Award-winning author Ann Olswanger (MA) has proven she is creative when putting
words on a page. But her latest venture is digital and honors her dad. Olswanger created
a website, www.berlolswanger.com, about her father, well-known Memphis musician Berl Olswanger, who died in 1981.
Berl earned his bachelor’s degree in music from then-Memphis State College in 1943
and his MA in 1960. When he served in the Navy during World War II, Berl became Admiral
William “Bull” Halsey’s entertainment officer for the South Pacific and accompanied
such stars as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Jack Benny. After a brief stint in New York,
he returned to Memphis where he enjoyed a successful career in local radio and television
as a composer, orchestra leader and music store owner. Anna is the rights-holder and
licenser for Berl’s music. The Berl Olswanger Scholarship at the University of Memphis
is awarded to an undergraduate student in the College of Communication and Fine Arts
with an interest in music.
Anna is a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates in New York, specializing in
illustrated work, fiction and nonfiction for young readers and adults. She is the
author of two children’s books. Shlemiel Crooks is a Passover folk tale set in 1919 St. Louis. The ghost of pharaoh tries to sabotage
Passover by convincing two bumbling thieves to steal the Passover wine from a kosher
wine store, and is based on a true story involving Anna’s great-grandfather. Chicken Bone Man, a story about a “kid” pianist (Berl) in 1920 Memphis, won the second annual F. Scott
Fitzgerald Short Story Contest. Next spring the Kaufman Center in New York will produce
a musical based on the two books.
Anna has created resources for books of Jewish interest, including an online discussion
group for authors and illustrators of children’s books and marketing professionals
in the book world, as well as a “Host a Jewish Book Author” website. Anna also has
published Jewish-themed miniature books for Judaica collectors. She taught “business
writing” at the Johns Hopkins Center for Training and Education for 12 years and “writing
for physicians” for five years at Stony Brook University Hospital. She continues to
give writing workshops for corporations and universities.