Betty Paraskevas, who created and wrote for several children's television...

Betty Paraskevas, who created and wrote for several children's television shows, including "Maggie and the Ferocious Beast," died at her Southampton home on April 7, a day before her 81st birthday. The cause was pancreatic cancer. Newsday's obituary for Betty Paraskevas
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With her quick wit and no-nonsense attitude, Betty Paraskevas could never be accused of condescending to children in her writings.

"I don't think it was her nature to talk down to kids," said her son and longtime creative partner, Michael Paraskevas. "I think it just wasn't in her."

Betty Paraskevas, who created and wrote for several children's television shows, including "Maggie and the Ferocious Beast," died at her Southampton home on April 7, a day before her 81st birthday. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Paraskevas was born in Linden, N.J., on April 8, 1929. She attended Douglass College in New Jersey, where the future writer had a most unlikely major: chemistry.

"She said, 'Honest to God, I really didn't know what I wanted to do,' " Michael Paraskevas said of his mother's choice in schooling.

Betty Paraskevas met her husband, Paul, as she commuted to school on the train. The two wed in 1952, and moved to Roselle Park, N.J., where the couple raised twin children.

It was only when Michael began his career as a professional artist that Betty Paraskevas began to nurture her own talents as a writer.

Michael Paraskevas suggested a collaboration - he would draw the cartoons, and she would supply the words. Their first effort - about a mop-haired boy in a double-breasted suit named Junior Kroll - became the pair's first book.

"It really made her bloom," Michael Paraskevas said.

After that, the two collaborated on 21 more books, and eventually several television series. In addition to "Maggie," Betty Paraskevas co-created several other shows, including "Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse," "The Kids From Room 402," and "The Tangerine Bear." The shows aired on Nick Jr., PBS, Fox Family and other channels.

Her son said their shows appealed to parents as well as children, in part because of the smart dialogue his mother would write.

"She created characters that were not sappy and sweet, but funny and memorable," he said. "It was not kids' dialogue - it was very character driven."

Throughout their collaboration, Betty Paraskevas often commented on how her son had jump-started her career.

"She said, 'I would have never been able to do this if it wasn't for you. I would never have had the opportunity to write if you haven't painted all this stuff,' " Michael Paraskevas said. "It was a very good, great, great working relationship."

While Betty Paraskevas had a home in Southampton, which Michael Paraskevas shares, her son said her heart always belonged to Westhampton.

"My mom loved summer, and Westhampton was always the epitome of the summer town," Michael Paraskevas said.

In addition to her son, Betty Paraskevas is survived by her daughter, Judith Paraskevas of Roselle Park, N.J. Her husband, Paul, died in 2001.

She was buried at St. Gertrude's Cemetery in Colonia, N.J.

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