest on KGO-ABC’s “View from the Bay” (San Francisco) with Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang. As Suzy Kalter, she wrote several books on the television business for Harry Abrams Publishers Inc. including “The Complete book of M*A*S*H.”

As a ghost writer in Hollywood, she wrote the first three Richard Simmons books and several other celebrity best sellers. She changed her name to her married name, Gershman, in 1986 when the “Born to Shop” series was launched.

Gershman wrote travel and shopping columns for Travel Leisure (six years) and Travel Holiday (four years). She also contributed to Conde Nast France with a regular column called Postcard, a destination spread written in English and French.

In recent years, she wrote destination articles for Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor.  Her shopping guide, “Where to Buy the Best of Everything,” was published by Frommers in 2008.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Michael Gershman; her parents, Dr. S.S. Kalter and Gloria Kalter and her sister Dr. Debrah Kalter Gershman. She is survived by her son, Aaron Gershman, daughter-in-law Jennifer McCormick and granddaughter Adeline Michele Gershman; her brother, Dr. Steven Kalter and wife Karen; her niece, Julia Chartove; her stepmother, Yvette Kalter; her stepsiblings Stanley and Gayle Alterman; Kent Alterman and Michele Brennan; and Glenn Halff and Mindi Alterman.

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