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Journalist and author Helga Dudman died Monday at 85 on Kibbutz Kinneret. Dudman, a Jerusalem Post staffer for 30 years, was the author of a dozen English-language non-fiction books, including Street People, The American Colony with Ruth Kark, Galilee Revisited with Mary Magdalene, The Dog's Guide to Famous Owners, The Cat's Guide to Famous Lovers and Short Stories About Long Lives.
Perhaps her most famous book was the autobiography she helped Ruth Dayan write in 1971, Or Did I Dream a Dream?, written when Dayan was coping with her divorce from then defense minister Moshe Dayan. The poignant memoir, written originally in English, became a bestseller in the Hebrew version.
Wonderfully witty, famously sharp-tongued and a true iconoclast, Dudman combined scholarly research, humor and anecdotes about famous people in all of her books. She had an encyclopedic knowledge on diverse and often esoteric subjects.
Dudman came from a well-known musical family and grew up in San Francisco. During the American occupation of Germany after World War II, she worked for the US Army as a translator in the famous Nuremberg Trials. Letters Home to San Francisco from Occupied Germany 1945-1946, which described that period, was her last published book.
In the 1950s Dudman wrote for Vogue, bucking the system by refusing to wear high-heeled shoes. In 1959, after spending some time working in London, she came to Israel, and began her long career with The Jerusalem Post, occasionally writing under her maiden name of Marja Wolska.
A life-long animal lover, Dudman was a generous donor to various animal-welfare organizations, particularly the ISPCA.