David Myers, a resident of East Hampton for almost 50 years, died late Friday night at Southampton Hospital. He had had cancer for several years. Mr. Myers was 86.
A person of many interests, he began writing when he was in college, published poems while still a young man, and was the author of four books. As editor in chief of Modern Screen magazine in the 1950s, he put Elizabeth Taylor on its cover early and often, a move that kept its circulation among the highest in its category. Later he worked for Hugh Hefner, designing and producing the Playboy Club magazine.
Mr. Myers had a flair for ceremony and elegance, in his writing, his natty attire, his cooking and entertaining, and in the way he redid houses once he was living on the East End.
Born in Scranton, Pa., on Sept. 25, 1926, he was the eldest of three sons of Max Arthur Myers and the former Ruth Harris. He graduated from the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy’s V-5 Program, which sent him to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., for a year, then to Princeton, where he graduated in 1949. He later attended Columbia University on the G.I. Bill.
In 1950, five years after World War II ended, Mr. Myers went to Germany to work with displaced people who were still in refugee camps. He found them new places to live, an experience that gave him a lot of satisfaction, said his family.
Mr. Myers married Astrid Breivold in 1955, the same year his first book, “What, When, Where and How to Drink,” was published. They lived on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, and then, after his stint with Playboy in Chicago, moved to East Hampton. What drew him here was the presence of the artist friends he had made in Greenwich Village. The couple, who divorced some years ago, also wanted to bring up their three children among rural surroundings.
Mr. Myers wrote drama and art criticism for this newspaper and had columns in Esquire and Newsday. He also began restoring old houses, sometimes moving them, and turning them into desirable homes, often refinishing the furniture himself.
Lee Hayes, a close friend who worked with him on house projects, said he was “one of my dearest friends. We had known each other for many years and he was instrumental in helping me get work in my trade, carpentry.”
“He was a caretaker,” said Jeanie Stiles, “one of those people who gather their family around them. He would cook food and take it over to people who were sick or who had lost a relative or friend. He was a nurturing man who enfolded friends into his family. He had that ability to include friends and extended family and make them part of his close circle; he nurtured them emotionally and with food. And he always dressed for dinner, even when he was practically on his last legs.”
Mr. Myers had written 120 pages of a novel about old age before he died. His other books are “The Thursday Evening Art World” (1970), “The Last Days of Mr. Punch” (1971), and “Letters from a Beast” (1978).
Surviving him are his wife, Claire Hooton, an actress, artist, and tai chi master and instructor; two sons, David Jensen Myers of Wainscott and Gunnar Myers of East Hampton, a daughter, Coco Myers of East Hampton, and a stepson, Hart Hooton of New York City. Two brothers also survive, Mark Lee Myers of Weston, Fla., and Robert A. Myers of Boulder, Colo., as well as four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and five nieces.
A family gathering was held on Saturday night. Mr. Myers was cremated. Donations in his name may be sent to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978. I.C.